By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
As his team finished up its final practice before a big-time matchup with Scott County, Madison Southern coach Shane Buttry took a few minutes to reflect back on what happened at last year’s 11th Region Tournament.
He wanted to remind those players how close they came to making history last season at McBrayer Arena.
“We talked about (that loss 50-45 to Woodford County) on Sunday,” Buttry said. “We came so close and we are a better team now than we were last year. You never know what can happen on that floor.”
The Eagles (17-11) have never won an 11th Region Tournament game, but they will be looking to pull off a major upset when they take on Scott County (23-7) today in the opening round. Game time is set for 8:15 p.m. at McBrayer Arena.
Woodford County and Lexington Catholic are set to meet in Monday’s other first-round game (6:30 p.m.).
The winners of both games advance to Friday’s semifinals.
“It’s a challenge for us, but I believe we can make a game of it,” Buttry said. “If we can keep it close into the fourth quarter, you never know what can happen.”
Southern earned a fifth-straight trip to the 11th Region Tournament with a hard-fought 68-63 win over Model in the 44th District Tournament semifinals last week.
The Eagles lost in the title game to Madison Central, 80-40.
Scott County has the second-most wins in the 11th Region (second only to Central), but Buttry thinks his team matches up much better against the Cardinals than their long-time cross-county rivals.
“They are not as athletic as Central, which helps us,” Buttry said. “Teams that are really athletic give us problems. But, they are quick. They’ve been playing basically five guards for a couple of weeks. They’ve got two kids who can absolutely shoot the ball.”
Scott County’s shooters have led the team this season. Quin Richardson is averaging 19.1 points a game and has a team-best 96 assists and 69 steals, while shooting 40 percent from three-point range.
Trent Gilbert is averaging 18.5 points and is second on the team in rebounds (125). He is shooting 37 percent from three-point range.
Jalen Haddix is also adding 9.7 points and 3.7 rebounds a game.
“Those two kids (Gilbert and Richardson) have shot more threes than our entire team, Buttry said. “They’ve got the green light to shoot from anywhere. If they are on, they are tough. They shot the lights out against Henry Clay.”
Against Henry Clay in district finals last week, Scott County was eight-of-10 from three-point range in a 83-64 win. Gilbert was six-of-seven from long range as the Cards took a 71-44 lead after three quarters.
Scott County has won 11 of its past 13 games. The Cardinals are averaging 19 points a game off turnovers and are shooting 36 percent from three-point range as a team.
Southern has been led his season by point guard Tyler Abshear. The senior has averaged 22 points a game and in two seasons at the school has scored 1,250 points in just 58 games.
Senior guard Michael Rothermel averages about 11 points a game for the Eagles.