Wildcats hope team puzzle comes together in time for All-A Tournament
by Scott Brown, Sports Editor Email Scott
Jan 17, 2005 | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Next week’s All-A Second Region Tournament has enough story lines to fuel Days of Our Lives for years.

Trigg County was considered the preseason favorite, but lost their second-leading scorer to an injury. Now, they have last year’s second-leading scorer back on the team.

University Heights is now considered the favorite as the defending region champ and could face the Wildcats in the second round.

Webster County has the longest path to the title, with Crittenden County and a much-improved Fort Campbell team standing in the way.

Livingston Central is playing on their home floor.

Providence has all of their suspended players back in uniform.

Dawson Springs owns two wins over teams in the tournament field and have lost three others by an average of six points.

And Lyon County is playing at home with perhaps the biggest home-court advantage of any team in the tournament.

It should make for a fun tournament when the tournament kicks off Saturday with Webster County (12-4) visiting Lyon County (3-11).

The winner will play at Crittenden County (8-5) Tuesday.

However, Trigg County will play on the road for the fifth straight year and third straight year since the tournament began playing on-site games for the first round.

For the second straight year, they will play at Livingston Central.

The Cardinals (5-7) lost to the Wildcats 60-55 Jan. 4 in Cadiz – the day they found out they had lost second-leading scorer Russell Mackins for the year with a torn ACL and torn meniscus.

However, the Wildcats have regained the services of senior Kenny Turner, who originally decided to sit out the season to focus on qualifying for college.

Turner, who has committed to play football at the University of Kentucky, has reached a point where he is comfortable that he will qualify to play, said Wildcat head coach Bill Chumbler.

"We knew Kenny Ray had some work to do to get ready for college, and the academics are an important part. He came to us and said he was ready to play basketball again," he said.

After discussing the situation with the coaching staff, Chumbler left Turner’s fate in the hands of a team vote.

"It was ultimately my decision to let him come back, but I wanted the team to vote and let me know what they thought since he hadn’t played and went through the same workouts they did," Chumbler said.

By voting Turner back on the team, the Wildcats again have an inside presence they have been missing since the Mackins injury.

In the nine games with Mackins, the Wildcats averaged 40 rebounds and shot 33-percent from 3-point range. Without him, teams have been playing man-to-man defenses and zoning higher out on the floor, resulting in just 27 rebounds and 24-percent long-range shooting in the six games since the injury.

Even with the addition of Turner, who averaged 16 points and 9.4 rebounds a game last year, Chumbler realizes it won’t be a quick fix for Trigg’s offense.

"Kenny isn’t in game shape yet, but he is better than I thought he would be," Chumbler said, noting that Turner has been working on his quickness during private workouts before school. "He’ll get a few minutes here and there until he gets up to speed with the offense. We’ll just have to see how long that takes."

Livingston Central will get an up close look at Turner when the teams play Thursday night in a regular district battle in Smithland. Five nights later, they will meet again on the same floor in the All-A Tournament.

A Trigg win will likely pit them against University Heights, who rallied from a 12-point deficit with 1:43 left to steal their 11th All-A regional title in the 15-year history of the event last year against the Wildcats in Smithland.

UHA (13-3) will play at Providence (4-8) Tuesday night in another quarterfinal game.

The Blazers, traditionally known for their deliberate offensive style, are among the top five scoring teams in the state led by junior guard Joshua Mack.

Providence saw five players get suspended for various lengths of time following a fight last month against Webster County. Among those were their leading scorer and two other starters.

The Bulldogs, picked by several publications as a region dark horse in the preseason, will have a week to prepare for the Blazers.

In the bottom bracket, the winner of Saturday’s Webster/Lyon game will play at Crittenden County (8-5) Tuesday.

The other Tuesday quarterfinal has surprising Fort Campbell (10-3) hosting Dawson Springs (4-9).

The semifinals will be Friday in Eddyville with a Saturday championship to follow the girls’ title game.
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