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EARLIER: Draw favors Rockets chance to repeat

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South Oldham's upset costs Bearcats, Mustangs

By Todd Martin

On paper, things appear to be looking up for the SCHS boys’ basketball team.

North Oldham, Anderson County and Shelby are the favorites heading into the 8th Region Tournament, which tips off tonight at Henry County High School. And after North was upset by South Oldham in the 29th District Championship, Shelby’s loss to Anderson now feels lucky.

Because of the way the KHSAA rules, Shelby could not be on the same side of the bracket as Anderson, and North Oldham's loss required it to play a district champ.

So tonight at 8, North will play Anderson in the first round, and the Rockets appear to have a cleaner path to the finals.

They face Simon Kenton Thursday at 8 p.m., and, if Shelby advances, the winner of the South Oldham/Henry County game will be waiting.

However, don’t tell SCHS Coach Mike Clark that his team’s path is an easy one.

“The draw is only good if you’re able to win a couple of games,” he said. “If we win two or three, then I’ll be happy with the draw.”

When the Rockets played Simon Kenton at home on Feb. 6, Shelby held off the Pioneers, 75-69, behind a career-high 33 from Donovan Johnson.

“We got a monster game from Donovan, but Simon Kenton shot very well in that game [50 percent from the field],” Clark said. “We have to take away some of their open looks.”

Simon Kenton’s four-guard lineup gives both teams advantages they’ll look to employ.

The Pioneers will try to use their quickness, and Shelby will look to work inside out.

Simon Kenton’s Casey Sorrell, Langdon Barnes and Zac Bishop did most of the damage last time, combining to score 59 of Simon Kenton’s 69 points.

However, with Johnson's demanding much of the Pioneers’ defensive attention, Rockets Boomer Beckley (17 points) and Cache Tomlinson (12) had big games outside, combing to hit five 3-pointers.

“Donovan was able to get in the lane, and that helped free up Boomer and Cache to hit some outside shots,” Clark said. “Hopefully we can use that advantage again.”

But Clark again came back to defense.

“In the second half we let them score 39 points, and that’s just too much,” he said. “We’re going to have to control the boards like we did in the first game, and we have to be conscious of where Sorrell is. He’s a deadly 3-point shooter and we can’t let him get open looks. Defense will be the key in this game.”