KSR is covering the Kentucky high school basketball postseason, from the region tournaments all the way to the Sweet 16 at Rupp Arena (March 31 – April 3). Over the next week, we’ll be providing previews of each region, updates on each round, and in-depth coverage of the finals. On Tuesday, the 11th Region Tournament tips off across the central Kentucky area. We’ve got your preview right here.
The 11th Region features three of the best teams across the Bluegrass State in Lexington Catholic, Frederick Douglass, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. It also features plenty of impressive players, including a candidate for Mr. Basketball in Ben Johnson out of Lexington Catholic and an Eastern Kentucky commit in DaShawn Jackson from Frederick Douglass. If you’re looking to watch some of the best players in the area, this is the region for you. Here’s what you need to know.
Tuesday, March 23, 7:00 PM: Madison Southern @ No. 8 Frederick Douglass
Tuesday, March 23, 7:00 PM: Frankfort @ No. 10 Paul Laurence Dunbar
Tuesday, March 23, 7:00 PM: Henry Clay @ Franklin County
Tuesday, March 23, 7:00 PM: Madison Central @ No. 3 Lexington Catholic
Thursday, March 25, 5:30 PM: Semifinal No. 1
Thursday, March 25, 8:15 PM: Semifinal No. 2
Saturday, March 27, 5:30 PM: Championship
TEAM(s) TO BEAT
The 11th Region features three teams ranked among the KSR Preps top 10, led by Lexington Catholic and Mr. Basketball candidate Ben Johnson. That being said, Dunbar already beat the Knights twice (the team’s only two losses on the season) during the year and Frederick Douglass once at the beginning of the season. The second win for Dunbar over Lexington Catholic actually came in the 43rd District Championship. Frederick Douglass is also riding a 15-game win streak. There are plenty of teams to beat in this region.
5 PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ben Johnson – Lexington Catholic (@_benjohnson33): One of the best players across the entire state, the 6-foot-3 senior guard is committed to attend the newly instituted Divison I program, Bellarmine. Johnson, the 11th Region Player of the Year, is one of the top scorers in Kentucky, pouring in 26.6 points per contest this season for Lexington Catholic en route to a 20-2 record on the year. He shoots over 53 percent from the floor, over 44 percent from beyond the arc, and 81 percent from the free-throw line. Johnson has surpassed the 50-point threshold in a single game this season and was also the star behind Lexington Catholic’s huge upset win over Reed Sheppard and North Laurel earlier in the month.
DaShawn Johnson – Frederick Douglass (@Dashawn1): Another high school senior with college intentions, 6-foot-3 senior guard DaShawn Johnson is set to join EKU next season as a freshman and he’ll have a chance to play in his new home a few months before he officially arrives on campus if Frederick Douglass can advance to the second round. He joins Ben Johnson as one of the top 50 scorers in the state, averaging 21.9 points on shooting splits of 45.7/42.3/85.4.
Tim Hall – Paul Laurence Dunbar (@timmy_jr3): Only a junior, 6-foot-6 Tim Hall is a still-rising prospect in the state. He’s averaging 20.7 points and 9.8 rebounds for Dunbar while shooting just a hair under 60 percent from the floor. Hall can jump into the rafters and has a frame big enough to battle down low. In three contests against Lexington Catholic this season, he scored 28, 23, and 25 points, respectively, as Dunbar posted a 2-1 record in those outings.
Jackson Twombly – Frankfort (@JacksonTwombly): Like Hall, Jackson Twombly is another load in the paint, standing at 6-foot-7 while averaging 26.0 points (13th in the state) and 9.1 rebounds per game. The majority of the junior forward’s points come near the rim, and he’s shooting over 61 percent from the floor, but he can also step outside and hit the long ball. Twombly is hitting at a clip of 34.9 percent from distance on over two attempts per game.
Aziel Blackwell – Henry Clay (@AzielBlackwell): Rounding out the 11th Region starting five is 6-foot point guard Aziel Blackwell, who leads Henry Clay in scoring at over 19 points per game while shooting 44 percent from the floor and 36 percent from beyond the arc. He’s also the team’s overall leader in rebounds with 117 on the season, or 6.2 boards per outing.
The opening rounds game will be hosted by each of the four District champions while the semifinals and finals will be held at Alumni Coliseum out at Eastern Kentucky University. For the final two rounds, attendance is being capped at 700 fans in addition to players, cheerleaders, staff, media, and officials. Opening round attendance will vary by location.
If you go to the games, remember to share your pictures with us on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #RoadToRupp. We’ll be posting fan galleries on the site and social media throughout the week.