BY THE NUMBERS: Region girls tournament down to its final four

Published 7:21 pm Thursday, March 2, 2017

The semifinal round of the 2017 10th Region Tournament begins tonight with four teams battling for just two spots in Saturday’s championship game. A region trophy and a trip to the state tournament are on the line.

The George Rogers Clark tip off the night’s action at Harrison County High School at 6 p.m. against Nicholas County. Mason County and Campbell County face off in the night cap.

Here’s a closer look:

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The tournament has trimmed its field to just four teams and there are no surprises. The teams are the top four teams in the region by record: GRC (27-4, 11-2), Mason (22-8, 9-1), Nicholas (22-11, 14-4) and Campbell (20-12, 7-2).

The semifinal is made up of district champions, so despite GRC facing a tough Scott team and Bourbon County nearly upending Campbell County in the first round Tuesday, everything basically went according to plan.

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All four teams have at least a modest winning streak going into tonight, but the Cardinals have the longest at eight games.

The next closest is Nicholas at five games.

The last time the Cards saw defeat was against Scott, and they exorcised that demon with a over the Eagles Monday.

It would be hard to say anyone is playing better than GRC, but when all four teams are riding winning streaks and carrying a district championship, calling anyone a favorite tonight would be a fool’s errand.

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The Cardinals have faced two of the other three teams in action tonight, dropping a mid-season contest to Mason and winning early in the year at Nicholas by 18 points, 62-44.

But that was technically last year, as Nicholas is 15-4 since the New Year. Both teams will likely look very different from that previous meeting.

“We played them there and it was a dogfight,” GRC coach Robbie Graham said. “We ended up winning, but it was close. They play hard. They’re aggressive.

“They won the All ‘A’ in the region and won a game at the (All ‘A’) state tournament. They’re a very confident basketball team right now. They are going to play hard. The crowd will be jacked up. They have a tremendous following. But we’re excited to play them. We’ll tip it up and see what happens.”

The Bluejackets will likely look to Grace Kiskaden (11.2 ppg) and Autumn Martin (10.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg).

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The nightcap’s matchup is also a rematch. Campbell and Mason met in Maysville Jan. 28 with the Royals winning by seven, 51-44.

Mason’s top two scorers led them in that game — Whitney O’Mara (13.1 ppg)  had 11 and Briana McNutt (11.8 ppg) had 14.

The Camels are led by Taylor Clos (20.7 ppg) and Mackenzie Schwarber (13.4 ppg).

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The Cardinals need two more wins to reach their goal — a win tonight and again in Saturday’s title game. That will give them a berth in the state tournament.

And the team is keeping everything in perspective during the journey to that goal.

“We’re worked really hard, but it’s not going to be easy,” Graham said. “We know that. It’s fun to be here. We’re glad to be playing another day.”