It will be the old guard vs. the new kid on the block when Warren Central meets Russell County in the boys’ Region 4 finals today at E.A. Diddle Arena.
Warren Central (27-6), No. 2 in the final Bowling Green Daily News Top 10 poll, will be playing in its fourth straight region title game and 11th in 13 years. Russell County (26-5), No. 1 in the final Bowling Green Daily News Top 10 poll, will be making its first Region 4 title game appearance and the first region title game appearance since 1957.
The Dragons, who lost to Bowling Green in last year’s region title game, will be looking for their third region title in four years and ninth since 2002.
Russell County will be trying to become the first non-District 14 school to win the region title since 2001.
It’s the fourth time the two schools have met in the Region 4 Tournament since 2007. In the opening round in 2009, Russell County beat the Dragons 65-57. Warren Central beat the Lakers 50-45 in the opening round the next season.
The two schools haven’t met since.
Warren Central has won 10 straight and 18 of the last 19 games. The Dragons’ only loss came at Warren East on Feb. 1. WCHS has scored the most points in the region this season, averaging 70.3 points a night. The Dragons have scored at least 70 points in 11 of the last 18 games.
“I really don’t get to see them much,” Russell County coach Willie Feldhaus said. “I know they are really good and they play a lot of kids.”
Both teams survived late rallies in the semifinals to advance to today’s championship game.
Russell County held off Russellville 72-69, getting 38 points from senior guard Tyler Robertson. The Region 4 player of the year is averaging 21.9 points a game.
“It’s going to be a challenge for us,” Warren Central head coach William Unseld said. “They are a talented group. They have the player of the year. We have to limit his touches. We have to play without fouling. We’ll have to rebound the ball, limit them to run shot and run a little bit. We’ll see what happens.”
The Dragons will use multiple guys to defend Robertson and will try to limit his touches, Unseld said.
“If he gets 30 points, we want it to be 30 tough ones,” Unseld said. “But we are going to have to limit everybody else.”
Russell County hopes to limit the Dragons’ transition game and try to be within striking distance late.
“I don’t think we are going to sneak up on them any more,” Feldhaus said. “I had a special group of kids (in 2009). We came in the next year and gave them a run for their money, too. My only hope is with three minutes left in the ball game, we are within a possession or two. I would take that right now.”
Unseld, who was an assistant for the Dragons in 2009, won’t even mention that game, he said.
“This is a different group of kids,” Unseld said. “All we have to talk about is the disappointment in going home last year without winning.”