Last year Eminence lost to eventual Class 1 state champion Scott County Central in Sectionals. The Redwings used that loss to fuel their season. After getting payback 65-55, does Eminence have what it takes to win a state title?
Journey through the Tourney – The Redwings routed Bunker, before topping South Iron 58-53 to claim the District 3 crown. In Sectionals, Eminence put on a defensive clinic, locking up Mark Twain Conference POY Tyler Simpson and Hurley 78-40. Then, in the game they waited nearly a year to get back to; Coach McBride’s squad dished out a spoonful of cold revenge to the defending state champs SCC. Awaiting Eminence in the semifinal is Drexel. The Bobcats were last year’s state runner-up.
Pictures: Eminence vs. Hurley - CLICK HERE
Why they should win – A famous purple dinosaur once said “sharing is caring”. The Redwings must care a lot, because they share the basketball as good as I’ve seen. Eminence tallies an assists on nearly 70% of its field goals. The Redwings have three players dropping at least three dimes a game, led by Jesse Lacey’s five per game. Because of their willingness to make the extra pass, Eminence gets great looks at the rim, resulting in them shooting 51% from the field and 35% from 3. It all starts insides inside with Logan Dyer. The 6-foot-2 sophomore is a monster inside, averaging 17 and nine a night, leading four Redwings that are averaging double figures.
Bump in the road – For Eminence, the biggest road block isn’t a what, but whom. The Bobcats of Drexel have been on a mission to get back to the championship game, and have taken no prisoners along the way. Drexel’s lone loss came to Class 4 KC Center, who was ranked No. 7 in the final state polls. The Bobcats are big, athletic, and get up and down the court in a hurry. Eminence will have its hands full trying to contain Javyn Johnson (22 ppg) and CJ Bolton (20 ppg).
X – Factor: Cole Keeling – Keeling is a matchup nightmare for opposing coaches. At 6-foot-4 he can score inside, but he also has the ability to step out and hit face up jumpers like it’s his job. Against Drexel it will be important for Eminence to knock down shots to keep Drexel from getting out in transition. Also, Keeling, who averages six rebounds a game, will have to help out Dyer on the glass against the bigger Bobcats. Drexel hits the offensive glass hard, and they have no problem finishing with authority.
What lays ahead: Eminence opens with one-loss Drexel at 3:20 p.m. on Thursday in Columbia at the Hearnes Center. Meadville (29-1) and Stanberry (22-7) battle on the other side of the Final Four.