Takeaways from Johnson Central at the Sweet 16

Johnson Central’s Cory VanHoose goes up for a shot over Pikeville’s Byron Hammond in the 15th Region championship at the East Kentucky Expo Center. VanHoose averaged 16 points per game for the Golden Eagles this season. VanHoose will return for his junior season next year.

What can Johnson Central takeaway from the Sweet 16 loss to Trinity?

There are plenty.

For one, it was a learning experience.

The Golden Eagles will return a lot of players from this year’s team next season, so there is the experience of playing a state champion team on the biggest stage.

Cory VanHoose scored his 1,000th point against Trinity on the Rupp Arena stage. That is a moment for VanHoose and a building block that he can carry into next season.

Individually, VanHoose had a solid game. 

VanHoose finished the game with 14 points on five of 11 shooting. He was the only Golden Eagle player to reach double figures.

Next season, he will be one of the top guards in the 15th Region and he along with Isaiah May will be one of the best duos in the region.

VanHoose averaged 16 points per game this season. May averaged 15.6 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game. Both should build on outstanding sophomore seasons.

Johnson Central fell behind early to Trinity. 

At the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second, the Golden Eagles went on an 11-0 run. 

The Johnson Central seniors, Jacob Rice, Gabe Ferrell and Braxton Bentley finished their careers on the Rupp Arena floor. 

They all talked about how special that was and how it helped take some of the blow of the loss away in the press conference after the game. 

The Golden Eagles will be hungry next season. 

Maybe coach Tommy McKenzie tries to schedule some outside teams with more speed and size to prepare for what they’ll see if the Golden Eagles make it back to the Sweet 16.

Johnson Central has talent. 

John King made a name for himself this season. He will be back with VanHoose and May. Add in Bryson Hackney and Zach Russell and the Golden Eagles will have a lot of talent coming back next season.

But other teams in the region like Shelby Valley, Pikeville and Paintsville will return a lot of talent as well.

15th Region play should be stronger overall next year with a lot of teams returning quite a bit of talent, so that should help whoever comes out of the 15th Region.

The score may have looked bad, but Trinity beat a lot of teams badly this season and was the best team in the state this season.

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