2012-2013 Kentucky High School Basketball Preview - 12th Region Boys
A majority of the 12th Region coaches are probably grateful that it's Lincoln County's year to host the 12th Region tournament instead of Pulaski County. The 2012-13 season brings plenty of representation from the Pulaski County area as Somerset, Pulaski County and Southwestern make up three of the top five teams in the 12th Region. The fact that all three teams are in two different districts means that the Pulaski County area could have all three of the area's high school teams make the region tournament. Wayne County and West Jessamine are also considered top-five teams, and both return experienced rosters. A popular belief among the 12th Region coaches is that any of the next five to seven teams are capable of making some noise in the postseasonif the teams gel like they are expected to. The 12th Region should be one of the tougher regions in the state and should have very exciting district and regional tournaments this season – if the teams jell as expected.
12th Region Rankings
1. Southwestern - Southwestern returns four starters from last year's Sweet 16 Final Four team. Junior point guard David Kapinga returns along with Junior forward Justin Edwards, Senior guard Justin Schultz and Sophomore guard Isaiah Collier. Kapinga makes this team go, as anyone who watched him against Trinity in the state semifinals last season could plainly see. Southwestern played Trinity better than anyone in the Sweet 16 last season. They were only down six points to Trinity before Kapinga left the game with an injury. Southwestern went on to lose by 9 points. Southwestern does lose five seniors off of that team, but the four that return have plenty of experience and enough moxie to carry Southwestern to another trip to Rupp Arena. Kapinga and Edwards will be counted on for the bulk of scoring and the sharpshooting of Collier and Schultz will spread defenses out, allowing Kapinga and Edwards to have free space to operate. The versatility of their scoring options will be a nightmare for opposing coaches. If they can develop a bench similar to last year's, I expect them to return to Rupp Arena. Anything else will be disappointing and heartbreaking.
2. Pulaski County - Speaking of "disappointing and heartbreaking," the last time we saw Pulaski County they were on their home court in the regional semifinals getting beaten by West Jessamine. In one of the gutsiest performances I've seen in a while, Senior point guard Taylor Gover (then, a Junior) was battling the flu bug, yet still managed to singlehandedly shoot Pulaski County back into a game in what turned out to be a losing battle with West Jessamine. Gover returns, along with Senior forward Kody Johnson and Senior forward Tyler Goins, to form arguably the best trio in the 12th Region. The problem with that trio is that they are counted on to carry the team each and every game. They did sweep Southwestern last year in the regular season, but those two will not meet this season unless they manage to make it to the region tournament – which is expected. It could be argued that Pulaski County should be the #1 team in this preview and not Southwestern, but the way these two teams finished last season, as well as Pulaski County's inability to finish strong in the postseason, swayed me to put them right behind Southwestern. This trio has been starting since they were freshman and have had high expectations since day one. This is their last year to live up to those expectations of a trip to Rupp. Can they do it? Stay tuned...
3. West Jessamine - West Jessamine looks to build on the success they had last season. While they were young last season, West Jessamine coach Damon Kelley was able to get the Colts to play his brand of basketball. That led to a trip to the region semifinals, after upsetting Pulaski County on their homecourt. Led by Senior guard Chase Fain, West Jessamine looks to build on that semifnal appearance and advance to Rupp. Coach Kelley is no stranger to advancing to Rupp, and he looks to guide his team back there – his first trip since Jarrod Polson graduated. Also returning are Junior guards Daulton Peters and Will Henderson, and Senior forward Robby Irgang. The depth of West Jessamine is believed to be a very important piece of their success. Their depth is inexperienced, but talented. If their depth adjusts well to varsity basketball, they expect to compete with anyone in the region. Any injuries or lack of development in their depth will make their goal of Rupp Arena unattainable. Once the football season is over their roster will come more into shape. If their past is any indicator of their future, it would be wise to keep an eye on West Jessamine. Damon Kelley always has these boys ready to play in March.
4. Somerset - Not often will a team end a season with ten straight losses and be a top five team the next season; however, that is exactly what Somerset has accomplished this season. The addition of transfer Tyson Williams (from McCreary Central) is, to be quite honest, exactly why it happened. Williams is one of the top five players in the region and his addition to this gritty Somerset team makes them better than most. The 6'4" Williams and 6'8" Senior center Ryan Weddle should allow Somerset to control front courts this season in the 12th Region. There is a lot of excitement surrounding the team this season as they now have a bona fide go-to-guy in Williams, and they have a ton of depth. The return of Senior Matt Gordon from ACL surgery will be a boost as he is one of the team's leaders on and off the court. It's likely that Somerset will be missing nine players who are playing for a football team expected to make a deep run in the playoffs. Cam Cheuvront, Williams, Tyler Magargle and Brayden McWilliams are among those on the gridiron who will hit the hardwood when football is done. This team should be primed to make a run at the region title once all of the football players get acclimated. Somerset will make things hard for Pulaski County.
5. Wayne County - Wayne County returns their entire team from last season and looks to use that experience to propel them to greater heights this season and beyon – they're set up for success over the next couple of years. Coaches responding to requests for information all seem to believe that Wayne County is likely the #5 team in the 12th Region. Led by seniors Dagan Shelton and Landry Woods, Wayne County looks to improve on their 12th Region tournament appearance last season by advancing to the finals, for a shot at Rupp. With Shelton and Woods as the only seniors listed on the roster thus far (they may add more after football season), the opportunity for leadership from the youth and the gaining of experience will go a long way. Add in coach Rodney Woods, with his wealth of knowledge, and you have what is expected to be a formidable Wayne County teamthis season – and beyond.
6. Lincoln County - Lincoln County returns three key players to a team that made it to the region tournament last season. Sophomore Timmy Taylor, Sophomore Jacob Conway and Senior Luke Hill all return. They'll lead the Patriots to a 45th District title and return trip to the region tournament – this year, held on their home court. Luke Hill has been a Lincoln County starter for at least two seasons and will likely be the leading scorer and rebounder for this year's team. His experience and size will be a valuable asset to Lincoln and their success this season. In addition to overcoming the loss of Trent Edginton, Lincoln County will also have to overcome the unexpected loss of Carl Lewis-Cummins (soccer reasons) as well. The scoring of Cummins will be missed, but Conway and Taylor both look to fill that void and will be expected to do so. The sting of losing the 45th District title on their home court last season will provide plenty of motivation for the Patriots. They look to return the favor to Boyle County on the Rebel's home court at this year's district tournament. Coach Jeff Jackson has Lincoln ready to play every season, despite the losses from previous teams. Lincoln is a young team that can challenge late in the year, but they must gain experience and improve defensively for that to happen. Coach Jeff Jackson will have these boys dangerous in February. He always does and this year will be no different.
7. Garrard County - Ladies and gentlemen, the Garrard County Lions are coming. Led by the best player no one is talking enough about – Junior Austin Sebastian – Garrard is bringing a good blend of youthful and experienced talent to the table this season. With Billy Abney as the lone Senior, Garrard is another team (like Wayne County and Lincoln County) that is poised for future success with the play of their youth this season. New head coach Dennis Pardue takes over for Garrard County. How quickly his team adjusts to the new system will determine how soon they can be competitive this season. Garrard boasts a very talented freshman class, led by guard Slade Crutchfield. These freshmen will add to the team's depth and will be key pieces in Garrard's goals of winning district and advancing deep in the region tournament. Keep an eye on the Garrard County Lions. They will be roaring soon.
8. Boyle County - Boyle County brings back a suprising and somewhat experienced team, despite losing six seniors from last year's region tournament finalist team. Senior guard Brett Jones is the lone returning starter, but Sophomore guard Hagen Tyler saw plenty of varsity time last season. Also, Seniors Aram Martin and Devin True bring experience and knowledge of Coach Steve Adams' system. Joining these four returnees is Junior Micah Miniard, a 6'4" transfer from Garrard County, who will provide height in the frontcourt as well as the ability to play on the perimeter. A talented Sophomore class will provide plenty of depth for the Rebels. Freshmen Josiah Robbins and Colton Elkins will have an opportunity to contribute to this year's team success as well. I was told that Boyle County has four "legitimate dunkers" on the team this season; so this Boyle team has more athleticism than in its previous years. Much like the previous three teams I have mentioned, Boyle has a good mixture of youth, talent and experience and is poised to build for future success while chasing present success. If they can maintain the mindset from last year's team, a return trip to the region finals this season is not out of the question.
9. East Jessamine - East Jessamine graduated five seniors from last year's region semi-finalist teams. They do return Sophomore guard Ronnie Carson and Senior forward Timmy Bradshaw, who will be expected to lead this year's team. Senior guard Taylor Harper will also be counted on as one of the top returning players and team leaders. East Jessamine plans to defend their 46th District title this season and return to the region tournament. While not as deep as last year's team, with more experience this group could potentially compete just as well. But because they are younger and more inexperienced, they will have to grow up quickly to repeat that success. Despite the loss of the five seniors, East Jessamine will field a competitive team and put up a great fight to keep their district title. I expect a big season from Sophomore Ronnie Carson, who is regarded as one of the top underclassmen in the region.
10. Danville - Danville returns 3 starters from last year's team. While the Admirals did not advance to the region tournament last season, they were competitve in just about every game they played. Danville will be led by seniors Christian Gateskill-Fuqua, Alex Burnside, Damir Karapandzic and Devonta Alcorn. Under second-year coach Andrew Zaheri, the boys are expected to be more comfortable in their roles this season. They have goals of an All "A" regional title and a trip to the All "A" semi-finals. While they fully understand that Somerset stands in their way, the Admirals are confident in their chances to win. The loss of Tryston Ford will hurt their ability to score, but they are expected to be able to make up for it collectively. The addition of Danville to the top 10 makes the 45th the toughest district from top to bottom (with all due respect to KSD). Finishing 4th in this district is not an insult at all.
11. Mercer County - Coach Brian Britt will field a somewhat young Mercer County team this season. Seniors John Ingram, Jordan Duncan, Cody Pike and Blake Pennington return, but Juniors Russell Sims, Marcus Warren and Chris Goodman will play a large part in Mercer's success this season. Russell Sims is the team's point guard and returning leading scorer. Sims stands on the verge of becoming one of the top players in the region. Goodman and Warren will help boost a frontcourt in need of help, while Junior Tommy Craig will provide some size and muscle down low – he has a nice touch from the perimeter as well. Freshmen Drew Davis and Will Hager both saw varsity time as 8th graders last season, with Davis actually being a returning starter. The growth of those two will go a long way toward Mercer's success this season and beyond. A case could be made for Mercer to be a top 10 team, but for now, they're just a hair below a more experienced Danville squad.
12. Rockcastle County - Led by coach Benny Blanton, Rockcastle County returns starters Ben Allen and Ashton Arvin to a team expected to be competitive this season. Rockcastle is in a tough district with Somerset and Pulaski County. Their wins and losses will be determined by whether or not they learn how to win early in the season. Sophomore Sam Pensol is regarded as possibly the best point guard at Rockcastle since Aaron Cash and will be key to the team's success. It will also allow John Curtis Wilson to move from the point to his natural position of shooting guard.
13. Casey County - Casey County returns top player Taylor Leigh (6'5") and adds top newcomer Baylen Hill (6'6") to the team this season. Hill started some last season, but has blossomed over the summer and could be one of the surprises of the region this year. Casey doesn't have great depth, but they have decent size and they're shooting the ball a lot better. After subpar shooting plagued the team last season, they spent much of their time this summer working on shooting. They will field an unselfish team that is expected to be a better all around team than the one they fielded last season.
14. Monticello - Monticello looks to improve on last year's six win seasonr. With a lineup of juniors and seniors, they should be able to accomplish that feat. They are in a tough district to make the region tournament, sharing it with Wayne County and Southwestern, but being more competitive in their district games should be an improvement for Coach Trevis Upchurch and Monticello.
15. McCreary Central - The loss of Tyson Williams to Somerset is a huge blow to McCreary Central's chances for success this season. While success is not unattainable, McCreary and coach Robert Jones have their work cut out for them. Juniors Ryan Strunk and Tyler Strunk will have opportunities to make names for themselves this season.
16. Burgin - Burgin returns one of the top players in the region in Alex Beckerson. Unfortunately for Burgin, that is about it. New coach Brian Kirk will have his hands full in his first full season at the helm in Burgin, but he will enjoy watching Alex Beckerson work. Sophomore John Price and Freshman Tommy Lopresto will gain valuable experience this season. Junior Mason Myers and Junior Nick Beckerson (Alex's younger brother), will also be key contributors to this year's team, along with Senior Jared Powell. Coming off of last season's successful 22-9 campaign, this looks to be a rebuilding year for Burgin.
17. Kentucky School for the Deaf - Coach Mike Yance returns top players Dillon Maynard, Adam Turner, Valdin Kudic and Bruce Gemmer this season. They are a very young team, but they have five players who gained valuable experience playing last season. Scoring is their major concern this season. They have spent time focusing on the fundamentals of the game and hope to see that pay off as the season progresses. With a favorable schedule this season, along with the possible maximum of 18 games against other deaf schools, the opportunity to build team morale, confidence and a sense of competitveness is high this season. This team is expected to play with heart and hustle – no matter what circumstances they face.
Top 10 Players in the 12th Region
1. Taylor Gover (Pulaski County) - Gover is the unanimous choice for top player in the region. The senior point guard has unlimited range and the ability to take over a game at anytime. Anyone who saw Gover's "flu game" last season in the region tournament can attest to that. His skills on defense and offense make him the easy choice as the top player in the region.
2. David Kapinga (Southwestern) - Kapinga is the floor general for Southwestern. He established himself quickly last season as a force to be reckoned with. lead the team, along with his defensive prowess, make him an all around player who affects the game in many ways. Once he develops a consistent jumper, he could pass Gover as top player in the region. Until then......he's the bridesmaid.
3. Justin Edwards (Southwestern) - The versatile Edwards forms a deadly 1-2 punch with Kapinga that is similar to the 1-2 punch provided by Pulaski County's Gover and Kody Johnson. Edwards gets the slight edge over Johnson, simply because of his consistency on the court. Edwards will still get you 20 points even if his shot isn't falling, by getting to the free throw line and scoring points. As a heady player who gets after it on both ends, this junior is an easy choice to be one of the top three players in the region.
4. Kody Johnson (Pulaski County) - Johnson is a very athletic guard/forward who also has the ability to take over a game at a moment's notice. Playing alongside Gover has brought many memorable games for Johnson in his career. Johnson has the talent to be the best player in the region and will have plenty of opportunity to assume that title – or make a hard run at it – this season.
5. Tyson Williams (Somerset) - Williams will be fun to keep track of this season. I have yet to see him play, but I've been told he also could be the best player in the region by the time it is all said and done. A big man with a mid-range game is what I have been told about Williams. He's a unanimous top five pick among the coaches as well. I look forward to following his progress this season.
6. Chase Fain (West Jessamine) - Fain is the kind of player who won't wow you with his looks on the court, but he is consistently good for the Colts. He's not the fastest or quickest guy on the court. He doesn't have a tremendous vertical, but this kid has moxie and heart and a motor that won't quit. When his jumper is falling the Colts are a very dangerous team, and you'll be asking, "Who is that #14?" The kid is a player.
7. Austin Sebastian (Garrard County) - This junior guard is the best player no one is talking enough about. Sebastian is a natural scorer who can score inside and out and can fill it up quickly. 12th Region coaches know who Austin Sebastian is. By the end of the year...you will too. Remember that name – Austin Sebastian.
8. Tyler Goins (Pulaski County) - Goins rounds out the trio from Pulaski County. He has an opportunity to move up the list as well, and his consistency will determine if he makes that happen. He is a ferocious rebounder, despite being outsized by a lot of big men in the region. His ability and accuracy to score in the paint, despite being smaller, is very impressive.
9. Luke Hill (Lincoln County) - Hill will lead Lincoln County this season and his play in the frontcourt is what garners him this spot in the top 10. Hill is capable of averaging a double-double and is the heart and soul of Lincoln County. Hill is a competitor who takes every loss to heart and another player who displays a motor that won't quit. He is tireless on the boards and brings his lunch pail to every practice, and to every game.
10. Alex Beckerson (Burgin) - There are many players deserving of a place in this top 10 list. Beckerson earned this last spot over a few others. Beckerson, like Hill, can be a double-double machine. He can score from inside and out with range extending behind the arc from time to time. He could probably be rated higher as the season goes on, depending on how he does against some of the better talent in the region.
Other Notable Players (in no particular order)
Russell Sims-Jr - Mercer County
Ronnie Carson So - East Jessamine (Top sophomore in the region)
Hagen Tyler So - Boyle County
Daulton Peters Jr - West Jessamine
Will Henderson Jr - West Jessamine
Justin Schultz Sr - Southwestern
Isaiah Collier So - Southwestern
Cam Cheuvront Jr - Somerset
Ryan Dishman Jr - Somerset
Timmy Bradshaw Sr - East Jessamine
Ben Allen Sr - Rockcastle County
Taylor Leigh Sr - Casey County
Baylen Hill Jr - Casey County
Ashton Arvin Sr - Rockcastle County
Brett Jones Sr - Boyle County
Micah Miniard Jr - Boyle County
Josiah Robbins - Boyle County
Colton Elkins - Boyle County
Slade Crutchfield - Garrard County
Drew Davis - Mercer County
Will Hager - Mercer County
Jerrod Ferris - Somerset
Daniel Coldiron- Somerset
Castle Hatcher - Somerset
Michael Dobbs - Somerset
Last edited by PurplePride92; Nov 15, 12 at 04:29 PM.