2012-2013 Kentucky High School Basketball Preview - 2nd Region Boys
It’s been a long time since the Second Region saw such a large coaching turnover, with nearly half the teams featuring a new head coach on the sidelines. One team that won't have that problem is Hopkinsville. Head Coach Tim Haworth returns, and for good reason – he has several starters back from last year’s region championship team.
After the Tigers, you could throw teams two through nine in a bag and shake them up to get the next five teams in the region.
Both Henderson County and Christian County have new coaches, while Lyon County and Hopkins County Central return virtually everyone from last year.
Madisonville, Caldwell County, and University Heights also feature new coaches, which make them tough to gauge in the early part of the season. Plus, a long playoff run by Caldwell County will mean several starters who also play on the gridiron will be late to hit the hardwood.
Trigg County could be a sleeper, but will have to replace their front court, because of a transfer and another starter not opting to return.
If Hopkinsville is hit by injuries, or simply underachieves in 2012-13, it will be fun to see who tries to snatch the region crown from them.
Preseason 2nd Region Rankings
1. Hopkinsville (32-3) – The Tigers return just about everyone from last year’s team that won 32 games before losing in the first round of the Sweet 16. Seniors Jordan Majors (16.4 ppg., 5.4 rpg.) and T.J. Elam return in the backcourt, along with 6-2 junior Trey Edwards (7.0 ppg.). 6-4 sophomore Jaqualis Matlock (12.3 ppg., 8.4 rpg.) led the frontcourt in scoring last year. 6-4 Jamonte Davis also gives the Tigers some size in the paint. The Tigers must improve their perimeter shooting and free throw percentage while staying healthy. If they can do those, it should be an easy run through the region and a trip to Rupp Arena in March.
2. Christian County (9-22) – All five starters return for new head coach Josh Smith, who returns to the coaching ranks after a year off. The Colonels have the size and speed to potentially unseat Hopkinsville in the district, the region, or both. And with both teams in the tough Eighth District, there is a chance Christian County will see Hoptown four times this year.Guards C.J. Cotton (6-0, Sr.) and Jarvis Irby (5-11, Sr.) return in the backcourt. Cotton led the Colonels in scoring at 10.5 points, while Irby chipped in 10.4 points a game and led the team in assists and 3-point shooting. 6-5 junior Demarius Poindexter presents matchup problems for opponents because he can play either inside or out. He averaged 8.3 points and 4.3 rebounds last year.6-3 senior James White (7.2 ppg., 4.2 rpg.) and 6-4 sophomore Devon Wharton return in the frontcourt, while senior guard Korey Mosely averaged 6.3 points last year. Eighth grader Tray Hollowell could prove to be a backcourt contributor as the season wears on. He is already drawing the interest of some recruiting services.Smith takes over at Christian County for Tyler Smithhart, who took the Henderson County job. Smith led the Clarksville Academy (Tennessee) to the 2010 state title with an up-tempo style offense that featured some size in the middle. “I am going to play an offensive style that I believe gives us the best chance to win,” Smith said. “Defensively, no matter what the talent of my teams, they have always been known for playing aggressively, but not so recklessly that we give up easy shots.”
3. Henderson County (18-15) – Former Colonel Tyler Smithhart takes over at his alma mater after one season as Christian County head coach. The Colonels stumbled through some off the court issues and a rare district loss to Webster County in the postseason. As a result, head coach Mark Starns was shown the door after an 18-15 record.Smithhart has several important pieces back in 2012-13, but no double-digit scorer among them. 6-3 Junior Kaleb Duckworth averaged over eight points a game and gives the Colonels some size down low. 6-4 junior Cain Cooper will be looked to contribute more this year, while sophomore David Simmons gave solid minutes as a freshman. Senior Rick Armstead returns in the backcourt, and freshman D.J. Washington is a player to watch. Regardless of the number of players returning, Henderson County always has enough size and depth to challenge for the region title. If Smithhart can get the players to adapt to his system quickly, they could be a challenge to Hopkinsville in the region tournament.
4. Lyon County (15-17) – If there is a sleeper in the region, it could very well be Lyon County. Jeff Embrey’s team returns four starters from last year’s 15-win team. They are also hoping to add transfer Thomas Scott from Crittenden County, if the move is approved by the KHSAA.Senior Bobby Staples and sophomore Jordan Gary gives the Lyons some quickness in the backcourt, which allows them to prosper in Embrey’s coaching style. Tyler Martin and Jericho Wilkerson should see their numbers improve this year with more playing time. If the 6-foot-4 Scott does indeed join the Lyons, they become the immediate favorite in the Fifth District and could be a sleeper in the region with the right draw.
5. Trigg County (21-9) – The Wildcats return four starters in what will be Mike Wright’s final season as head coach. The veteran skipper announced over the summer that he will retire at season’s end. He and the Wildcats hope the end is a little later than it has been in recent years. The Wildcats have won 50 games the last three seasons, but haven’t advanced past the first round of the district tournament. The Wildcats and Lyon County should challenge for the district title and, with the right draw, either team could make some noise in the district. Trigg returns senior guard Deonquez Nance, who averaged 22 points a game topped the 1,000-point mark for his career. Junior guard Cole Gardner (8.2 ppg.) and senior guard Dee Murphy (7.1 ppg.) also return in the backcourt to lead the up-tempo offense. The Wildcats could be vulnerable inside. 6-2 senior David Wease (8.7 ppg., 5.0 rpg.) can score, but is undersized at 6-1. It isn’t immediately known if Luke McKenzie, who is also the quarterback on the football team, will play basketball. He averaged 7.3 points and 4.5 rebounds a game. 6-4 freshman Jonta Acree could be a viable option inside for the Wildcats. The Wildcats should have no trouble scoring. They averaged 71 points a game. However, they allowed 64 points a game.
6. Caldwell County (4-25) – Former Tiger Daniel Kukahiko returns to Princeton to take over the reins of Caldwell County, who won just four games last year – managing just 16 wins the past three seasons.However, this could be a fun team to watch in 2012-13.Elijah Sindelar proved to be a tough matchup for opponents. The 6-4 sophomore averaged 19.6 points and 7.4 rebounds a game and can play all five positions. Sindelar gets help inside from 6-5 sophomore Eli Pepper (8.1 ppg., 6.8 rpg.) and 6-4 senior Jacob Haberlock. The Tigers will also get a boost from Tez Sivills, who missed all of last year with a knee injury. As a sophomore, Sivills averaged nearly eight points a game. Senior Haydon Stewart (10.3 ppg.) and junior Luke McCarty (7.3 ppg.) also return for the Tigers.
7. University Heights (14-12) – After five seasons and 91 wins, including an All-A state title, Randy McCoy headed back to eastern Kentucky, leaving Grant Shouse to take over a UHA team that lost most of its scoring from last year.Juniors Ryan P’Pool and Austin Byrum will be counted on to improve last year’s numbers, while sophomores Dashjon Brown and Lamontas Johnson return in the backcourt which should allow the Blazers to continue to play pressure defense.
8. Union County (10-19) – The Braves backcourt received a boost when the school hired Nick Chaykowsky as an assistant coach. His son, Zack started at Ballard Memorial last year and averaged 10 points a game. He is expected to team with junior Jashaud Fleming to run the offense for Union County.Head coach Mike Hensley likes his team’s depth this year.“We will be an up-tempo team that has plenty of depth,” Hensley said. “We feel we can go nine deep this year, with little difference in who we have on the floor. We should be a very good defensive team with a lot of speed.”
9. Hopkins County Central (9-22) – The Storm have several key people back and could surprise some in the region this year. Last year, senior guard Chris Campbell showed flashes of taking his game to the next level. He’s joined in the backcourt by senior Ishmael Foster. 6-4 Jonathon Jones (Sr.) and 6-2 Reid Scott (Jr.) give the Storm a little size inside.
10. Madisonville (23-9) – Madisonville lost eight of their top nine players and their coach, Marty Cline, who stepped down at season’s end. Assistant coach Matt Beshear takes over the job of restocking the Maroon cupboard.Senior guard Daylyn Jones averaged 11.5 points a game last year but will have an entirely new supporting cast this year. Junior Alex Gray and senior Iran White should join Jones in the backcourt, while senior Michael Soder saw limited time in the frontcourt last year.Beshear will use last year’s talented JV team to stock this year’s squad, which should make the transition smoother.
11. Crittenden County (11-20) – The Rockets return four starters from a squad that fell in the first round of the district tournament last year. Ethan Hill (6-0, Sr, 5.8 ppg.) and Aaron Owen (5-8, Jr., 9.8 ppg.) lead the backcourt, while blue collar workers Devin Clark (6-3, Sr., 8.2 ppg., 10.1 reb.) and Bobby Knox (6-2, Sr., 7.5 ppg., 6.3 reb.) anchor the inside.Travis Gilbert (5-8, Jr.) and Noah Dickerson (5-11, Soph.) saw considerable action last year and will have a chance to crack the starting lineup this year. If the Rockets develop some depth, they could make a surprise run in the district.
12. Livingston Central (21-11) – Kyle Yates moves up to take over the head coaching job, replacing Rex Booth, who left after one season (and a district title) to become an assistant coach at Trigg County. Yates will try to build around sophomore Austin Woodward, but will have to replace most of the team’s size and scoring that was lost to graduation.
13. Webster County (20-11) –The Trojans ended Henderson County’s 11-year rein as Sixth District champions and won the school’s first district title since 1986 for first-year head coach Jon Newton.However, Newton must replace all but two-percent of his team’s production from last year.“When I say 98-percent of our production, I'm just not talking about scoring,” Newton said of what was lost to graduation. “I'm including every statistical category that you can track. With that being said, I really like this year's team. We are young, small, and inexperienced, but I really feel as the season goes on we will get better.”6-4 senior Dan Boswell and 6-1 senior Logan Prow saw the most varsity time last year and will be the leaders Newton turns to this year. Sophomores Mason Rolan and Max McMain will also see some time this year.
14. Fort Campbell (5-21) – At Fort Campbell, military transfers mean they never know who is going to be on the floor from one year to the next. And, as of last week, the Falcons still had not named a head coach. Sophomore Jonathon Jethroe and Junior Isaiah Washington both saw considerable playing time last year.
15. Dawson Springs (5-25) – The Panthers could challenge the .500 mark if they can stay healthy and develop some depth. If they don’t, it could be another five-win season.Senior Colton Chapple and senior Reed Smiley both return for the Panthers.
Top Players in the 2nd Region
1. Jordan Majors 6'3", Sr. (Hopkinsville) – He can take over the game in transition and on defense. Opposing coaches will line up to send him graduation cards when the season is over.
2. Jaqualis Matlock 6'4", Soph. (Hopkinsville) – Matlock’s game should really take off this year with Majors running the point again. Tough to guard down low.
3. Deonquez Nance 5'9", Sr. (Trigg County) – May be one of the quickest guards in the region. His outside shot is an underrated part of his game.
4. Elijah Sindelar 6'4", Soph. (Caldwell County) – Can play any position on the floor. He and Matlock may be the two toughest players to guard in the region.
5. C.J. Cotton 6'0", Sr. (Christian County) – Cotton’s game should flourish in the up-tempo style of new head coach Josh Smith.
6. Jarvis Irby 5'11", Sr. (Christian County) – If he cuts down on his turnovers, he could become the best point guard in the district. Underrated shooter.
7. Kaleb Duckworth 6'3", Jr. (Henderson County) – Region coaches expect him to have a breakout year for new coach Tyler Smithhart.
8. Daylyn Jones 5'10", Sr. (Madisonville) – He will be counted on as the playmaker for new coach Matt Beshear.
9. Zack Chaykowsky 6'1", Jr. (Union County) – Prototypical coach’s son – Can shoot, play defense, and is hard-nosed.
10. Bobby Staples 6'0", Sr. (Lyon County) – One of the best defenders in the region.
Returning Coaches’ Record at School
Mike Wright (Trigg County) - 201-210 (15 years)
Jeff Embrey (Lyon County) - 89-56 (5 years)
Tim Haworth (Hopkinsville) - 48-10 (2 years)
Mike Hensley (Union County) - 24-33 (2 years)
Jon Newton (Webster County) - 20-11 (1 year)
Toby Miles (Hopkins County Central) - 17-44 (2 years)
Denis Hodge (Crittenden County) - 11-20 (1 year)
Jeff Miller (Dawson Springs) - 11-46 (2 years)
Ten Year Record for Second Region Schools (2003-12)
1. Henderson County - .702 (203-86)
2. Hopkinsville - .659 (192-99)
3. University Heights - .630 (184-108)
4. Christian County - .613 (184-116)
5. Madisonville - .611 (176-112)
6. Trigg County - .581 (167-120)
7. Webster County - .569 (155-117)
8. Lyon County - .473 (130-145)
9. Livingston Central - .440 (114-145)
10. Union County - .437 (118-152)
11. Hopkins County Central - .436 (126-163)
12. Crittenden County - .415 (105-148)
13. Caldwell County - .382 (100-162)
14. Fort Campbell - .323 (78-163)
15. Dawson Springs - .237 (60-193)