Week 4 produced a change at the top, as previously undefeated Danville dropped their rematch with Wayne County 51-40 on a neutral site. An argument can still be made for either Danville or Wayne at the top, and Lincoln County is closing fast. There is currently a gap between these top three teams and the rest of the 12th Region, although any of the next six or seven teams have the potential to improve enough to join the group at the top.

Holiday Season observations for the 12th Region:
· This Region was presumed to be down this year, and it may be, but perhaps not as much anticipated. It will be interesting to see how Wayne matches up with 9th Region surprise team Beechwood, how Mercer does vs. undefeated 13th Region powerhouse Clay County, and how West Jessamine fares in the loaded Central Bank Classic this week. Other 12th Region teams should all fare well in their respective in-state tournaments.
· It’s not coincidence that the top three ranked teams are also likely the top three best defensive teams. All three can be very difficult to score against in the half-court. Other teams have shown potential to play this level of defense (West and Boyle come to mind) but it is difficult to sustain defensive consistency with underclassmen and a there are a lot of underclassmen playing key minutes for teams below the top three.
· Transfers occasionally happen over the holiday break. Would not be surprised to see one this year that impacts this Region.
· Still too close to call on Player of the Year. Carter Baughman is putting up better overall scoring numbers and is turning the ball over less, but Dalton Bruner is grabbing six rebounds a game and playing more under control than in the past, helping him become more efficient offensively. The best player may end up being the one that makes his teammates around him better, and both teams will need that from them in order to break into the top echelon of teams in the Region.
· Way-too-early top five prediction for 2019-20: Wayne, Lincoln, Boyle, Pulaski, Somerset.

Here is a look at the week 4 results, rankings, and Week 5 key match-ups:

1. Wayne County – After a one-week absence from the top of the rankings, the Cardinals return based on their 5-0 week and victories over Mercer County and previously undefeated Danville. Wayne and Danville have now split their matchups, the Cardinals dropping a 60-57 game at Danville two weeks ago that could have gone either way and 51-40 neutral site win this past week in the Arby’s/KFC Holiday Classic at McCreary Central. The two teams are evenly matched, Wayne getting the slight nod (for now) based on the more convincing neutral site win. With Weaver, Gehring and Spencer all being threats on the perimeter and Burks scoring efficiently inside, the Cardinals currently have a wider variety of scoring options than the Admirals, but just by a whisker. Both teams defend well, Wayne applies better on-ball pressure while Danville is bigger and more athletic. The Cardinals play in the Lake Cumberland Holiday Hoops Classic this week, starting with a very challenging matchup vs. 10-1 Beechwood.

2. Danville – The Admirals suffered their first loss of the season, 51-40 to new #1 Wayne County in the Arby’s/KFC Holiday Classic at McCreary Central. Danville struggled to get good looks vs. the Cardinals and had to work for every bucket, nothing came easy. The Admirals also defeated Western Hills, McCreary Central and Scott (Tennessee) to go 3-1 on the week. Sophomore Dante Hayden continues to be the only Admiral scorer averaging in double figures (11.8 PPG), but as the most athletic team in the Region, Danville’s strength is in defense and rebounding. Danville plays tournament host in the Hilliard Lyons Holiday Hoop Classic this week, then prepares for a huge District showdown at Lincoln County on January 4.

3. Lincoln County – You don’t have to look too hard to see how much the Patriots have improved during the first month of the season. They opened the season in November with a 52-37 home loss to Lafayette, and this past week the defeated the same Lafayette 70-62 to win the Clash of the Titans tournament at Mercer County. Lincoln also defeated the host team 58-41, and Rockcastle County 60-42, on their way to the title. The Patriots have found a balanced attack, they can score inside and out, off the bounce or behind the 3-point line, and they can defend in the half-court and throw quick guards at you with pressure. They are still just below the top two but certainly have to capability to surpass them by season end. Lincoln travels to warm weather this week at Windermere Prep (Florida) to play in the Rock Holiday Classic.

4. West Jessamine – West dropped a winnable game vs. Pleasure Ridge Park this past Thursday in the People’s Exchange Bank Holiday Invitational at Henry Clay, 60-56, then defeated Great Falls (SC) 87-77 and Paul Lawrence Dunbar 59-49. The Colts have the talent to compete for the Region title this year, but they show signs of shooting for 2021, and their open gym style of play seems to enable consistent defeat of opponents with inferior talent but struggles against the better defenses who can force you to move and share the ball to score effectively in the half-court. West plays in one of the stronger tournaments this week, the Central Bank Classic at Lexington Christian where no less than five of the eight teams are ranked in the top 25 in the state. The Colts open with Covington Holy Cross on Thursday.

5. Mercer County– In a Monday home game this past week, the Titans led Wayne County deep into the 3rd quarter when Senior Guard Carter Baughman was forced to exit the game with a wrist injury, not to return; Wayne cruised from there, to a 70-55 victory. Fortunately, Baughman’s injury was not serious and he returned to action for the Clash of the Titans tournament where Mercer lost in the semifinals to Lincoln County 58-41. The Titans also had two victories as tournament host, 67-47 over Rockcastle County and 84-78 over Somerset. Mercer County has had a difficult schedule on their way to a 4-6 start, and it doesn’t get easier this week as they play 11-0 Clay County in the opening game of the Cumberland Falls Invitational. After that, however, the schedule lightens up considerably and the Titans should be able to put up a healthy record in early 2019.

6. Pulaski County– Four games in four days for the Maroons this week, going 3-1 in their home tournament, the M&W Shootout. A 71-66 close to a strong Clay County team was the only blemish, as Pulaski comfortably took care of Madison Southern and visiting teams from Tennessee and West Virginia. Sophomore Colton Fraley is leading the scoring at just over 20 points per game as the Maroons are yet another 12th Region team who plays a lot of underclassmen. Pulaski is off this week, then travels to Boyle County on January 2ndfor what will be a must-watch game and an indicator of the Maroon’s capability to position themselves amongst the Region’s top teams.

7. Boyle County– Boyle opened the week with a 79-61 loss on the road against Frankfort, one of the surprise teams of the season so far as they own wins over Franklin County and top-20 powerhouse Henry Clay. The Rebels move up a spot in the rankings this week not because of that game, but from an impressive and hard-fought 63-54 victory over Taylor County on Saturday night, who came into the game with a 9-1 record. Boyle County travels to play in the Nelson County Classic this week where they have three winnable games in a round-robin format, Thursday through Saturday.

8. Garrard County – After a 55-45 road loss at Southwestern to start the week, the Golden Lions returned home and defeated Augusta 81-60. In that win, Junior Guard Braden Sebastian broke the school’s single game scoring record with 55 points on 21-30 shooting, adding 17 rebounds in a dominating performance. Sebastian is now averaging a double/double, with 25.3 points per game and just over 10 rebounds per game. Garrard has a good chance to make some noise in the Henry County Invitational this week, starting with a game on Thursday vs. Bishop Brossart.

9. Somerset– The Briar Jumpers traveled to Mercer County this week for the Clash of the Titans tournament this week, where they dropped three in a row – 48-40 to Shelby County, 62-54 to Lafayette, and 84-78 in overtime to the tournament host. Somerset was competitive and had a chance to win in all three games, they have been in every game this season against some strong competition; their young roster continues to show improvement and these close losses could flip to wins by season end. The Briar Jumpers have four players (nearly five) averaging in double figures, they are a fun team to watch play and have a bright future should the strong Sophomore class continue to develop. Somerset plays Thursday through Saturday in the Lake Cumberland Holiday Classic this week.

10. Rockcastle County – It was a tough road for the Rockets this week, losing 67-47 to Mercer County and 60-42 to Lincoln County in the Clash of the Titans tournament. The Rockets finished the week with a 58-54 loss to Shelby County. Senior Guard Cade Burdette has been lighting it up from the three-point line and is leading a balanced scoring attack with just over 11 points per game. The Rockets travel to Montgomery County Friday through Sunday next week for the Gateway Holiday Classic.

11. Casey County – This was a solid bounce-back week for the Rebels, starting with a 76-68 road win over McCreary Central and two tournament wins over visiting teams from Tennessee to advance to the finals of the Arby’s/KFC Classic. Unfortunately, Casey then ran into 12th Region powerhouse Wayne County, who prevailed over the Rebels 73-56. Senior Guard Maximo Reyes is averaging nearly 30 points per game is among the state leaders in scoring, while Sophomore Spencer Baird is averaging nearly 20 points per game. The Rebels travel to Campbellsville to play in their Holiday Classic next week.

12. Southwestern- The Warriors started a busy week with a strong home win over Garrard County, 55-45, then lost to Madison Southern 70-57. Southwestern won two games as tournament host over teams from West Virginia and Tennessee before dropping the championship game to Clay County, 68-54. After five games in six days, with a 2-3 record, the Warriors will need the holiday break to rest up before traveling to LaRue County for three more games in the Magnolia Bank Holiday Classic. Juniors Cole Dysinger and Braden Sims are averaging 15.3 and 12.3 points per game respectively, leading the Senior-less Warriors to a 5-6 start to the season.

13. East Jessamine – The Jaguars traveled to Lincoln County on Tuesday and were not competitive, suffering a 72-37 loss to the rapidly improving Patriots. East bounced back nicely with a 67-53 win over a Fleming County team that was 7-2 coming in, this was played in the Kentucky Bank Challenge at Rowan County. The Jags completed the week in Rowan County with a 60-55 loss to Louisville Eastern. Senior Forward Tyler Pitney continues to lead the way for East Jessamine, averaging a double/double with 18.1 points per game and 11.1 rebounds per game.

14. McCreary Central – The Raiders dropped to 1-9 on the season, dropping four games this week to Barbourville, Casey County, Danville, and Scott (Tennessee), before getting their second win with a 82-60 victory over Sunbright, Tennessee on Sunday to complete a very busy 5-game week as KFC/Arby’s Classic tournament host. Up next is Rowan County in the Williamstown Holiday Tournament.

15. Burgin – Two more wins this week, 61-42 at Frederick Fraize and 49-36 over Community Christian from Paducah put the Bulldogs at 9-1 on the season. Burgin does not play again until January 5.

16. Danville Christian – A road win at KSD moves the Warriors to 2-7 in their inaugural season in the KHSAA, next game is January 5 vs. Frankfort Christian.

17. Kentucky School for the Deaf (KSD) – Two losses at home to Beth Haven and Danville Christian, KSD is off until January 10.

Key 12th Region Games of the Week:
Thursday, December 27
Wayne County vs. Beechwood, 7:00 p.m. (Lake Cumberland Holiday Hoops Classic)
West Jessamine vs. Covington Holy Cross, 3:00 p.m. (Central Bank Classic @ Lexington Christian Academy)
Mercer County vs. Clay County, 9:00 p.m. (Cumberland Falls Invitational @ Corbin)

Thursday through Saturday Tournament Action with 12th Region Teams:
Lake Cumberland Holiday Hoops Classic, Various Sites(Wayne County, Somerset)
Nelson County Classic(Boyle County)
Hillard Lyons Holiday Hoops Classic @ Danville(Danville)
Central Bank Classic@ LCA (West Jessamine)
Rock Holiday Classic, Windermere Prep, Florida (Lincoln County)
Cumberland Falls Invitational Tournament @ Corbin(Mercer County)
Henry County Invitational (Garrard County, East Jessamine)
Campbellsville High School Holiday Classic (Casey County)
Magnolia Bank Holiday Classic @ LaRue County (Southwestern)
Williamstown Holiday Tournament(McCreary Central)