Week 7 included several big District contests, a couple of minor upsets, and the overnight emergence of a new contender for the Region crown. And while all these intra-District games may be helping things get clearer across the Region, the picture in the 45th District has become muddled as two key players that have been out with injury have returned for Boyle County, likely making them an immediate contender. It is too early to tell exactly how they will stack up against the Region’s best, but initial indications are that they will be in, or at least very near, the top tier.

This should be yet another exciting week in the 12th Region. There are more District rivalry matchups (Garrard County has two, huge week for them), the All ‘A’ Classic, and a few teams who are playing some strong competition outside the Region. Wayne County will represent the 12th Region well in the Toyota Classic, West Jessamine and Lincoln County will both take on a surging Madison Central team who is starting to play up to their preseason billing, and the renewed Boyle County team gets a crack at #9 Collins.

Here is a look at the Week 7 results, rankings, and Week 8 key match-ups:

1. Wayne County – The Cardinals breezed to a 2-0 week with a 75-42 win over McCreary Central and a 92-66 romp over Clinton (Tennessee). In the McCreary game, Junior Kameron Gehring hit a ridiculous 8 out of 10 three-pointers on his way to 26 points. Wayne County continues to demonstrate that they are the best 3-point shooting team in the Region and one of the best in the state. After a Tuesday home game this week vs. Rockcastle County, the Cardinals play Wednesday in the Toyota Classic in Scott County, their first game is against Frederick Douglass where it will be interesting to see how they matchup vs. the athleticism of the Broncos. Game two will be against either Woodford County or Lafayette, both who are excellent perimeter defensive teams that could give the Cardinals some trouble. Should they win the first two, a showdown with host Scott County would await. A busy week for Wayne, helpful tournament preparation.

2. Danville – The Admirals are now 3-0 in the 45th District and 16-1 overall, winning 65-41 at Boyle County on Tuesday and 89-82 at home vs. Garrard County on Friday, the latter being one of the more entertaining games of the year as both teams lit it up in a high-paced affair. Danville has proven to be one of the deepest teams in the Region, perhaps the state, and they are going to need that depth as they have lost Senior point guard Tevin Kavanaugh for the season to an ACL injury. Kavanaugh will be missed, he did a large percentage of the ball handling, was outstanding at breaking down defenses with his penetration, and caused havoc on defense with his on-ball pressure. Sophomore guard Dante Hayden and Junior Trey Dawson, who together have made over half of Danville’s three-pointers on the season, have picked up some of the point guard responsibilities. The Admirals play in the 12th Region All ‘A’ Classic this week and could get a test from an improving Somerset team, but if they defend at the high level they are capable of they should not only cruise to the 12th Region All ‘A’ title but will represent the Region well in the State All ‘A’ Classic in two weeks.

3. Lincoln County – The Patriots opened the week with one of their better performances of the season, a 71-41 win over a solid Pulaski County team where they both shut down the Maroons defensively and shot the ball extremely well. Lincoln may have wanted to save some of that shooting for Friday night, as they took a 51-46 home loss to the ‘new and improved’ Boyle County in an important 45th District matchup. Despite dropping to 0-2 in the District, the Patriots hold on to the #3 spot this week because at times they have looked like one of the top teams; but they have demonstrated some inconsistency and there are a number of teams just below them ready to jump ahead. They have looked like a primary contender in some games (West, Lafayette, Mercer, Pulaski) and other times like a mid-tier team (Danville, Eastern, Boyle). Three games this week should provide some clarity about Lincoln, starting with a Tuesday home game against 45th District foe Garrard County. The Patriots then travel to play at Madison Central on Friday, and against PL Dunbar in the Tim Short Automotive Classic at GRC on Saturday.

4. West Jessamine – West had the look of a contender this week, upsetting #12 ranked Lexington Christian (LCA) 69-62 on Tuesday and defeating District rival East Jessamine 66-55 on Friday. LCA had dropped 3 of 4 games and may have been looking forward to their District game vs. Lafayette, but the West victory was impressive nonetheless as they had trailed throughout most of the game before catching fire in the 4th Quarter to pull out the win. West also trailed East for most of the game and repeated the week’s pattern with a second half rally to go 12-6 on the season and 2-0 in the District. Senior Guard and POY candidate Dalton Bruner returned to the court this week and as expected played a huge part in the two victories, hitting big shots and making key defensive plays in critical moments. Perhaps the time off was transformational for Bruner, he appeared to play with a new level of maturity, under control and focused on making his teammates better rather than his own performance. If this becomes habit, look out for West down the stretch. Madison Central and District rival Mercer County are up this week.

5. Boyle County – It was very difficult to determine where to rank the Rebels this week. As of Thursday this past week they had a 4-9 record and had lost five of six games, including a 65-41 blowout by District rival Danville. Then came Friday and another District game, this one at #3 Lincoln County, where Juniors Reese Smith and Grant Hotchkiss got their first action of the season in an impressive 51-46 road victory. And while neither may yet be in top condition, they made an immediate impact and the Rebels looked like a different team when they were on the floor. There is already a strong group of young players who have been taking their licks for Boyle, but the freak athleticism of Smith and the experience of point guard Hotchkiss changes things immensely for the 45th District and the 12th Region. This ranking is best guess of where they are currently, games this week against state #9 Collins and District rival Garrard County should provide a good initial indication of where the Rebels are.

6. Mercer County– The Titans opened the week with a 70-61 home win over Western Hills, then lost 70-66 to a red-hot Bourbon County team in a Kentucky 2A Championship sectional game to end their 5-game winning streak. Mercer drops in the rankings this week as teams that were just below them have been showing marked improvement while the Titans have yet to beat a really good team. They have the talent and potential to be a contender but need a ‘signature’ win to prove that they should be considered among the Region’s elite teams. With a full week off to prepare for their big District game vs. West this coming Friday, Mercer will likely get that first big win; they certainly have a good opportunity to make a statement. Senior Guard and POY candidate Carter Baughman continues to be among the state leaders in points and three-point shooting, Juniors Jamisen Lewis and Kaelin Drakeford are producing good numbers, but some consistency from the remaining cast is needed for the Titans to be a serious contender.

7. Somerset – The Briar Jumpers extended their winning streak to five games this week, starting with an exciting 88-81 overtime victory over Pulaski County on Tuesday before traveling to Anderson County and winning 60-48 on Friday. The Briar Jumpers are neck-in-neck with Pulaski County for supremacy in the 47th District, the teams are evenly matched and picking the better team is a tossup. Somerset gets the nod due to their victory over the Maroons this past week, but these teams are going to be fighting to be the top-ranked 47th team for the remainder of the season (and a couple more seasons).

8. Pulaski County – This was a busy week for the Maroons, starting with a District game at Somerset on Monday where they dropped an 88-81 overtime thriller to the Briar Jumpers in what could be a preview of the District championship. Pulaski then endured a tough road trip to Lincoln County on Tuesday where they got outclassed in a strong performance by the Patriots while struggling through 2 for 17 three-point shooting, losing 71-41. The Maroons returned home for a 67-49 victory over Southwestern on Friday and a 78-59 win over Montgomery County in Southwestern’s Iron Warrior Classic on Saturday. Pulaski begins a stretch of six consecutive games away from home this week, playing at Casey County on Tuesday and Clay County on Friday.

9. Garrard County – The Golden Lions probably do not deserve to drop a notch in the rankings after playing at such a high level in their 89-82 loss to #2 Danville this week, but the emergence of a renewed Boyle County team that Garrard just defeated a couple of weeks ago has changed the picture in both the 45th District and the 12thRegion. Garrard has some ‘bad losses’ (Boone, Montgomery, Southwestern) that keep them just outside the next tier of teams in the Region, but the Golden Lions seem to play their best basketball within the Region so there is ample opportunity for a climb in the rankings in weeks ahead. Junior Braden Sebastian has found his stride and is simply filling it up; putting up 44 points against Danville, one of the best defensive teams in the state, is no small feat. The effort was rewarded with a postgame offer from Campbellsville University, and there will be more of those in Braden’s future. Garrard may be 9th in this ranking, but they can potentially beat any one of the teams ahead of them and will certainly be a threat to survive the 45th and advance to the Regional tournament.

10. East Jessamine – The Jaguars dropped a winnable home game this week to Western Hills, 63-54, they may have been looking forward to Friday’s huge rivalry game vs. West Jessamine. East played very well against the Colts, led for much of the contest before bowing 66-55. Sophomore Guard Ben McNew’s three-point shooting kept the Jaguars in the game, he is a savvy player who repeatedly took advantage of West’s younger defenders by freeing himself up for open looks as they watched the ball. Senior Forward Tyler Pitney drew a lot of attention from the Colts defense, he was held to four points but did contribute his normal double-figure rebound effort. East stays on the road this week, starting with at Tuesday game at Lexington Catholic and then to Nelson County on Friday.

11. Casey County – The Rebels had a nice week, starting with a 55-51 win at Anderson County on Tuesday and a huge 74-56 win in big District game at Rockcastle County on Friday. Casey traveled to Russell County and dropped a tough 68-65 game there, a difficult task considering it was the day after their big District road win. The Rebels have only one game this week and it is a big one, at home on Tuesday against Pulaski County.

12. Southwestern - The Warriors defeated Jackson County 84-52 on Tuesday this past week, then traveled to Pulaski County on Friday where they lost 67-49. They recovered nicely on Saturday in their Iron Warrior Classic event, dominating Nelson County in a 72-34 romp. Southwestern hosts McCreary Central on Wednesday this week and plays at Madison Southern on Friday.

13. Rockcastle County – The Rockets have now lost five in a row, including a 74-56 home District loss to an improving Casey County team. Rockcastle also lost to North Laurel and is now 3-12 on the season, with road games at Wayne County, McCreary Central and Marion County up this week.

14. McCreary Central - The Raiders had a nice 70-68 home win vs. Russell County on Tuesday this past week, then had to travel to take on #1 Wayne County on Friday evening where they lost 75-42. This week will be a busy one for McCreary, four games are scheduled – on the road at Scott (Tennessee) and Southwestern, home against Rockcastle and Bell County.

15. Burgin – The Bulldogs dropped to 10-3 this week after a 67-46 home loss to Berea and a 63-52 loss at Frankfort Christian. Danville Christian is up next, in the 12th Region All ‘A’ Classic at Washington County.

16. Danville Christian – A 52-23 win over Kentucky School for the Deaf (KSD) on Thursday was backed up by 67-39 loss to Heart for Christ, a home-school team from Louisville. The Warriors play Burgin on Monday in Washington County to kick off the 12th Region All ‘A’ Classic.

17. Kentucky School for the Deaf (KSD) – KSD lost 52-23 to Danville Christian this past Thursday, then dropped three consecutive games in their home tournament to fall to 0-12 on the season.

Key 12th Region Games of the Week:
Tuesday, January 15
Garrard County at Lincoln County, 7:30 p.m.
Madison Central at West Jessamine, 7:30 p.m.
Pulaski County at Casey County, 7:30 p.m.
East Jessamine at Lexington Catholic, 6:00 p.m.
Danville vs. Somerset, 7:30 p.m., at Washington County (All ‘A’ Classic)
Collins at Boyle County, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, January 16
Wayne County vs. Frederick Douglass, 7:00 p.m. at Scott County (Toyota Classic)

Friday, January 11
Wayne County vs. TBD, at Scott County (Toyota Classic)
Lincoln County at Madison Central, 7:30 p.m.
West Jessamine at Mercer County, 7:30 p.m.
Garrard County at Boyle County, 7:30 p.m.
Pulaski County at Clay County, 7:30 p.m.