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13th Region Tournament Preview
at Harlan County High School

District champions —
49th — Clay County (23-6); 50th Corbin (24-6); 51st — Knox Central (17-13); 52nd — Harlan County (23-7)

District runner-ups — 49th — North Laurel (15-15); 50th — South Laurel (13-16); 51st — Barbourville (19-11); 52nd — Middlesboro (15-13)

Monday, Feb. 25
First Round

Corbin vs. Middlesboro, 6:15 p.m.
Clay County vs. Barbourville, 7:45 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 26
First Round

Harlan County vs. South Laurel, 6:15 p.m.
Knox Central vs. North Laurel, 7:45 p.m.

Friday, March 1

Corbin/Middlesboro winner vs. Clay County/Barbourville winner, 6:15 p.m.
Harlan County/South Laurel winner vs. Knox Central/North Laurel winner, 7:45 p.m.

Saturday, March 2

TBD, 7:30 p.m.

Team Previews
Barbourville — The Tigers have been a pleasant surprise in the 13th Region this season and posted a 12-7 record against 13th Region opponents. Dinky Phipps’ squad had been one of the hottest teams in the region before seeing its seven-game win streak snapped after losing to rival Knox Central in the 51st District title game.
Barbourville is led by senior Devon Mills, who is also one of the top players in the region. Tanner Moore, Jason Mills, sharpshooter Alexander Phipps and Kevin Engle also play big roles for the Tigers. Phipps is one of the best three-point shooters in the region and Jason Mills can light up the scoreboard, too.

Versus Clay County this season — the two teams haven’t played against each other.

Clay County — Robert Marcum’s squad is searching for its first 13th Region title since the 2001 season and could very well be the team to beat. The Tigers are 13-2 against 13th Region competition and enters with a tournament-best 12-game win streak. The last team to beat them? Try Harlan County, a 58-47 win on Jan. 10.
Clay County is led by guard Chip McDaniel, who leads the team with a 17.6 scoring average. Marty Bowling is averaging a double-double (11.5 points and 10.9 rebounds) while Stephon Lyttle (11.3 points per game) and Kody Reed (10 points per game) are offensive threats, too.

Versus Barbourville this season — The two teams haven’t played each other.

Corbin — The Redhounds are another pleasant surprise in the region. Corbin enters the tournament with a region-best 24-6 record along with a 16-3 mark against regional opponents. The Redhounds are also riding a nine-game win streak while going 14-1 during their past 15 games. Tony Pietrowski ahs received balanced-scoring from this group with Hunter Grubb, Robbie Igo, Zach Farley and Kaleb Maguet leading the way. One player to keep an eye on is Kevin Goins, who is capable of putting up big numbers at any given game.

Versus Middlesboro this season — The Redhounds cruised to an easy 68-51 win over the Yellow Jackets on Jan. 8 at home.

Harlan County — The Black Bears will enter as the team to beat in the tournament. They have put together an impressive 14-3 mark against 13th Region teams this season with their only losses coming against Bell County, Barbourville and Corbin.
They have never won a 13th Region Tournament game (0-4) and have been upset the past two seasons in first round action by Clay County.
Harlan County is led by Tyler Brewer, who is one of the top players in the region. Alex Sergent is tough to stop from the outside while players such as Chad Massigill and Aaron Caldwell are tough to stop in the post.

Versus South Laurel this season — The Black Bears beat South Laurel on the road on Dec. 15, 44-32.

Knox Central — The Panthers are a dangerous team. Knox Central started the season with a 5-1 record, including a 68-62 win over Clay County, but injuries began to take its toll on Brian Evans’ team after that and they finished the season going 12-12. The good news, though, Knox Central is now healthy and showed they are hard to beat during last week’s 51st District tournament by shooting 62 percent against Pineville and 54 percent against Barbourville. The Panthers are led by guard Matt Barger and the region’s best outside shooter in Jeremy Adams. Big men Tobie Merida and Chad Marsee have played well in the post while Jacob Wilburn, Nathan Cole and Dustin Hensley have provided solid play, too. Knox Central is 9-7 against 13th Region teams.

Versus North Laurel this season — The Panthers dropped a 63-47 road decision to the Jaguars on Feb. 15.

Middlesboro — This might be the region’s toughest team to read. Middlesboro surprised many by going 8-2 to begin the season while later capturing the 13th Region All ‘A’ Classic championship, but they slowed down after the win over Pineville while posting a 3-6 record since. They also dropped an 83-56 decision to Harlan County in the 52nd District title game. Middlesboro is led by Donnie Foister and Austin Poindexter. The way they go, the Yellow Jackets tend to go. Middlesboro is 10-9 against

Versus Corbin this season — The Yellow Jackets fell to Corbin, 68-51, on Jan. 8.

North Laurel — Everyone forgets the Jaguars are the defending 13th Region champions and return Marcus Carson, Kendrick Henson Jake Allen and Austin Rush to the mix. The key will be Allen, who is considered as one of the top players in the region. North Laurel has struggled, though. The Jaguars’ largest win streak has only been three games this season and they limped into postseason play going 7-8 beginning on Jan. 4. North Laurel did finish regular season play with an impressive 63-47 win over Knox Central before knocking off Jackson County in the 49th District Tournament. Brad Sizemore’s squad is 8-01 against 13th Region foes.

Versus Knox Central this season — The Jaguars defeated Knox Central at home on Feb. 15, 63-47.

South Laurel — Many believe the Cardinals will be one-and-done in the region tournament, but don’t count them out. South Laurel’s 8-7 mark against 13th Region foes might be a bit deceiving. The Cardinals have had to deal with injuries and are beginning to hit stride at the right time. South Laurel is led by guard Blake Sanders, who missed the Cardinals’ earlier game against Harlan County, due to an injury. Sophomore Zac Baxter is one of the top scorers in the game while Matt Slavey is a dangerous shooter from the outside. The key against Harlan County might be South Laurel’s play in the post, so players such as Austin Schaser, Tyler Vandeventer and Jon Helston will have to step up.

Versus Harlan County this season — The Cardinals fell at home to the Black Bears on Dec. 15, 44-32.

Top Eight
1. Clay County
2. Harlan County
3. Corbin
4. Knox Central
5. North Laurel
6. South Laurel
7. Barbourville
8. Middlesboro

13th Region’s Top Players
1. Devon Mills, Barbourville — No one has put together a better season than Mills. He’s one of the most versatile players in the region.
2. Chip McDaniel, Clay County — McDaniel can hurt teams in so many ways. He’s a great ballhandler and scorer and if he goes to the free-throw line, he’s an 84 percent shooter.
3. Tyler Brewer, Harlan County — Brewer is another solid guard that can dominate at any time.
4. Hunter Grubb, Corbin — Solid three-point shooter and can flat-out play defense.
5. Zac Baxter, South Laurel — When he’s on, he’s tough to stop.
6. Matt Barger, Knox Central — Barger gets so many players involved on offense. He’s a pretty good scorer, too.
7. Jake Allen, North Laurel — Very versatile for a big man.
8. Alex Sergent, Harlan County — If he gets hot from the outside, look out.
9. Blake Sanders, South Laurel — One of the best guards around.
10. Marty Bowling, Clay County — Bowling is a threat scoring and rebounding the ball.

Best of the rest — Barbourville’s Alexander Phipps will definitely hurt teams from the outside. Clay County’s Stephon Lyttle and Kody Reed are offensive threats for the Tigers while Corbin’s Robbie Igo, Zach Farley and Kevin Goins can put up points, too. Harlan County’s Aaron Caldwell and Chad Massingill are solid players along with Knox Central’s Jeffrey Adams, Chad Marsee and Tobie Merida. Middlesboro’s Donnie Foister and Austin Poindexter are big scoring threats and keep an eye on North Laurel’s Marcus Carson and Peyton Broughton along with South Laurel’s Matt Slavey.

First Round

Corbin 64, Middlesboro 53
Clay County 62, Barbourville 57
Harlan County 64, South Laurel 59
Knox Central 51, North Laurel 48

Clay County 67, Corbin 61
Harlan County 72, Knox Central 61

Harlan County 74, Clay County 67