Overview: Shelby Valley claimed their sixth All-A title in school history despite Cody Potter going 0-12 from the field, Johnson Central dropped two in less than competitive fashion, Paintsville lost their first game in region and Sheldon Clark picked up what is reported as a major D1 transfer. Rankings and reviews after eight weeks of play are as follows:
Rankings (overall record): 1. (-) Shelby Valley (18-2) Shelby Valley stands alone as the only undefeated team to in-region competition as they captured their 6th All-A regional title and 3rd in the Jim Hicks era with a 50-48 win over Pikeville on a Keian Worrix layup at the buzzer. Shelby Valley won despite star Cody Potter going 0-12 from the field (8 points) and not leading at the end of any quarter except the fourth. Valley has now defeated Johnson Central, Paintsville and Pikeville twice, leaving no doubt as who the team to beat in the region is. The Wildcats will face Clinton County from region four in the All-A state tournament at Eastern Kentucky University and in an odd twist of scheduling, will face Pikeville again on the road in week nine.
2. (-) Paintsville (12-3) The Tigers went 1-1 in week eight, defeating Betsy Layne 70-44 and then losing to Shelby Valley 55-61 in the All-A classic. In the Shelby Valley game, Paintsville went 1-21 from deep and Colby Fugate was held to 10 points with 8 of those coming very late in the game as the Tigers tried to make a comeback. Paintsville had hopes of making a deep All-A run, but will have to wait until districts for their shot at the next championship. In week nine the Tigers have an open date on the 22nd and then travel to Magoffin County in a key 57th District match-up.
3. (Up 1) Pikeville (11-7) Pikeville went 3-1 in week eight, defeating Johnson Central, Jenkins and East Ridge by 20 plus then losing to their biggest rival, Shelby Valley, in the All-A championship (2nd loss to Valley this season). Despite great defense on Valley star Cody Potter, Pikevilles role players and bench could not match the production of the Valleys. The Panthers will close out district play this week as they begin a five game home stand with Shelby Valley, Jenkins and East Ridge. It will be interesting to see if Pikeville can get over the Shelby Valley hump in their third attempt this season.
4. (Down 1) Johnson Central (13-4) The Golden Eagles had their first losing week of the season going 1-2 with blowout losses to Pikeville 44-67 and George Rogers Clark 56-75 and a blowout win versus Magoffin County 82-62 sandwiched between. Johnson Central has yet to find its identity against good teams and struggle to score the ball against size and length. Look for this team to get back on the winning track in week nine as they open what will be a four game home stand against Tolsia, WV, Cross Lanes Christian, WV and Belfry. It should also be noted that senior Gabe Ferrell has been out for three weeks with a knee injury (returned for Magoffin County game inflammation) and will be out another two and that guard Bryson Hackney is still recovering from three eye surgeries for a detached retina. If this team can healthy, they will be one that no one wants to play come post season.
5. (-) Lawrence County (13-6) The Bulldogs went 1-1 in week eight with a 75-54 win against a struggling Floyd Central team and a head scratching 66-78 loss to Buckhorn at Fleming County (Coach Lake Kelly Classic). Lawrence County remains as the best team outside the top four. They will have Betsy Layne, Prestonsburg (both 58th district seeded games) and Tolsia, WV all at home. With good play this week, the Bulldogs can take a huge stride to obtaining the overall number one seed in the district.
6. (Up 3) Sheldon Clark (7-12) The Cardinals went 2-1 in week eight with a home win over Magoffin County after jumping out to a 15-0 lead then holding on, a win in the All-A classic over Phelps 61-32 and an overtime loss to East Ridge 72-75 after the Warriors hit a buzzer beating three to force the extra frame. Sheldon Clark also got a big time transfer with what is reported to be Division 1 talent (interest from Gonzaga and Nebraska) in the form of Uziel Muteba. If the kid is good as advertised and can get eligible then this could make the Cardinals a contender in the district and region. If not, Sheldon Clark may be looking at their third twenty loss season in the last four years. In week nine, the Cardinals will host Hazard, travel to Magoffin County and play Calvary Baptist Academy, WV at Lawrence County.
7. (Down 1) Magoffin County (9-9) Magoffin County dropped both games in week eight as both were in 57th District play. The Hornets were defeated by Sheldon Clark 53-59 on the road in a game they opened down 0-15. Magoffin County fought back to take a lead late in third quarter and the game was nip and tuck through the entire fourth. The Johnson Central game, however, was not as competitive as Magoffin County never really challenged. As it stands now, the Hornets are in the four seed slot in the 57th which would earn them an opening round matchup with Paintsville at Paintsville in the district tournament. This week they will host Floyd Central, travel to Jenkins then host Sheldon Clark. The Sheldon Clark could determine who will be the four seed in district.
8. (Up 2) Pike Central (13-7) The Hawks went 2-1 this week with and overtime win over their 60th district rival Belfry at home and loss by 26 to Knott Central (Piarist win in between). The soft schedule will harden down the stretch, but not this week as East Ridge and Phelps are the opponents.
9. (Up 2) Belfry (6-13) Belfry moves up two spots after week eight losses to Pike Central (overtime) and Knott Central 50-58 and an overtime win Phelps on the road 38-37. This is a team that has size and athleticism and if they figure it out could surprise some people. Their record is not and indicator of how good they can be.
10. (Down 3) Phelps (7-9) The Hornets drop two spots after an 0-3 week. Sheldon Clark and Raceland were two losses that were not very close (average loss by 30 plus) and Belfry knocked off the Hornets 37-38 in overtime. Phelps will be favored against Hurley, VA and Man, WV and will have a toss-up versus Pike Central in week nine.
11. (Down 3) Prestonsburg (8-10) The Blackcats lost all three games in week eight and have dropped four of their last five contests. This week Morgan County, Shelby Valley and Betsy Layne all picked up wins over Prestonsburg. The first two was expected, but allowing Betsy Layne to get a district win on your home court could set the Blackcats in reverse from what they had built on coming out of December. Belfry, Jackson City and Lawrence County come calling in week nine. Prestonsburg will only be favored in the Jackson City game.
12. (-) Betsy Layne (10-9) The Bobcats went 3-1 in week eight, but play one of the weakest schedules in the eastern part of Kentucky. Having said that, the Prestonsburg win was not enough to elevate above the Blackcats, but instead effected Prestonsburg more by dropping them. If Betsy Layne can back up the Prestonsburg win with one on the road versus Lawrence County in week nine, then they will move up. They are expected to win on the road at Floyd Central this week.
13. (-) East Ridge (6-11) The Warriors went 1-1 in week eight with an overtime win in the All-A versus Sheldon Clark (Cameron Hess hit 3FG at the end of regulation to force OT) and a 45-61 loss to Pikeville. The Sheldon Clark win was the best win of the season for East Ridge, but they still struggle to play with the teams at the top of the region. Week nine will have Pike Central and Pikeville home and away respectively as East Ridge is likely locked into the three seed in the 59th District. Who they will play (Shelby Valley / Pikeville) is yet to be determined, but we do know they will host the tournament.
14. (-) Floyd Central (2-17) New Head Coach Shawn Hagar lost his only contest in week eight at the hands of Lawrence County 54-75, pushing the Jaguar losing streak to 13 games. The team also saw the transfer of 68 Center Grant Blackburn back to Sheldon Clark (where he is originally from). This team has players on it that were not on the original team and is still in disarray after the Spurlock fall out. Hopefully the community can come together down the stretch.
15. (-) Jenkins (1-17) Week eight saw three more losses, but Jenkins was more competitive with June Buchanan. Two more wins do loom this season as Piarist is on the schedule in the coming weeks. Week nine will most likely see two more losses, but the Lee County game to close the week could be interesting.
16. (-) Piarist (0-14) Week eight closed with three more losses for the Knights and a coaching change as Kevin Tackett stepped down to focus on administrative duties. New Head coach Josh Hall is now at the helm.
Sheldon Clark also got a big time transfer with what is reported to be Division 1 talent (interest from Gonzaga and Nebraska) in the form of Uziel Muteba. If the kid is good as advertised and can get eligible then this could make the Cardinals a contender in the district and region. If not, Sheldon Clark may be looking at their third twenty loss season in the last four years.
What brings the kid to Sheldon Clark? Seems like an odd time of year for a big time transfer.