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Overview: Shelby Valley made a deep run in the All-A state tournament despite losing their first game to regional competition while Paintsville, Pikeville and Johnson Central all went undefeated. Lawrence County picked up three more wins and Magoffin County saw double ejections in a heated rivalry game. No changes in the rankings after nine weeks of play. Reviews are as follows:

Rankings (overall record):
1. (-) Shelby Valley (20-4) – The Wildcats went 2-2 in week nine to include their first loss to an opponent within the region in the form of a 62-65 loss to Pikeville in OT (3FG at buzzer) after defeating the Panthers two days earlier on a buzzer beater of their own. The wins came in the All-A state tournament over Clinton County (66-63 in OT: Cody Potter 34 points on 9/14 3FG) and a very good Danville squad (47-30) before falling to eventual All-A State Champions UHA 47-57 in a game they led by double figures at the half (scored only 11 points in second half). It’s safe to say Shelby Valley is the favorite in the region at this point as they have separated themselves from the other contenders, but the gap is not as wide as many may think. It’s also without a doubt that Cody Potter is the best player in the region as the state got to see his abilities on display at the All-A. Due to the deep run in the All-A, the Wildcats will eventually have to drop at least one game from their schedule but as it stands for week ten they have Magoffin County at home and East Ridge on the road. It should be two more wins for Valley with little resistance.

2. (-) Paintsville (13-3) – The Tigers improved to 5-0 in 57th District play by knocking off Magoffin County on the road 83-62 in their only contest of the week. The game was much closer than the score indicates as Paintsville trailed by 5 at halftime before a plethora of technical fouls and emotional outburst came from Magoffin County to inflate the final margin (see Magoffin County for more details). Braxton Tharp led all Tigers with 18 points in the game as the Tigers locked up no worse than a share of the 57th District regular season (could tie with Johnson Central and flip for the top overall seed). The Tigers are under-scheduled as they only have 24 games currently contracted. They will face Huntington St. Joe’s regional team, Johnson Central and Floyd Central in week ten. The Johnson Central game will draw an extremely large crowd.

3. (-) Pikeville (14-7) – The Panthers finally got over the Shelby Valley hump after dropping the first two contests, beating the Wildcats 65-62 in overtime on a buzzer beating 3FG from Kyle Watkins. Pikeville is very good defensively with their athleticism and size and it showed against Valley as the physical play kept Cody Potter contained. The Panthers would round out the week with East Ridge and Jenkins in 59th District play where they would record blow-out wins. Pikeville will look to go 5-0 as they close out their current home stand with Floyd Central and Clay County this week.

4. (-) Johnson Central (16-4) – The Golden Eagles went 3-0 in week nine with wins over Tolsia, WV, Cross Lanes Christian, WV and Belfry in what is a current four game home stand. Isaiah May continues to impress as he posted 30 points and 9 rebounds versus Belfry to include two four-point plays in the game. Johnson Central is still without sharp shooting senior Gabe Ferrell (knee injury in December) but are rounding into form as they wait his return which should be the week before district play (bone bruise). Jacob Rice, Cory VanHoose and May seem to be clicking in week nine as all posted double figure scoring games in all three contest to include a double-double for VanHoose. The Golden Eagles will have a chance to avenge their only district loss in week ten as they travel less than one mile to cross town rival Paintsville. Prior to that game they will host Sheldon Clark and after that game they will travel to Clay County, but all the focus could be on Friday night. This is a big week for Johnson Central as they look to correct errors made in previous games.

5. (-) Lawrence County (16-6) – The Bulldogs quietly sit in the five spot and continue to rack up wins. Week nine saw victories over Betsy Layne and Prestonsburg in 58th District play and a win over their biggest rival across the river in Tolsia, WV. The district wins almost assured that LC will be the top overall seed in the district tournament they host, which gives an easier path to the regional tournament. This team is very overlooked with the ability to knock off any of the big four above them on a given night. The Bulldogs will look to stay sharp against Russell and Floyd Central in week ten as they play the first two of what will be a five game road trip.

6. (-) Sheldon Clark (8-13) – The Cardinals still have no word on whether their new player is eligible and we still don’t know what kind of skill set and ability he has, but it week nine Sheldon Clark rolled on to a 1-1 record with a home loss to Hazard and a win at Lawrence County over Calvary Baptist Academy, WV. Three road games wait in week ten as the Cardinals travel to Johnson Central, Magoffin County and Belfry. Sheldon Clark will be favored to win all but the Johnson Central game, but all should be close contests.

7. (-) Magoffin County (11-10) – The Hornets went 2-1 this week with wins over Floyd Central and Jenkins before a 21-point loss to Paintsville at home in a game they led at the half. In the Paintsville game, star Brady Whitaker (one of the region’s leading scorers) was ejected after receiving two technical fouls and will miss the next few games per KHSAA rules. The play that got Whitaker ejected went like this. Whitaker was driving the lane on a fast break and made a lay-up on what appeared to be a bang-bang block/charge call. The call went against Whitaker as the official signaled player control foul. Whitaker can be seen on video very adamantly arguing his case to the official as he made his way to the scorer’s table to call in the foul. A technical was assessed. Whitaker appeared to continue pleading his case, despite his coach stepping in to defuse the situation. A second technical and ejection was assessed and Whitaker had to be retrained by his team. It’s unclear what was said on video. Another ejection also occurred in the game as Magoffin County center Randy Bailey was given his second technical foul for something said while shooting a foul shot. Both Bailey and Whitaker will have to sit out a few games and the technical fouls helped led to the final score of a much more competitive game than many may think. This was the second time in as many games that Magoffin County held a lead on Paintsville well into the second half, but could not hold one. As it stands now, Paintsville and Magoffin will play each other in the first round of districts should seeding hold. The Hornets will have Letcher Central, Sheldon Clark and Shelby Valley in week ten without two key players.

8. (-) Pike Central (14-8) – The Hawks went 1-1 and in week nine with a district win over Phelps and a road loss to East Ridge. As it currently stands, Pike Central is in the driver’s seat in 60th district play with a 3-0 record but still need to go to Belfry and Phelps. It’s critical to get the one seed in the 60th district because Piarist is the always the four seed. This year districts is at Phelps and which is always a tough place to play. Should Pike Central knock off Belfry on the road this week, they will almost guarantee the top overall seed in the 60th and a trip to the regional tournament.

9. (-) Belfry (6-15) – The Pirates have lost three in a row and four of their last five, but still control their own destiny for the top overall seed in the 60th district, a seed which almost guarantee’s a trip to the regional tournament as Piarist would be your district opponent. Belfry lost on the road to Johnson Central and on the road to Prestonsburg in week nine and will have Pike Central, Sheldon Clark and Phelps all at home in week ten. If Belfry can beat Phelps and Pike Central then they would be no worse than tied for the top overall seed in the 60th. This is a big week for the Pirates.

10. (-) Phelps (8-11) – The Hornets went 1-2 in week nine with a win over Hurley, VA on the road and losses to Man, WV whom they beat earlier in the year and Pike Central. Phelps seems to have digressed lately as their scoring and defense are going in opposite directions. They should get back around .500 this week with River View, WV, Grundy, VA and Twin Valley, VA on the schedule. The key game, however is Belfry on the road in a heated rivalry game they lost by one in overtime at their place.

11. (-) Prestonsburg (9-11) – The Blackcats lost to Lawrence County in a very close game on the road and beat Belfry at home in week nine. It’s almost certain Prestonsburg will be play Betsy Layne in the 2/3 game when the 58th District Tournament begins as the Blackcats look to improve leading up to that point. In week ten they will get a chance to see where they are as they travel to Betsy Layne who defeated them at home by six earlier in the season. They also host Piarist and Leslie County in what could be a 3-0 week weather pending.

12. (-) Betsy Layne (11-10) – The Bobcats got blowout out by Lawrence County and then beat Floyd Central on the road by four in week nine. The district games this past week likely put Betsy Layne into the 2/3 game against Prestonsburg and those two will play this week at Betsy Layne. Other than the Prestonsburg game, Letcher Central is on the schedule for week ten.

13. (-) East Ridge (8-12) – The Warriors were 2-1 in week nine with wins over Piarist and Pike Central and a loss to Pikeville. This team has the ability to play with anyone for stretches of games with their pace of play, but sometimes struggle to put four quarters together. Cameron Hess is evolving into a play maker for East Ridge and their go to guy down the stretch. In week ten, East Ridge will have Hurley, VA and Shelby Valley.

14. (-) Floyd Central (2-19) – Many of the players who left have returned to include big man Brady Conn (came back from Wesley Christian after playing a few games with them), but the results have not changed as the Jaguars went 0-2 in week nine. Floyd Central lost to Magoffin County by 30 plus but were more competitive with Betsy Layne, only falling by four. As many of the players work their way into shape, this team should get better. Don’t expect the next win to come in week ten, however, as Floyd Central has Pikeville, Lawrence County and Paintsville in that order.

15. (-) Jenkins (1-20) – The Cavaliers went 0-3 in week nine but were very competitive with Lee County. The good news is they will pick up a win in week ten as they face Piarist. Letcher Central and Barbourville will be much tougher tests.

16. (-) Piarist (0-16) – Week nine produced two more losses that once again were not very competitive. The Knights have Prestonsburg, Jenkins and Jackson City in week ten. Despite the records Jenkins and Jackson City have, don’t expect competitive games.

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