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Overview: Paintsville is the hottest team in the region and 2020 All-A Champions, Cody Potter and Colby Fugate put on a show against one another, Johnson Central is playing their best basketball of the season, handing a top tier out of region team their first home loss and Pikeville has been bitten by the injury bug in a huge way. Read more to see the rankings in the 15th Region after seven weeks of play!

Rankings (overall record):
1. (Up 1) Johnson Central (11-6) – The Golden Eagles return to the top spot after a 3-0 week seven that included wins over 2A Champion Lawrence County, Boyd County on the road and Rose Hill Christian. The Boyd County win was the Lions first loss at home on the season and arguably the best win for any team in the region this week (Paintsville over Shelby Valley is only other win in the conversation). Johnson Central has lost twice in region (OT loss at home to Martin County after leading by seven with 3:30 to play / loss at Paintsville by two after leading by six with 3 minutes to play), giving away leads when they were up with the ball. JC is starting to close out games and play their best basketball of the year. Top to bottom, this is the most talented team in the region. They will put their current four game win streak to some serious tests in week eight as they play three games on the road against Magoffin County, East Ridge and highly ranked Covington Catholic.

2. (Up 1) Paintsville (9-8) – The Tigers are the hottest team in the region and the 2020 All-A Champions for the first time since 2008 (9th All-A Regional Title overall – most in 15th Region History). Paintsville has now won six in a row after a 1-7 stretch and are the only undefeated team against regional competition. They have a strong claim for the top spot as they continue to squeak out wins. In week seven they defeated East Ridge 69-65, Betsy Layne 64-46, Phelps 31-28 and Shelby Valley 57-55. In the Shelby Valley game, the Tigers trailed by 13 late in the 3rd quarter before Colby Fugate got hot and lead his team to a late seven-point lead. Fueling the 20-point swing, Fugate finished with 34 points. Paintsville has played in a lot of close games and seem to have a knack for turning in on late and erasing big leads. Earlier in the year they were down 13 at Magoffin County with less than four minutes to play and won, they were down 11 points at Lawrence County entering the fourth quarter and won, they were down 6 to Johnson Central with 3:30 to play, didn’t have the ball, and won. But winning is the bottom line and they have been doing exactly that. This week, the Tigers will play in the All-A state tournament where they open Thursday night with Harlan Independent. Paintsville will be favored and will likely face Hazard in a second mountain match-up in the quarterfinals. The Tigers are also scheduled to face Magoffin County at home this week as they look to push their district record to 4-0 in the 57th.

3. (Down 2) Shelby Valley (14-5) – The Wildcats went 2-1 in week seven with a narrow win over Prestonsburg 61-57, a blowout win over Pikeville 66-52 (ended first quarter up 22-1) and a loss in the All-A Championship to Paintsville 55-57 after leading by 13 late in the 3rd quarter. Valley has the best player in the region in Mr. Basketball candidate Cody Potter (dropped 34 points in the All-A championship game) and great compliment pieces. They have the fewest losses of any team in the region and most wins of any team in the region. With the loss in the All-A championship they will also play every game this season on a 15th Region floor (minus one game in Williamson, WV) unless they advance to Rupp Arena. Right now, Valley seems to be struggling to close out teams late and some of that can be attributed to late FT’s and uncharacteristic turnovers. Shelby Valley will be fine moving forward as every good team seems to have lull’s at some point in a season. Week eight will have the Wildcats host rival Pikeville in a seeded 59th District contest that will see a packed house as usual. Expect another a battle despite Pikeville being undermanned.

4. (Up 1) Pikeville (10-7) – Pikeville was 2-1 in week seven with a home win over Belfry 77-73, an overtime win over Martin County 78-71 in the All-A quarterfinals and a loss in the All-A semifinals to Shelby Valley 52-66 in a game they trailed in 22-1 at the end of the first quarter. Pikeville has been bitten by the injury bug and are a skeleton crew of what was expected at the start of the season. Starter Zac Lockhart suffered an injury in the first game and has missed the entire season. Starter Laithan Hall suffered what many think is an ACL/meniscus injury (unconfirmed) early in the Martin County game as is likely done for the year. Starter Rylee Sammons suffered a cornea scratch against Shelby Valley and did not play in the second half (forced to wear protective eye patch while healing). Still Pikeville has a winning record and beat one of the more talented teams in the 15th in Martin County. The younger players will have to continue to step up as in week eight they play Shelby Valley on the road in game they will likely be double digit underdogs in.

5. (Down 1) Martin County (7-11) – Martin County was 1-1 in week seven with a dominating win on the road over Magoffin County and a loss in OT to a depleted Pikeville squad in the All-A classic (Pikeville was without starter Lockhart [injury], lost starting PG Hall early in the game [injury] and only played one starter half of the fourth quarter and most of overtime [Sammons – two other starters cramped up and did not return]). Martin County has plenty of talent and the best defender in the region in 6’10’’ Trey James, but can’t seem to put win streaks together. They will dominate a team one night and lay an egg the next. They have lost 20 games in both of the previous two years and are in danger of having another losing season when expectations were a regional title. They have shown the ability to play with and beat some of the best in the region as they knocked off Johnson Central on the road in OT, but lack consistency. The good news is there are plenty of games left in the season and this is still a very good team that no one wants to play come tournament time. In week eight they will travel to Floyd Central where they should win easily. If this team pulls it together coming down the stretch, you could see them cutting down the nets and heading to Rupp Arena in March. They have a ton of potential.

6. (-) Lawrence County (10-8) – The Bulldogs were 0-2 this week with a loss on the road the Johnson Central and a loss in the 2A State Championship to Bourbon County. No shame in losing to either opponent as both are quality competition. Lawrence County continues to play a five-out dribble drive offense and shoot a lot of 3FG’s. This works great with their personnel as Tyler and Cody Maynard are two of the best scorers in the region. Look for the Bulldogs to get back in the win column in week eights as they travel to Prestonsburg and Phelps. The Prestonsburg game has major implications in the 58th District seeding.

7. (-) Magoffin County (10-7) – The Hornets were 2-1 in week seven with a district loss at home to Martin County 57-76, a home win over Letcher Central 81-71 and a road win over Belfry 68-54. This young team is led by freshman Aden Barnett and can be very dangerous when they are hitting from beyond the arc. The loss to Martin County put them at 0-2 in the 57th District and makes the upcoming week eight game against Johnson Central huge for seeding. Magoffin will also travel to Morgan County and Paintsville in week eight. We should have a good idea where this team will fall in the 57th District by week end as they will have played six of their eight seeded games. Make no mistake, however, as no one wants to play this team in the first round of the district tournament.

8. (Up 1) Phelps (10-9) – Phelps went 2-1 in week seven with wins over Pike Central (60th District seeded game) and Jenkins and a low scoring loss to Paintsville 28-31 in the All-A Classic. Trey Francis continues to lead as one of the few players in the region to average a double-double (Trey James, Nick Keeton) and almost willed his team to a win over Paintsville. The Hornets are the favorite in the 60th District this season and are above .500 this late in the season for the first time in a long time. In week eight Phelps will host Betsy Layne and travel to Belfry for another huge District game.

9. (Down 1) Betsy Layne (9-7) – The Bobcats lost their only contest in week seven as they were defeated by Paintsville 46-64 in the All-A Classic. The loss marks the fourth in a row after a five game win streak. Jordan Frazier did not play in the game after injuring his ankle against Johnson Central, but will hopefully return this week (no updates on injury at this time). In week eight, Betsy Layne will a tough Phelps team on the road then host Floyd Central in a key 58th District game.

10. (-) Prestonsburg (6-8) – Prestonsburg has lost seven in a row after such a promising start to the season. In week seven they lost a head scratcher 46-48 on the road to Pike Central and almost beat Shelby Valley in the All-A before falling 57-61 with some careless turnovers and missed free throws late in the game. Adam Slone and Gunner Williams are excellent players as they continue to lead what will be a scary team for anyone to play in the post season. Lawrence County at home is the only game scheduled for week eight and it will have huge seeding implications in the 58th District. Can this Jekyll and Hyde team figure it out coming down the home stretch.

11. (-) Belfry (6-7) – The Pirates had a tough week seven, dropping both contest to Pikeville and Magoffin County in what were competitive games until late. They have now dropped five in a row and have a record below .500 for the first time this season. Huge games loom this week as they host 60th District rivals Pike Central and Phelps before traveling to Knott Central. The top seed in the 60th District regular season virtually gets a bye into the regional tournament as they will face Piarist in the opening the round. This is a big week for Belfry.

13. (-) Pike Central (4-14) – The Hawks went 1-2 in week seven, snapping their six game losing streak with a win at home over Prestonsburg. This team plays very hard and believe it or not, plays together. Despite their lack of talent, Pike Central is fun to watch and easy to cheer for. In week eight they will travel to Belfry (their biggest rival) and host Jenkins. Don’t be surprised if they go 2-0.

14. (-) Floyd Central (3-11) – The Jags dropped both games in week six with losses to East Ridge on the road and Letcher Central at home. The good news is they played much better in both games and seem to be finding an identity midway through the season. Knott County, Martin County and Betsy Layne will be tall tasks in week eight.

15. (-) Jenkins (0-13) – The Cavaliers went 0-3 in week seven with double digit losses to June Buchanan, Phelps and Jackson City. They will face Pike Central and Lee County on the road in week eight as they are still looking for their first win of the season. One bright spot has been senior Payton Rose who is averaging nearly 17 ppg this season.

16. (-) Piarist (0-1) – The Knights have yet to play a game this season and have none scheduled for the remainder of the regular season. It is yet to be determined if they will play in the post season.

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