Second Region BGP Boys Basketball Preview
1. Christian County (21-7) has advanced to the Sweet 16 three of the last four years but has never made it past the first round. Head coach Kerry Stovall is hoping the pieces are in place for a long postseason run this year.
The Colonels have four starters attracting looks from Division-I looks, which makes them the favorite to repeat as champs.
6-5 Shaquille Wilson (11.3 ppg.) is a combo player that steps out on the wing to become a perimeter threat. Juniors Veontae Lewis (9.4 ppg.) and Anthony Hickey (8.4 ppg.) return in the backcourt, while 6-5 Donovan Kates (12.6 ppg., 4.4 rpg.) gives the Colonels some size in frontcourt along with 6-3 Malcolm McDuffen and 6-2 Marcoreyan Tandy.
2. Hopkinsville (12-12) welcomes back Darnell Davis, who moved to Owensboro last year. The 6-5 forward combines with an experienced backcourt to challenge Christian County in both the Eighth District and Second region races.
Seniors Leon Swope, Raphael Catlett, and Brayon Mason have the size and speed to match up with anyone in the region.
6-4 twins Dallas and Conner Gates give the Tigers some size inside. Head coach James Simmons has more depth to work with this year as well, making a long postseason run a possibility.
3. Henderson County (24-6) has the normal experience returning to be a factor in the region race. The Colonel offense runs through senior guard Brock Stone, who averaged 16.4 points last year.
6-3 junior Patrick Neel is one of the tallest players on the team as the Colonels will be a smaller and quicker team this year.
4. Hopkins County Central (23-9) lost leading scorer Chuck Jones to graduation but have several key people back to challenge for the district and region race.
Guards Nikee Caldwell (7.0 ppg.) and Jevonte Hughes (11.8 ppg.) return in the backcourt, along with sixth man Josh Riley (7.1 ppg.).
The Storm are expecting a breakout season from 6-9 senior Daniel Croft (101 ppg., 8.1 rpg.).
5. Madisonville (11-13) lost Mr. Basketball Jon Hood to graduation and only has two starters back for head coach Marty Cline. Isaiah White, J.C. Wade, and Robert Hatchett provide a solid backcourt, while 6-6 Dylan Basham and 6-2 Joe Kington give the Maroons some size up front.
6. University Heights (10-17) has no seniors on their roster despite some experience returning from last year's team that was knocked off by Fort Campbell in the first round of the district tournament.
Junior guard Matt McGowan and junior forward Ryan Hudson provided most of the scoring for the Blazers last year. Junior guard Nakeifer Blane and 6-5 junior Tiberius Smith should also contribute for UHA.
7. Trigg County (18-14) must replace four starters from last year's squad that won their fourth district title in five years. Senior Jalik Alexander will take over at the point guard spot, while All-Region performer Zeke Wright can play both inside and out.
The Wildcats will have a little more size than recent years with the return of 6-4 Blake Mitchell and the addition of 6-4 Jaylen Mounts, whose uncles played at Trigg County nearly three decades ago.
Head coach Mike Wright must also figure out where to insert several seniors who have decided to play after a couple of seasons off the court.
Wright says the addition of these players, mostly from the football team, should make the Wildcats tougher inside and on defense.
8. Lyon County (21-7) lost most of their size with the graduation of Ramsey Walker, Mitchell Peeler, and Aaron Corley. Senior guard Taylor Gray had hot and cold nights last year and will be looked on to provide more consistency this year.
6-5 swingman Bryant Houk is one of the more streaky shooters in the region from behind the arc. Guards Timmy Perdue and Chris Ringstaff should help Gray shoulder the offense.
9. Caldwell County (2-17) endured a dismal 2008-09 season that saw them post just two wins -- the fewest in over 30 years -- and saw head coach Michael Fraelix dismissed at midseason because of criminal charges.
The Tigers have turned to one of their former players to try and turn around the fortunes of a program that has struggled to compete in the postseason since moving to the Seventh District.
Steve Smiley, formerly of Todd County Central, inherits just one starter from last year's squad. Senior guard Tron Gray averaged nearly 20 points a game but saw his production tail off in the second half of the season.
10. Fort Campbell (5-19) made an interesting coaching hire when they tabbed their football coach Shawn Berner to become their third coach in as many seasons.
Berner has been splitting duty between the football team, making a run for their third straight state title, and the basketball team, which has a couple of starters back from a 5-19 team that advanced to the region tournament. Junior Tre Powell was among the team's leading scorers last year along with senior Antonio Andrews -- both football standouts.
December may prove to be melting pot for the Falcons, who may not hit their stride for another month as the roster gels with the addition of the football players.
11. Crittenden County (9-12) has turned to Wisconsin native to try and turn around the fortunes of a program that has underachieved in recent years.
Guards Casey Oliver and Alex Porter return along with Brian Berry and Jesse Highfil.
The undersized Rockets will turn to Andrew Freeman and Dylan Clark to plug the frontline.
12. Union County (11-18) could very well be the surprise team in the region with the return of Fabian Curry (8.4 ppg., 4.8 rpg.) and Kren Rister (9.1 ppg.) along with juniors Levi Brown and Riley Hall.
13. Livingston Central (7-12) has one of the youngest teams head coach Jimmy Croft has fielded in his return to coaching at the Smithland school with just two seniors on the roster.
Sophomores Lucas Croft, Dakota Myers, and Jonathon Armstrong will be among the contributors on offense along with senior Justin Kittel.
14. Webster County (12-15) is much like Livingston Central with just two seniors on the roster and the loss of four starters.
6-5 senior James Winstead should be the primary offensive target along with guard Trey Tapp.
15. Dawson Springs (6-18) lost leading scorer Ethan Scott and six other seniors to graduation. Veteran head coach William Fralick will try and rebuild around guard Aaron Labrado, center Brett Cobb, and forwards Jacob Patton and Ryan McKnight. Top Players in the Second Region
1. Shaquille Wilson (Christian County) 6-5, Senior, Guard
2. Darnell Davis (Hopkinsville) 6-4, Senior, Forward
3. Donovan Kates (Christian County), 6-4, Junior, Forward
4. Brock Stone (Henderson County), 6-1, Senior, Guard
5. Veontae Lewis (Hopkinsville), 6-0, Junior, Guard
6. Anthony Hickey (Christian County), 5-10, Junior, Guard
7. Brayon Mason (Hopkinsville), 6-1, Senior, Guard
8. Daniel Croft (Hopkins County Central), 6-9, Senior, Center
9. Matt McGowan (University Heights), 5-11, Junior, Guard
10. Tron Gray (Caldwell County), 5-11, Senior, Guard