3rd Region Boys Basketball Preview

1. OWENSBORO - Coach Rod Drake returns almost everyone from last year’s 3rd Region Championship team. 6’9” senior Aric Holman, who holds scholarship offers from some of the top universities in the nation, returns with an improved low post game to go along with his excellent top of the key jumper and intimidating shot blocking, making him one of the premier inside-outside players in the state. 6’5” senior Justin Miller will continue to be very tough to handle on the block and will be a match-up problem for just about any high school team in the state. His improved conditioning and maturity could spell major trouble for opponents. Seniors Darrian Morrow and Dylan Sanford are two of the better shooters around and have all-around skills that are underrated. Senior Arius Phillips and sophomore Jacoby Harris will handle the point guard duties with some younger players providing depth for the Red Devils. Owensboro will get to test their mettle against some of the best teams in the country when they compete in the King of the Bluegrass and the Joe B. Hall Classic tournaments. To be the man, you gotta beat the man, so, OHS has the top spot for now.

2. APOLLO - Steve Barker takes over the reins of the Apollo Eagles. The Eagles will be led by one of the preeminent wing players in the state, 6’5” Eli Wright. Coming into his junior season, Wright is picking up scholarship offers from everywhere. Always able to get to the rim, Wright has vastly improved his 3 point shooting and overall floor game. Manning the middle will be 6’5” senior Caleb Coomes, a very strong post player that will surprise you with his outside shooting and ball handling ability. His leadership will go a long way in determining the ceiling for Apollo this season. Senior Nate Hopewell is a dead eye shooter with a big body that will handle the power forward duties. 6’5” senior Nick Wells will also provide leadership and athleticism. He’s a slasher, solid rebounder and has a good shooting touch. Junior Chase Survant, a player with a very high basketball IQ and excellent defensive instincts, will be counted on as a steadying force. Sophomore Zach Hopewell will be a force on the wing for the Eagles this season and has a bright future. Junior Ben Moss will replace Sam Sergeant at the point and also has a lot of potential. Apollo is very deep and could be considered “1A” in the race for the regional title, especially when you factor in the success Coach Barker had against OHS while at McLean County.

3. DAVIESS COUNTY - Coach Pat Hume’s Panthers return a solid nucleus of players to compete for the 3rd region title after coming on strong at the end of last season. 5’11” senior Marshall Griffith is rising in stature as a player and has the ability to play at the next level. An explosive scorer and exceptional athlete, Griffith will be counted on to run the show for the Panthers. He will be joined by 6’7” junior Stewart Curry, a player who can really stroke the “3” and run the floor. 6’5” senior Zack Burton will join him and provide leadership, shot-blocking and a much improved all-around game. His emergence at the end of last season bodes well for DC this season. Senior Tyler Hagan, an athletic wing player and good defender will see big minutes, as well as 5’11” sophomore guard Tyler Boling. Seniors 6’1” Michael Gilmer, 6’2” Corey Merrit and 6’6” Jonathan Speed will also be counted on as solid contributors this season. This is a team that is well coached, athletic, with good size and could very well win the region.

4. MUHLENBERG COUNTY - Can you ever count out a Tony Hopper coached team? The ‘stangs are looking to build on coming within a few points of reaching Rupp Arena last season. 5’11” senior Hunter Noffsinger returns for what seems like his 10th year of varsity competition. He can shoot, penetrate and dish. His savvy play makes the players around him better. Junior Kobe Drake and seniors Zeke Merritt, Cortland Hampton and John Reynolds all return and will be joined by a group of younger players providing depth for Muhlenberg County this season. After reaching the regional finals a year ago, expectations are high for the Mustangs.

5. OWENSBORO CATHOLIC - Neil Hayden comes over from Apollo to assume the head coaching duties at Owensboro Catholic. He will take over an experienced team that returns quite a bit of talent. 5’10 junior Cameron O’bryan has become one of the better guards in the region. His ability to create in the lane and finish at the rim is uncanny and he’s a more than capable shooter. He will be joined by 6’4” senior Ed Carter, a player with a good motor and great attitude. If he’s improved his offensive presence to go along with his rebounding and shot blocking, he could be very imposing force this season. 6’1” junior sharp-shooter Ray Zuberer returns at one wing. It may take time for him to round into form, considering that Catholic is primed to make a run in the football playoffs. Same can be said for 5’9” senior Jansen Riney. Once these guys get some time on the court, they will definitely be two of the better players in the 3rd region. The Aces will also have good depth. OCHS has the potential to be a tough out for any team come tournament time, as was evident by their regional final run in 2013.

6. OHIO COUNTY - Matt Brigance takes over for Paul Decker at Ohio County. 6’8” Trace Young already has division 1 scholarship offers and is arguably the top sophomore in the state. Ohio County has some senior leadership along with rising sophomore Connor Wilson. The Eagles have adequate size and a good mix of talented older and younger players. Can a new coach put it together in time to be a force come tournament time?

7. GRAYSON COUNTY - Kelly Carwile takes over as head coach for the Grayson County Cougars. Senior guard and leading scoring Talon Gary returns to lead an experienced team. Gary is a very good scorer with a high basketball IQ. He’s joined by 6’4” improving big man, Alex Shelhart. Shelhart can score in the post and also from the 3 point line.

8. MCLEAN COUNTY - Greg Stephens takes over for Steve Barker at McLean County. The Cougars will be led by senior Josh Kirk, juniors Will Hudson and big man Jake Logsdon. Sophomore Sam Miller will be called upon to be a big contributor this season for the Cougars.

9. BRECKENRIDGE COUNTY - Breck County Coach Patrick Critchelow will have some good talent returning to try and improve and the showing last season. Senior Benjamin Miller returns at guard and will need to have a big year.

10. HANCOCK COUNTY - Darren Lynam will have 6'7" Center Caleb Bivens, 6’4” Patrick McBride, and 6'3" Michael Dunavan providing good size for the Hornets and Garrett Pate and Ty Ogle with be counted on for scoring and ball handling.

11. BUTLER COUNTY - Head Coach Calvin Dockery will rely heavily on leading returning scorer, Zach Burden.

12. EDMONSON COUNTY - Edmonson County looks to improve on last year with a lot of experience returning this season.

13. MEADE COUNTY - Seniors John Wilson, Will King and Corey Stegner, juniors Kase Mattingly and Josh Durbin along with sophomore Calvin Hackert will be counted on.

14. FREDERICK FRAZIE - If 6’5” Nick Smith can get some help, FF can surprise some people.

15. WHITESVILLE TRINITY - Seniors Skyler Dickens, Jacob Hook, Jonah Roberts and Logan Goetz return to form a solid nucleus.

Top 10 Players in the 3rd Region (Plus)

1) Aric Holman (Owensboro) – 6’9” player with a smooth jump shot and good instincts defensively. High major college prospect.

2) Eli Wright (Apollo) – 6’5” wing with an all-around game. Might be recruited by everyone before he’s done.

3) Justin Miller (Owensboro) - 6’5” post player (nearly 300 lbs.) who’s almost unstoppable on the block.

4) Marshall Griffith (Daviess County) – 5’11” point guard who's an explosive scorer and has hops.

5) Trace Young (Ohio County) – 6’8” soph with nearly unlimited potential.

6) Stewart Curry (Daviess County) – 6’7” player that may be best 3 point shooter in the region.

7) Caleb Coomes (Apollo) – 6’5” post with inside-out ability with strength and leadership.

8) Hunter Noffsinger (Muhlenberg County) – 5’11” floor general that can do a little of everything.

9) Darrian Morrow (Owensboro) – 6’1” clutch long-range shooter with underrated floor game.

10) Ed Carter (Owensboro Catholic) – 6’4” shot blocker and rebounder.

Too many good players in the 3rd Region to stop at only 10 so I'll mention Cameron O’bryan (Owensboro Catholic), Talon Gary (Grayson County), Garrett Pate(Hancock County), Dylan Sanford (Owensboro), Nick Wells (Apollo), Nick Smith (Frederick Fraize), Connor Wilson (Ohio County) and Zack Burton (Daviess County) among several others that could be in the top ten by the end of the season.