2016-17 Kentucky High School Basketball Preview - 8th Region
Second year of pre-viewing the 8th region, a region that is an absolute blast to cover. The 8th region has tons of history, great coaches, and some of the most competitive districts in the state of Kentucky. It does have a lot of small schools as compared to other regions, but it is one of the main reasons I like covering the region. When you mix in the new faces that this region will boast, anything can happen as we all know. Please keep in mind this is a PRE-season list and can change as the year goes on. After all the team’s that I had 5 and 6 last year played for a regional title, with the Dragon’s being victorious.
1. South Oldham Dragons
2. Anderson County Bearcats
3. Oldham County Colonels
4. Simon Kenton Pioneers
5. Collins Titans
6. North Oldham Mustangs
7. Shelby County Rocket
8. Williamstown Demons
9.Owen County Rebels
10. Spencer County Bears

Sleeper Teams: Shelby Co, Gallatin Co, Henry Co, and Eminence

1. Cobe Penny-Anderson County-6’0 after the showing in the regional tournament last year, how can anyone not have Cobe at #1? He can score in a lot of ways on you, super quick first step, has really developed his jump shot the last year, 20ppg, and that is facing double teams. According to most people Cobe had an exceptional spring and summer on the AAU circuit and will make Coach Drury’s list of POY a little longer that he has accumulated over the years.
2. Jo Griffin-South Oldham-6’1- What best describes Jo is he is an all-around good player, a throwback type of player. Loves the 10-15 foot shot, can score with either hand, plays exceptional defense and is extremely athletic. Makes his teammates better.
3. JC Hawkins-Simon Kenton- 6’4- Probably plays out of position BUT he has shown the ability to score from the PG spot, his length allows him to rebound well for a guard and his shot is improving.
4. Jalen Henry-North Oldham-6’1- Gets to the rim with the best of them, can score in bunches and is a pleasure to watch. He can take games over late and can be a great on the ball defender.
5. Domonique Turner-Collins 6’5-great first step, attacks the rim well and has shown the ability to step out and make shots. If he has got stronger look out 8th region
6. Ismail Jones-Oldham County- 5’11- crafty scorer, penetration is his strength, has to be more consistent at finishing around the rim. Good on the ball defender.
7. Brennan Stanley-Williamstown 6’0- Can shoot the ball when he enters the gym. Can score in bunches and has the green light when open
8. Tommy Cottrell-Simon Kenton- 6’1- I think an underrated player, but gets a lot done for the Pioneers, has toughness and rebounds well
9. Devon Young-South Oldham 6’4- and still growing, this lefty can score the basketball. His length makes him dangerous in the Dragon system, and is improving on his athleticism
10. Jordan Armstrong-Shelby County 6’1- all around does a lot well, does not wow you, just solid, does whatever it takes for his team. Should have a great year and flies under the radar

Honorable Mention List: These guys could be on the top 10 list by season’s end, I am probably leaving off some players,
29th District- Zach Wheeler North Oldham, Zach Larimore Oldham Co, Jackson Gibson Oldham Co, Travis Henderson Oldham Co,
30th District- John Paul Garmon Anderson Co, Jacob Feltner Collins, Taurius Robinson Shelby Co, Josh Edwards Shelby Co, Daniel Wheeler Spencer Co, Trey Stainmaker Shelby Co.
31st District-Mason Wilson Gallatin Co, Zach Hinkle Henry Co, Evan McMahan Carroll Co, Walker McDonald Owen Co,
32nd District- Zach Clinkenbeard Walton Verona, Zach Kelch Simon Kenton, Derrick Cipollone Williamstown,

Team Pre-view
Let’s start with the 29th District, this district has produced 5 of the last 6 regional champions. This district has 3 of the top 6 teams in it, BUT only 2 can make it to the ROY in March
29th District
A year of the Dragon is what 2015 was. An unbelievable turnaround from the year before. Another regional championship in Crestwood for Steve Simpson and his Dragons. That makes 3 out of the last 4 regional titles which is impressive to say the least. This time around the Dragons won their first game at the state tourney which has to make them hungry for another regional title and makes me put them at #1 entering the season. Hard to go against results and that is what is taking place in Crestwood. They return one of the most versatile players in Jo Griffin, and Devin Young who can score the basketball. They got a lot of contributions from role players last year, and if they can duplicate that they will be a tough out again this season. One thing is for sure, they will make a ton of 3’s and fly up and down the floor. Last year their defense was the unsung hero leading to easy points, something that gets overshadowed by their offense.

Coy Zerhusen is entering his 4th year at the OC, each year they have won the district, only to watch a team that they beat a week before win the region (2) of those times. They are close to getting over that hump and this year could be the year it happens. They will be led by a couple seniors in Ishmail Jones, and Ryan Heelen, but the juniors of Travis Henderson, Jackson Gibson, and Zach Larimore give them fire power from different areas on the floor. This team has lots of young talent, how well they mesh and Coach Zerhusen molds them will determine their fate. They have some good sophomores as well, making this team 8-10 deep which Coach Zerhusen loves. They will pressure for 32 minutes and try to force lots of turnovers. The question remains who is their go to guy?

Coach Rob Burton is entering his third year as the head man in Goshen, and has yet to see a winning season but that takes time and this is his best team in my opinion. They are dangerous as anyone which is why I have them 2B. This district will lose a very good team in district tourney play which makes those district seed games that more important. I believe that Oldham host’s the tourney this year so it will be a battle tested district for sure. They are led by Jalen Henry, and Zach Wheeler both are double digit scorers from the year before, and they have some role players that can contribute. Jalen Henry is capable of taking games over and in district elimination game that is important.

The second year in Bedford for Coach May, I know how hard he works at his craft and last year was hard for him to endure. However he knows what it takes to turn Trimble County around and people will have to be patient along the way. This year will be another step in the right direction for the Raiders, who are in a brutal district as it is. The Raiders only lost 2 seniors from last year’s team, the problem is one of those was their best player. Coach May will make strides this year in Bedford and the Raiders will improve.

30th District
This district has a lot of people’s consensus pick to win the 8th region in Anderson County, but it is also the best district top to bottom with talent. Anyone can definitely lose on a given night and will make for some awesome games this season.
Coach Drury has a really good team down in the Lawrenceburg this season, led by the best player in the region in Cobe Penny (20ppg). They return some key pieces as well in John Paul Garmon (12ppg), and Dylan Pittman who will be a junior and a more experienced. They lost Gunner Gillis in the offseason to Mercer Co, but gained a couple transfers who should help according to people I have talked with. I really liked their freshmen team last year so they may have some depth. After making the regional final last year the Bearcats seem poised to make a run at a regional crown. I really enjoy the coaching staff and Anderson and the way they go about their business. A program is what they have in Lawrenceburg, some coaches should take note of how it supposed to look.

The Titans posted a losing record last year maybe for the first time since its opening due to graduation loss, but wouldn’t you know it Coach Gaither had them prepared for a regional run, and they gained a ton of experience last season. They ended making the semi-finals at Henry Co, and had a great game with South Oldham losing 74-70. They return one of my favorite players in the region in Dominique Turner, who got better as the season went on, along with 2 juniors in Fort and Feltner. The Titans also received a transfer from Seneca who I have heard will help them as well. This team is dangerous and come post season will be ready to compete for a regional title. This is the year that the Titans host the district tourney as well, they will be a hard out for sure.

The Rockets lost Coach Jason Couch to Bullitt East in the offseason and look to build off their younger kids they have returning. Coach Ken Cates who was the JV coach at Shelby has taken over the program and hopes to lead them back to the regional tourney. The Rockets are having another great football season, and looks to go deep in the playoffs which will slow down the process a little for the Rockets as 2-3 starters are key football players. This team can be dangerous toward the end of the year if they put in the work. They are led by seniors Tyler Drane, Josh Edwards, and Jordan Armstrong, all of which averaged double figures last year. They have a sophomore that I really like in TJ (Tarius Robinson) who may be on the all-region team soon. Shelby had a good freshmen team last year and that could provide some depth. Shelby has a transfer from Lima Ohio, Adrian Julien, PG Richland Beckley from Collins both also give the Rockets options at the guards spot. A player that I think can be an all-region player in Trey Stainker also back playing this season, 6’4 and can step out in the floor. The Rockets could play as many as 9-10 kids if they choose too.

This will be Coach Jason Burns fourth year at the helm, how quickly time fly’s. The Bears are yet to make the regional tourney in his tenure but he is developing a good foundation and I love their younger kids. They had almost a duplicate record from the year before but lost in a great first round game at Anderson in the first round of the district. They were a last second shot away from sending Anderson home and not to the regional finals. They lost a lot to graduation again but have lots of young talent coming in. They have a returning senior in Daniel Wheeler, and a host of younger kids 8th grader Sam Conley transfer from Shelby Co, is one of the best younger kids in the state in my opinion, plays with GHITP AAU team and has tons of ability. They have another couple players with Conley in Jake Whitlock, and Lucas Hornback who also has a lot of upside. Their junior class is talented and will give them some talent over the next few years. This makes the 30th district tourney an absolute blast to watch.

The 31st District maybe the most competitive this season with no one being the clear cut favorite. It would not surprise me if any of these teams beat the other as the season progresses as all of them are filling in some holes with new kids.
31st District
Coach Devin Duvall has the best year in the history of their school, and had probably one of the best players to ever play in the historic 8th region. However they lost a lot of players off last year’s team but they have started a tradition of winning games, districts and All-A tournaments. They got a transfer from Shelby County in Walker McDonald that will help with athleticism and his ability to score. And return some kids who got valuable time last season in meaningful games, Patrick Osborne filled in all season for them and will provide some senior leadership. They will be better than some think and will battle Gallatin for the district title.

The Wildcats lost 19 games again last season, but improved as the season went on, they have had some bad luck along the way with injury’s but can win this district this season with only graduating 2 seniors. They will be led by Mason Wilson 17ppg, Justin Rassmen, Jay Schrader,
Austin Suerer. They have a lot of kids that played last season and Coach Jones does a great job!! This team really could be #1, and should compete for a district and an All A trip to Frankfort.

These Wildcats seem to hover around that 15 win area every year, trying to get over that hump and win this district is attainable for them and Coach Welch. They lost a lot to graduation as well but return a lot of kids that got significant playing time. Zach Hinkle is on my sleeper team, and SG Aneszko, PG Gray returns for the Wildcats. Replacing Jamison will be hard, especially in the post.

Probably the mystery team of the region. A new head coach on the sideline in Dale Brown. If you are a Kentucky Wildcat fan you know the name, in my opinion if he doesn’t get hurt we may have another national championship. Heard they may be some new faces, it has been awful quiet. Mesh them with what he has coming back and the Warriors may surprise some people. Jenkins is a load and throw in the mix, Wright the sophomore and I may be moving this team up sooner than later. Good luck to Coach Brown and welcome to the 8th region.

Brian Crank enters his second season as the head man in Carrollton and did a good job last season. He looks to build upon what he has started with Evan McMahan, the senior averaged around 10ppg last season. The panthers lost a lot to graduation and hope to get some help from their younger kids.

THE 32nd District This district may have a team into the region that we have not seen in a long time in Williamstown, and just maybe the regional champ in Simon Kenton. This district is always competitive with great rivalries.

32nd District
Something was off last year with this team, but they started getting it figured out by the end of the season. They won the 32nd district and lost a very close game to Collins in the first round of the region. They return a lot from that team, and I think can win this region for the first time since joining it. It starts with PG JC Hawkins, he is about 6’4 and a matchup nightmare for teams, then throw in Tommy Cottrell who gets a lot done on both ends and you have a good duo. My intrigue is Zach Kelch, I think he has a chance to be a stud in this region, he is 6’7-6’8, and if he has put on some strength will be in my top 10 by season end. He impressed me at the regional tourney last season. Last year’s team did not defend like Steiner teams do, I believe they have righted the ship and will make a run this season.

Coach Roger Harden has his best team yet, they can flat shoot the ball, and really don’t care where they shoot it from. Saw them several times this summer and thought if defense improves they can be dangerous for someone in the regional. They return a lot and it starts with Brennan Stanley, he is a scorer and can flat shoot the ball. Derick Cipilone and Jon Jump both can also shoot the three pointer as well. Hearing they got a foreign exchange student that is around 6’6, if he can rebound and defend with this guard play look out.

Last year saw the Bearcats back in the regional tournament for the first time in 3 years. Coach Brennan lost 7 seniors to graduation, but returns one of my kids that can be an all-region player in Clinkenbeard. A junior in Lay gave them some scoring last season as well. They need some younger kids to develop and step up by season’s end. I have heard they have a good group of younger kids coming as they usually do.

A down year last season for the Braves after winning the 32nd a couple years in a row, they lost several to graduation and went through yet another coaching change. Coach Joseph Utter is the head coach now, and really loves this program. Developing younger kids is what he is after, at all levels. Adkins and Tuggle are back from last year’s team, they both are seniors that were part of the regional teams, they will need to lead the sophomore group they have coming up. I don’t believe the Braves has any juniors on their roster, so developing kids as the season goes on is really key for them.

1. Who will win this region? I think there is 5-6 teams that can get hot and win it?
2. Can Cobe Penny do what his brother did and lead the Bearcats to a regional crown?
3. Does South Oldham have a 3 Peat? Something that is unheard of now a days.
4. Can the 31st district make noise at the regional tourney?
5. Can Simon Kenton finally get over the hump and make it to Rupp, since joining the 8th region?
6. Is Gallatin back being a regional team?
7. Is this the year that we see Williamstown back in the regional tourney?
8. Does the new faces at Eminence make them a threat?
9. Does the new coaching staff at Shelby get them back in the regional tourney?
10. How good are these young kids at Spencer?