By Mark Mathis, Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer
1. Warren Central (30-5)
The Fourth Region championship could very well be Warren Central’s to lose. The Dragons return seven of their top 10 players who lost in the state tournament championship game to South Laurel.
“We will be a junior-dominated team, and that makes us young in some aspects, but all of those guys have been a part of eight state tournament games,” Central coach Tim Riley said.
Jeremy Anderson and Nick Britt are among the most talented players in the region. Anderson has been called one of the best pure scorers in the state who always finds a way to get the ball in the hole. Joe Hood and Monie Hudson are also considered top 10 players.
Three seniors will also see a lot of time. They are 6-5 T.J. Woodard, and 5-10 Quinten Curry, who were major players for the Dragons last season, and 6-1 Mike Fields. The other junior is 6-4 Avery Driver, who played in every state tournament game last year.
“This team is more talented than last year,” Riley said. “Whether that correlates into the same kind of year, we’ll see.”
2. Barren County (21-7)
Barren County should win a close race as to who is the best team in the 15th District with Allen County-Scottsville.
The Trojans have two good cornerstones in guards Ryan Ganci and Cody Brewington. Both are good shooters, with Brewington being the most consistent scorer and one of the best shooters in the region.
John Bonnewell is a 6-7 shot blocker who helps Barren County’s defense.
“We have a shot-blocking center and two guards who can shoot,” Barren County coach Steve Riley said. “We expect to be a solid team.”
3. Bowling Green (19-11)
Bowling Green saw both head coach Aaron Beth and leading scorer Jordan Blann depart, but it should challenge Warren Central in the district and region.
First-year coach D.G. Sherrill will have a team full of athletes, though, to help in the transition.
Senior center Michael Jackson is a good player at 6-7. Junior point guard Shaun Savage should be able to get the bal inside to Jackson.
4. Russellville (17-12)
Russellville won its district title and lost in the regional semifinals. The Panthers should be one of the teams in the region with the overall talent to be a contender.
Junior guard Jerrell Mayo is a very good one-on-one player. Mayo and Tyler Meachum will have to carry the load for the Panthers. Russellville must replace the experience lost with the graduation of Orlando Woodard and T.C. Thomason.
5. Greenwood (14-15)
Greenwood has a lot of good players returning. Shooting guard Chris Keith would be a good scorer for most teams in this region. He averaged 14.7 points, three assists and two steals per game. He hit 66 3-pointers last season.
Keith is also one of the quickest players in a region full of good athletes.
Ty Tipton is a 6-7 junior forward and Jacob Davis is a 6-2 senior who averaged 11.6 points per game.
6. Allen County-Scottsville (20-11)
Allen County-Scottsville has two of the top returning players in the region with Luc Graves and Garrett Stone.
Graves is considered one of the best point guards in the region. He can score and defend. Stone can score inside and out and can cause matchup problems. AC-S should be better offensively.
The Patriots are very inexperienced, however. Lack of size will be an obstacle.
AC-S has a tough December schedule that should get Coach Scott Shelton’s team ready for a run in February and March.
7. Clinton County (18-13)
Clinton County puts its success on its defense. Coach Darrell Thompson’s team will be competitive in the region behind an experienced team that returned nearly everyone off its district championship squad.
Justin Vittatoe is considered one of the best athletes and most versatile players in the region.
Point guard Sean Parrish will come back from a season-ending injury, and that will help Clinton County in the backcourt and defensively.
8. Franklin-Simpson (23-6)
Franklin-Simpson is coming off a 23-6 season and trying to replace three of the top 12 players in the region.
Junior Glenn Dalcourt and senior Charlie South will try and hold down the fort until Franklin-Simpson’s younger players get some experience, according to F-S coach David Clark.
9. Monroe County (9-17)
Billy Joe Murphy leads Monroe County as somebody considered one of the top players in the region. The 6-7 center averaged 14 points and eight rebounds a game.
Barrett Pruitt (6-5) also gives Monroe County one of the biggest teams in the region. Kaleb Crowe (6-3) and Chad Arms (6-3) give Monroe County depth up front.
Backcourt play needs to improve for Monroe County to have a successful season. The Falcons averaged 19 turnovers a game.
Clifton Hamilton is the team’s best defensive player for Coach Jeff Rippy.
10. Glasgow (11-14)
John Tinsley, who led Barren County to the state tournament several seasons ago, is now coaching Glasgow.
Glasgow is driven by three seniors in Kent Bulle, Lank Graves and Zack Miller.
The Scotties will try to play more man-to-man defense. They are undersized, but Tinsley expects them to be competitive.
11. Logan County (9-18)
Logan County will be led by new coach Jeff Rogers. The Cougars will depend on seniors P.J. Gibbs, Corey Lawson, Jon-Matthew Thomason and Kennard Covington.
12. Warren East (2-24)
Warren East will be very young this season. Seven sophomores will see a lot of playing time. Demetric Ray and Deangelo Kirk are among those sophomores with experience. Juniors Kyle McGuffey and Dillan Fox also were starters last year.
The Raiders are looking to be more competitive this season. “Our players have committed themselves to the weight room and summer basketball,” Coach Russell Malone said. “Their work ethic will give us an opportunity to be more competitive this year.”
13. Metcalfe County (11-18)
Metcalfe County lost four starters from last year’s Fourth Region All “A” champions. Blake Steele and part time starter Justin Kindred will return for the Hornets. The Hornets will also count heavily on Trey Shirley, Jordan Gilpin and Will Warf.
14. Todd County Central (8-17)
Senior center Calvin Head will try and lead Todd County Central back to a .500 record.
15. Cumberland County (3-22)
Cumberland County is coming off a very tough season with only three wins. Cumberland County returns two starters for new coach Lee DeForest.
Andre Staten is a 6-1 senior forward who plays tough inside. Patric Stalcup is a 5-8 senior point guard also coming back.
16. Russell County (14-12)
Russell County has a new coach in Willie Feldhaus, but the Lakers are a mystery in their new region.
Fourth Region player rankings:
1. Jeremy Anderson, Warren Central, 6-3, junior guard. One of the best pure scorers in the state. He just finds ways to get the ball in the hole.
2. Michael Jackson, Bowling Green, 6-7, senior, center. With his size, athleticism and a new post-oriented coach, the sky should be the limit for Jackson.
3. Luc Graves, Allen County-Scottsville, 6-2, junior, guard. Is the best point guard in the region. Good defender, great scorer, good leader.
4. Justin Vittatoe, Clinton County, 6-4, senior, forward. Maybe the best athlete in the region. Can do a lot of things on the court.
5. Billy Joe Murphy, Monroe County, 6-7, senior, center. Great hands and great feet. Will be a load in the region.
6. Jerrell Mayo, Russellville, 6-1, junior, guard. Great athlete who can go one-on-one.
7. Nick Britt, Warren Central, 5-11, junior, guard. Great scorer and defender. Will be one of the leaders for the Dragons this year.
8. Garrett Stone, Allen County-Scottsville, 6-foot, junior, guard. Versatile swingman who can score from anywhere.
9. Cody Brewington, Barren County, 6-foot, guard. Best pure shooter in the region. Can fill it up from anywhere.
10. Glenn Dalcourt, Franklin-Simpson, 6-4, junior, guard. Dalcourt is F-S’s versatile team leader.
11. John Bonnewell, Barren County, 6-7, senior, center. The best shot blocker in the region. Can change games with his size.
12. Shaun Savage, Bowling Green, 6-foot, junior, guard. Will only get better with time.
13. Ryan Ganci, Barren County, 5-8, senior, guard. He can fill it up and leads with his attitude.
14. Monet Hudson Warren Central, 5-10, junior, guard. Will help run the Dragons offense this season.
15. Chris Keith, Greenwood, 5-8, senior, guard. One of the quickest players in the region. He would be one of the leading scorers for every team in the region.