Bluegrasspreps' 2015-16 10th Region Basketball Preview

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    by Randy Parker is offline Premium Member
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    10TH REGION: OVERVIEW

    Aric Russell's Campbell County Camels cut down the nets on March 10th to repeat as 10th Region Champions in 2015. The regular season saw thorough domination by Mason County, but it was the Camels who took complete control once the bright lights of The Fieldhouse were lit for the Regional Tournament. Campbell had its way in all three Regional games, outscoring opponents by an average of 23 points per outing, including a 32-point triumph in the title game.

    The start of a new season brings with it talk of a 3-peat, as the defending champs return the 10th's top overall player and a solid supporting cast. The Camels will look to be the first program to win three consecutive Regional crowns since Mason County (2008, 2009, and 2010). Standing in their way will be Matt Daniel's Montgomery County Indians and Brad Carr's Scott Eagles, who both possess a strong back court that could get them over the hump (pun intended). Paris and head coach Terence Brooks return more pieces from last year than any other team in the 10th.

    After those four schools, from our perspective, you can draw the next six or seven teams out of a hat in order to rank them. Three 39th District teams--
    Augusta, Bracken County, and Mason County--all have new coaches. 2014-15 Coach of the Year Keaton Belcher will hope to lead his Alma mater Pendleton County to even greater heights in 2015-16. Harrison County, George Rogers Clark, and Bishop Brossart will each have their say as well.

    One major change the 10th will see in 2016 is the Regional Tournament venue, as Montgomery County will play host instead of Mason County and its world-renowned popcorn. Regardless of which eight programs earn the opportunity to participate in that final week of Regional action, we're expecting a competitive 2015-16 regular season and post season. We plan to enjoy the ride and hope the same for you.

    10TH REGION: TEAM RANKINGS

    #1 - Campbell County Camels
    Head Coach: Aric Russell
    2014-15 Record: 25-10 (10th Region Champion; 37th District Champion)


    The 10th Region hardware was brought home once again by Campbell County in 2015 and Aric Russell's Camels have the firepower to make it a 3-peat. Campbell will have to replace guards Dre Jackson and Blake Losey, key components on the past two championship squads, but the return of big man Matt Wilson and floor general Trent McGovney helps push the Camels to the top of our pre-season rankings.

    The 6'9" Wilson was a 1st Team All-Region performer last year, committed to Army in September, and is the 10th's top overall player entering the 2015-16 season. Just 3 points shy of 1,000 for his career, Wilson averaged 14.6 ppg and 11.3 rpg last season--the second straight year the senior center has averaged a double-double. In addition to his scoring and rebounding, Wilson's defensive prowess as a shot-blocker and shot-changer make him the most formidable player in the 10th. "Matt is in the best shape of his career," Russell told us. "I see him having a really good year for us." The scrappy McGovney will again trigger the Camels in the back court, and Russell calls him "one of the best guards around." Also a senior, McGovney averaged 7.1 ppg a season ago, but gets a lot of things done that aren't always measured by statistics. The Camels also boast 6'4" junior swingman Cole Hegyi, a versatile player who came off the bench a year ago, but should start and shine this season. "Hegyi will be the key," Russell says. "I think he can have a breakout year on the offensive and defensive ends. When he gets some games under his belt as a starter, I think that will really boost his confidence."

    Russell says this year's team will be the biggest he's had in his career. Brad Geiman is a 6'8" junior who will help Wilson in the paint, as will senior forward Gideon Measner (6'5"). Junior guard Garren Bertsch can fill it up from the outside and will give Russell much-needed perimeter scoring. Cameron Lemons is a senior guard who can run the point and serve as a lock-down defender. Boone County transfer Collin Teegarden, a junior, was the 6th man for the Rebels last season and should get plenty of clock.

    The Camels will again have targets on their backs, and when asked what the keys will be to sustaining success, Russell stated, "Triple H: saying humble, healthy, and hungry." He adds, "The Region is tough this year, and we can't just show up. We have to work hard every day and hopefully be ready by tournament time." Judging by the previous two seasons, they'll be ready indeed.


    #2 - Montgomery County Indians
    Head Coach: Matthew Daniel
    2014-15 Record: 16-12


    In his first season as the head coach for Montgomery County, Matthew Daniel guided the Indians to a 16-11 regular season record and the top seed in the 40th District Tournament. However, Daniel's club was upset by upstart Bourbon County in the opening round of the District Tournament--a painful ending to an otherwise successful season. As Daniel turns the page to his second year in Mt. Sterling, he sees a roster that is capable, not just of reclaiming a District crown, but also returning to Rupp for the first time since 2013.

    Montgomery County possesses one of the 10th Region's most elite back courts, led by the stellar point-guard play of Caswell Fuller. As a junior last year, the 5'11" Fuller averaged 11 ppg and dished out over 7 apg and was named 2nd Team All-Region by the coaches. A big reason for the high number of assists is Fuller's back court mate, the sharpshooting Art Walker. Walker was an honorable mention All-Region player a season ago, and few can light it up as well from the perimeter as the 6'3" senior. In 2014-15 Walker drained 88 3-pointers (40.2%) and led the team in scoring at 13 ppg.

    The Indians also return 6'7" senior big man Shelby Combs, who averaged 10 ppg and 6 rpg last year, while also hitting a team-high 80 free throws. A football player, Combs has missed the entire season with injury, but Daniel hopes his big man will be able to return to the hardwood. Cody Parsley, a 6'3" senior wing, played in all 28 games last year and averaged 6.8 ppg and 3.4 rpg, but you can expect an increase in those numbers. A huge boost for the Indians came in the off season with the transfer of 6'4" junior Jerryd Jones. The athletic Jones comes to Montgomery County from rival George Rogers Clark and had an outstanding summer on the AAU circuit. Jones could easily find himself as a Top 10 player in the Region by season's end.

    When asked to identify his team's strengths, Daniel answered, "Experience and unselfishness." When asked about weaknesses, the second-year coach gave a simple, but true, one-word answer: "Depth." When healthy, the Indians will indeed boast one of the 10th's premier starting units, but the bench is a legitimate concern. Having said that, Daniel is aware that many prognosticators have his team pegged as a Regional favorite. "How we develop over the course of the year will be the primary key for us in reaching our goals," he stated. This is a squad that will undoubtedly be hungry to rectify the disappointing ending to last season, and they most certainly have the weapons to do just that.

    #3 - Scott Eagles
    Head Coach: Brad Carr
    2014-15 Record: 18-14 (10th Region Runner-Up; 37th District Runner-Up)


    For the second time in three years, the Scott Eagles found themselves playing on the final day of the 10th Region Tournament a season ago. And for the second time in three years, the Scott Eagles found themselves on the short end of a lopsided Regional Championship loss. "We knocked on the door a couple of times, but Montgomery County (by 31 points in 2013) and Campbell County (by 32 points in 2015) both slammed that door shut very quickly," head coach Brad Carr reflected.

    Carr's Eagles will look to return to the title game, and they certainly have an opportunity to advance even further, especially with the return of outstanding junior guard Jake Ohmer. The 6'1" Ohmer enjoyed a terrific sophomore campaign, setting the single-game school scoring record (51), averaging 21.3 ppg, and eclipsing 1,000 career points scored in the Regional Tournament's opening round. For his efforts, Ohmer was named to the 2nd Team All-Region squad by the coaches. "Jake has an opportunity to become the all-time leading scorer at Scott this season, while only entering his junior year," Carr stated. "He'll have to take that next step to be considered a very good all-around player. We need Jake to be more consistent on the defensive end, in rebounding the ball, and ultimately making his teammates around him better." Andrew Trame, a 6'1" senior, will join Ohmer to form arguably the most lethal 10th Region back court. As a junior, Trame netted 11 ppg and hit just under 40% of his 3-point attempts. Carr says of his senior guard, "Andrew is a terrific shooter and an all-effort kid. He will be a three year captain because he is a tremendous leader. But we need him to become more of a threat going to the basket and finishing at the rim."

    Guard Vinnie Duimlao, a 6'0 junior, played in all 32 games as a reserve last season, but will most likely step into a starter's role this year. Also look for senior guard Logan Lawson to increase his minutes. What little size the Eagles possess will come in the form of 6'4" senior forward C.J. Seay. Seay also came off the bench to play in every game a season ago, and scored 5 huge points in the Eagles' win over Harrison County in the 10th Region semifinals. Carr acknowledges that a lack of size will again be a problem, but says he has stressed team effort in practice in order to overcome that obstacle. Additional Eagles that may contribute are 5'10" sophomore Nelson Perrin--the football team's Quarterback--5'10" junior Tim Jolley, 6'2" junior Andrew Dixon, and 6'0 senior Deandre Pleasant, a running back on the football team.

    Overall, Carr says he looks for his team to be able to stretch defenses with stellar perimeter shooting, thereby also opening up driving lanes for players to attack the rim. The savvy veteran coach also likes his team's overall attitude. "I think our kids' family attitude and togetherness are huge strengths. While this cannot be measured, our selfless attitude toward one another has been a huge reason why these kids have been successful in many different sports (soccer, baseball, basketball). These are great kids that I am coaching!"

    #4 - Paris Greyhounds
    Head Coach: Terence Brooks
    2014-15 Record: 18-10 (10th Region Quarterfinalist; 40th District Champion)


    The 40th District Tournament was filled with surprises last year, thanks in no small part to the Paris Greyhounds. Terence Brooks' team had its way with George Rogers Clark in a 19-point semifinal win and then edged county rival Bourbon County by 3 points in the title game. Claiming the school's first District Championship since 2001 was a huge accomplishment, but don't expect Brooks and company to rest on those laurels as the 2015-16 season dawns upon us.

    No team in the 10th Region returns more experience from last year than the 'Hounds. All five starters are back, as well as five others who logged significant varsity minutes. The leader of the pack is undoubtedly the superb Koebe Garrard. A 6'3" senior and physical specimen, Garrard topped Paris in scoring (19 ppg), rebounding (8 ppg), and 3-pointers made (34) in 2014-15. The 10th Region coaching fraternity recognized Garrard's talents by naming him to the 2nd Team All-Region squad. Another swing player, 6'2" junior Jekobi Wells, was an honorable mention 10th Region performer last year. A true slasher, Wells was second on the team in both scoring (13.6 ppg) and rebounding (6.4 rpg), but he was the top man in free throws made (96) and field goal percentage (53.9%).

    James Clark returns to run the point for the Greyhounds. The crafty 5'10" senior averaged 9.3 ppg a year ago, playing in 27 of the team's 28 games. He is joined in the back court by 5'10" sophomore Marcus Ashford, who was starting as a freshman by season's end last year. Junior Jordan Davis is a George Rogers Clark transfer, whom Brooks expects to use as both a guard and forward. Seniors Wan Dumphord and his brother Wane Dumphord combined to average 8.8 ppg in 2014-15 and will add experienced depth.

    Brooks understandably oozes confidence when talking about his kids. "I feel that our team's overall quickness, athletic ability, and depth will be our strengths," the successful coach stated. "All of that will enable us to play pressure defense the entire game, even when making substitutions." Brooks does cite size and consistency as potential pitfalls for his club, stating, "We will have to improve on those two areas throughout the season." Even with those weaknesses, however, Paris is loaded and prepared to again make noise in the Class "A" and 40th District. But make no mistake: this is a legit 10th Region Tournament title contender too.

    #5 - Augusta Panthers
    Head Coach: Brian Kirk
    2014-15 Record: 17-11 (10th Region Quarterfinalist; 39th District Runner-Up)


    Just two seasons ago the Augusta Panthers said goodbye to the school's all-time leading scorer. The electrifying Brent Bach graduated and now wears the maroon and white of Bellarmine University. But in 2015-16 Augusta welcomes the return of the player whose scoring record Bach broke: 2004 graduate Brian Kirk, the program's new head coach, who was tapped to replace Jason Hinson in early May.

    Kirk, who spent the last three seasons at Burgin, inherits a very talented group of kids that have experienced success, the likes of which the school has rarely (if ever) known. Camryn Snapp (15.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg), Connor Maddox (18.3 ppg, 83.2% FT's), and Owens Crawford (11 ppg, 52% FG's) comprise a trio of seniors that have started since they were freshmen. Together they have helped win a pair of 39th District Championships (2013 & 2014), as well as the school's first ever 10th Region Class A crown (2015). At 6'3", Snapp is arguably the most heralded of the three, a truly complete player who was a 2nd Team All-10th Region performer last year, despite tearing his ACL in late January. Snapp has recovered well from the injury, according to Kirk, who points to his senior forward's cross-country accolades as proof. But the first-year coach adds, "As a staff, we will not rush him, but will work to have him ready as soon as possible. Our goal is to have him at 100% by January 1st."

    Maddox was the team's top scorer, free throw shooter, and 3-point maker a season ago. The 5'11" guard was a 3rd Team All-10th Region player and became a significantly more well-rounded scorer as a junior. Maddox will most assuredly be the catalyst in terms of putting points on the board again this season. His back court mate is the 6'1" Crawford, who handles the bulk of the team's ball-handling responsibilities. Crawford's game also greatly improved last year, and his production increased after Snapp's injury. Guard Jared Shoemaker averaged just shy of 5 ppg last year and Kirk believes his junior "could be a huge key player for the season." Also pay attention to the eligibility status of Pendleton County transfer Tanner Pugh, a 6'1" senior, whose presence could pay huge dividends for the Panthers, particularly in terms of depth.

    Kirk expects the goals of the recent past to remain during his first year overseeing the program in his beloved hometown. All three titles--the 39th District, the Class A, and the 10th Region--are targeted by the Panthers. Kirk believes several factors will figure into the realization of those goals. "The difference makers for our team will be discipline, solid communication, defensive intensity, and unity," Kirk offered. He loves seeing his team's dedication to improve, and hopes all of this will catapult the tiny school to continued huge success.

    #6 - Pendleton County Wildcats
    Head Coach: Keaton Belcher
    2014-15 Record: 15-17 (10th Region Semifinalist; 38th District Champion)

    In his first season as a head coach, Keaton Belcher guided his Alma mater to a 38th District title and an appearance in the 10th Region Semifinals. It was a swift turnaround for the Wildcats, but Belcher credits his kids for the progress. "Our success last season is a tribute to our players' work ethic and unselfishness throughout the year," Belcher told BGP. "It wasn't an easy process. By some polls we weren't supposed to make the 10th Region Tournament, and our players embraced that and used it as motivation."

    The Wildcats will not have the opportunity to fly under the radar in 2015-16. The transfer of leading scorer Michael Antrobus (16.4 ppg) to Rowan County certainly stings, but the cupboard nonetheless remains stocked in Falmouth. Dontaie Allen, a 6'5" freshman, is the team's top returning scorer (13.4 ppg) and rebounder (4.1 rpg). The long and lean youngster missed half the season last year with a broken wrist, but returned in time for the post season, where he was named MVP of the 38th District Tournament. "Dontaie has Division 1 potential," Belcher asserts. "If he can stay healthy, Dontaie can be a big-time player, not only in the 10th Region, but throughout the state." Allen's 201 points scored in 2014-15 (in just 15 games) is a school record for points scored by an 8th grader.

    5'10" senior Hunter Wood will be the team's catalyst and team captain. Wood, whom Belcher calls "a coach's dream," is a 3-year starter who averaged 7.3 ppg and 5.2 apg in 2014-15, while also setting the school's single season assist record (156). A gifted ball handler and distributor, Wood has improved his shooting and foot speed in the off season, according to Belcher. Two other returnees, Tanner Daugherty and Wade Browning, both started several games a year ago and will likely see their roles increase. The senior duo combined to hit 67 3-pointers last year. And keep an eye out for 6'0 sophomore guard Grant Walsh, a talented underclassman who played in just about every game last season.

    Like other 10th Region coaches, Belcher has front court concerns when he looks at his team. But also like other 10th Region coaches, Belcher likes what he sees in the back court. "We have experienced perimeter guys returning who have won meaningful games," Belcher stated. "I feel like 3-point and free throw shooting are strengths of ours." Belcher also says he embraces the fact that his team will now have a target on their backs. He stated, "This year our focus is to remain hungry, defend our District Championship, and put ourselves in position to make a run at the 10th Region Championship."


    #7 - Mason County Royals
    Head Coach: Buddy Biggs
    2014-15 Record: 27-3 (10th Region Quarterfinalist; 39th District Champion)


    Buddy Biggs returns to the 10th Region after spending the previous nine seasons at Ashland, where he accumulated six 20-win seasons. Biggs is well-known in the 10th, having guided Pendleton County to the 2005 10th Region championship. He is also well-known in Mason County, where he served as an Assistant Coach during the 2000-2001 season.

    The roster Biggs will oversee in his first season is somewhat depleted. Four of five starters from last year's 39th District Champions graduated, including 10th Region Player of the Year Dorian Henry. The lone returning starter is 6'0 senior point guard Antwavon "Pig" Williams. Williams was the #2 scorer on last year's 27-win team, averaging 9.8 ppg. A consistent and steady floor general, Williams is also one of the 10th's most elite on-the-ball defenders. Biggs knows he will have to lean heavily on Williams, especially in the early going. "Hopefully Pig can carry the load until other guys step up," Biggs stated.

    The Royals do return some seniors who were reserves last year. A trio of them--Conner Sweeney, Darren Williams, and Darrell Henry--"will all get a chance early to see what they can do," Biggs informed us. Isiah Garrison is the son of early 90's Mason County standout Orlando Myrick, and the sophomore guard played in 25 games last season, showing considerable talent and promise. Junior Ty Fox is recovering from foot surgery, but Biggs hopes he can recover and add depth. Biggs also points to a talented group of youngsters who played well over the summer: Jaylen Lofton, Levi Dunaway, Ryan Mitchell, and big man Dalton Perkins. "I am very pleased with our younger kids," Biggs beamed.

    Biggs says his transition to Maysville has been great, but he acknowledges that it's much too early to determine anything very definitive about his team. "We have yet to have a full squad workout due to soccer and football still going on," he said, "but our guys are battling every day in practice." Expectations are always high in Mason County, unquestionably the most tradition-rich 10th Region program, but Biggs and his squad will be ready for the challenge.

    #8 - George Rogers Clark Cardinals
    Head Coach: Scott Humphrey
    2014-15 Record: 19-10

    Scott Humphrey's Cardinals have experienced an odd last couple of seasons. Two years ago GRC finished the regular season with an 8-18 record, but managed to qualify for the 10th Region Tournament, where the squad lost a nail-biter to Harrison County in the first round. Then last season saw essentially the exact opposite results: Humphrey's kids enjoyed a successful regular season run of 19 wins and 9 losses, but bowed out to eventual District Champion Paris in the opening round of the 40th District Tournament.

    The arrival of a new season brings with it many question marks, as the Cardinals have lost the services of graduated stars Damion King and Braxton Greene. The stellar back court combined to average 31.8 ppg in 2014-15, with King being named 1st Team All-10th Region and Greene receiving Honorable Mention recognition. The Cards have also lost a couple of players via transfer, with both staying in the 40th District.
    Jordan Davis is now at Paris and Jerryd Jones at Montgomery County.

    Expect senior guard Jyles Anderson to shoulder a significant portion of the load for GRC in 2015-16. Anderson was the team's #3 scorer last year at 9 ppg and Humphrey likes what he has seen out of his senior. "Jyles has established himself as a leader on this team," Humphrey stated. "He has had a great off season and his work ethic is off the charts. Our young kids follow his example." Anderson will not be a lone wolf, however, as sharpshooting wing Jordan Menchen returns as well. As a junior, Menchen was second on the team in 3-point field goals made, draining 44.3% of his perimeter attempts. Humphrey says, "Jordan is a driven, team-first player, and his attitude is also contagious." The rest of the cast is somewhat uncertain, but the Cardinals do possess a highly talented sophomore class that won the 10th Region Tournament as freshmen.

    Overall, Humphrey is excited about his team's attitude. "Our overall team chemistry is excellent," he shared with us. "We have several players competing for varsity minutes, but they are a very close group that pushes each other." Humphrey says he expects this year's squad to be a better shooting team, but is concerned about rebounding and defense. "We are not even close to being able to compete with the better teams in those areas," Humphrey commented. Still, Humphrey believes this is a team that will grow and improve throughout the season, hopefully culminating in both regular and post season success.


    #9 - Bracken County Polar Bears
    Head Coach: Jason Hinson
    2014-15 Record: 12-17


    The Polar Bears will have their third head coach in as many years, with 1995 alum Jason Hinson making the transition from county rival Augusta. Hinson's success at Augusta is well-noted, which explains why expectations in Brooksville are quite high.

    Bracken County has its share of talent in 2015-16, starting with the school's all-time leading scorer, guard Austin Crawford. Crawford led the team in just about every major statistical category a season ago, including averages of 24.1 ppg and 9.7 rpg. The 6'3" junior is a natural point guard, but at times is forced to play other positions for the Polar Bears. Crawford was a 1st Team All-Region choice a season ago, and most prognosticators have him ranked as one of the 10th's top 3 performers this year. Fellow junior Jacob Hamilton, a 6'1" guard/forward, was the team's #2 scorer (12.6 ppg) and rebounder (5.1 rpg) last season. A cross-country standout, Hamilton also led the team in free throw shooting, connecting on 83.1% of his charity stripe attempts.

    But Hinson believes his team's true potential will be determined by the rest of the roster. "Our success will be based on what we get from the supporting cast," he stated. Hinson describes 6'5" senior big man Jarred Lippert as "a load." Last year as a junior, Lippert played in 22 games and earned averages of 2.2 ppg and 2.8 rpg. Cooper Engnes, a 6'4" junior, "brings length and scoring ability, along with added rebounding," according to Hinson. Brady Jones (6'3") is yet another junior who will get considerable minutes. Hinson calls Jones an "inside-out player who must bring intensity every night." Kolton Williams, a senior, was the team's #3 scorer last year at 6.4 ppg and played in all 29 games.

    In terms of team goals, Hinson says his bunch is specifically targeting both the Class "A" and 39th District Tournaments, but mostly he wants his team to compete at a high level. "It's a process," Hinson commented. "We have to take this one step at a time and work extremely hard to get where we want to be." He adds that the schedule will reveal right away what his squad will need to work on, with game #1 being at Montgomery County. Hinson likes his team's size, quickness, length, and defensive ability, but he adds, "We have a lot to work on and a lot to change in how players think. It's always a process to get kids to believe they can win a big game versus a big school, so we are trying to improve that."


    #10 - Harrison County Thorobreds
    Head Coach: Larry Kendall
    2014-15 Record: 16-15 (10th Region Semifinalist; 38th District Runner-Up)


    It was an up-and-down season, of sorts, for Harrison County in 2014-15. Larry Kendall's Thorobreds fell just short of 3-peating in the 38th District Tournament, but then rallied to upset Mason County at The Fieldhouse in the first round of the 10th Region Tournament. The Breds then came oh-so-close to making the title game, but fell 54-53 to Scott in the semis.

    Kendall will have his hands full in finding a way to replace everything brought to the table by two graduated standouts, Trenton Thompson (21.8 ppg and 7.6 rpg) and D.J. Jenkins (14.3 ppg). He'll start, however, with with 6'4" forward Zack Pulliam. The lanky Pulliam averaged 10.8 ppg last year and drained a team-high 52 3-pointers, but Kendall hopes to get that again and then some out of his senior. "For us to be successful," Kendall said, "Zack Pulliam will need to have an outstanding year. He's an excellent shooter, but will need to rebound and defend better." Brock Jenkins, a 6'0 senior, started last year and returns to run the point for the Thorobreds. Of his point guard Kendall asserts, "When Brock plays well at the point guard position, we will be tough to beat." Senior forward Jovon Williams played the role of reserve a season ago, but Kendall says Williams had a great summer and should vastly improve. "Jovon is strong physically and has a motor that runs wide open," Kendall stated. "He is by far our best on the ball defender, and one of the best defensive players in the entire Region."

    Expect senior Leon Commodore to join Jenkins in the back court. Kendall points to Commodore as one of his most improved players, progressing with his shot and being ready to contribute significantly more. 6'4" junior Reese Asher is a perimeter shooter, but will need to move down low some. Another junior, 5'8" Keishon Gilkey, will use his quickness on the defensive end to cause problems for opposing point guards and add guard depth for Harrison County.

    "This will be a different Thorobreds team," Kendall informed us. "We will need to speed up our opponents and mix up our defenses. We will be a better shooting team, but depth will be an issue--at least early in the season." Kendall also points to a solid group of freshmen and sophomores that, while needing experience, could make a difference as the season progresses. Expectations in Cynthiana may not be as high as previous seasons, but don't be at all surprised if Kendall has his bunch making waves come tournament time.

    #11 - Bishop Brossart Mustangs
    Head Coach: Mike Code
    2014-15 Record: 14-12


    The Bishop Brossart Mustangs were not able to survive and advance out of the perpetual dogfight that is the 37th District last season. Mike Code's club also fell tantalizingly short in trying to win its 6th straight 10th Region Class "A" Championship, losing a 67-65 overtime thriller to Augusta in the title game. The 'Stangs bid farewell to their #1 and #3 scorers from a season ago, but return plenty to contend in 2015-16.

    Jackson Crawford is the team's top returnee. The 6'5" senior scored 11.3 ppg a season ago and also pulled down 5 rpg. Crawford will most assuredly benefit from a solid AAU season, and could easily be an All-Region performer in 2015-16. "Jackson will be counted upon to anchor us this year," Code stated. Aiding Crawford will be 6'2" senior swingman Jacob Zai (8 ppg, 27 3-pointers made, 75.3% FT's) and 5'11" senior point guard Logan Schultz.

    Bryce Kremer, a 6'0 junior, could fill the shooter's role vacated by the graduated Spencer Hackworth. A pair of seniors, Justin Rolf (5'11") and Dylan Geiman (6'0), will see a lot of action. Adding front court muscle will be 6'2" senior forward Joey Hickman, a ferocious competitor who tends to play much bigger than his size, thanks to a never-ending motor. Also anticipate production from 6'1" senior wing John Ridder.

    Expect the 2015-16 edition of the Mustangs to have a similar makeup as previous teams: excellent chemistry, lockdown defense, and high-basketball IQ. "Our strengths should be quickness and aggressiveness," Code commented. "With two starters and our sixth man returning, our goals are to win the 37th District and 10th Region Class A titles."

    #12 - Bourbon County Colonels
    Head Coach: Nick Sosby
    2014-15 Record: 9-20 (10th Region Quarterfinalist; 40th District Runner-Up)


    Perhaps no other team in the 10th Region faced more adversity a season ago than Bourbon County. The difficulty primarily came in the form of an early-season coaching change, as Nick Sosby replaced Bob Eades on the sidelines. The Colonels went on to experience a lot of ups and downs, but the team regrouped to become arguably the most surprising in the 10th Region by season's end. The Colonels shocked Montgomery County in the 40th District semifinals, very nearly beat Paris in the title game, and then made their first appearance in the 10th Region Tournament since 2005. Bourbon lost the opening game of the tournament to eventual champion Campbell County, but just getting there was quite a feat.

    In 2015-16 Sosby will have to make due without 3rd Team All-10th Region player Landon Sexton, who led the team in scoring at 14.9 ppg. A handful of other key contributors are gone, but returning is the team's #2 scorer, Ameryon Blackburn. The 6'0 junior averaged just shy of 11 ppg last year and was second on the team in 3-pointers made with 42. Blackburn also shot an efficient 48.1% from the floor and 41.6% from beyond the arc. Billy Orcutt, a 6'5" senior, is another returning starter who played in all but one game a year ago. The big man averaged 5.7 ppg and shot a team-high 60% from the floor.

    Forward Chandler Thomas, a 6'0 senior, could find his way into the starting rotation. Thomas played in every game last year and brings needed experience to the roster. Two juniors, forward Ashton Lawson and guard Kamron Stout, both appeared in about half of the team's games last season and might be more consistent contributors in 2015-16.

    The Colonels were very much a guard-oriented club last year, and seem to have a similar roster makeup this year. Perimeter shooting was a major factor in the team's post season success last year, but three of the top four 3-point shooters have graduated. Whether or not Sosby can help guide the program to another memorable run remains to be seen, but at least thus far, the young coach has proven an ability to defy the odds and find success.

    #13 - St. Patrick Saints
    Head Coach: Matthew Taylor
    2014-15 Record: 13-15

    Matthew Taylor's second year at the helm of the small private school in old downtown Maysville was an improvement. The Saints went from 7 wins to 13, from 22 losses to 15. St. Patrick stumbled out of the gate, but finished the season relatively strong, earning a 10-7 record in January and February. The Saints drew the dreaded Mason County straw in the 39th District Tournament, and fell to the home-standing Royals 74-43 in the semifinals.

    If improvement is to be continued in 2015-16, Taylor will have to do it without the services of the outstanding Andrew Sticklen, a 3rd Team All-10th Region performer last year, who led the club in scoring (18.6 ppg), rebounding (11.6 rpg), field goal percentage (57.2%), and free throw percentage (73.1%). Sophomore forward Ben Swolsky is the team's top returning scorer and rebounder at 7.3 ppg and 4.8 rpg. Swolsky's freshman campaign was an impressive one that flew under the radar of most 10th Region fans. Point guard Brennan Bauer, a feisty 5'7" senior, averaged 6.8 ppg last year, and performs admirably despite being somewhat undersized.

    Senior wing Jakaar Frey averaged 6.6 ppg and junior guard Chase Burton netted 6.3 ppg a season ago, and was also the team leader in 3-point field goals made. Both will provide additional punch to a guard-heavy lineup, as will experienced senior guard Jarrod McCall (4.2 ppg).


    The Saints will miss Sticklen's production, but also his presence in the paint as both a scorer and shot-blocker. Having said that, Taylor's third team in Maysville will likely be quicker, better shooting, and less turnover prone. And the stalwarts of defensive tenacity and overall team effort should once again be present. If everything comes together, it could be another season of significant growth and overall program improvement.

    #14 - Nicholas County Bluejackets
    Head Coach: Matthew Botner
    2014-15 Record: 10-19

    Nicholas County is one of five 10th Region schools experiencing a coaching change in 2015-16. Matthew Botner, who spent the previous three seasons as the head man at Ballard Memorial, takes over for the departed Roger Newton. Last year Botner guided the Bombers to a 17-win season, including runner-up finishes in both the 1st Region All "A" and 3rd District Tournaments. A 2003 George Rogers Clark graduate and Winchester native, Botner hopes to duplicate his Ballard Memorial success at Nicholas County.

    That will not be an easy task for Botner--at least not immediately--as the Jackets lose their top three scorers from a season ago. Elijah Barnett, a senior forward, is the team's top returning scorer at 7.6 ppg. Barnett is a versatile post player who can score on the block, but also face up and hit from the outside. A couple of sophomore wings, Sam Hamilton and Spencer Morris, will be counted upon to increase production. Morris played in all but one game in 2014-15, averaging 2.6 ppg and 2.2 rpg. Look for a pair of juniors to man the back court for Nicholas County. Trent Letcher and Logan Stafford both played in 27 games last year, with Letcher scoring 2 ppg
    .

    Botner feels as though his team will rely on versatility as a strength this season. "We have a lot of guys that can play multiple positions," Botner stated. But the first-year Jackets coach also cautioned, "At the same time, our weakness is that we do not have a lot of size. Additionally, we have a lot of players returning that played varsity, but they did not necessarily get critical minutes."

    It could be tough in the early going for Botner's club, as their first four games all take place away from Carlisle. In fact, 10 of the team's 12 games slated for the 2015 calendar year are all on the road. Still, Botner hopes his squad can grow as the season progresses, challenging for a Class "A" championship as well as a return to the 10th Region Tournament.

    #15 - Robertson County Black Devils
    Head Coach: John Brown
    2014-15 Record: 6-21


    Coach John Brown's Robertson County team had a rough go of it in the 2014-15 season. A year removed from making an impressive appearance in the 10th Region Tournament, the Black Devils managed just 6 wins a season ago, ending with a 31-point loss to Pendleton County in the 38th District Tournament. On the surface, it would appear that 2015-16 could also be a season of adversity, as Brown will have to somehow compensate for the loss of leading scorer and rebounder Dawson Cooper (19.2 ppg and 8.1 rpg), an Honorable Mention All-Region performer a year ago.

    However, the Black Devils do return #2 scorer and rebounder Mason Burden. The 6'0 sophomore turned in perhaps the most impressive freshman season of all 10th Region players, scoring 15.6 ppg and grabbing 6.7 rpg. Described as a "hard-nosed player" by his coach, Burden definitely has a scorer's mentality, as evidenced by his team-leading 107 free throws made last year. "Mason will be expected to carry a heavy load this season," Brown shared with us. "I believe he will be up to the challenge. He is on his way to having a special career. I think he will up his game in all areas."

    Another returning starter is 6'1" junior Myles Murphy. A two-year starter, Murphy averaged just 2.6 ppg a season ago, along with 6.1 rpg, but Brown asserts that Murphy does "a lot of the little things that don't necessarily show up in the stats column." Brown adds, "Myles rebounds the ball, plays extremely hard, and can play multiple positions." Brown also looks for big things from 8th grader Alex Schalch. "Alex is going to be a great player for Robertson County for years to come," Brown stated. "He is extremely smart and has a great feel for the game." Junior guard Dakota Moore will be looked upon to contribute as well. Described by Brown as long and lanky, Moore "gets his hands on a lot of passes and is very good in transition." Brown says he will look to Moore as his primary ball-handler on the offensive end.

    Brown likes the fact that his team has many interchangeable parts, with kids being able to play multiple positions. Finding adequate scoring is a concern, as well as depth issues, but Brown believes a lot of that can be overcome by intensity and effort--two things for which he praises his team. "We always tell our kids that there are a lot of things that are out of their control when it comes to the game. But the one thing they have complete control of is how hard they play. This bunch plays hard and competes. They are a good group of kids and I enjoy coaching them."

    #16 - Calvary Christian Cougars
    Head Coach: Ryan Neises
    2014-15 Record: 4-23

    July was a big month for Ryan Neises. In addition to getting married and taking a new job in the Cincinnati area, he became the new boys basketball coach for Calvary Christian. Despite all the newness, however, Neises is no rookie. The 30-year-old served as the head coach at Dayton Christian High School the past two seasons, and before that enjoyed a successful stint as an assistant at Cedarville University (NCAA D2). All together, Neises brings 10 years of coaching experience and he hopes to build a solid program at Calvary.

    The Cougars had another tough year in 2014-15, but there is optimism, due in large part to the return of junior guard Aikeem Riley. One of the most talented players in the 10th that many haven't heard of, Riley averaged a team-high 14.6 ppg last year and will likely increase those numbers in 2015-16. "Aikeem has worked incredibly hard so far this fall. His jump shot is really good, he's gotten stronger, and he's one of the best I've coached at being able to catch and shoot," Neises said of his standout. Another junior, swingman Justin Wade, came into school halfway through the season last year. Wade did not disappoint either, playing in 14 games, averaging 12.4 points per outing, and earning a spot on the 37th District All-Tournament Team. Sophomore guard Danny McWhorter is another player Neises expects to be a primary contributor. "Danny's a great athlete with good ball-handling skills," Neisis informed us. "He will be our best on ball defender and we will also look to him for scoring."

    The first-year coach believes he has a very unselfish team that will share the ball, as well as get after it on the defensive end. "We don't have a lot of size, so we won't try to cram the ball inside, but we should have more scorers than Calvary has had in the past," Neises stated.

    The two primary concerns for the Cougars will be lack of experience and the aforementioned size. "We are going to be young, relying on guys with very little varsity basketball experience," Neises commented. "We're not big, so hopefully our style of play will combat opponents from using that against us. We are looking to build skill and IQ at all positions, but that will certainly take time."

    #17 - Silver Grove Big Trains
    Head Coach: Howard Brownstein
    2014-15 Record: 15-14

    In his second season at Silver Grove, Howard Brownsetin will have his work cut out for him. One could make an argument that this will always be the case at such a small school, participating in such a competitive District, but not many coaches will have to deal with the departure of three 1,000 point career scorers. But that is the unenviable task facing Coach Brownstein and the 2015-16 Big Trains. Gone from last year are Christian Pollitt (13.1 ppg), Anthony Turcios (11.4 ppg), and Billy Miller (9.4 ppg and 10 rpg). All three players broke the 1,000 points milestone during their Silver Grove careers.

    Fortunately, a fourth 1,000 point scorer is returning in senior guard Randy Kuntz. Kuntz was the #2 scorer on last year's team (12.2 ppg) and team leader in free throw shooting (80.2%). Kuntz shoulders the vast majority of the ball-handling responsibilities for the Big Trains, and the 5'10" senior is effective in driving to the basket as well. For certain the most experienced and talented returnee, Kuntz's leadership will be heavily counted upon from the get-go.

    Where the rest of the support comes from is going to be difficult to determine. The Big Trains often face the problem of small numbers, but when you throw in the number of seniors who graduated (5), things might even be dicier than usual. Junior guard Logan Taylor played in every game for Silver Grove last season, averaging right at 1 ppg. And then sophomore guard Elian Turcios saw action in nearly 70% of the games a season ago. Outside of Kuntz, Taylor, and Turcios it is not easy to deduce where the production will come from.

    The youth and inexperience will make it incredibly difficult for Brownstein to duplicate last season's successful 15-14 finish, which included a late-season run that saw the Trains win 8 of their final 11 contests. What Brownstein does have working in his favor would be 30 years of coaching experience with over 500 career wins. The veteran coach has definitely seen his share of insurmountable odds, yet he has nonetheless been able to produce quality results with impressive consistency.



    10TH REGION: PLAYER RANKINGS


    1. Matt Wilson - 6'9" Sr. (Campbell County) - It's no accident that the Camels have been so successful during the Army commit's high school career. The big man scores and rebounds well, but it's what he does defensively that makes him king of the hill in the 10th.

    2. Austin Crawford - 6'3" Jr. (Bracken County) - Stat-sheet-stuffer is one of the 10th's most electrifying talents. Became the Polar Bears all-time leading scorer as a sophomore in 2014-15.

    3. Jake Ohmer -
    6'1" Jr. (Scott) - Battle-tested, fierce competitor of a guard, Ohmer can score in bunches. Of all the players in the 10th, if you are at the end of a game and needing a basket, he's the one you want with the ball in his hands.

    4. Koebe Garrard -
    6'3" Sr. (Paris) - One of the toughest players in the Region to defend because of his sheer physical strength, athleticism, and versatility. Greyhounds might ride his strong shoulders all the way to Rupp.

    5. Antwavon "Pig" Williams -
    6'0 Sr. (Mason County) - Catalyst for the Royals who will be heavily relied upon to guide a predominantly young team. One of the 10th's top defenders, if Ohmer's the guy we choose to have the ball at the end, Pig is the guy we choose to defend him.

    6. Caswell Fuller -
    5'11" Sr. (Montgomery County) - Perhaps the most gifted floor leader of any 10th Region player. Other guards are better scorers and shooters, but his 7 plus assists per game in 2014-15 speak volumes. Put simply: he is the straw that stirs the drink in Mt. Sterling.

    7. Art Walker -
    6'3" Sr. (Montgomery County) - Throws for touchdowns in the fall and shoots for 3-pointers in the winter. One of the 10th's premier perimeter shooters, he could be poised for a breakout year. Young man can fill it up quickly.

    8. Dontaie Allen -
    6'5" Fr. (Pendleton County) - Shined as an 8th grader and then began to fill out his long and lean frame over the summer. Swing player who does a lot of things really well. Take a screenshot of this #8 ranking, because we don't suspect he'll be this low ever again.

    9. Camryn Snapp -
    6'3" Sr. (Augusta) - Four-year starter is hoping to be fully recovered from ACL tear in late January. Skilled forward can handle the ball, bang down low, and all the while provides a quiet, steady leadership for the Panthers.

    10. Zack Pulliam -
    6'4" Sr. (Harrison County) - Younger brother of UK walk-on will inflict a lot of damage on opponents from the perimeter. Look for the long forward to become a more well-rounded scorer in 2015-16.

    Ten More to Watch (Listed in alphabetical order) - Jyles Anderson (George Rogers Clark), Jackson Crawford (Bishop Brossart), Jacob Hamilton (Bracken County), Cole Hegyi (Campbell County), Jerryd Jones (Montgomery County), Connor Maddox (Augusta), Trent McGovney (Campbell County), Andrew Trame (Scott), Jekobi Wells (Paris), Hunter Wood (Pendleton County)


    10TH REGION: CIRCLE THESE 10 DATES (PART 1)


    Dec. 8th - Augusta at Bracken County...Early-season tilt matching Coach Hinson's Polar Bears against his former squad.

    Dec. 8th - Montgomery County at Paris...The two presumptive front-runners in the 40th battle it out in what many feel will be a preview of the district final.

    Dec. 11th - Campbell County at Mason County...How will new coach Buddy Biggs and the revamped Royals fare against the two-time defending 10th Region champs?

    Dec. 18th - Campbell County at Montgomery County...BGP's top two teams clash a week before Christmas and could shake up the rankings early.

    Jan. 5th - George Rogers Clark at Paris...With a month of season under their belts, will GRC prove it can hang with the presumptive #2 team in the 40th District?

    Jan. 8th - Class A Tournament at Bracken County
    ...
    Bishop Brossart has the favorable draw and will certainly be looking to bring the title back to Alexandria, but defending champ Augusta has their nucleus back, Paris is the most talented of the bunch, and Bracken County will be a tough out as host.

    Jan. 22nd - Pendleton County at Mason County...Keaton Belcher takes his team to Maysville where he will be matched up against his old coach, for whom he starred in 2005.

    Jan. 29th - Pendleton County at Harrison County...These two 38th District rivals have had some epic battles over the years, and may just add another one to the history books.

    Feb. 12th - Bishop Brossart at Scott...A good litmus test for both teams as the 37th District Tourney nears.

    Feb. 12th - Harrison County at Mason County... Revenge game for the Royals and their early exit from last season's regional tourney?


    10TH REGION: CIRCLE THESE 10 DATES (PART 2)

    Dec. 1st - Paris at Scott County...Greyhounds will get tested right out of the gate by this traditional 11th Region power.

    Dec. 14th - Madison Central at Harrison County...Second home game of the year for the Breds is a tough one.

    Dec. 15th - Covington Catholic at Campbell County...Camels will look to avenge two waxings from CCH last year, including a State Tournament defeat. Won't be easy.

    Jan. 8th - Pendleton County at Fairdale...After four consecutive home games, Wildcats will take to the road in a battle with the Bulldogs.

    Jan. 9th - Montgomery County at Bryan Station...Indians will visit the Defenders and try to contain Andre Davis and DeAndre Dishman.

    Jan. 9th - Campbell County vs Newport Central Catholic...Camels and Breds will go at it in Newport's John Turner Classic.

    Jan. 15th - Ashland at Mason County... Tomcats and Royals get together on a seemingly annual basis. The presence of Buddy Biggs makes this one most interesting.

    Jan. 19th - Montgomery County at Mercer County
    ...
    A 10th Region favorite battles perhaps the 12th Region favorite in Harrodsburg.

    Feb. 18th - George Rogers Clark at Henry Clay...Cardinals will have their work cut out for them in road contest with Isaiah Tisdale and the Blue Devils.

    Feb. 19th - Scott at Cooper...Two of Northern Kentucky's finest guards, juniors Jake Ohmer of Scott and Sean McNeil of Cooper, hope to finish the regular season on a high note.


    10TH REGION: 10 PRESSING QUESTIONS

    1. Matt Wilson: In a guard-heavy Region, can anyone prevent the Campbell County big man from leading his team to a 3-peat?

    2. Scott: Eagles have been the Region runner-up in 2 of the last 3 seasons. Is this the year the Eagles soar all the way to Rupp?

    3. Matt Daniel: Can Montgomery County's second-year coach help his club erase the disappointment from last year's District Tournament and make a deep run?

    4. Augusta/Bracken County/Mason County: Three teams with new coaches will battle it out for the 39th District crown. Who will come out on top?

    5. Pendleton County: How much will the loss of transfer Michael Antrobus hurt the Wildcats' quest for District and Regional championships?

    6. Koebe Garrard: Can the do-it-all forward lead his talented teammates to heights the program has not seen in years, if ever?

    7. Larry Kendall: Will Harrison County's head man be able to guide his team back to the top of the 38th District?

    8. George Rogers Clark: Will the Cardinals be able to thrive despite huge losses caused by both graduation and transfers?

    9. Class A: Four teams seem capable of winning it, but who will prevail and advance to Frankfort?

    10. Popcorn at the Regional Tournament: For three straight years Mason County has delivered a 5-star bag of corn. Can Montgomery County come close to matching it?
    Last edited by Randy Parker; Nov 9, 15 at 08:05 PM.

  2. #2
    Randy Parker's Avatar
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    Once again, this preview is not a solo effort, even though I'm the one posting it. My friends gold sunrise & mcpapa join me in covering the 10th Region for BGP and their work is also reflected in this preview.

    Thanks to the coaches & a handful of behind-the-scenes folks who provided valuable input.

    Hope you enjoy the preview & feel free to tell us where we're wrong.

  3. #3
    15th Region's Avatar
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    Great work and an excellent read!

  4. #4
    TAC's Avatar
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    Great job!

    I'm getting excited for the most wonderful time of the year!

  5. #5
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  6. #6
    MentschTrachtGottLacht's Avatar
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    FANTASTIC preview on the 10th to Pop, Goldie, and RP. Just a great read and really well done. That 12/15 tilt between the Camels and the Colonels in Park Hills should be a great one.

  7. #7

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    To answer #10 nobody, has better popcorn, and I mean nobody. Great job you guys!!

  8. #8
    Randy Parker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MentschTrachtGottLacht View Post
    That 12/15 tilt between the Camels and the Colonels in Park Hills should be a great one.
    The Parkers have penciled in the Trinity/CovCath game as one of the first we plan to take in.

    The Campbell/CovCath game is actually in Alexandria. Our mistake, but I fixed it.

  9. #9
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    Bracken vs Mason at Bracken on Dec 15 would be another one I'd add to the games to catch this season. As well as the BC/PC match ups. Should be 3 quality games.

  10. #10
    lawildcat's Avatar
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    12/15 game at CCHS is now marked on my calendar!

  11. #11
    TAC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MentschTrachtGottLacht View Post
    FANTASTIC preview on the 10th to Pop, Goldie, and RP. Just a great read and really well done. That 12/15 tilt between the Camels and the Colonels in Park Hills should be a great one.
    Hope the game is closer than the 2 times they played last year. Both were 19 point spreads.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Parker View Post
    Once again, this preview is not a solo effort, even though I'm the one posting it. My friends gold sunrise & mcpapa join me in covering the 10th Region for BGP and their work is also reflected in this preview.

    Thanks to the coaches & a handful of behind-the-scenes folks who provided valuable input.

    Hope you enjoy the preview & feel free to tell us where we're wrong.
    You are way too kind.

  13. #13
    OpieTaylor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Parker View Post
    Once again, this preview is not a solo effort, even though I'm the one posting it. My friends gold sunrise & mcpapa join me in covering the 10th Region for BGP and their work is also reflected in this preview.

    Thanks to the coaches & a handful of behind-the-scenes folks who provided valuable input.

    Hope you enjoy the preview & feel free to tell us where we're wrong.

    The Cats Pause could take some lessons from the three of you.

  14. #14
    polarbear98's Avatar
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    I'll accept my polar bears at #9 right now. But they are poised to make some big noise this season and should be breaking the top 5 or at least in the conversation by the time the All A rolls around.

  15. #15

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    Excellent review.
    I'd throw the Camp.Co. vs Brossart game into the watch list. Jan 8th.

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