Ram's Avatar
It’s that time of the year again. The popping pads of the fall will be replaced by the squeaking sneakers of the winter. It is basketball time in the bluegrass! The 16th region looks to provide another exciting year. Graduation, transfers, and some newly eligible players all look to make an impact on the upcoming season in the 16th region. Elliott County, the defending 16th region champions, look to try and repeat and win their 5th region title in ten seasons. Morgan County, last year’s runner up, looks to try and finish the job this year as they are also a favorite. Rowan County, with the advantage of the regional tournament played right in their backyard at Morehead State, will try and crash the 62nd district party from taking place in the regional finals again this season. Will an outsider emerge? Will the 61st district get back to the title game (last season was the first time since the 09-10 season a 61st district team wasn’t present)? Will Ashland snap the regional title drought?


TEAM RANKINGS

1. Elliott County (23-7)- Coach Greg Adkins returns all but one starter from last year’s 16th Region championship team. Many thought that the win was a year early, expecting the Lions not to break out until this season. Losing regional tournament MVP and leading scorer Hunter Holbrook will hurt. As will the loss of the Johnathan Sloas, a defensive spark plug off the bench who often took on the best player of the other team. Elliott shouldn’t have any trouble replacing the scoring production though. Junior Chase Porter averaged 12.6 PPG last season which was just shy of Holbrook’s 12.9. “Freshman Sensation” Korbin Spencer will step up and take a spot in the starting lineup this year and will help take on some of the scoring load. Twin seniors Reece and Landon Griffith enter their 6th varsity season and can light it up from outside as well as distribute the ball well. Senior Big man Collin Howell returns for his 5th and final varsity season and will try and anchor the middle this year. The Lions are the early favorites to win the 16th Region again.

2. Morgan County (22-6)-The 16th Region runner-up returns their already all-time leading scorer, and best player in the region in the Jordan Perry, son of Head Coach Matthew Perry. Jordan averaged 25.4 points last season and will look to continue to tear it up this year in his 6th and final varsity season. Perry recently received an offer to VMI. The Cougars return most of their supporting cast from the runner-up team last season. Senior forward Ryan Adams, and sophomore guard Michael Prater will step up this year as the Cougars try to finish the job. Jordan Perry will miss Holden Redparth and his production from last year, but now eligible transfer from Maryland, Najeh Banks will look to relieve some of the scoring pressure off of Perry like Redparth did. The Cougars are also a threat to take the 16th Region crown.

3. Rowan County (23-7)- Coach Shawn Thacker will look to return his Vikings to the Regional Finals. After 3 straight appearances to the finals the Vikings have been “upset” the past two seasons in the first and second round. The Vikings return senior Point Guard Larry Whelan, but will need some others to step up in the scoring after losing a lot from last year including co-region player of the year Ryne Callahan. To help with the scoring load is the transfer from 10th Region’s Pendleton County Michael Antrobus. The junior guard put on a show at times last year with his ability to score the ball and is just what the doctor ordered for a graduation depleted team. Look for Antrobus and Whelan to light it up this year in the back court as the Vikings look to get back to the top. Also worth noting is Desean Woods, son of former Wildcat and current Morehead State Head Coach Sean Woods, is a freshman on this Vikings team.

4. Greenup County (12-18)- After what many view as a disappointing season for the Musketeers of Greenup County, they should be expected to bounce back this year. Losing Jair Jackson, who averaged a double-double with 13.4 points and 15.2 rebounds per game, will be big as the Musketeers will try and replace the inside presence he provided for them last year. What they do bring back leading scorer sophomore guard Gage Hughes and his 14.9 points per game. Along with Jackson’s younger brother, junior guard Jherrell Jackson who does an excellent job at running the point. Excellent 3-point shooter Christian Wireman returns for his senior year. One of the bigger impacts on the upcoming season for Harold Tackett’s Musketeers is the transfer from Florida Mike Hubbert. Hubbert is a 6’5 guard who can handle the ball well. His length should help in rebounding and on the defensive end with the loss of Jair. Hubbert, Jackson, and Hughes could be a scary guard trio come March.

5. Boyd County (22-7)- Head Coach Randy Anderson’s Lions looked like they were going to run away with the region last season, not suffering a region loss until mid-January. The Lions couldn’t get the first round monkey off their back last year, suffering another loss in the first round of the regional tournament. This time to the eventual champion Elliott County. Boyd will look a lot different this year, but Bobby Anderson the son of Coach Randy Anderson will run the point. Bobby will be looked to take on more of a scoring load this season after the graduation of a strong senior class that featured Conner Gauze on the inside. An exciting offense to watch last year, the Lion’s won the 64th district championship for the second straight year. This year won’t be as easy though, as the Tomcats and Eagles will be eager to knock the Lions off the district throne. The Lions will only have one senior in Anderson but look for young Lions such as Taylor Smith, Alex Gauze, Hunter Kenser, and Cameron Taylor to step it up this year to try and get the monkey off the back of the Lions.

6. Lewis County (11-15)- Coach Joe Hampton’s Lions looked at times to be a sleeper in the region last year. They also looked very rough at times. They lost by a point last year to Greenup County in the first round of the 63rd district tournament ending their season early. Lewis has had a rough fall on the gridiron, but a good cure is that on the hardwood they could really shake things up in the region and that’s why they’re ranked number 6. That and they start 5 seniors this year including last year’s leading scorers Jake Parker and Trenton Walker. The senior guards look to lead their team to it’s first 63rd district title since the 2010-11 season. Jeremy McCann and Jacob Kiebler will run the inside while Seth Wallingford will also contribute at guard. The Lions could really break some hearts come February and March.

7. West Carter (9-17)- Jeremy Webb returns the same exact Comet team that he had last year, just a year more experienced. The Comets did not suffer from graduation and return all their players. The Comets have multiple players with multiple years of varsity experience but only two seniors this year. The Comets have the best big man in the region in Ben Jordan. The 6’8 junior averaged almost a double-double last year and will look to improve on that this year. Jordan was injured during the first round game of districts, a loss to the eventual region champion Lions. Another name on the inside will be junior Hayden Roe. A more complete scorer than Jordan, Roe will benefit from the extra attention Jordan receives. Dalton Brown is the best scoring threat from outside of the Comets this year. Once football ends for the Comets they will return senior’s Braden Brown, an excellent point and super-fast guard, and Chase Hanshaw a physical defender. This Comet team will be very physical as they look to upset either Elliott or Morgan County.

8. Fairview (15-11)- If you have watched Fairview play football this season you won’t have to learn very more names. The main contributors to the Eagle basketball team also are main contributors on the football team for the Eagles. One thing is different though. Antwan Washington is the one who distributes the ball. His main target? Alex Roy. The Point Guard-Center duo return to make one last run to finally crack the 16th region tournament. Dylan Romine and Mason McIntyre return as well to help make one more run with the Eagles.

9. Ashland (5-27)- Ranking the Tomcats this low could come back to bite me. Jeremy Howell takes over as Head Coach this year after a disappointing season by the Tomcats in which they failed to reach double digit wins and suffered a first round loss at Morehead State. The Tomcats this year will be a little more experienced than last year, but not much. The Tomcats should be very athletic, especially when the football players are available. The Villers, Christian and Chase, will be two of the top Tomcats this year on the court. Christian was one of the leading scorers in the region last year. Football players Noah Roberts, Ryan Khounlavong, Josh Bradley, and Kurtlen Brown will help add to what Coach Howell is looking for a deep rotation. Coach Howell expects freshman guard Devontae Robinson, junior guard Dylan Lucas, and sophomore guard Chase Villers to breakout after a long offseason in the weight room and gym. The Tomcats could be anywhere on this list by the end of the season, but may be a year away from contending for the region crown.

10. Russell (6-23)- Jason Strader will look to turn things around this year in Red Devil country as he takes over a 6 win Russell team. The Devils return talented players such as junior guard Ethan Raby, junior forward Landon Brewer, sophomore guard Bobby Hale, and senior forward Tanner Miller. The group may be a year away from contention in the region but the Red Devils look forward to a chance at getting back to Morehead to play for the region crown. Coach Strader will bring a new energy to the Russell program, how much will it pay off year one?

11. East Carter (15-13)- Coach Brandon Baker is one of the better coaches in the region, but the loss of graduation will prevent the Raiders from maintaining the 3rd spot in the super competitive 62nd district. Guard Cameron Sparks returns for his junior season and will have to take on more of a scoring load after the loss of Connor Greene and Evan Brooks to graduation. The Raiders will only have one senior who played last year, Michael Marsh, who will be relied upon to play on the inside and be a tough rebounder. The Raiders will once again be small, a trait Brandon Baker has become used to. They won’t have a player taller than 6’2, so look for Coach Baker to play multiple guard looks. Along with Sparks you should see Brady Bush and Trey Cline in the backcourt for the Raiders. Cameron Bailey will be looked upon to try and establish the inside presence that Evan Brooks established last year for the Raiders. The Raiders may be a year away from contending, with the top two teams in the region also in their district.

12. Raceland (20-11)- The Rams last year under Coach Trimble found themselves in unfamiliar territory: At Morehead after their first district championship win since 2007-08. Graduation may prevent them from becoming familiar with that scene but the Rams of Raceland return senior forward Tyler Morris who will look to build upon the Rams success from last year. To surround him the Rams return Carson Christian, Noah Braden, and Landon Adams from the team that won their first region game since 1966.

13. Fleming County (12-18)- Last season Lamont Taylor took over a very depleted roster of a back to back regional champion. The Panthers still made the regional tournament however but were bounced out by Raceland. Besides the graduation of Wilder Williams, the Panthers return a young team but a more experienced team. Senior Ashton Hall, along with sophomores Brad Glascock and Zac Alexander return to make a run back to region and make a run at the finals. Could be ranked much higher at the end of the season.

14. Bath County (5-23)- The Wildcats second year Head Coach Sean Noble took over a Bath County program in need of a very serious rebuild and is hoping year two will show some change. After a 5 win season the Wildcats bring back basically the same team. Losing only one to graduation, the Wildcats bring back all of their leading scorers and hope to show this winter this change and make region the first time since 2008-09.

15. Menifee County (12-16)- The Wildcats from Menifee County haven’t been to the regional tournament since the 2005-06 season. It doesn’t look very likely this year however, losing a ton to graduation. Cory Carnett is the returning leading scorer from Coach Tim Swartz team last year.

16. Rose Hill (0-21)- O.J Mayo is 27 years old now, and since his middle school days at Rose Hill the Royals haven’t posed a threat in the 16th region or 64th district since then. Returning the bulk of their players may help them win some games, but they won’t contend in the region this year or their district.


Top Ten Players

1. Jordan Perry (Morgan County)- Head Coach Matthew Perry has a blessing, as a father and a coach. The returning region player of the year is already his school’s all-time leading scorer, passing the 2,164 point mark in mid-January of last season. The senior is an electric scorer, a threat to put up 30 every night. Lethal on the fast break. He averaged 25.4 PPG last year, look for that mark to be closer to 30 and see Jordan Perry eclipse the 3000 point mark this season. Two time all-state honorable mention, will make one of the teams this year as well as be the favorite to repeat and win the region player of the year.

2. Bobby Anderson (Boyd County)- Son of Head Coach Randy Anderson, Senior Bobby Anderson will run the show at Point Guard and Boyd County will go as he goes this year. Smart, quick, and a good shooter with the ability to finish at the rim Bobby will be looked to take on more of a scoring load this season.

3. Larry Whelan (Rowan County)- Whelan is a complete player. Smart, has excellent court vision, and is an excellent passer. The experienced senior has the ability to knock it down from the outside when open.

4. Ben Jordan (West Carter)- Teams will have difficulty handling the junior and his size. The 6’8 big man can put up a double-double each night. Look for him to get about 18 points and 12 rebounds a game, and is also a very capable shot blocker.

5. Chase Porter (Elliott County)- Porter can score in a variety of ways for the Lions. Great ability to finish around the basket while also having a nice jumper. Will be the Lions offensive go-to, especially when the game is on the line.

6. Christian Villers (Ashland)- The senior led the Tomcats in scoring last year, expect him to do the same this year. Villers also poses a threat to score up in the 30s each night if he gets going. Excellent shooter.

7. Gage Hughes (Greenup County)- Sophomore guard from Greenup County is an excellent shooter. Is very athletic and can score off the dribble.

8. Michael Antrobus (Rowan County)- The junior guard hit more 3’s last season than anyone in the 16th region. The transfer from Pendleton County is an excellent shooter and will fill the role of Ryne Callahan.

9. Cameron Sparks (East Carter)- The junior guard will put up points in bunches this year. Sparks can score from outside or the inside, and has a nice ability to get to the basket.

10. Korbin Spencer (Elliott County)- The freshman is one of the higher ranked kids in his class, and can score. Will transition into a starting role this year for the Lions.


Honorable Mention

Alex Roy (Fariview) Antwan Washington (Fairview) Hayden Roe (West Carter) Dalton Brown (West Carter) Jake Parker (Lewis County) Trenton Walker (Lewis County) Jake Mitchell (Bath County) Cory Cornett (Menifee County) Ryan Adams (Morgan County) Najeh Banks (Morgan County) Michael Hubbert (Greenup County) Tyler Morris (Raceland)