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15th Region Overview (Anticipation versus Reality):
Last season Johnson Central won their 4th straight 15th Region crown. A feat only previously accomplished by Inez (1934-1937) and Paintsville (1995-1998). The anticipation is that JC will hand over the crown to another team, but the reality is they are still very good and have the best coach in the region in Tommy McKenzie. Notice I did not say the most accomplished coach as there are some very good ones in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, but it is hard to argue anyone is doing a better job than he is right now (not to say he is not very accomplished himself at only 33).

Teams that will have legitimate shots at representing the 15th Region at Rupp Arena this season include a very talented Lawrence County Bulldog squad, an unproven but talent rich Pike Central team, a hard-nosed, 10 deep team in Pikeville, the tradition rich Shelby Valley Wildcats, and of course the regional powerhouse Johnson Central Golden Eagles. There are dark horses that could emerge to include South Floyd, Magoffin County, Paintsville, East Ridge, and Belfry, but look for the champion to come from the front 5.

This preview will give you an in-depth look at each team in the region, their performance over the past 5 seasons, Head Coaches record and history, as well as team history and legacy. Many people think the 15th Region is void of athletes and great teams, but that is not true (evidence: how well Johnson Central has played in the state tournament despite drawing the number one team in the state two out of the last three years in the opening round of the sweet 16 – yes they played with Ballard both times until they just ran out of gas). There are big time athletes, big time players all throughout the 15th that get 2 star or below ratings simply due to lack of exposure or lack of traveling in the summer. Point: These kids can play with anyone and would be much higher on a lot of radars if they simply switched jerseys. The goal of this preview is to create a document that accurately showcases these programs, giving readers something they can print off and carry with them throughout the season with the major emphasis being on the student athletes while allowing for discussion and debate of rankings as we move through the year. It is said that anticipation is always greater than reality. I don’t think that will be the case this year in the 15th Region. I hope you enjoy this preview!

15th Region – Team Rankings (Last Season’s Record)

1. Lawrence County (19-13):
Expectations are high in Louisa as Head Coach Travis York and the Bulldogs are predicted to have the greatest year in school history. After falling in last year’s regional championship to perineal power Johnson Central, Lawrence County returns 5 starters who each happen to be in the 1,000 point club. This group of players have started at LC their entire careers and continually advance a bit further with each passing season. Last years’ move to the 60th District (from the 57th) benefited the Bulldogs as they won their first championship with the current group of players in the form of the 60th District Tournament.

LC will use this championship experience to try to take the next step and make it to Rupp Arena for the first time in school history. With the schedule Coach York has lined out, the burden of expectation as the region’s best team, and the 15th Region rich with an influx of transfers it won’t be easy for the Bulldogs, but there is no doubt they are primed for the challenge.

Boosted by the top two players in the region in the Dalton brothers (Timmy and Robert), Lawrence County likes to play fast and hectic, running their opponents into submission. Timmy and Robert Dalton are explosive athletes who both play way above the rim and are good for a few highlight dunks a game. Timmy (the younger of the two) is better rebounder and can play all 5 positions on the floor while Robert is the better dribbler and plays primarily on the perimeter. Although the Dalton brothers are undoubtedly the best players on the team, PG Austin Chaffin might be the most important. Chaffin’s runs the show for Coach York and maintains the tempo that makes Lawrence County so tough to compete against for 4 quarters. He will look to get others involved early, but can take over when needed, having several 30 point performances to his credit. Don’t look for this kid to get rattled in a big game as he can handle pressure.

What makes Lawrence County scary is you can’t help on the Daltons or Chaffins. Why? Because of Brandon Richardson. Richardson scored near 18 ppg last season and will run from the wing to corner to look for his shot when the 3 aforementioned players break down the defense off the dribble or on the fast break. Leave him open and it’s usually good. Richardson is also an underrated rebounder and defender who can guard the 1 through 4 positions on the floor. Throw in the starting QB on the football team in Grant Kiser and you have tough team that all average double figures and have well over 100 starts together.

So what weakness does LC have? They have 5 really good players, but no true size and very little depth on the bench. Foul trouble, an opponent big that can score, or a bad shooting night could pose problems for the Bulldogs. Coach York has worked on this in the offseason in the development of a bench that should show increased production, especially if 6’5’’ big man Josh Ratliff comes out to play. Lawrence County has no problem letting the opposition score 75 points, knowing they can score 100, they like to run. Look for the Bulldogs to be near the state leaders in scoring again this year as they will play against stiff competition in preparation for a post season run. Nonetheless, Lawrence is the team to beat in the 15th and preseason favorites to make it to Rupp Arena.

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Robert Dalton may play the guard position, but produces like a big with his athleticism (19.7 ppg). Yes, that is a 6’2’’ kid on a regulation rim! (Photo Credit: John Nolan Photography)

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Travis York
Head Coach Career Record: 19-13 (0.5938) (Beginning 2nd Year at LC)
(Head Coach at Miami University – Hamilton before coming to LC)
Enrollment: 614
Mascot: Bulldog
Colors: Red and Black
Founded: 1977 (From Louisa High School)

District: 60th
All Time Record: 424-601 (0.4137)
Regional Titles: None

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (67-81) vs. 15th Region (32-54)
2014-15 19-13 (Lost Regional Championship)
2013-14 21-11 (Lost Regional Semifinal)
2012-13 20-11 (Lost 57th District)
2011-12 7-18 (Lost 57th District)
2010-11 0-28 (Lost 57th District)

Key Losses: None
Key Returning: Robert Dalton Sr. 6’2’’ (19.7 ppg 5.6 rpg), Timmy Dalton Jr. 6’3’’ (22.7 ppg 7.8 rpg), Austin Chaffins Sr. 6’0’’ (11.9 ppg 4.7 rpg) Brandon Richardson Sr. 6’1’’ (17.5 ppg 6.6 rpg) Grant Kiser Sr. 6’3’’ (10.9 ppg 3.9 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Shawn Moore Jr. 6’4’’ (4.6 ppg 3.4 rpg), Josh Ratliff Sr. 6’5’’

Schedule (Subject to Change – District Games Underlined): 12/1 @ East Carter, 12/11 June Buchanan, 12/12 @ Boyd County, 12/17 Lewis County, 12/18 – 12/20 Hi Tech Signs and Graphics Holiday Classic @ Prestonsburg, 12/21 – 12/23 US Bank Mike Murphy Classic @ Mason County, 12/26 – 12/30 Traditional Bank Holiday Classic @ Lexington Catholic, 1/2 Scott @ Russell (Marvin Meredith Classic), 1/5 – 1/9 WYMT Classic @ Knott Central High School, 1/12 @ Pike Central, 1/14 Belfry, 1/19 @ Paintsville, 1/26 @ Belfry, 1/28 Pike Central, 1/29 Phelps, 1/30 Huntington High, WV @ Big Sandy Arena (Huntington Invitational), 2/6 Johnson Central, 2/10 @ Morgan County, 2/12 @ Phelps, 2/13 South Floyd, 2/18 Sheldon Clark, 2/22 60th District Tournament @ Belfry

2. Johnson Central (23-10):
Last season Head Coach Tommy McKenzie and the Golden Eagles became only the 3rd team in 15th Region history to win four consecutive regional crowns. The previous two teams (Inez 1934-1937 and Paintsville 1995-1998) both lost in the first round of districts the following year and both times that tournament was held at Paintsville High School. Guess where the 57th District Tournament will be played this year? In fact, Coach McKenzie and Assistant JC Coach Jason Shepherd started on the JC team that beat Paintsville out of districts on their home floor in 1999, ending their hopes at 5 in a row. They know what it takes, but don’t look for that to happen this year as JC has done a tremendous job in developing talent over the summer.

Since his arrival, Coach McKenzie has led JC to 5 regional championship game appearances in only 8 season’s (4-1 in those games), won 20 games six times during a season, been named Head Coach of the KY/OH All Star Game (2014), provided key note addresses at Head Coach Kelly Well’s (UPike) coaching clinic, been named 15th Region COY and WYMT Mountain COY, put 9 players into various levels of college basketball (D1 to NAIA), and broke every coaching record the school has seen. Needless to say, Tommy McKenzie is one of the brightest young coaches in the state at only 33 years of age. Along with his numerous accolades, Coach McKenzie conducts clinics throughout Johnson County to develop elementary and middle school programs that are yielding varsity ready players that can immediately make and impact. What does all this mean? Johnson Central may have graduated 5 seniors and put numerous players in various college programs during their run, but they are still really good and will only get better as the season goes on. Point: Tommy McKenzie can flat out coach!
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Since his senior year at Johnson Central, Head Coach Tommy McKenzie has been part of 6 regional titles at the school (2000 player, 2006 Assistant Coach, 2012-2015 Head Coach). He has broken every coaching record at JC and is still only 33 years of age! (Photo Credit: Clinton Hackney JC Stats and Media)

So what do the Golden Eagles have going into this campaign? Sharp shooting junior guard Mason Blair (6’0’’ – Son of JC Assistant coach Eddie Blair) is the leading returning scorer from last season (16.8 ppg and 102 Made 3FG) and one of the top players in the region. Mason can fill it up from anywhere 30 feet and in with consistency as he showed against George Rogers Clark last season by scoring 30 in the second half and hitting 8 3FG’s in the fourth quarter alone. Mason has improved his strength and on-the-ball defense this off-season under the tutelage of Coach McKenzie and will look to move into more of a leadership role this year using this defensive pressure. The best way to guard Mason is to not let him catch the ball as his fast release and lateral quickness allow him to get off his shot against any defender, any time. If it’s going in, it could be long night for the opposition. Just ask the state AAU Runner-ups (17u) as Mason hit a game winning 3 with less than 2s left on an inbounds catch and shoot (Mason played for M.A.T.S. Mustangs this year). Mason currently has interest from Indiana Wesleyan and few low major colleges.

Running alongside Mason, will be senior baseball standout Josh Hitchcock (6’3’’) and junior newcomer Cole Crace (6’0’’). As the ace of the JC pitching staff, Josh Hitchcock has a nasty curve ball that keeps batters off balance and guessing. He will be doing the same thing on the hardwood with his versatility. Hitchcock can take bigger defenders off the dribble and finish at the rim, but can also shoot the 3 when guarded by smaller players. Hitchcock fits into the wing role that had been previously occupied by Shane Hall (Alice Lloyd) and Kyle Gullett (SEMO). Look for him to play a variety of positions on offense and defense. Cole Crace possess freakish athleticism. He can dunk a basketball, is the quickest player end to end and laterally, can run all day, and possess strength beyond his body size. Look for Crace to apply tremendous on-the-ball defense all year, yielding easy scoring opportunities while filling the PG role left by 4 year starter Braxton Blair (Alice Lloyd). Crace will have an immediate impact on both ends of the court and bring the relentless pressure Coach McKenzie is known for.

The front court for JC will be patrolled by big man Tyler Pack (6’5’’). Yes, that is the same Tyler Pack that kicks for Jim Matney on the gridiron. What you may not know is Tyler’s first love is basketball. In a region that is void of true low post big men in the traditional sense, Tyler is the only one. He has beef down low, plays above the rim (just ask Scott County big man at KBA), and has soft hands. If Tyler Pack can average a double-double in region (he recorded a double-double in the regional championship off the bench last season), look for JC to five-peat as very few teams will have the ability to contest his size, strength, and ability to create and finish through contact.
Other contributors will include senior PF Jerry McCarty (6’3’’), junior high flyer Luke Vance (6’3’’), freshman PG Jacob Rice (5’11’’) and backcourt defensive specialist Steven Gound (6’0’’). Look for JC to press the entire game, utilize 8-10 players, and create offense from their defense. JC will likely open slowly in December as they get their football players into basketball form, then make a deep run come March. For the first time in 5 years, Tommy McKenzie don’t have the bulls eye on his back as the team to beat in the region, but don’t tell any of the other coaches that as they will be gunning for what he has been able to accomplish. Can JC make history again? Time will tell as the young Golden Eagles look to reload and repeat!
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Mason Blair of Johnson Central looks to take his defender off the dribble vs. Louisville Ballard in the state tournament last season. Mason connected on 4 3’s in the game and is Johnson Central’s leading returning scorer at 16.8 PPG (was among state leaders in 3FG made during the season with 102). (Photo Credit: pureprospectsky.com)

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Tommy McKenzie
Head Coach Career Record: 162-87 (0.6541) (Entering 9th Season at JC)
Enrollment: 1,096
Mascot: Golden Eagle
Colors: Black and Gold
Founded: 1968 (Consolidation of Flat Gap, Oil Spring, Van Lear, and Meade Memorial)

District: 57th
All Time Record: 799-563 (0.5867)
Regional Titles: (9) 1972, 1975, 1984, 2000, 2006, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (116-46) vs. 15th Region (84-16)
2014-15 23-10 (Won Region)
2013-14 26-7 (Won Region / Elite 8)
2012-13 22-11 (Won Region)
2011-12 25-11 (Won Region)
2010-11 20-7 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)

Key Losses: Kyle Gullett 6’7’’ (18.8 ppg 8.0 rpg 2.85 bpg), Braxton Blair 6’0’’ (15.4 ppg 5.1 apg 5.0 rbg) Dalton Adkins 5’10’’ (9.4 ppg 2.1 rpg), Truman Salyer . 6’5’’ (6.6 ppg 3.6 rpg), Patrick Rice 6’2’’ (2.7 ppg 5.1 rpg)
Key Returning: Mason Blair Jr. 6’0’’ (16.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg), Josh Hitchcock Sr. 6’3’’ (6.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg), Cole Crace Jr. 6’0’’ (2.4 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 2.1 spg), Tyler Pack Sr. 6’5’’ (4.0 ppg 4.7 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Luke Vance Jr. 6’3’’ (0.7 ppg 0.3 rpg), Steven Gound So. 6’0’’ (0.7 ppg 1.0 spg), Jacob Rice Fr. 5’11” (0.8 ppg 1.0 apg), Jerry McCarty Sr. 6’3’’ (1.4 ppg, 1.4 rpg)l
Dalton Collins So. 6’3’’ (0.4 ppg, 0.8 rpg)

Schedule (Subject to Change – District Games Underlined): 12/21 East Ridge (Scrimmage), 12/28 Capitol High School, WV (Zip Zone Classic Scrimmage), 12/1 Greenup County, 12/3 Jackson County, 12/8 Perry Central, 12/15 @ Shelby Valley, 12/19 @ Boyle County, 12/21 – 12/22 Smokey Mountain Classic @ Gatlinburg, 12/28 – 12/30 Pikeville Invitational @ Pikeville (Open with Shelby Valley), 1/2 Magoffin County, 1/4 @ Pike Central, 1/5 Paintsville, 1/8 @ Belfry, 1/12 @ East Ridge, 1/14 Sheldon Clark, 1/19 Knott Central, 1/21 @ Logan, WV, 1/23 @ Pikeville, 1/26 @ Magoffin County, 2/1 @ Sheldon Clark, 2/2 @ South Floyd, 2/4 @ Paintsville, 2/6 @ Lawrence County, 2/9 Pike Central, 2/11 Ashland, 2/13 @ June Buchanan, 2/15 @ Lee County, 2/16 Betsy Layne, 2/22 57th District Tournament @ Paintsville

3. Pikeville (17-13):
Head Coach Bart Williams is the current longest tenured coach in the 15th Region (Entering 11th straight season with Pikeville – Bill Mike Runyon at Paintsville had a break in coaching) and will look to use that experience to guide a talented group of players that have a real shot at sending the Panthers back to Rupp for the first time since 1999.
Last season ended in disappointment with an early exit in the 59th District tournament to rival Shelby Valley in what turned out to be a closely contested game late. Pikeville returns a core group of senior guards that includes Blaine May (Son of Pikeville Assistant Coach Denny May – leading returning scorer), Ryder Johnson, and newcomer Keegan Williams (no relation Bart Williams). These guards will not wow you with athleticism, but like Vince Lombardi said “they do the common things uncommonly good”. May can shoot and looks to penetrate when the opportunity presents its self. Johnson has a flair for the dramatic, hitting clutch shots throughout his career. He is not afraid to take the big shot late! Williams is combo guard who provides great on-the-ball pressure, playing within himself for the benefit of the team.

So what makes Pikeville so good? They can all pass, shoot, and dribble. They play team ball and have well defined roles going into the season (more so than any other team in the region). They play extremely hard and go 10 deep at times. They are well coached. Lastly, they have a top 10 player in Wyatt Battaile.

Battaile burst onto the scene half way through his freshman season last year and had a breakout AAU campaign this summer (finishing season averaging double figures). Standing 6’3’’, Battaile plays above the rim and possesses the ability to shoot from the perimeter. In short, he is match-up nightmare on a team that plays unselfish basketball. Look for Battaile to let the game come to him as he can dominate on defense, with rebounding or with scoring. Some teams might try to attack him early in an attempt to pick up fouls, but don’t underestimate his toughness as he is also the QB on an outstanding football team.

Pikeville could have been ranked higher in the preseason had they not lost valuable big man junior Conner Risner to a season ending ACL tear (suffered late in the soccer year) as well as sharp shooting guard Jose Childers to an ankle injury (expected to return later in the season – also suffered in soccer). Lack of size is what could hamper the Panthers run to a regional title, but they will make up for it with tenacious defense and an extremely long bench that never seems to get tired. They want to play fast and with the energy Coach Williams and his staff will provide from the sideline, this could be the year.
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Pikeville sophomore swing man Wyatt Battaile knocks down a jumper in the All-A Classic last season. Battaile is the top returning sophomore in the region and is expected to lead a talented Pikeville squad that focuses on team basketball (Photo Credit: Appalachian News Express)

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Bart Williams
Head Coach Career Record: 175-122 (0.5892) (Entering 11th Season at Pikeville)
Enrollment: 368
Mascot: Panther
Colors: Maroon and White
Founded: 1915

District: 59th
All Time Record: 1555-1063-1 (0.5937)(Tie occurred in 1916: No overtime rule)
Regional Titles: (9) 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1974, 1999

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (92-62) vs. 15th Region (66-35)
2014-15 17-13 (Lost 59th District)
2013-14 11-18 (Lost 59th District)
2012-13 22-11 (Lost Regional Semifinal)
2011-12 20-12 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2010-11 22-8 (Lost Regional Championship)

Key Losses: Zach Huffman 6’5’’ (16.1 ppg 8.5 rpg), Conner Risner Jr. 6’3’’ (3.4 ppg 4.2 apg) (Out for season – torn ACL in soccer)
Key Returning: Blaine May Sr. 6’0’’ (10.7 ppg 3.1 rpg), Wyatt Battaile So. 6’3’’ (10.1 ppg 4.6 rpg) Ryder Johnson Sr. 5’8’’ (3.7 ppg)
Newcomers to watch: Zach Hamilton So. 6’5’’ (1.1 ppg 1.4 rpg), Keegan Williams Sr. (1.4 ppg 0.2 rpg.)

Schedule (Subject to Change – District Games Underlined): 12/1 @ South Floyd, 12/4 Magoffin County, 12/7 Piarist School, 12/8 @ Betsy Layne, 12/10 @ Phelps, 12/12 East Carter @ Boyd County (Boyd County Roundball Classic), 12/15 @ Sheldon Clark, 12/21 – 12/23 Smokey Mountain Classic @ Gatlinburg, TN (Open with Grace Christian, TN), 12/28 – 12/30 Pikeville Invitational (Open with Russell), 1/2 Ashland @ Russell (Marvin Meredith Classic), 1/8 South Floyd (All A Classic), 1/12 @ Shelby Valley, 1/16 Hatfield-McCoy Shootout @ Williamson, WV, 1/19 South Floyd, 1/21 East Ridge, 1/23 Johnson Central, 1/26 Shelby Valley, 1/29 Allen Central, 1/30 @ Magoffin County, 2/1 @ Piarist, 2/9 @ East Ridge, 2/13 @ Pike Central, 2/18 Paintsville, 2/22 59th District Tournament @ East Ridge

4. Pike County Central (17-14):
Coming off three straight regional tournament appearances (most recently a run to the semi-finals) expectation and excitement was already brewing for the Hawks coming into this season. With the addition of a few transfers, those expectations are now at an all-time high for the program. Head Coach Keith May welcomes the return of 5’11’’ PG Tyler Burnett (transferred back to Pike Central after playing his junior year at Boyd County – played first two years at Pike Central). Burnett is a solid leader and ball-handler whose weapon of choice is the 7-12 foot floater over taller defenders. Both are adequate enough beyond the arc to make you respect their shot, but look to attack the basket whenever possible.

Pike Central may have been much higher in the rankings had summer transfer Montrell Dixson not left for Illinois and prep school. He had been at Pike Central since the start of school and passed KHSAA eligibility requirements, but decided to relocate near the Chicago area midway through November. Dixson was electric in both the half court and on the fast break and produced dunk contest worthy throw-downs on a regular basis. He was AP 3rd Team All State in West Virginia last season with Mingo Central.

Summer ball proved to be fruitful this past off season, as Pike Central won over 20 games highlighted by a split with Johnson Central in two highly contested affairs (losing by 1 and winning by 5). The Hawks are all about team basketball. Teddy Smith (leading scorer from last season) and Ryan Eads (athletic guard that can guard multiple positions) will help round out a very talented starting 5 that is flexible enough to press and/or control the half court setting. With rim protection in the front court, look for the Hawks to do lots of half court trapping as they will have the luxury to extend their guards this season. The 60th District will be a war with two of top four teams in the region and should set up some “barn-burners” as we get into district play. Keith May has a team that can be scary good if they reach their full potential. Can the Hawks get over the hump and win the region for the first time in school history?

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Keith May
Head Coach Career Record: 17-14 (0.5484) (Entering 2nd Year at PCC)
Enrollment: 680
Mascot: Hawk
Colors: Blue and Orange
Founded: 1993 (Consolidation of Johns Creek and Mullins)

District: 60th
All Time Record: 319-309 (0.5079)
Regional Titles: None

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (66-76) vs. 15th Region (42-48)
2014-15 17-14 (Lost Regional Semifinal)
2013-14 15-11 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2012-13 14-17 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2011-12 6-22 (Lost 60th District)
2010-11 7-21 (Lost Regional Semifinal)

Key Losses: Ethan Blackburn Sr. 6’8’’ (10.8 ppg 8.4 rpg), Braxton Tibbs Sr. 6’4’’ (9.9 ppg 4.6 rpg) Brad Elkins Sr. 6’3’’ (11.0 ppg 2.0 rpg)
Key Returning: Ryan Eads Jr. 6’1’’ (3.7 ppg 1.8 rpg), Teddy Smith Sr. 6’2’’ (12.8 ppg 3.9 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Tyler Burnett Sr. 5’11’’ (5.9 ppg 1.9 rpg 1.5 apg – Transferred back from Boyd County), Trendy May Jr. 6’0’’ (Coaches son who saw some action last season but will contribute this year)

Schedule (Subject to Change – District Games Underlined): 12/1 Betsy Layne, 12/4 @ North Laurel (Legacy Nissan Classic), 12/8 @ Allen Central, 12/10 Paintsville, 12/12 Knott Central, 12/19 @ Mercer County, 12/21 – 12/23 Berea Invitational @ Berea, 12/28 – 12/30 Mountain School Boy Classic @ Belfry (Open with South Laurel – Close with North Laurel – Middle Game TBD), 1/4 Johnson Central, 1/8 Phelps, 1/12 Lawrence County, 1/15 @ Prestonsburg, 1/16 Magoffin County, 1/19 @ Belfry, 1/22 @ Phelps, 1/25 East Ridge, 1/28 @ Lawrence County, 1/29 @ June Buchanan, 2/2 Belfry, 2/5 Sheldon Clark, 2/9 @ Johnson Central, 2/13 Pikeville, 2/15 @ Shelby Valley, 2/17@ South Floyd, 2/18 Letcher Central, 2/22 60th District Tournament @ Belfry

5. Shelby Valley (18-13):
Shelby Valley lost several seniors from last season’s team, but has a rich tradition of success relating back to the Dorton / Virgie basketball pipeline. A pipeline that has yielded talents such as Todd May and Elisha Justice (both Mr. Basketball award winners). This years’ squad will be without the services of all-time leading rebounder Andrew Newsome and all-time leading 3FG makes leader Dalton Richardson (both graduated), but will still benefit from the aforementioned talent pool as they return a stable of players that will make them a formidable opponent come tournament time. They will also benefit from last year’s All A Classic Elite 8 run that ended in closely contested match versus Owen County.

The Wildcats will be led by 6’4’’ senior swing man Hunter Swindall. Swindall can play the 2-5 positions on the floor if needed, but thrives in the 3 and 4 slot, last season he doubled his sophomore numbers of 9.5 ppg by going up to 18.8 ppg. Hunter looks to drive the basketball, is an opportunistic rebounder, and has workable range 15 feet and in. What sets Swindall apart is the way he competes. No one will out work Swindall on the basketball court as you will see him diving for loose balls, leading the defensive charge, and often getting rebounders out of position. Look for Swindall to be in the 17-20 ppg range this season.

Head Coach Him Hicks will rely heavily on the leadership of Swindall but looks for 6’3’’ junior Lamont Wright to have a break out year. According to Coach Hicks “Lamont has the ability to be the best player on the floor on any given night, he will surprise many this season with his play”. Wright plays much like Swindall in that he drives the ball and rebounds well out of position. He has the athleticism to be an effective slasher at the varsity level and should be a big part of the Wildcats identity this year.

Shelby Valley may acquire the services of senior transfer Malcolm Evans. Evans is a 6’8’’ SF who played last season at Winston-Salem Elite Prep in Jackson, MS (also plays for MBA Hoops on the AAU circuit). Evans is an athlete who attacks the rim with excellent ball handling ability and defensive intensity. He is a 3 star who has an overall player grade of 84/100 according to future150.com and holds offers UNLV, Kansas State, and Memphis. At the moment Evans is not eligible to play, but pending paperwork that is currently in motion, he may see the floor this season. Needless to say, if Evans gets eligible then Shelby Valley will be a team to contend with in the region as they will have the high flyer to play alongside Swindall.

Look for Shelby Valley to make more noise in the 15th Region tournament after being bounced the past two seasons in convincing fashion by Johnson Central (lost 81-46 last season in Quarterfinals / lost 81-56 in 2014 Regional Championship).
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Hunter Swindall fights for a loose ball against Betsy Layne in the 15th Region All-A Classic last season. This kind of energy is what he brings on a daily basis. (Photo Credit: Randy White, Appalachian News Express)

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Jim Hicks
Head Coach Career Record: 202-139 (0.5928) (Entering 3rd Season at SV: 14th Overall)
(63-50 while at Greenup County [2003-2007] 53-23 while at Bath County [2008-2010] 48-42 while at Grant County [2011-2013] and 38-24 while at Shelby Valley [2014-present]).
Enrollment: 563
Mascot: Wildcat
Colors: Blue and White
Founded: 1990 (Consolidation of Dorton and Virgie)

District: 59th
All Time Record: 514-233 (0.6881)
Regional Titles: (7) 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010 (State Title), 2011

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (80-67) vs. 15th Region (49-38)
2014-15 18-13 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2013-14 20-10 (Lost Regional Championship)
2012-13 14-14 (Lost 59th District)
2011-12 15-12 (Lost 59th District)
2010-11 13-18 (Won Region)

Key Losses: Andrew Newsome 6’4’’ (4.1 ppg 4.6 rpg), Dalton Richardson 5’11’ (10.4 ppg 3.6 rpg) Corey Hamilton 5’11’’ (10.2 ppg 2.6 rpg) Michael Fields (7.8 ppg 2.5 rpg)
Key Returning: Hunter Swindall Sr. 6’4’’ (18.8 ppg 6.9 rpg), Lamont Wright Jr. 6’3’’ (7.9 ppg 3.2 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Malcolm Evans Sr. 6’8’’ (Transfer from Winston-Salem Elite Prep – Pending)

Schedule (Subject to Change – District Games Underlined): 12/3 @ Piarist, 12/4 Jenkins, 12/8 Prestonsburg, 12/9 @ John I Burton, VA, 12/15 Johnson Central, 12/18 – 12/20 Hi Tech Signs and Graphics Holiday Classic @ Prestonsburg, 12/22 John I Burton, VA, 12/28 – 12/30 Pikeville Invitational (Open with Johnson Central), 1/2 Leslie County, 1/5 Phelps (All A Classic), 1/12 Pikeville, 1/15 @ East Ridge, 1/16 @ Perry Central, 1/19 Betsy Layne, 1/22 Piarist, 1/23 @ Magoffin County, 1/26 @ Pikeville, 1/29 @ Belfry, 2/2 Phelps, 2/5 East Ridge, 2/9 Sheldon Clark, 2/12 @ Jenkins, 2/15 Pike Central, 2/19 Magoffin County, 2/22 59th District Tournament @ East Ridge

6. Magoffin County (9-18):
Magoffin County could have one of the most complete teams come season’s and are the best candidate for any “dark horse” predictions this year in the 15th Region. Last season ended in turmoil for the Hornets as several key players elected not to finish the season for Head Coach Robbie Russell but that doesn’t seem to be the case this campaign as many of those players have returned. Example, Jacob Isaac. The Hornets have front court size, strength and athleticism in the big man. Isaac plays above the rim, has the best strength in the region, and a nice touch inside 10 feet. If Magoffin County can get him the ball in the post, look for Isaac to wreak havoc on a region devoid of size in the traditional sense. The Hornets also have a strong point guard in 3 year starter Jaren Lovely. Taking his lumps at point guard since his seventh grade season, Lovely has been groomed for the position the Hornets could be in come season’s end. He handles the ball well against the press, shoots extremely well from all areas of the floor, and knows how to run an offense. Not only does Magoffin have the big and the point guard position covered, but they also have the superstar role filled as well. Trenton Russell is one of the leading returning scorer’s in region and should eclipse the 2,000 point mark by the end of the season. He rebounds well from the guard position and can get a bucket anytime you need. He prefers the baseline and corner shot, but has range to 20 feet and excellent elevation on the shot. Look for Trenton to compete for POY honors next season and all-state honors this season.

All-in-all Magoffin County has all the pieces to make a deep post season run (bench, role players, key positions covered). They go 9 deep and if they can come together as a team and establish an identity the players believe in, then watch out for the Hornets as they may be headed to Rupp. Using summer ball as an indicator, the Hornets played extremely well compared to summer’s past and have high expectations going into the season.
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Trenton Russell with father and current Magoffin County Head Coach Robbie Russell (left) and Magoffin County Athletic Director Neil West (right). In the photo, Trenton is receiving his 1,000 point plaque early in his Sophomore season and will approach 3,000 points by the end of his career (Photo Credit: Steve Lemaster)

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Robbie Russell
Head Coach Career Record: 35-46 (0.4321) (Entering his 4th Season at MC)
Enrollment: 610
Mascot: Hornet
Colors: Maroon and White
Founded: 1976 (Consolidation of Salyersville to later include Royalton and Magoffin Co. Baptist Institute)

District: 57th
All Time Record: 488-587 (0.4540)
Regional Titles: None

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (60-77) vs. 15th Region (35-48)
2014-15 9-18 (Lost 57th District)
2013-14 15-13 (Lost 57th District)
2012-13 11-15 (Lost 57th District)
2011-12 13-17 (Lost 57th District)
2010-11 12-14 (Lost 57th District)

Key Losses: Jeffrey Bolen 6’2’’ (12.9 ppg 1.8 rpg)
Key Returning: Trenton Russell Jr. 6’3’’ (21.6 ppg 9.2 rpg), Jaren Lovely 6’0’’Jr. (13.8 ppg 3.3 rpg) Leighton Hensley Sr. 6’2’’ (2.4 ppg 2.7 rpg) Jacob Isaac 6’5’’ Sr. (8.0 ppg 7.7 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Ryan Mullins Soph. 6’3’’ (3.8 ppg 2.5 rpg)

Schedule (Subject to Change – District Games Underlined): 1/12 @ Knott Central, 12/3 East Ridge, 12/4 @ Pikeville, 12/8 South Floyd, 12/15 @ Paintsville, 12/18 – 12/20 Hi Tech Signs and Graphics Holiday Classic @ Prestonsburg, 12/28 – 12/30 Mountain School Boy Classic @ Belfry (Open with North Laurel – Finish with Belfry – Middle Game TBD), 1/2 @ Johnson Central, 1/5 @ South Floyd, 1/14 Paintsville, 1/16 @ Pike Central, 1/19 Sheldon Clark, 1/21 @ Belfry, 1/22 Morgan County, 1/23 Shelby Valley, 1/25 Betsy Layne, 1/26 Johnson Central, 1/29 @ East Ridge, 1/30 Pikeville, 2/1 @ Allen Central, 2/2 Greenup County, 2/11 Prestonsburg, 2/12 @ Sheldon Clark, 2/13 @ Greenup County, 2/18 @ Morgan County, 2/19 @ Shelby Valley, 2/22 57th District Tournament @ Paintsville

7. South Floyd (12-18):
Last season South Floyd returned to the regional tournament for the first time since 2011 by winning the 58th District Title. The Raiders would be short lived in the regional tournament, however, falling in the quarter finals to Pike Central. This year Head Coach Justin Holbrook will be looking to make a deeper post season run as he returns all of the key players from a talented squad. The Raiders have been playing young for quite some time and are finally starting to reap the rewards.

South Floyd is rich at the guard position with Andrew Tackett, Roger Tackett, and Brady Ousley in their back court. This makes Coach Holbrook’s team tough to press and control tempo against. All three of the aforementioned players can dribble, pass, and shoot but what makes them formidable is their excellent decision making. They always seem to get the Raiders a quality shot or defensive possession. Andrew Tackett is without a doubt their best player and team leader. The senior guard has a few 30 point games to his credit and is difficult to guard in both the half and open court with his strength. He can take slower guards off the dribble and has excellent elevation in the paint, but can also shoot from deep.

Look for South Floyd to make it out of the 58th District again this year, and will the senior leadership they have, could pull an upset or two in the regional tournament. It should be an exciting year in the Hi Hat area as they cheer on their Raiders for a few more years (Floyd County Central Consolidation looming).
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South Floyd vs. Betsy Layne in the 58th District Tournament last season. Hunter Johnson (pictured at left) will provide key senior leadership in the post this season. (Photo Credit: Steve Lemaster Floyd County Times)

Quick Reference Guide
Head Coach: Justin Holbrook
Head Coach Career Record: 27-62 (0.3038) (Entering 4th Season at SF)
Enrollment: 277
Mascot: Raider
Colors: Black and Silver
Founded: 1993 (Consolidation of McDowell and Wheelwright)

District: 58th
All Time Record: 245-362 (0.4032)
Regional Titles: (1) 2001

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (48-94) vs. 15th Region (35-61)
2014-15 12-18 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2013-14 9-21 (Lost 58th District)
2012-13 6-23 (Lost 58th District)
2011-12 6-21 (Lost 58th District)
2010-11 15-11 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)

Key Losses: None
Key Returning: Andrew Tackett 6’1’’ Sr. (15.6 ppg 5.6 rpg), Roger Tackett So. 6’0’’ (12.0 ppg 4.2 rpg), Brady Ousley 6’0’’ Sr. (9.3 ppg 1.5 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Hunter Johnson 6’2’’ Sr. (5.9 ppg 3.8 rpg)

Schedule (Subject to Change – District Games Underlined): 12/1 Pikeville, 12/5 @ Powell County, 12/8 @ Magoffin County, 12/11 Allen Central, 12/15 Prestonsburg, 12/17 @ June Buchanan, 12/21 – 12/23 Smokey Mountain Classic @ Gatlinburg, 12/28 – 12/30 Pikeville Invitational @ Pikeville, 1/5 Magoffin County, 1/8 Pikeville (All A Classic), 1/15 @ Betsy Layne, 1/19 @ Pikeville, 1/22 @ Allen Central, 1/26 @ Hazard, 1/29 Betsy Layne, 2/2 Johnson Central, 2/6 @ Prestonsburg, 2/8 Hazard, 2/10 June Buchanan, 2/13 @ Lawrence County, 2/16 @ Phelps, 2/17 Pike Central, 2/19 Piarist, 2/22 58th District Tournament @ Allen Central

8. Paintsville (15-10):
Outside of the Piarist School and Magoffin County, Paintsville has the longest regional tournament appearance drought of any school in the 15th Region (Piarist has never defeated a 15th Region opponent in their history – Magoffin County last appeared in the region in 2007).

Paintsville last made it to the regional tournament in 2008 but will have a great shot to do so again this year with the 57th District Tournament being held on their home floor.

The Tigers lost quite a bit from last season’s team in the graduation of Zach Collins, Quintin Hensley, Luke Daniels, Daymion Belcher, and Don’te Hendricks, but will also be hurting from senior PF Kash Daniels early enrollment at the University of Kentucky (football) and senior G Matt Miller electing to play baseball (subject to change). The cupboard is not bare, however, as Head Coach Bill Mike Runyon will rely heavily on senior PG and 4 year starter Luke Trimble (Son of Paintsville Assistant Coach and former Johnson Central standout Les Trimble). Luke is an outstanding all-around athlete who dribbles and shoots well. He can knock down the three, but is at his best when attacking the basket (he has the ability to finish with either hand around the rim). Don’t look for Luke to get rattled against the press or in late game situations as he has seen it all in his career. Running alongside Luke will be Paintsville super athlete Kent Phelps. Basketball is not Phelps best sport (Baseball, Football, Track), but that doesn’t mean he can’t play. The super athletic guard will provide plenty of defensive pressure and timely offense to what should be a very hard-nosed team. Newcomers Ryan Murray, Roger Maynard, and Ben Daniels will also see key minutes for Paintsville this season. Look for Murray to have increased scoring production compared to last season.

Although the Tigers will be playing young this season, don’t expect another 36 point first round district loss like last year (Sheldon Clark defeated Paintsville 81-45 in the district opener). Paintsville will be better than most think as they have a nice mix of upper and under classmen on their roster.
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Paintsville in the Gatlinburg-Pittman Invitational last season. The Tigers will have to replace everyone in the photo except Luke Trimble (#11 on left). (Photo Credit: hudl.com)

Quick Reference Guide
Head Coach: Bill Mike Runyon
Head Coach Career Record: 573-294 (0.6609) (Entering his 29th season at Paintsville)
(Paintsville: 1984-2008; 2013-present)
Enrollment: 218
Mascot: Tiger
Colors: Blue and White
Founded: 1921

District: 57th
All Time Record: 1432-1082-2 (0.5692)(Ties in 1945 – Overtime elected not to be played in games)
Regional Titles: (9) 1933, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1995, 1996 (State Title), 1997, 1998, 2008

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (62-67) vs. 15th Region (43-46)
2014-15 15-10 (Lost 57th District)
2013-14 10-14 (Lost 57th District)
2012-13 17-10 (Lost 57th District)
2011-12 8-19 (Lost 57th District)
2010-11 12-14 (Lost 57th District)

Key Losses: Zach Collins 6’1’’, Quentin Hensley 6’5’’, Luke Daniels 6’1’’ Matt Miller Sr. 6’3’’ (elected to play baseball this year) Kash Daniels Sr. 6’5’’ (enrolling early at UK for football), Peyton Smith 6’2’’ Daymion Belcher 6’0’’ Don’te Hendricks 6’2’’
Key Returning: Luke Trimble Sr. 6’0’’ Ryan Murray Sr. 6’1’’ Kent Phelps Jr. 5’11’’
Newcomers to watch: Roger Maynard Sr. 5’10’’ Ben Daniels So. 6’0’’
Note: No individual stats reported by Paintsville last season.

Schedule (Subject to Change – District Games Underlined): 12/1 @ Russell, 12/3 West Carter, 12/8 @ Ashland, 12/10 @ Pike Central, 12/14 Allen Central, 12/15 Magoffin County, 12/17 Sheldon Clark, 12/18 Powell County @ Rowan County (Kentucky Bank Challenge, 12/19 Bracken County @ Rowan County (Kentucky Bank Challenge), 12/28 – 12/30 Ashland Invitational @ Ashland (Open with Ashland), 1/5 @ Johnson Central, 1/9 Betsy Layne (All A Classic), 1/14 @ Magoffin County, 1/16 @ Greenup County, 1/19 Lawrence County, 1/22 Wolfe County, 1/28 @ Sheldon Clark, 2/1 @ Morgan County, 2/4 Johnson Central, 2/6 @Knox Central, 2/11 Belfry, 2/12 Knox Central, 2/16 @ Prestonsburg, 2/18 @ Pikeville, 2/22 57th District Tournament

9. Belfry (6-20):
Belfry is known state wide as a football power, but what many don’t know is they have tremendous basketball history as well with multiple regional titles to their credit. Head Coach Mark Thompson will look to return to those roots this season after Belfry missed out on the regional tournament last season, snapping an 11 year run making it out of districts (Lawrence County moved into the 60th District last season). Belfry has been grooming a young crop of players that should bear fruit this year on the hardwood. Mix that in with a return to basketball by some of the football kids (example Cam Catron) and the Pirates could be a contender in a loaded 60th district.

Volume scorer Garrett Fannin will lead the Pirates this season. Fannin can shoot from behind the arc and has an excellent pull-up mid-range game. He doesn’t wow you with athleticism, but can score the ball with the best of them. Alongside Fannin will be one of the best 3FG shooters in the region in Nathan Copley. Copley is very streaky, but when he gets going can bury a team in a matter of minutes. If you want to contend with the Pirates, you will have to account for these two scorers.

Not only does Belfry have the scoring, but they are very physical and play very hard. This summer, Head Coach Mark Thompson went back to his pressing and defense roots (roots established as an Assistant Coach at Henry Clay) and will go 8-9 deep. Key role players will include multi-sport star’s Austin Woolum and Xondre Willis. Don’t be surprised to see Belfry knock off the likes of Pike Central or Lawrence County this season as Coach Thompson has his club playing confident.

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Austin Woolum is known for making big time kicks, but he can also fill it up on the hardwood. Woolum will be a key part of the basketball team this year. (Photo Credit: Austin Woolum’s twitter)

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Mark Thompson
Head Coach Career Record: 36-78 (0.3158) (Entering 3rd season at Belfry: 5th Overall)
(22-39 while at Pike Central [2008- 2009] and 14-39 while at Belfry [2014- present])
Enrollment: 647
Mascot: Pirate
Colors: Red and White
Founded: 1930

District: 60th
All Time Record: 1300-1031 (0.5577)
Regional Titles: (3) 1990, 1991, 1992

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (53-77) vs. 15th Region (29-43)
2014-15 6-20 (Lost 60th District)
2013-14 8-19 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2012-13 14-10 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2011-12 10-18 (Lost Regional Semifinal)
2010-11 15-10 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)

Key Losses: Dawson Isom 6’2’’ (4.1 ppg 4.6 rpg)
Key Returning: Garrett Fannin Sr. 6’1’’ (17.0 ppg 3.4 rpg), Nathan Copley Sr. 6’2’’ (14.2 ppg 2.0 rpg) Xondre Willis Sr. 6’0’’ (7.0 ppg 2.9 rpg), Austin Woolum Jr. 6’3’’(4.0 ppg 2.1 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Taveon Hunter So. 6’0’’ (did not stat last season)

Schedule (Subject to Change – District Games Underlined): 12/8 East Ridge, 12/11 @ Betsy Layne, 12/15 Letcher Central, 12/18 East Jessamine @ Rowan County (Kentucky Bank Challenge), 12/19 Fairview @ Rowan County (Kentucky Bank Challenge), 12/28 – 12/30 Beth Haven, Tug Valley, WV, Magoffin County @ Belfry (Mountain School Boy Classic), 1/2 Lewis County @ Russell (Marvin Meredith Classic), 1/5 @ Pikeville, 1/8 Johnson Central, 1/9 @ Greenup County, 1/12 Phelps, 1/14 @ Lawrence County, 1/16 Hatfield – McCoy Shootout @ Williamson, WV, 1/19 Pike Central, 1/21 Magoffin County, 1/23 @ North Laurel, 1/26 Lawrence County, 1/29 Shelby Valley, 1/30 @ East Ridge, 2/2 @ Pike Central, 2/5 @ Phelps, 2/9 Perry Central, 2/11 @ Paintsville, 2/13 @ Sheldon Clark, 2/15 @ Tug Valley, WV, 2/16 @ Allen Central, 2/18 Man, WV, 2/19 Prestonsburg, 2/22 60th District Tournament.

10. East Ridge (15-12):
The East Ridge Warriors and Head Coach Randy McCoy will be a bit down but not be in full rebuild mode this year. Looking to build on 5 consecutive winnings seasons and 6 consecutive appearances in the 15th region tournament, East Ridge will improve as the season goes on and be a tough out come tournament time. East Ridge did lose quite a bit in 2,000 point scorer Johnny Miller, high flier Austin Hylton, and versatile big man Jacob Chaney but still have enough to make a push at one of the final 8 spots come tournament time. Jacob Childers and Trey Little will provide senior leadership while Seth Conn will step into more of a scoring role. All 3 are very experienced players and will make it tough for opponents to score on the Warriors as their defense will be their strength.

Randy McCoy has experience building a program and will get this mix of experience and youth playing well by mid to late January. East Ridge is in a tough district with Pikeville and Shelby Valley but traditionally plays both opponents very well. Can the streak of winning season’s and tournament appearances continue? Time will tell.

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East Ridge Head Coach Randy McCoy has coached multiple regional champions across two regions (Seen above coaching at University Heights – Also won region at Elkhorn City). Last season Coach McCoy reached the 500 career win mark across all levels of coaching. (Photo Credit: Joe Wilson New Era Sports)

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Randy McCoy
Head Coach Career Record: (500-280)(0.6410) (Entering 4th season at ER: 27th overall)
(222-109 while at Elkhorn City [1989-1999], 140-79 while at Pikeville College [2000-2007], 91-54 while at University Heights [2008-2012] and 47-38 while at East Ridge [2013-present]). Coach McCoy holds a career high school record of 360-201 and a college record of 140-79.
Enrollment: 545
Mascot: Warrior
Colors: White and Navy Blue
Founded: 2002 (Consolidation of Elkhorn City, Feds Creek, and Millard)

District: 59th
All Time Record: 205-158 (0.5647)
Regional Titles: (1) 2004

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (82-60) vs. 15th Region (52-43)
2014-15 15-12 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2013-14 16-11 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2012-13 16-15 (Lost Regional Semifinal)
2011-12 19-13 (Lost Regional Championship)
2010-11 16- 9 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)

Key Losses: Johnny Miller 5’10’’ (19.1 ppg 2.2 rpg), Jacob Chaney 6’2’’ (8.9 ppg 6.0 rpg) Austin Hylton 6’4’’ (11.5 ppg 7.9 rpg)
Key Returning: Jacob Childers 6’2’’ Sr. (1.6 ppg 1.1 rpg), Seth Conn 6’0’’ Jr. (4.5 ppg 1.7 rpg)
Trey Little 6’0’’ Sr. (6.8 ppg 3.4 rpg)

Newcomers to watch: Lucas Freeman 6’1’ Sr. (2.3 ppg 1.7 rpg)

Schedule (Subject to Change – District Games Underlined): 12/1 Grundy, VA, 12/3 @ Magoffin County, 12/8 @ Belfry, 12/10 @ Piarist School, 12/12 Bell County @ Harlan County (Black Bear Classic), 12/15 Betsy Layne, 12/18 – 12/20 Hi Tech Signs and Graphics Holiday Classic @ Prestonsburg, 12/22 @ Grundy, VA, 12/28 – 12/30 Mountain School Boy Classic @ Belfry (Phelps, South Laurel, Beth Haven in that order), 1/5 Allen Central (All A Classic), 1/12 Johnson Central , 1/15 Shelby Valley, 1/16 Hatfield – McCoy Shootout @ Williamson, WV, 1/18 Allen Central, 1/21 @ Pikeville, 1/25 @ Pike Central, 1/29 Magoffin County, 1/30 Belfry, 2/5 @ Shelby Valley, 2/9 Pikeville, 2/11 Piarist School, 2/12 Prestonsburg, 2/16 Sheldon Clark, 2/18 Phelps, 2/22 59th District Tournament

11. Sheldon Clark (23-6):
Sheldon Clark lost more than any other team in the region and will be in full rebuild mode this upcoming season. Senior PG and 2,000 point scorer Chase Parsley, German foreign exchange student Marvin Albrecht, Tug Valley transfer Kaleb Sturgill, All State caliber sharp shooter Dylan James (transfer to Mercer County), and Head Coach Frankie Smith (took head coaching job at Christian County) are all gone from last years’ team. Enter new head coach and former SC assistant Jason (J.J.) James. Coach James will also be without the services of multi-sport star junior SF Ethan Osborne as he has elected to focus on baseball (subject to change) but has picked up a PG transfer in 8th grader Drew Hatfield (transfer from the Mingo County, WV area). Hatfield can handle the ball well and his scoring will come around as he gets stronger, giving the Cardinals the ability to handle the pressure they will likely see from all 3 district opponents. Sheldon Clark will also have big man Heath Maynard back to patrol the middle. Maynard is a functional scorer on the block if given space and rebounds and defends well in what will likely be a zone a defense. Along with Maynard, Coach James will have 3FG specialist Bradley Dalton and newcomer Trent Vanover. Dalton is very streaky but has range to 20 feet while Vanover is more of a slasher and pull up shooter who is thus far untested at the varsity level.

Coach James is well respected in many coaching circles and will have a competitive bunch come tournament time. Look for the Cardinals to be tougher than expected and make a serious push at getting in the regional tournament this season. Depending on the 57th District seeding, they may be a favorite in their opening game.

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Jason James
Head Coach Career Record: 0-0 (0.000) (Entering his first season as a head coach)
Enrollment: 570
Mascot: Cardinal
Colors: Red, White, and Columbia Blue
Founded: 1973 (Consolidation of Inez and Warfield)

District: 57th
All Time Record: 602-590 (0.5050)
Regional Titles: (1) 1983

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (106-43) vs. 15th Region (73-29)
2014-15 23-6 (Lost Regional Semifinal)
2013-14 19-7 (Lost 57th District)
2012-13 21-11 (Lost Regional Championship)
2011-12 26-7 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2010-11 17-12 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)

Key Losses: Ethan Osborne Jr. 6’3’’ (Elected not to play) Chase Parsley 5’11’ (23.9 ppg 5.2 apg), Dylan James Jr. 6’4’’ (22.6 ppg 10.1 rpg – Transfer to Mercer County) Kaleb Sturgill 6’1’’ (10.1 ppg 3.1 rpg), Marvin Albrecht Sr. 6’7’’ (German Foreign Exchange Student–Returned Home) (5.0 ppg 4.1 rpg).
Key Returning: Trent Vanover 6’1’’ Jr. (2.4 ppg 0.4 rpg) Jr. Bradley Dalton 6’3’’ Jr. (5.3 ppg 0.7 rpg) Heath Maynard 6’4’’ Jr. (2.8 ppg 3.8 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Drew Hatfield 5’10’’ 8th (Transfer from the Mingo County, WV area)

Schedule (Subject to Change – District Games Underlined): 12/1 @ Cordia, 12/5 Phelps, 12/8 Breathitt County, 12/10 @ Knott Central, 12/12 @ Prestonsburg, 12/15 Pikeville, 12/17 @ Paintsville, 12/21 Cordia, 1/12 Betsy Layne, 1/14 @ Johnson Central, 1/19 @ Magoffin County, 1/26 Russell, 1/28 Paintsville, 2/1 Johnson Central, 2/5 Pike Central, 2/6 Greenup County, 2/9 @ Shelby Valley, 2/12 Magoffin County, 2/13 Belfry, 2/16 @ East Ridge, 2/18 @ Lawrence County, 2/22 57th District Tournament.

12. Betsy Layne (21-8):
To echo the Sheldon Clark Cardinals, Betsy Layne lost over 90% of their rebounding and scoring from last season. Peyton Case (2,000 point scorer), Dustin Rogers, Charles Daniels, and Dalton Maldonado all graduated from last years’ squad leaving Head Coach Gary Keathley with a lot of young talent that must be developed. Look for Kyle Watkins to take a leadership role on the young Bobcats team and newcomers such as Kyle Evans to step into vacated minutes. Betsy Layne will also have big man senior Andrew Tackett patrolling the paint and scoring down low.

The good thing for Betsy Layne is they play in a weak 58th district and will have a chance come post season time. The bad thing is they are very young and little is known about their talent pool. Could they surprise everyone? Yes. Are they likely to have another 20 win season? No. But that’s why you play the game. It will be interesting to see how coach Keathley approaches the season and develops his players.

Quick Reference Guide
Head Coach: Gary Keathley
Head Coach Career Record: 21-8 (0.7241) (Entering his 2nd Season with BL)
Enrollment: 388
Mascot: Bobcat
Colors: Blue and White
Founded: 1929

District: 58th
All Time Record: 1531-1107 (0.5804)
Regional Titles: (2) 1976, 1980

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (114-37) vs. 15th Region (87-19)
2014-15 21-8 (Lost 58th District)
2013-14 26-6 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2012-13 19-10 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2011-12 23-6 (Lost Regional Semifinal)
2010-11 25-7 (Lost Regional Semifinal)

Key Losses: Peyton Case 6’2’’ (21.5 ppg 5.0 rpg), Charles “Lako” Daniels 6’4’’ (13.7 ppg 9.6 rpg) Dustin Rogers (13.0 ppg 4.2 rpg)
Key Returning: Kyle Watkins Fr. 6’0’’ (2.2 ppg 1.3 rpg) Andrew Tackett 6’4’’ Sr.
Newcomers to watch: Kyle Evans Jr. 6’0’’ (Did not stat last season)

Schedule (Subject to Change – District Games Underlined): 12/1 @ Pike Central, 12/4 Allen Central, 12/8 Pikeville, 12/11 Belfry, 12/15 @ East Ridge, 12/19 – 12/21 Derby Classic @ Raceland, 12/28 – 12/30 Pine Mountain Classic @ Pineville, 1/5 Piarist School (All A Classic), 1/9 Paintsville (All A Classic assuming a win against Piarist), 1/12 @ Sheldon Clark, 1/15 South Floyd, 1/19 @ Shelby Valley, 1/22 Prestonsburg, 1/25 @ Magoffin County, 1/29 @ South Floyd, 1/30 Kentucky Prep Showcase @ Jackson City, 2/1 Riverside Christian, 2/3 @ Prestonsburg, 2/5 @ Allen Central, 2/6 @ Jackson County, 2/13 @ Jenkins, 2/16 @ Johnson Central, 2/19 Jenkins, 2/22 58th District Tournament @ Allen Central

13. Allen Central (13-18):
Allen Central surprised everyone last year by advancing to the regional tournament for the first time since 2008 when Johnny Martin was the head coach. Can they do the same thing this season? Gone is sharp shooting guard Devan Horn (best kept secret in the 15th as he impressed down the stretch and into the tournament with his ability to score from the perimeter) and back court running mate Mason Nelson, but Head Coach Brad Short does have scoring machine Seth Hall back for his senior season. Hall can score from the mid post and likes to drive, but also has functional range beyond the 3 point line if left open. He is recovering from a summer ACL tear but should be back by season end. Senior Brady Wright should also step into a more prominent role for the Rebels this year with the departure of Horn and Nelson. Another senior that came out for Coach Short is Cameron Blevins. He had previously not played but has the potential to be a very good player for the Rebels.

Look for Coach Short to play a controlled, half court, game during the season as he will attempt to out execute opponents. Playing in a weak 58th District is an advantage as Allen Central should compete with Betsy Layne and Prestonsburg for a trip to the EXPO center and the 15th Region Tournament (assuming South Floyd advances as the favorite in the district). Time will tell as the rebels were very guard dominated in the summer, but played hard.

Quick Reference Guide
Head Coach: Brad Short
Head Coach Career Record: 46-70 (0.3967) (Entering 5th season at AC)
Enrollment: 403
Mascot: Rebel
Colors: Red, Gray, and Blue
Founded: 1972 (Consolidation of Garrett, Martin, Maytown and Wayland)

District: 58th
All Time Record: 689-608 (0.5312)
Regional Titles: (1) 1994

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (54-89) vs. 15th Region (30-55)
2014-15 13-18 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2013-14 13-13 (Lost 58th District)
2012-13 5-24 (Lost 58th District)
2011-12 15-15 (Lost 58th District)
2010-11 8-19 (Lost 58th District)

Key Losses: Devan Horn 6’1’’ (17.8 ppg 5.8 rpg.), Mason Nelson 6’0’’ (10.5 ppg 1.6 rpg)
Key Returning: Seth Hall 6’2’’ Sr. (16.8 ppg 7.5 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Baily Wright 6’0’’ Sr. (5.5 ppg 3.2 rpg)

Schedule (Subject to Change – District Games Underlined): 11/30 @ Wolfe County, 12/4 @ Betsy Layne, 12/8 Pike Central, 12/11 @ South Floyd, 12/12 @ Jackson City, 12/14 @ Paintsville, 12/18 – 12/20 Hi Tech Signs and Graphics Holiday Classic @ Prestonsburg, 12/28 – 12/30 Stultz Pharmacy Holiday Classic @ Greenup County, 1/5 East Ridge (All A Classic First Round), 1/12 @ Prestonsburg, 1/14 Jenkins, 1/16 @ Piarist School, 1/18 @ East Ridge, 1/22 South Floyd, 1/23 @ Phelps, 1/26 Prestonsburg, 1/29 @ Pikeville, 1/30 Phelps, 2/1 Magoffin County, 2/5 Betsy Layne, 2/9 Letcher Central, 2/11 @ Jenkins, 2/13 Menifee County, 2/16 Belfry, 2/18 Piarist, 2/22 58th District Tournament.

14. Prestonsburg (6-16):
Head Coach James Derossett enters his 5th year with the Black Cat program and will be looking to get back into the regional tournament after missing out last year. Prestonsburg will have do-it-all big man and Austin P football signee Dalton Frasure to go along with senior swing man Chatlin Jarrell. Frasure will finish his senior year with well over 2,000 points and close to 1,500 rebounds as he averages nearly 19 ppg and 10 rpg for his entire career. Prestonsburg and Coach Derossett will be developing younger talent this season but the future looks bright with an increase in participation for basketball. Look for these young players to get better throughout the year and have a chance come tournament time. We know what Frasure and Jarrell bring to the table as seniors, the big questions for Prestonsburg is what the younger kids can do by years end. As of right now they are rated low, but can climb up with key district wins. To echo fellow 58th District teams (outside of South Floyd), Prestonsburg will be slightly rebuilding this year but have a few players that can make some noise.

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: James Derossett
Head Coach Career Record: 51-69 (0.425) (Entering 5th season at Prestonsburg)
Enrollment: 545
Mascot: Black Cat
Colors: Red, White and Black
Founded: 1930

District: 58th
All Time Record: 1119-1272 (0.4680)
Regional Titles: (1) 1989

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (58-90) vs. 15th Region (43-63)
2014-15 6-16 (Lost 58th District)
2013-14 15-18 (Lost Regional Semifinal)
2012-13 14-19 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2011-12 16-16 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2010-11 7-21 (Lost 58th District)

Key Losses: Jarredd Jarrell 5’11’’ (13.8 ppg 3.8 rpg) Jarrin Hall 6’0’’ (14.8 ppg 4.7 rpg)
Key Returning: Dalton Frasure Sr. 6’4’’ (19.9 ppg 9.0 rpg), Chatlin Jarrell Sr. 6’3’’ (7.2 ppg 2.3 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Drake Nunnery So. 6’1’’ (4.1 ppg 2.8 rpg)

Schedule (Subject to Change – District Games Underlined): 12/8 @ Shelby Valley, 12/10 @ Letcher Central, 12/11 Piarist School, 12/12 Sheldon Clark, 12/15 @ South Floyd, 12/17 Phelps, 12/18 – 12/20 High Tech Signs and Graphics Holiday Classic @ Prestonsburg, 12/27 – 12/30 Sunshine Classic @ Daytona Beach, 1/2 Tolsia, WV, 1/9 All A Classic, 1/12 Allen Central, 1/15 Pike Central, 1/19 Jenkins, 1/22 @ Betsy Layne, 1/26 @ Allen Central, 2/1 Phelps, 2/3 Betsy Layne, 2/6 South Floyd, 2/9 @ Piarist School, 2/11 @ Magoffin County, 2/12 @ East Ridge, 2/16 Paintsville, 2/19 @ Belfry, 2/22 58th District Tournament @ Allen Central

15. Phelps (8-19):
This off season the Phelps Hornets lost long time coach Bobby Varney to Belfry Middle School (current 8th grade coach) and will look to rebuild as many players followed his exodus. Enter Brody Justice. Coach Justice will be taking the helm for his first career season and will be looking to get young players valuable experience moving forward. Long gone are the days of Hornet legend Ervin Stepp and his career 40 plus ppg average, but the tradition still remains within the community. Expectations are high with the young talent they have and if skill sets develop, you could see a regional run in the future but not likely this year.

Coach Justice will have his team playing hard and playing together, but with the talent in the 60th District this year don’t look for a win. Phelps has adopted the model of developing talent for a post season run around every 3-4 years. If all goes well in that paradigm, then look for the Hornets to be back in the regional tournament within the next 2-3 years.

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Brody Justice
Head Coach Career Record: 0-0 (Entering first season as a head coach)
Enrollment: 213
Mascot: Hornet
Colors: Blue, White and Gray
Founded: 1932

District: 59th
All Time Record: 925-1274 (0.4206)
Regional Titles: (1) 1988

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (34-107) vs. 15th Region (13-68)
2014-15 8-19 (Lost 60th District)
2013-14 5-24 (Lost 60th District)
2012-13 8-21 (Lost 60th District)
2011-12 10-22 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2010-11 3-23 (Lost 60th District)

Key Losses: Steven Prater 6'5" (7.5 ppg 9.3 rpg) Dalton Woford 5'7" (4.1 ppg 2.1 apg)
Key Returning: Elijah Branham 6'3" Jr. (14.5 ppg 3.4 rpg 2.1 apg), Matt Hatfield 6'3" Sr. (9 ppg 6 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Koleston Blankenship 5'10" Fr. Christian Mounts 6'1" Fr.

Schedule (Subject to Change – District Games Underlined): 12/1 Piarist, 12/5 @ Sheldon Clark, 12/10 Pikeville, 12/12 @Letcher Central, 12/17 @ Prestonsburg, 12/19 North Laurel @ Rowan County (Kentucky Bank Challenge), 12/28 – 12/30 Mountain School Boy Classic @ Belfry (Open with East Ridge – Close with South Laurel – Two Middle Games TBD), 1/5 Shelby Valley (All A Classic), 1/8 @ Pike Central, 1/9 Riverside Christian, 1/12 @ Belfry, 1/14 @ Hurley, VA, 1/16 Hatfield – McCoy Shootout @ Williamson, WV, 1/19 @ Piarist, 1/22 Pike Central, 1/23 Allen Central, 1/26 Jenkins, 1/29 @ Lawrence County, 1/30 @ Allen Central, 2/1 @ Prestonsburg, 2/2 @ Shelby Valley, 2/5 Belfry, 2/6 @ Riverside Christian, 2/9 @ Jenkins, 2/11 Hurley, VA, 2/12 Lawrence County, 2/16 South Floyd, 2/18 @ East Ridge, 2/22 60th District Tournament @ Belfry

16. Piarist (5-15):
Piarist is known for high academic standards and treats sports more like a club than an athletic activity. The Knights have never garnered a win against any 15th Region opponent and don’t look for that streak to stop this season. The small school has made two changes this season. 1) Welcoming new Head Coach Terry Williams 2) Relocating to Johnson County by leasing the former Johnson County alternative school (formerly located in Floyd County). Piarist will still compete in the 59th District despite relocation and should have a younger than normal squad this season. Look for the Knights to compete hard, but struggle to stay competitive.

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Terry L. Williams
Head Coach Career Record: 0-0 (Entering 1st season as a head coach)
Enrollment: 47
Mascot: Knight
Colors: Blue and Gold
Founded: 1998

District: 59th (Relocated to Johnson County this season by leasing the former Johnson County Alternative School – Previously located in Floyd County)
All Time Record: 37-292 (0.1125)
Regional Titles: None

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (15-73) vs. 15th Region (0-47)
2014-15 5-15 (Lost 59th District)
2013-14 3-19 (Lost 58th District)
2012-13 4-21 (Lost 58th District)
2011-12 3-18 (Lost 58th District)
2010-11 Did not compete in KHSAA

Key Losses: Tyler Stumbo (20.9 ppg 9.3 rpg) Michael Williams (19.6 ppg 8.2 rpg)
Key Returning: Brett Bentley Soph. (0.3 ppg 0.5 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: None

Schedule (Subject to Change – District Games Underlined): 12/1 @ Phelps, 12/3 Shelby Valley, 12/7 @ Pikeville, 12/10 East Ridge, 12/11 @ Prestonsburg, 1/5 Betsy Layne (All A Classic), 12/14 @ Riverside Christian, 12/16 Allen Central, 12/19 Phelps, 12/22 @ Shelby Valley, 2/1 Pikeville, 2/9 Prestonsburg, 2/11 @ East Ridge, 2/12 @ Buckhorn, 2/15 Riverside Christian, 2/18 @ Allen Central, 2/19 @ South Floyd, 2/22 59th District Tournament @ East Ridge

15th Region Player Rankings:
1. Timmy Dalton (Lawrence County) 6’3’’ Junior (SF)
Lawrence County Junior Timmy Dalton plays above the rim, looks to slash when possible, and rebounds like a big from the guard position. The younger of the two Daltons has a D1 body and functional range beyond the 3 point line. He plays for M.A.T.S. Mustangs on the AAU circuit and is an explosive receiver on the football team. Dalton is getting looks from several schools NAIA to low D1 and will lead the Bulldogs on both ends of the floor.

Last season, Dalton averaged 22.7 ppg and 7.8 rpg and will likely reproduce those numbers this year. He is leading returning scorer for Lawrence County, already in the 1,000 point club, and will compete for several post season honors. Dalton is fun to watch and plays with passion. His understanding of the game will set him apart from other guards in the region.
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(Photo credit: John Nolan Photography)

2. Robert Dalton (Lawrence County) 6’3’’ Senior (SG)
Robert Dalton is the older brother of Timmy (see above) and plays a similar game. The difference between the two is Robert shoots the ball a bit better from deep, but is not as strong in the rebounding department. He will still look to attack the paint and rim off the dribble, and go back door for the alley-oop pass. Robert is good for a few explosive dunks each game as he attacks the rim in an angry fashion (much like Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City).

Last season Robert averaged 19.7 ppg and 5.6 rpg an suffered a wrist injury late in the season (was able to return for the regional tournament). There is no problem with the wrist now and his numbers should be similar or higher to last season. Robert has interest from NAIA to low D1 just as his brother does and is also in the 1,000 point club at the school.
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(Photo Credit: Kevin Goldy Ashland Daily Independent)
3. Mason Blair (Johnson Central) 6’0’’ Junior (SG)
Not only does the 15th Region have great high risers, but there is also plenty of shooting. Enter Mason Blair of Johnson Central. Son of Assistant Coach, Eddie Blair, Mason is the leading scorer for the 4-time defending 15th Region Champion Johnson Central and reigning Ashland Daily 1st Team All Area. Averaging 16.8 ppg 3.0 rpg and 2.1 spg as a sophomore, Blair will lead the Golden Eagles on their quest to become the first team to 5-peat in 15th Region History.

Mason can shoot from anywhere on the floor and is widely regarded as one of the best in the state from behind the arc. Not only does he score at enormous clips (multiple 30 point 6 plus 3FG made games to his credit), but Mason can attack the basket and plays the midline for Coach McKenzie’s legendary pressing defense. This offseason Mason increased his strength and quickness in the weight room and will make a much greater impact on defense this season.

Mason is first cousin to former Golden Eagle Braxton Blair (current Alice Lloyd PG) and holds interest from several NAIA to low D1 programs to include Indiana Wesleyan. Picture at the right shows Blair taking Timmy Dalton of Lawrence County off the dribble in the regional championship last season. Both played for M.A.T.S. Mustangs AAU this summer, winning the state 17u championship.
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(Photo Credit: Eddie Blair Johnson Central)

4. Hunter Swindall (Shelby Valley) 6’4’’ Senior (SF)
Shelby Valley returns leading scorer Hunter Swindall to young but talented roster. Swindall averaged 18.8 ppg 6.9 rpg last season, doubling his average from his junior campaign, and should be in the 20 ppg range this season. Swindall does not play above the rim, but has an extremely efficient mid-range game as shown in the photo below (59th District Tournament vs. Pikeville). What sets Swindall apart from other players is his motor. It’s rare anyone on the court matches his passion and he will never be out worked. He rebounds very well out of position and can guard any position on the floor 2-5.

Swindall will work the middle against zones and look to score off slashing high pick and rolls when teams go man-to-man. He is a smart player who knows where he wants to get on the floor to score and where to be in help defense. His leadership and prior starting experience will make Shelby Valley a contented come post season.
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(Photo Credit: Cory Vance Appalachian News)

5. Trenton Russell (Magoffin County) 6’3’’ Junior (SF)
The junior class in the 15th Region is loaded with talent as evident by Magoffin County standout Trenton Russell. Son of Hornet head coach and former Alice Lloyd standout Robbie Russell, Trenton plays much like his father did, showing a great ability to score and rebound from the guard position.

Last season Trenton averaged 21.2 ppg and 9.2 rpg as a sophomore and may surpass the 2,000 point mark this season. Trenton is deadly on jumpers from the baseline and has range 18-20 feet. He plays hard and fast with excellent conditioning that allows his play the entire game. Playing on varsity since his 7th grade season (current 4 year starter) will help the Hornets and Russell this season as he has seen almost every junk defense an opponent may throw at him.

It’s hard to stop Russell from getting his points as he also shoots 80% from the FT line. Look for another big year from the Salyersville native!
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(Photo Credit: Steve Lemaster Salyersville Independent)

6. Austin Chaffins (Lawrence County) 6’0’’ Senior (PG)
Lawrence County floor general Austin Chaffins is not the most talented player on the Bulldog roster, but there is without doubt he is the most valuable. Chaffins handles the ball and runs the offense for Coach York, but can also score when needed as supported by a few 30 point games during his career. Like the rest of the Lawrence County starting five, Chaffins is in the 1,000 point club and comes into the season with junior averages of 11.9 ppg 4.7 rpg and 6.1 apg while shooting over 82% from the FT line.

Chaffins is the kid who makes the big play late. In the regional semifinal last season vs. Sheldon Clark, Chaffins hit a 3FG with 10s left, then stole the inbound pass an made a layup as time expired to win the game by one point. Plays like that show his value to a talented Bulldog squad. Look for Chaffins to be solid all year and get his team in a position to win late. He may not fill up the stat sheet, but the only thing this kids counts is W’s and L’s.
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(Photo credit: John Nolan Photography)

7. Wyatt Battaile (Pikeville) 6’3’’ Sophomore (SF)
The highest returning sophomore to the 15th Region is Wyatt Battaile of Pikeville. Last season the freshman burst onto the scene for the panthers as a do-it-all guard/forward combo. He is athletic and tough (starting QB on a very good football team), plays above the rim, and can dribble pass and shoot. In short, Battaile has very few weaknesses in his game.
Not only is Battalie a great player, but he in very unselfish. He does not force his game and is fine if you want to run double teams at him (he will simply pass the ball and let his teammates play 4 on 3). Last season Battaile averaged 10.1 ppg 4.6 rpg and is the leading returning scorer for the team.

By the end of his career look for Battalie to be the favorite for Regional POY. This season Head Coach Bart Williams will rely heavily on Battalie as the Panthers look to make a push at Rupp Arena. The photo below shows Bart Williams providing leadership to Battaile and the rest of the Panthers.
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(Photo Credit: allkentuckysports.com)

8. Brandon Richardson (Lawrence County) 6’2’’ Senior (SG)
If you wanna stop Lawrence County you will have to contend with scoring machine Brandon Richardson. During his junior season the sharpshooting guard averaged 17.5 ppg 6.6 rpg and shot 42.3% from behind the arc.

With the Daltons attacking the rim and Austin Chaffins running the show, Richardson floats around the perimeter looking for shots when the defense focuses on those three. This is a big mistake because he is deadly from range.

Not only does Richardson shoot well, but he is also a tough nosed kid who rebounds well. At the completion of his career Richardson should be near the 2,000 point mark as he is already a member of the 1K club.

Needless to say, this is the kid that sticks daggers in the opposition when you face Lawrence County. He must be accounted for if a team expects to win. (Photo credit: John Nolan Photography)
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(Photo Credit: John Nolan Photography)

9. Andrew Tackett (South Floyd) 6’2’’ Senior (SG)
Andrew Tackett of South Floyd is as tough as they come. In his junior campaign he led the Raiders with 15.9 ppg and 5.6 rpg while shooting a high percentage in all three phases (2FG, 3FG, FT). Tackett’s play helped South Floyd to the 58th District Championship last season and they will be the favorite to repeat this season as well.

Tackett likes to get his shot off the dribble and very difficult to trap. He also rebounds well and plays with passion. Look for another solid year out of this young man as Coach Holbrook will rely heavily on his play throughout the season.
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10. Teddy Smith (Pike Central) 6’2’’ Sr. (F)
Teddy Smith is a forward / wing combo that can post up smaller guards or take big’s out on the perimeter. He has workable range to 15 feet but is at his best around the basket. Smith’s length also makes him an excellent defender and rebounder as evident in the photo from the regional semifinals last season.

Smith is the leading returning scorer for a talented Pike Central squad (12.8 ppg 3.9 rpg) and will look to get the Hawks to Rupp Arena for the first time in school history. Look for Coach May to isolate him against mismatches as his scoring and rebounding should both increase this season.
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(Photo credit: Josh Ball Ashland Daily Independent)

Players just outside the top 10 (in no particular order):
Dalton Frasure (Prestonsburg), Blaine May (Pikeville), Josh Hitchcock (Johnson Central), Tyler Pack (Johnson Central), Luke Trimble (Paintsville), Jaren Lovely (Magoffin County), Grant Kiser (Lawrence County), Tyler Burnett (Pike Central), Ryan Eads (Pike Central), Lamont Wright (Shelby Valley), Garrett Fannin (Belfry), Cole Bentley (Belfry), Jacob Childers (East Ridge), Matt Miller (Paintsville), Hunter Johnson (South Floyd), Ryder Johnson (Pikeville)

Listed below is the break-down of the 15th Region by District with Preseason Predictions based on past performance:
57th District (last years’ record):
Johnson Central (23-10)
Sheldon Clark (23-6)
Magoffin County (9-18)
Paintsville (15-10)

Projected Winner: Johnson Central
Projected Runner-up: Magoffin County
*2016 57th District Tournament is Scheduled to be played at Paintsville

58th District (last years’ record):
Betsy Layne (21-8)
Prestonsburg (6-16)
Allen Central (13-18)
South Floyd (12-18)

Projected Winner: South Floyd
Projected Runner-up: Betsy Layne
*2016 58th District Tournament is Scheduled to be played at Allen Central

59th District (last years’ record):
Shelby Valley (18-13)
East Ridge (15-12)
Pikeville (17-13)
Piarist (5-15)

Projected Winner: Pikeville
Projected Runner-up: Shelby Valley
*2016 59th District Tournament is Scheduled to be played at East Ridge

60th District (last years’ record):
Lawrence County (19-13)
Pike Central (17-14)
Belfry (6-20)
Phelps (8-19)

Projected Winner: Lawrence County
Projected Runner-up: Pike Central
*2016 60th District Tournament is Scheduled to be played at Belfry