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Well folks it's that time again. Basketball in the Bluegrass. The 14th Region has been an exciting one over the past several years and this season shouldn't be any different with any of the top 5 teams capable of bringing home the hardware.

1) Hazard Bulldogs: Hazard made it to the regional championship game last season but came up short to crosstown rival, Perry County Central 53-48. The Bulldogs open up the 2019/20 season as the odds on favorite to claim the 14th region crown with both leading scorers, Logan Hall and Wade Pelphrey returning along with a good core of players could make for long games for their opponents. The Bulldogs finished the season 26-9 last season failing to win both the district championship and regional championship. Hazard is aching to get revenge against Perry County Central the same way Perry County Central won last season.

2) Cordia Lions: It's not very often that you see two or more teams from the same district in the top 3, that however, is the case this season with Hazard being #1 and Cordia #2. The Lions had a rough season last year, only winning 8 games and failing to make it to the regional tournament. The good news for the Lion faithful is that Cordia return all but 1 from a year ago, this includes both leading scorers, Darryen Pringle and Kalil Harris. If the Lions can re-group and build off last season, they could have a tremendous season.

3) Knott County Central Patriots: The Patriots barely escaped an upset from Estill County in the first round of the region tournament last season, edging out the Engineers 43-39 but that would be it as the Patriots would be bounced in the semi-finals by Perry County Central. The Patriots lose several from last season but only one of their leading scorers, Khlil Slone who averaged 14 points a game. The Patriots will be in contention this season especially with them being the region host.

4) Perry County Central Commodores: The defending 14th region champs come in at #3 this preseason. It could be rough sledding for the Commodores this season as they lost both top scorers Noah Back and Noah Caudill among 5 others, 7 total from last season. Despite losing that many players from a regional championship team, Perry County Central will find a way to be in the hunt for another regional championship.

5) Wolfe County Wolves: The Wolves had a disappointing season last year only winning 10 games and getting blown out in the first round of the regional tournament to Perry County Central by 24. The good news for Wolfe County is that they return all of their leading scorers including junior to be, Jaz Johnson, this should make for a great season for the Wolves. Wolfe County will always be in the hunt for a regional crown as long as Coach Creech is walking the sidelines. In my opinion, one of the best coaches in the region considering he does what he does at a small school.

6) Estill County Engineers: After back to back 20+ win seasons, Estill County hit a rough spot last season only winning 10 games. Theirs good news and bad news to this season for Estill County. The good news is they return all but 3 with those 3 not seeing much playing time. They also return top 5 region player, Joe Benton. The bad news? Estill County opens up the season against 2 of the top 5 preseason teams with both being on the road. December 3rd at Wolfe County, December 6th at Knott County Central.

7) Buckhorn Wildcats: Buckhorn had a good season last year going 21-10 before being eliminated in the opening round game of the 54th district tournament. They return leading scorer Kobe Browning who averaged right at 23 points a game last season. The Wildcats however, are in a district where they have to deal with both Perry County Central and Hazard both. With that said, the Wildcats should still have another tremendous season this season. Coach Hoskins has a great crew coming back.

8) Breathitt County Bobcats: The Bobcats finished 20-10 last season and were hot towards the end of the season before falling off at the end of the season where they went 3-3. Breathitt County loses 7 from last season including both leading scorers Jalen Taulbee and Kyle Fraley, that's 30+ points a game gone. Breathitt County does return Cameron Stacy and Bradyn Slaughter who both had great seasons last year. As long as John Noble is walking the sidelines in Jackson, never count out Breathitt County.

9) Letcher County Central Cougars: Letcher County Central had a good season last year and was hot right up until the last several games of the season where they fell apart, losing 5 of their final 7 games. The bad news doesn't stop their either, they lost both leading scorers Tyler Boggs and Gregory Kincer. Could be a long and stressful season for the Cougars and Cougar faithful.

10) Leslie County Eagles: The Eagles had it rough last season and were near the bottom of the pack. The only good news for the Eagles this season is that both leading scorers, Trenton Day and Wyatt Hensley return. With those two returning, will it be enough to get them back to the regional tournament? They had 3 top ten teams standing in their way.

11) Powell County Pirates: The Pirates opened up last season awful, in fact, their first win didn't come til about mid December. They finished strong though after a coaching change about mid-way through the season as coach David Fraley had to resign due to health concerns and interim coach, Blake Williams (who is now the head coach) took over and won the 56th district and made it to the semi-finals of the 14th region tournament.

12) Owsley County Owls: For a long time now, the Owls have struggled to get past either Powell County and Estill County. With Powell County, seemingly having a rebuild season, could this finally be the year the Owls knock off either Powell County or Estill County and make it back to the regional tournament?

13) Jackson City Tigers: The Tigers finished the season last year 7-21 but coach Kyle Pertuset is optimistic about this season, especially with both leading scorers, Alexander Terry and Slayden Sizemore returning.

14) June Buchanan Crusaders:The Crusaders have fallen off since Elisha Justice left to coach Pikeville. Past two seasons, they have won a combined 18 games. Can newly head coach, Brandon Gearheart change that? Only time will tell.

15) Lee County Bobcats: After coming off a winless season, the Bobcats won 6 games last season. Can coach Perdue get the Bobcats back to where they once were?


Top 10 Players:

1) Jaz Johnson (Wolfe County): As a sophomore last season, Jaz led the Wolves in scoring at 22.1 points a game. Jaz should have another breakout year and will be hard for anyone to stop.

2) Joe Benton (Estill County): Mr. do it all for Estill County. Can score from just about anywhere on the court and will be the motor that makes Estill County go this season. During the offseason, Joe shot up to 6'2.

3) Wade Pelphrey (Hazard): Arguably Hazard's best player and the region's best 3 point shooter. Wade will be the one that Coach Holland calls on the most this season.

4) Darryn Pringle (Cordia): Lead the Lions in scoring last season at 20.3 points a game. He's gonna have a lot on his shoulders carrying this Cordia team this season.

5) Braydn Slaughter (Breathitt County): Despite averaging just 8 points a game last season, Braydn showed improvements all year long last season. Braydn will be one of several players that will get his name called on a lot by coach Noble.

6) Kobe Browning (Buckhorn): Lead Buckhorn in scoring at 22.3 points a game. Was dynamite from free throw line last season with 220 trips to the strip, making 170 of those attempts.

7) DeAndre Reed (Perry County Central): Was a key piece to the regional championship team last season despite only averaging 6 points a game. With Perry County Central losing a lot to graduation, DeAndre should get a lot of playing time this season.

8) Josh McGuire (Knott County Central): Was the 3rd leading scorer on his team last season at 10.3 points a game. His number should get called on a lot this season by coach BB King.

9) Wilgus Tolson (Wolfe County): Another leading scorer from Wolfe County last season at 15 points a game. Tolson along side Jaz Johnson could be hard for anyone to stop this season.

10) Logan Hall (Hazard): Was Hazard's 2nd leading scorer from last season and another weapon for Coach Al Holland.