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Overview: The top two teams in the region both fell to regional competition for the first time in the same week. Pikeville went down in the first round of the All-A State tournament and suffered a key injury to a player that may have regional title implications, Paintsville picked up a statement win on the eve of their biggest game of the year, Floyd Central has impressive athletes but plays an unimpressive style, and Pike Central knocked off Johnson Central for the first time in the Coach Whitaker era. Lets see how the rankings have been shaken up after nine weeks of play.

1. Pikeville (15-5) The Panthers won the 15th Region All-A but went 1-2 in week nine. After knocking off Shelby Valley on Sunday (week eight) in the All-A final by 22, the two rivals met on Tuesday in a district seeded game at Shelby Valley (All-A did not have district implications). Pikeville lost by 12 without the services of Senior big man Cade Byers. Byers broke his hand on a poster dunk late in the All-A final Sunday (out 4-6 weeks could miss remainder of season). Two days later Pikeville lost to Somerset in the first round of the All-A State tournament. The loss of Byers drastically changes the dynamic for Pikeville as he was a rim protector, post scorer, and great help defender for a team that primarily only played six. Pikeville was able to bounce back with an 82-41 win versus East Ridge later in week nine. The loss to Shelby Valley is unique, however, in that the first tie breaker for the #1 overall seed in the 59th district is point spread and both teams split, winning by the same margin of 12 points. This will likely result in a coin flip for the top overall seed if both Pikeville and Shelby Valley win out their district seeded games as expected. In week ten Pikeville will travel to Floyd Central and Jenkins before hosting Harlan County. The Floyd Central game will be interesting without Byers as they are big, strong and physical.

2. Shelby Valley (13-6) The Wildcats jump up into the two spot after going 2-0 in week nine with wins over Pikeville and East Ridge in 59th seeded competition (coupled with a Floyd Central loss see below). Shelby Valley continues to play hard despite reduced production from Sophomore standout Cody Potter. Blake Burke has emerged as one of the surprises of the season and typically leads Shelby Valley offensively night in and night out. This team plays hard and has shown the ability to beat the powers in the region albeit at home. Week ten will begin a four game home stand as the Wildcats welcome in Phelps, East Ridge and Magoffin County. They will be heavily favored in all three contest.

3. Floyd Central (12-8) The Jaguars have played a brutal schedule and until this week firmly held the number two spot in the region behind Pikeville. Week nine saw them easily defeat 58th District rivals Betsy Layne and Lawrence County before falling to Paintsville on the road by 16. When watching the Paintsville game, it becomes clear that Floyd Central is somewhat of an enigma. They have superior athletes, depth, and plenty of size and seniors on the roster, but walk the ball up and down the floor and play a slow style. This backfired against a hot shooting Paintsville as the Jaguars shot poorly from beyond the three-point line and had no real way to get themselves back into the game without pressing or pushing pace. There are many ways to play basketball and if executed correctly, none better than the other depending on preference. Floyd Centrals style sometimes keeps teams in games but it is just one contest and Paintsville is much improved so no reason to throw up the white flag. Week ten gets no easier as they host Pikeville in a revenge game from earlier in the season, travel to Lawrence County, then host Huntington St. Joes Prep. The Pikeville game will be interesting the with Byers injury (see Pikeville content) and dominate inside play of Brady Conn. This team will be tough to beat come tournament time regardless of record.

4. Pike Central (19-4) The Hawks went 4-0 in week nine, hold the current longest win streak in the region at eight games, and have more wins than anyone else in the 15th. Week nine saw them defeat Johnson Central, Piarist, Phelps and Tolsia, WV. The final three games were not competitive in the least, but the Johnson Central game was an excellent test. JC had defeated Pike Central earlier in the season by 11 (had them down 18 late in the 4th) and early in the game it seemed more of the same was coming, this time on JCs home floor. Pike Central trailed most of the game and by as many as 10 with 7 minutes to play. But Christian Mounts got hot in the 3rd (17 points) to keep them close and 66 Senior Levard Missick had an amazing game with 16 points, 30 rebounds (not a typo), 5 blocks and 4 assists (Mounts led all scorers with 27). After Johnson Central scored the first six points of the 4th quarter, Pike Central answered in a big way, ending the game on a 21-6 run to win. Missick is the first player in the state to have 30 rebounds in a game since Justin Johnson of Perry Central (currently at WKU) accomplished the feat during the 2013-2014 season. Needless to say Pike Central is rolling right now and will finish out a five game home stand in week ten by hosting Belfry and Prestonsburg. This week will be the first time Belfry and Pike Central have met this season and there could be fireworks as both programs has strong disdain for one another.

5. Paintsville (16-5)
Paintsville has the second most wins in the region, have won six of their last seven, and went 2-0 in week nine with wins over Magoffin County and Floyd Central (both at home). The playmaking and great shooting of Seth Williams continues to fuel to Tigers as demonstrated in against Floyd Central where he hit 7 consecutive shots from between the 2nd and 3rd quarters against a set defensive (from driving, contested paint shots, to deep 3FGs and pull up jumpers). The Tigers play hard and are quickly moving up the rankings showing the rest of the region they are a legitimate contender for the regional crown. Week ten will see district rival Johnson Central and Greenup County come to Bill Mike Runyon Court as the Tigers finish off their current four game home stand. The JC/Paintsville game will probably see 5,000 people try to fit in a 2,000-person arena as it is one of the best rivalries in the state year-in and year-out regardless of records. Paintsville and Johnson Central as both undefeated in district play and this game has huge implications on the coveted top overall seed in the 57th District.

6. Johnson Central (11-10) Like Floyd Central and Pikeville, Johnson Central has played a very difficult schedule this season when compared to the rest of the region. Week nine saw them go 1-1 with a home loss to Pike Central and a win on the road at Buckhorn. The Pike Central loss was the first loss at home in nearly 3 seasons since Hawks beat the Golden Eagles in December of 2016. JC blew a double digit lead late with poor offensive execution and lack of discipline on defense. They were able to bounce back with a solid win in a hostile environment at Buckhorn where all five starters were able to score in double figures for the first time in nearly 5 years. JC will have three huge games in week ten. All district opponents, all on the road as they face Paintsville, Magoffin County, and Sheldon Clark in that order. If this young, extremely talented squad, can find their stride in the final three weeks of the regular season look for them to make a run at another trip to Rupp as they have the talent and coaching to beat anyone in the 15th.

7. Belfry (9-8) The Pirates went 3-0 in week nine with wins at home over Prestonsburg and Phelps, followed by a heated win on the road at Sheldon Clark. The first two games were easy double digit wins, but the Sheldon Clark game featured a few technical fouls, a few intentional fouls, and a lot of fans ready to go at each other. Its unclear what happened exactly, but social media paints a picture that suggests both sides of the stands showed less than stellar sportsmanship. Nonetheless the Pirates walked away with a win 69-63. Belfry will look to keep their momentum rolling as they face Pike Central, Phelps, Piarist and North Laurel in week ten. The Phelps and Piarist games should be easy victories, but when the go to Pike Central they will face the hottest team in the 15th in an environment where no one likes them. Follow that up with North Laurel on the road and anything above 2-2 will be an exceptional week for the Pirates.

8. Sheldon Clark (7-15) The Cardinals have one of the best prospects in the class of 2021 in Trey James and solid guard play from 8th grader Brady Dingess, but it has not translated to wins as Coach James in looking at his second 20 loss season in his first three years as a Head Coach. Week nine saw Sheldon Clark go 0-3 with losses to Hazard by 29, Boyd County by 10 (both on the road) and Belfry by 6 (at home). The Belfry game was hotly contested (See Belfry above) with the Cardinals unable to get over the hump. Sheldon Clark has lost six in a row and eight of their last nine and it does not get any easier in week ten as they host Magoffin County, travel to the Huntington Invitational (opponent TBD) then host rival Johnson Central. Hopefully Coach James and the gang can get on the win train and snap their losing streak this week as they will be favored in at least the Magoffin County game.

9. Betsy Layne (8-11) The Bobcats went 0-1 in week nine with a 23-point loss to Floyd Central, but Floyd Central has been doing that to everyone in the 58th district this season. This team has a real chance to make it to the regional tournament if they can get either the two or three seed in the 58th District Tournament and away from the Jaguars (locked up the top overall seed). Betsy Layne has Phelps, Prestonsburg, and Jackson City in week ten. If they win the Pburg game, they assure themselves either the two or three seed. This is a very important game for them at home.

10. Prestonsburg (8-13) The Blackcats have been playing much better of late and had a good week nine going 2-1. They lost to Belfry, then defeated Jackson City and Lawrence County on the road to keep their hopes of getting into the 2/3 game in the 58th (and away from Floyd Central) alive. The current two game win streak is the longest of the season as they look to keep it rolling in a huge week ten that will see Prestonsburg travel to Betsy Layne and Pike Central, then host Lawrence County. If they can defeat Lawrence County or Betsy Layne, they will likely assure themselves the 2/3 game in the 58th and give themselves a realistic chance to make it to the regional tournament.

11. Lawrence County (6-15) The Bulldogs went 0-2 in week nine and have dropped five or their last six games. This past week they lost to Floyd Central by 42 and Prestonsburg (at home) by 1 in a highly competitive game. This team is young and void of superior talent. They do play hard and are well coached so look for them to pick up at least one win in week ten as they have three home games versus Greenup County, Tolsia, WV, and Floyd Central in that order. This is a much different team from the Timmy Dalton lead squad last season.

12. Magoffin County (5-16) The long season continues for the Hornets as they just cant seem to put four quarters together in the same game. They went 1-1 with a win over winless Jenkins and a loss to Paintsville on the road by 12 in a game that was within 2 points heading the fourth. Magoffin seems to have that one quarter they lose big and it is the difference in the game. You are what your record is at this point in the season, but Magoffin seems to play much better than 5-16. Perhaps they can figure it out in week ten as they are on the road to Sheldon Clark and Shelby Valley and host Johnson Central. They are underdogs in all three games, but dont be shocked if the scores are close or they even pull out a win.

13. East Ridge (6-14) The Warriors faced district opponents Shelby Valley and Pikeville in week ten, with both games being played at home. The results were not good as Shelby Valley won by 25 and Pikeville won by 41. East Ridge is a young team that does not have the firepower to compete with the better teams in the region. The Warriors have Ambassador Christian, WV at home and Shelby Valley on the road in week ten.

14. Phelps (7-15) The Hornets played three district opponents in week nine, going 1-2 and getting dominated in the losses. Phelps handled Piarist easily, then got thumped by both Belfry and Pike Central on the road. Week ten has four games on the docket for Phelps as they face Shelby Valley and Betsy Layne on the road then Belfry and Fairview at home. There is a chance they get a win over Fairview.

15. Jenkins (0-19) Jenkins went 0-2 in week nine with road losses to Magoffin County and Letcher Central (both blowouts). The Cavaliers open a nine game home stand in week ten, beginning with Pikeville and Bell County. Hopefully a win is in the future, but its doubtful.

16. Piarist (1-18) The Knights went 0-3 in week nine, scoring a combine 69 points in all three games. Dont expect any more wins on the year for Piarist.

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