15th Region's Avatar
Overview: Ten weeks are in the books and district tournaments begin in just fourteen days across the state. At this point in the season sports fans usually have the regional winners narrowed down to two or maybe three favorites, but that’s not the case in the 15th. Seven teams have a legitimate shot at winning the region this season. Let’s see what happened after ten weeks of play.

1. Pikeville (17-6) – The Panthers went 2-1 in week ten with wins over Jenkins and Harlan County (away and home respectively) and a loss on the road to Floyd Central 49-58. In the Floyd Central game, the Jaguars jumped out to an early 15-2 lead and never looked back. Pikeville has locked up a regular season share of the 59th district and pending a coin flip will play either East Ridge or Jenkins in the district tourney. Week eleven will see Pikeville travel to Johnson Central and Pike Central before hosting Madison Southern as they continue to reinvent themselves after the loss of Cade Byers to injury.

2. Floyd Central (15-8) – After the loss to Paintsville, Floyd Central seems to have found their stride going 3-0 in week ten and winning five of their last six games. In week ten, they defeated a Pikeville team 58-49 in a game they complete controlled from tip to final horn, then knocked off Lawrence County on the road by five and Huntington St. Joe Prep at home. The brutal schedule continues in week eleven as the Jaguars hit the road for four straight games as they travel to North Laurel, Magoffin County, Frederick Douglass and Scott County. This team is still a strong favorite to win the region regardless of what a brutal week eleven brings.

3. Shelby Valley (16-7) – The Wildcats went 3-1 in week ten with dominating wins over Phelps, East Ridge and Magoffin County and a loss on the road to Tug Valley, WV. The wins were against less than stellar competition and the loss was against one of West Virginia’s best in a difficult place for any opponent to win at. Lawrence County (home), Jenkins and Belfry (road) are on the docket in week eleven for Shelby Valley. They will be favored to win out the rest of the season and will all but certainly share a top seed in the 59th with Pikeville.

4. Paintsville (18-5) – The Tigers are rolling, going 2-0 in week ten with a huge home win over district rival Johnson Central and an absolute blow-out (45 points) of Greenup County. The win over Johnson Central locked up the district number one seed and a date with Magoffin County in the 57th tourney. In that game, Paintsville never led until late in the 4th and trailed by as many as eleven near the end of the 3rd quarter. The Tigers were led by Seth Williams and Nick Keeton (21 rebounds) as they took their first lead of the game with 2 minutes to play. They were able to fend off two underneath-out-of-bounds sets by JC in the final 20s to seal the victory. Paintsville will be on the road at Belfry and Johnson Central in week eleven.

5. Pike Central (20-5) – The Hawks went 1-1 in week eleven and have the most wins in the region against a suspect schedule. Their eight game win streak was snapped at home by district rival Belfry in a big way as they were dominated 50-73, but the Hawks bounced back with a 25-point win over Prestonsburg. Week eleven will see Pike Central play four games as they travel to Belfry and Phelps, host Pikeville, then travel to Harlan County. Despite Pike Central having only two quality wins in region (Paintsville at home: Johnson Central on the road – trailed by double digits in both games), they have the ability to beat anyone on a given night.

6. Johnson Central (12-12) – The Golden Eagles went 1-2 in week ten with losses to both Magoffin County and Paintsville on the road and a record setting win at Sheldon Clark. JC dropped two big district games in which they led by double figures late in the game (Led by 11 late in the 3rd at Paintsville, led by 18 late in the third at Magoffin County). In the Paintsville game, Coach McKenzie benched his regular starters, electing to go with the reserves. The move was designed to inspire his team and seemed to work as the starters entered with the lead 1-0 just two minutes into the game. JC was unable to keep key personnel out of foul trouble and unable to close as Paintsville battled back and eventually won. In the Magoffin County game, JC opened big, playing all 15 players in the first half and took a 14-point lead to the break. In the second half they quickly extended the lead to 18 before Magoffin County star Brady Whitaker caught fire scoring 39 second half points (7 made 3FG – game high 44 points). Magoffin took their first lead late in that ball game as well. After giving away two straight games, the Golden Eagles traveled to Sheldon Clark with a purpose and lead 62-32 at half (scored 87 points through three quarters) and ran away with the game. JC’s junior standout Jacob Rice eclipsed 1,000 points for his career in the game and the team broke the school record for most made 3FG (now at 17). Johnson Central is capable of winning the region if they can close out games. Week eleven will be big for them as they host Pikeville, Paintsville and Ashland. Three quality opponents to let us know if they are peaking and contenders or slumping and pretenders.

7. Belfry (12-9) – The Pirates went 3-1 in week ten with wins over Pike Central, Phelps (overtime) and Piarist. Their loss came on the road to North Laurel by 31 points. Belfry is physical, has shooting and don’t mind playing slow or fast. They are a sleeper in the region with ability to beat anyone. Week elevens with see them host Pike Central for the district top overall seed, host Paintsville, travel to Betsy Layne and host Shelby Valley in that order. Belfry could get rolling at just the right time with another good week.

8. Sheldon Clark (8-16) – The Cardinals knocked off Magoffin County at home then got blasted by 42 at the hands of Johnson Central (both games at home). Johnson Central is who Sheldon Clark will face in the district opener as the three seed. Trey James continues to be dominate in the post when they can get him the ball as triple doubles seem to come every other game. Sheldon Clark will look to right the ship in week eleven as they have Prestonsburg and Knott Central.

9. Betsy Layne (11-11) – The Bobcats had a perfect 3-0 week, pushing their record to .500 this late in the season for the first time in a long time. Wins over Phelps, Prestonsburg and Jackson City were not eye openers, but maybe exactly what this team needed at exactly the right time. They have solid post play and streaky shooting from deep and will look to develop that even more in week eleven open a four game home stand with Leslie County, Belfry and Lynn Camp.

10. Magoffin County (6-18) – The Hornets went 1-2 in week ten with losses to Sheldon Clark (by 24) and Shelby Valley (by 17) and the perhaps the biggest upset in regional play to Johnson Central 84-81. In the JC game standout Brady Whitaker scored 44 points to include 39 in the second half (7 made 3FG), bringing his team back from down 18 mid-way through the third quarter. In fact, Whitaker scored 39 in the second half and Johnson Central only scored 35. The win shows that Magoffin County still has a lot of fight to them and the ability to knock off anyone on a given night. Although the win was surprising, it probably shouldn’t be. They took Paintsville to the wire on the road before falling, took Perry Central to the wire before falling, and should have beat Morgan County but missed a lay-up under 5s. If they put four full quarters together they pull another upset in districts. They are the four seed in the 57th and will face Paintsville.

11. Lawrence County (8-16) – The Bulldogs went 2-1 in week ten with wins over Greenup County and Tolsia, WV and very close home loss to district foe Floyd Central to close out their four game home stand. They have a huge game with Prestonsburg in week eleven with the loser taking the four seed in district and getting Floyd Central in the first round. They also play Shelby Valley, Magoffin County and Paris during the week. This team is very scrappy and could find a way into the regional tournament.

12. Prestonsburg (8-15) –
The Blackcats nearly knocked off Betsy Layne on the road in week ten, but ultimately went 0-2 on the week with another loss to Pike Central. It’s still unknown who will face Floyd Central in the first round of districts, but that will be determined by the outcome of their Lawrence County game in week ten. They also face Sheldon Clark, East Ridge and Piarist during the week. Needless to say, the Lawrence County game is huge for first year boy’s Head Coach Brandon Gearheart.

13. East Ridge (6-16) – The Warriors went 0-2 in week ten and have dropped four in a row. This young squad competes hard but just doesn’t have the fire power to play with better teams a full 32 minutes. Week eleven will see Piarist and Prestonsburg come to Lick Creek in two games that could get them rolling in the right direction. They will be the 3 seed in district play and face either Pikeville or Shelby Valley.

14. Phelps (8-18) – The Hornets went 1-3 in week ten with losses to Shelby Valley, Betsy Layne and Belfry and a win over Fairview. The Betsy Layne loss was by 5 points and the Belfry loss was in overtime after Trey Francis hit a 3FG at the buzzer after dribbling the length of the floor. Phelps is locked into the 3 seed in the 60th district and will face either Belfry or Pike Central in the tournament. For now they face Pike Central, Hurley, VA and Jackson County in week eleven.

15. Jenkins (0-21) – The long year continues for Jenkins as they dropped two more at home in less than competitive fashion. Pikeville and Bell County both held the Cavaliers under 40 points. The current nine game home stand rolls on in week eleven as Magoffin County, Jackson City, Shelby Valle, and Owsley County all come to town. Hopefully a win is in the future for Jenkins.

16. Piarist (2-20) – The Knights picked up their second win of the season in week ten by knocking off Riverside Christian 49-46. Both wins on the year have come over Riverside Christian and they still play each other one more time. Despite having two wins, Piarist would be double digit underdogs to Jenkins.

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