2017-2018 15th Region Season Review - District Tournament's Preview
15th Region Overview: Practiced started in October, games in November, today we start the greatest tournament in the state of Kentucky. The regular season in the 15th Region was filled with up’s and down’s. Pikeville was dominate until the injury to Cade Byers, Floyd Central and Johnson Central played brutal schedules, Shelby Valley and Paintsville proved to be better than expected. In a region devoid of any superior teams that can compete with anyone in the state, the 15th had plenty of competitive balance amongst its self. The regional tournament will most likely have seven teams with a realistic chance of winning the tournament and advancing to Rupp Arena. Below you will find our preseason rankings revisited, our final rankings, regular season awards and a preview of every district tournament game and how the teams closed out in the final week of the season.
2017-2018 Preseason Rankings (Released in November):
2. Floyd Central
3. Johnson Central
4. Pike Central
5. Shelby Valley
8. Magoffin County
9. Sheldon Clark
10. Lawrence County
12. East Ridge
14. Betsy Layne
2017-2018 Final Regular Season Rankings (Record):
1. Shelby Valley (21-7)
2. Pikeville (19-9)
3. Floyd Central (17-11)
4. Pike Central (23-7)
5. Johnson Central (15-14)
6. Belfry (17-12)
7. Paintsville (18-8)
8. Sheldon Clark (11-19)
9. Betsy Layne (12-15)
10. Magoffin County (9-19)
11. Prestonsburg (13-17)
12. Lawrence County (8-21)
13. East Ridge (8-19)
14. Phelps (10-20)
15. Jenkins (0-28)
16. Piarist (3-25)
Awards (Based solely on author opinion): Player of the Year: Wyatt Battaile – Pikeville Coach of the Year: Jim Hicks – Shelby Valley
Top 15 Player Rankings:
All Region 1st Team (Regardless of Position): J.R. Tackett (Floyd Central) - Strong Guard with great mid range game. Excellent rebounder from the wing position and the engine that makes Floyd Central go!
Christian Mounts (Pike Central) - Outstanding leaper and scorer. Recently surpassed 2,000 career points between Pike Central and Phelps. This kid can get you 30 plus any night.
Jacob Rice (Johnson Central) - Three year starter and only a junior. Rice flirts with a triple double almost every night as the do it all guard for JC. He can get 30 or can run the show and make sure everyone else gets theirs.
Wyatt Battaile (Pikeville) - Best all around player in the region. Only player to hold a D1 offer. Wyatt plays above the rim and can do it all from anywhere on the floor. Can go get 40 anytime he wants against 15th Region competition.
Brady Whitaker (Magoffin County) - Biggest surprise of the season after setting out the previous year. Capable of huge games on any given night. Will try to lead Magoffin County to huge upset.
All Region 2nd Team (Regardless of Position): Isaiah May (Johnson Central) - One of the best freshman in the state in a region loaded with great ones. May is the most dynamic player for Johnson Central and he can play inside and out. Set the freshman scoring record at JC this season.
Brady Conn (Floyd Central) - One of the best rebounders in the state. A force inside who has also developed a mid range game and is still only a junior.
Isiah Roblee (Belfry) - Hit extremely big shots on a big time basis. Multiple buzzer beaters to his credit on the season and the first Belfry player to ever hit 100 3FG in a season.
Cody Potter (Shelby Valley) - Long, athletic, shooter who can get 40 on 10 made 3FG's or pump fake, go by you, and dunk. Allows everyone else on his team to have space to operate just by being on the floor.
Trey James (Sheldon Clark) - Most dominate force in the region as a true post player. nMultiple dunks per game, multiple triple doubles and the season and just completed oone of the greatest seasons with respect to blocked shots in the history of the KHSAA. Also one of the highest rated freshman in the state with multiple D1 looks already.
All Region 3rd Team (Regardless of Position):
Mason Moore – Paintsville
Blake Burke – Shelby Valley
Levard Missick – Pike Central
Seth Williams – Paintsville
Connor Roberts - Pikeville
Honorable Mention:Cory VanHoose (Johnson Central), Gabe Ferrel (Johnson Central), Nick Keeton (Paintsville), Brady Dingess (Sheldon Clark), Austin Endicott (Prestonsburg), Phil Cornett (Prestonsburg), Tyler Maynard (Lawrence County), Cody Maynard (Lawrence County), Grant Orsborn (Betsy Layne), Byron Hammond (Betsy Layne), Jacob Collins (Floyd Central), Evan Rhodes (Pikeville), Kyle Watkins (Pikeville), Dalton Wellman (East Ridge), Cameron Hess (East Ridge), Ethan Cummings (Jenkins), Devin Varney (Belfry), Koleston Blankenship (Belfry), Trey Francis (Phelps), Seth Conn (Pike Central), Skylar Williams (Piarist)
57th District Preview
Tournament Location: Johnson Central High School Defending Champion: Johnson Central
Paintsville (1 seed) vs. Magoffin County (4 seed) Tuesday 7:00 PM
Johnson Central (2 seed) vs. Sheldon Clark (3 seed) Wednesday 7:00 PM
District Championship (Friday 7:00 PM)
Match-Up #1: Paintsville [18-8: 5-1 in Districts] vs. Magoffin County [9-19: 1-5 in Districts]
Paintsville closed the season losing three in a row (all on the road, all by five points or less). In two of those games (Belfry and Johnson Central), the Tigers were without the services of their best player in Seth Williams (lower respiratory illness). Williams did return versus Pikeville in the season finale and had his team in position to win up four with the ball and two minutes to play. The breaks did not go Paintsville way, but their regular season work has positioned them well for post season play.
Magoffin County closed out the final week of the season 1-1 with a close home loss to Shelby Valley and a home win versus a hot Prestonsburg team. Brady Whitaker continues to play like a man amongst boys as he put up 34 against Shelby Valley, keeping his team within one possession until late in the game. The Hornets have nine seniors that play very hard and play together, showing an ability to close talent gaps through shear effort.
Paintsville defeated Magoffin County both times during the regular season. Once on December 7th at Magoffin County by a final of 76-51 and then at home 77-65 on January 27th. Mason Moore led the Tigers in the first game with 27 and Seth Williams led in the second game with 21. Brady Whitaker (Magoffin County) led his team with 20 plus in both contest.
If Magoffin County can control the boards and Brady Whitaker can get hot, then the Hornets will have a chance to steal one late. This is a long shot however, as Paintsville has the physicality and rebounding that matches-up well against the Hornets. The game could be close early, but expect the Tigers to pull away with dominate guard play.
(1) Paintsville currently has the longest drought in the 15th Region for regional tournament appearances (outside Piarist who has never defeated any 15th Region opponents). They last appeared in the regional in 2008 when current Head Coach Landon Slone led them to Rupp Arena.
(2) Magoffin County has played close with several teams this season to include Perry Central and Morgan County, but just cant seem to put four quarters together.
(3) Brady Whitaker scored 44 points against Johnson Central (39 in second half). When he is on, he is difficult to stop.
Paintsville 71 Magoffin County 59
Match-Up #2: Johnson Central [15-14: 4-2 in Districts] vs. Sheldon Clark [11-19: 2-4 in Districts]
The Golden Eagles closed the final week of the regular season going 1-2 with a five-point loss on the road to Floyd Central, a blow-out win at home versus Bath County, and an overtime loss on the road to Pike Central. JC has a four headed monster in Jacob Rice, Isaiah May, Cory VanHoose and quite possibly the most underrated player in the region in Gabe Ferrell as all average well into double figures. JC plays fast, can handle pressure and shoot both inside and out but are also very young and lack any real post presence on offense of defense despite the efforts of long guards playing out of position.
Sheldon Clark closed the season strong by going 3-1 in the final week. This was much needed after dropping 11 of their previous 13 prior. This week’s wins came against Betsy Layne (layup at buzzer by Ethan Colegrove to win it), Lawrence County and Huntington St. Joseph Prep all by eight points or less. Their loss came on the road at Shelby Valley by eight as well. No one in the region has an answer for big man Trey James and if the Cardinals can get solid guard play and shooting around him, they will be in every game in the region. It should also be noted that Trey James recorded a record 18 blocks in a game this week to put him at the top of the single game performance line in state history.
In the two previous contests against one another, JC defeated Sheldon Clark handily 91-61 January 2nd and 96-54 February 3rd. In both contest, the Golden Eagles pressed full-court and established a fast pace early on. Sheldon Clark struggled to utilize James in the post due to entry pass pressure and full court pressure, wearing down as the games progressed. Couple that with the fact that JC shot the ball well in second contest (school record for made 3FG with 17) and you get two blow-out wins. It is easier to slow a game down than speed one up and that’s what SC will try to do against Johnson Central. In the first contest Johnson Central was led by freshman standout’s Cory VanHoose and Isaiah May with 27 points and 4 steals and 24 points and 9 rebounds respectively. Sheldon Clark was led by Trey James with 18 points, 12 rebounds, 10 blocks and Ethan Colegrove with 17 points. The second game saw JC have three players score 20+ as Rice, May and Ferrell accomplished the feat with VanHoose not far behind at 15 points. Colegrove and James were the only two Cardinals in double figures with 14 and 10 points respectively.
Expect this game to start slow and Johnson Central cannot press unless they score. As the game progresses into the second quarter and second half, look for the Golden Eagles pressure and bench depth wear down Sheldon Clark. This game will be much closer than the previous two, but too much pressure and guard play will be the determining factor.
(1) In the first game between the two JC broke the school record for most steals in a game (27) and most turnovers forced (34). In the second game JC broke the school record for most 3FG made (17). Due to this, the scores of the previous contests are likely non-indicative of the outcome we will see.
(2) If Sheldon Clark loses it will be their second 20-loss season in the last three years.
Johnson Central 75 Sheldon Clark 62
58th District Preview
Tournament Location: Floyd Central High School Defending Champion: South Floyd
Floyd Central (1 seed) vs. Lawrence County (4 seed) Tuesday 7:00 PM
Betsy Layne (2 seed) vs. Prestonsburg (3 seed) Wednesday 7:00 PM
District Championship (Friday 7:00 PM)
Match-Up #1: Floyd Central [17-11: 6-0 in Districts] vs. Lawrence County [8-21: 1-5 in Districts]
The Jaguars closed the regular season with wins at home over Johnson Central and Belfry after dropping their previous three all on the road. This team is big, physical and athletic with strong guard play from J.R. Tackett and strong inside play from Brady Conn. When they get perimeter shooting they are almost impossible to stop.
Lawrence County closed the season with a loss at home versus Sheldon Clark in the final week and have dropped their last six contest going into district play. Playing without one of the Dalton brothers (graduation) and the transfer of Derick Wellman (GRC) has really hurt the Bulldogs and led to the 20 loss season seen this year. This squad plays hard, but are young and lack any real play making ability in critical situations.
Floyd Central defeated Lawrence County in both contest this season. 80-38 at Floyd Central on January 24th and 74-69 at Lawrence County on February 2nd. Lawrence County was hammered on the boards in both games and had no answer for J.R. Tackett. If this game was played on a neutral court or at Lawrence County, the Bulldogs might stand a chance, but being played at Floyd Central their odds of winning are microscopic. Look for the game to be controlled early, with Floyd Central pulling away by mid second quarter and maintaining a comfortable lead the entire second half.
(1) Floyd Central has only lost once at home this season (Henry Clay) and are winning by 10.5 more ppg there than on the road.
(2) Lawrence County is making it first post season appearance after winning the 60th District the past three seasons (57th District before that).
Floyd Central 62 Lawrence County 49
Match-Up #2: Betsy Layne [12-15: 3-4 in Districts] vs. Prestonsburg [13-17: 3-4 in Districts]
Betsy Layne closed the final week of the season 1-1 with a home loss to Sheldon Clark and a win on the road at Lee County. The Sheldon Clark game had a crazy ending and one that rarely results in a loss. What if I told you with 15s left to play that Betsy Layne had the ball, had a 3-point lead, committed no turnovers and Sheldon Clark did not hit a 3FG but still beat Betsy Layne in regulation by 1 point? That’s exactly what happened with missed FT’s and critical mental errors down the stretch (like throwing the ball in after Sheldon Clark scored, allowing them to foul and stop clock under 5s). Nonetheless, the Bobcats earned a two-seed in the district tournament.
Prestonsburg closed the final week going 2-1 with wins over June Buchanan and Jenkins and a loss to Magoffin County on the road. The Blackcats have won five or their last seven games, closing strong after a poor start to the year. This team is scrappy and believes they will make the plays needed to win down the stretch. They are fun to watch.
In the three meeting between Betsy Layne and Prestonsburg this season, Betsy Layne won both district seeded games (50-46 at Prestonsburg: 64-61 at Betsy Layne) and lost the All-A game at the Pikeville EXPO 56-68. All three games have been very close, but Betsy Layne has controlled the paint and rebounding battle. Expect no different in this game as this could be one of the best opening games in any district tournament in the region. Both teams are that close to one another. This game will likely come down to either FT shooting or one or two possessions late in the fourth quarter. Whoever wins in those critical situations will win the game.
(1) This is the first time Betsy Layne and Prestonsburg have met in the first round of districts since 2008 when Prestonsburg knocked off Betsy Layne 62-57.
Betsy Layne 60 Prestonsburg 56
59th District Preview
Tournament Location: Shelby Valley High School Defending Champion: Pikeville
Shelby Valley (1 seed) vs. Jenkins (4 seed) Tuesday 6:30 PM
Pikeville (2 seed) vs. East Ridge (3 seed) Tuesday 8:15 PM
District Championship (Friday 7PM)
Match-Up #1: Shelby Valley [21-7: 5-2 in Districts] vs. Jenkins [0-28: 0-6 in Districts]
Shelby Valley closed the season strong going 2-0 in the final week and winning their last seven games in a row to close the regular season. Wins over Magoffin County and Sheldon Clark is how the regular season ended. This team plays very hard and plays unselfish. They will be a difficult out during the tournament for anyone.
Jenkins missed out on their best chance for a win in the final week of the season as they fell to June Buchanan 73-79. In fact, Jenkins closed the season with 5 losses in the final week of the regular season. They are too young with too little talent to compete.
Shelby Valley hammered Jenkins twice during the regular season by final scores of 76-34 and 73-37. After winning the coin flip for the 59th district top overall seed with Pikeville, Shelby Valley gets a third crack at the Cavaliers. This game should be over early as Valley will want to avoid injuries moving forward. Look for the Wildcats to get the running clock and then let the JV and Frosh play the rest of the game.
(1) Jenkins is one of two winless teams in the Commonwealth this season.
(2) The last time Jim Hicks had a Shelby Valley team with this many wins going into the tournament, they advanced to the regional title game before losing to Johnson Central.
Prediction: Shelby Valley 85 Jenkins 50
Match-Up #2: Pikeville [19-9: 6-1 in Districts] vs. East Ridge [8-19: 2-4 in Districts]
Pikeville has limped down the stretch after losing Cade Byers to injury (could still return by regionals) as evident by another 1-1 week to close the regular season. The Panthers lost on the road to Boyd County by ten then won at home versus Paintsville thanks to big plays late by Wyatt Battaile. This team has plenty of experience and great guard play, but lacks in overall depth and can have cold spells. Pikeville is still, however, a very scary team in the tournament.
East Ridge closed the season with a 0-3 week and have lost seven of their last nine games going into the tournament. Losses to Belfry, Phelps and Mountain Mission, VA are not how you want to go into district play and perhaps this young team has just hit the wall. They do have HOF coach Randy McCoy and he will have them a game plan that makes the game at least somewhat competitive.
Expect East Ridge to play extremely slow and controlled. Expect Pikeville to play fast and attack, forcing tempo. This game might be close early but Pikeville will put it away down the stretch with ease. In two meeting this season, Pikeville won 85-36 and 82-41 (one with Byers, one without Byers); don’t expect a different outcome in this game as East Ridge just don’t have the fire power. Not to mention Pikeville is a terrible matchup for East Ridge with their guard play.
(1) This is the first losing season for East Ridge under Randy McCoy since his return to Lick Creek (winning records previous 5 years).
Prediction: Pikeville 80 East Ridge 57
60th District Preview
Tournament Location: Pike Central High School Defending Champion: Lawrence County
Belfry (1 seed) vs. Piarist (4 seed) Monday 8:15 PM
Pike Central (2 seed) vs. Phelps (3 seed) Tuesday 8:15 PM
District Championship (Thursday 8:15 PM)
Match-Up #1: Belfry [17-12: 6-0 in Districts] vs. Piarist [3-25: 0-6 in Districts]
Belfry closed the final week of the season with a 2-2 week as they lost to Floyd Central and Tug Valley, WV (by nearly 60) and got wins over East Ridge and Jenkins. This is an athletic, physical team that is senior dominated. They can play inside, can press and have shooters everywhere to include Isiah Roblee who this week became the first Pirate ever with 100 made 3FG in a season (is already school record holder).
Piarist looks at basketball more like a club activity than major sport. They closed the season with three straight losses and would not be competitive with any 15th region school including Jenkins.
Don’t look for this game to be remotely close. In fact, Belfry could get worse by playing their key players in the game as every set they run will work, possibly giving false hope moving forward. In two matchup’s this season, Belfry defeated Piarist 76-15 and 75-12 (the two lowest outputs on the season for Piarist).
(1) Piarist elected to skip the district tournament last season and go on a ski trip. They have never defeated any 15th Region opponent in the history of their program dating back to 1993.
(2) Belfry won the 60th District regular season outright for the first time in 6 years when they went to the regional semifinals. They have the horses to win the region this season.
Belfry 90 Piarist 20
Match-Up #2: Pike Central [23-7: 4-2 in Districts] vs. Phelps [10-20: 2-4 in Districts]
Strong allegations surround Pike Central going into the district tournament, but the Hawks have had a great season closing the final week with a win in overtime at home against Johnson Central. Pike Central has the most wins in the region at 23 and a roster of athletes that could make a run to Rupp Arena. This team goes as Christian Mounts goes, however. When he is scoring in bunches they are very tough to beat, but when he is off its usually a close game.
Phelps, like Pike Central, finished the last week of the regular season 1-0 with a win over East Ridge. Trey Francis is a young and upcoming star as only sophomore and, if hot, can keep his team in almost any game.
In two meetings between the schools during the regular season, Pike Central won 70-52 and 80-47. Rebounding and paint control is what Phelps had no answer for. This will likely happen again as Phelps just does not have the size to compete with Pike Central’s athletes. They simply rebound until they get fouled or make a basket. This one could be close early, but the Hawks will pull away late in comfortable fashion. If Francis and Turnmire can get hot for Phelps (and they have before, just ask Belfry about the overtime game this season) it could be close. But this game is not at Phelps, its on Pike Central’s home court.
(1) With a win, Pike Central will advance to the regional tournament for the first time since the 2014-2015 season. Belfry has eliminated them in districts every year prior.
Pike Central 70 Phelps 53
District Championship Predictions:
57th - Johnson Central 67 Paintsville 63
58th – Floyd Central 70 Betsy Layne 50
59th – Shelby Valley 72 Pikeville 70
60th – Belfry 65 Pike Central 64
Agree or Disagree on anything? Feel free to respond!
Last edited by 15th Region; Feb 19, 18 at 02:47 PM.