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2018-2019 15th Region Preview

15th Region Overview (57th and 59th Districts Pace Top Loaded Region):
Johnson Central, Pikeville, Paintsville and Shelby Valley pace a top loaded 15th Region this season. The Panthers are coming off back-to-back state tournament appearances and led by a trio of experienced seniors while Johnson Central looks to extend their record and make it back to the regional title game for the eighth straight year. Paintsville and Shelby Valley are deep and experienced as they try to take the next step in tournament progression. One of the aforementioned four teams will likely represent Region 15 at Rupp Arena, but there is a large pack in the next tier that could upset any of them on a given night. It’s basketball time in the mountains and should be another exciting campaign. Let’s see how our preseason rankings shake out!

15th Region – Team Rankings (Last Season’s Record)
1. Johnson Central (19-15):

The Golden Eagles have advanced to seven straight 15th Region Championship games (winning four of them) and are looking to get back to Rupp Arena again this season. JC is also one of the few teams in the state that can boast four returning starters that all averaged in double figures the previous year. A stellar summer produced a 22-2 record and a Gold Bracket KBA Championship, generating high hopes for this year’s squad. Johnson Central will be led by a plethora of talented players with senior guard Jacob Rice at the tip of the spear. Rice is a five-year varsity member and four-year starter who will likely break the school’s all-time assist record and push the 2,000-point plateau. Rice is not the only record breaker on the team, however, as super sophomore Isaiah May holds the school record for most points as eighth grader and most points as a freshman. May is a do-it-all talent that can guard the post or run the point. He has range to twenty-five feet and plays well above the rim (14 in-game dunks this past summer) and should easily become the school’s first 1,000-point scorer as sophomore. May showcased his skill set last season in the regional semifinal versus Belfry scoring a tournament high 32 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. May and Rice give Johnson Central two bonafide stars that can dribble, pass and shoot under pressure, but that’s not all they have. Sophomore guard Cory VanHoose had statistically the second greatest freshman season in school history last year (Isaiah May had the greatest) and has a knack for being able to score the ball. VanHoose is extremely strong and an above average leaper, which allows him to play much bigger than he is. If teams key on Rice and May, VanHoose can carry to scoring load for the Golden Eagles. Shooting and playmaking are always key on a great team and JC has that covered as well. Senior EKU baseball signee Gabe Ferrell is a high percentage three-point shooter with multiple twenty plus point games under his belt. This two-year starter plays very hard and more physical than opponents think despite his slender build. Ferrell is an excellent floor spacer around May, Rice and VanHoose. Breakout player Bryson Hackney will also be key for the Johnson Central. The sophomore point guard is extremely quick with the ball and probably the best all-around athlete in the school (has played seven varsity sports at Johnson Central and been named all-area in three of them entering his sophomore campaign). Hackney, can shoot, pass and plays above the rim having his first in-game dunk last season in a JV contest, but that is not his best quality. Hackney prefers to create for others rather than score. His idea of a perfect possession is drawing two defenders and dropping the ball off to a teammate for an easy bucket.

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Johnson Central sophomore standout Isaiah May hits the go ahead 3FG late in the 57th District Championship versus cross-town rival Paintsville last season. This iconic shot lifted JC to a title and showcased the big play ability May has. (Photo Credit: Todd Conley – Ashland Daily Independent)

Johnson Central has a starting five that will be extremely difficult to guard in the 15th Region, but their bench is also deep and talented. Look for senior Braxton Bentley to bring a lot of heart and energy to the game and big men Zach Russell and Tate Cantrall to provide size and stregth down low. New comers Brett Caudill, Toby Spriggs, Dawson Burton and John King will also play big roles as they could see significant minutes this season.

The Golden Eagles will play fast, generating a hectic pace in hopes of wearing down opponents over the course of the game. Look for multiple full court press’s and a break neck sideline fast break on change of possession. They are the team to beat as of now.

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Sophomore guard Cory VanHoose (left) demonstrates an uncanny ability to score in the open court. Senior leader Jacob Rice (right) will guide the Golden Eagles during what is expected to be a highly success season. (Photo Credit: Todd Conley – Ashland Daily Independent &Teddy Paynter EKB Sports)

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Tommy McKenzie
Head Coach Career Record: 228-122 (0.6514) (Entering 12th Season at JC)
Enrollment: 1,078
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: 865-598 (0.5913)
Regional Titles: (9) 1972, 1975, 1984, 2000, 2006, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (115-52) vs. 15th Region (76-21)
2017-18 19-15 (Lost Regional Championship)
2016-17 27-7 (Lost Regional Championship)
2015-16 20-13 (Lost Regional Championship)
2014-15 23-10 (Won Region)
2013-14 26-7 (Won Region / Elite 8)

Key Losses: None

Key Returning: Jacob Rice Sr. 5’11” (17.3 ppg 3.7 rpg), Isaiah May So. 6’3’’ (15.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg), Gabe Ferrell Sr. 6’3’’ (11.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg) Cory VanHoose So. 5’11’’ (12.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg), Bryson Hackney So. 6’3’’ (2.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg), Braxton Bentley Sr. 6’1’’ (3.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg)

Newcomers to watch: Dawson Burton Jr. 6’6’’ (0.8 ppg, 1.2 rpg) John King So. 6’0’’ (1.1 ppg, 0.6 rpg)

2. Pikeville (25-10):

The Pikeville Panthers are the current two time defending 15th Region Champions and have a great chance of making it three in a row. Head Coach Elisha Justice returns three senior starters from an Elite 8 team in guards Conner Roberts and Kyle Watkins and forward Christian Billiter. Roberts is one of the best all-around athletes in the mountains (QB of football team) and one of the best basketball players in the area. He will run the show at point, with the ability to score from anywhere on the floor. In late game situations, Roberts will have the ball in his hands, making the key decisions for the Panthers. Kyle Watkins is a solid guard that will provide tough defense, rebounding, ball-handling and scoring when needed. He has been backcourt running mates with Roberts for the past two seasons, providing a potent one-two punch for the Panthers. Christian Billiter is a physical forward that has the ability to shoot from deep or play above the rim on drives to the basket. Providing defense in the post and rebounding, Billiter is tough to check on both sides of the ball.

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Pikeville forward Christian Billiter celebrates a 59th District Championship over rival Shelby Valley last season. Pikeville is one of the favorites to win the 15th Region this season.
(Photo Credit: Cory Vance Appalachian News Express)

Pikeville is a strong, physical team top to bottom. The Panthers not only have Roberts, Watkins and Billiter as muscular, well-built players, but they picked up big man Byron Hammond from Betsy Layne (transfer) and have seen steady improvement by 6’7’’ junior Connor Byers (multiple in-game dunks this summer). Look for them to play a controlled style where they give opponents very few second chances, controlling the game in the half-court. In other words, they will reduce the amount of possessions opponents are accustomed to with strong sagging defense, outstanding rebounding and limited live ball turnovers on offense. Much like last season, this team will not beat its self. This is not to say, however, that Pikeville can’t run with teams and put up points as they can. Pikeville will be very difficult for anyone beat in the post season with their style as it is much easier to slow a game down rather than speed one up, but they can also beat you in a shootout if needed. Expect a lot of wins and stellar game plans from this club.

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Elisha Justice
Head Coach Career Record: 80-39 (0.6723) (Entering 3rd Season with Pikeville: 5th Overall)
(32-20 while coaching June Buchanan [2015-2016] and 58-19 while coaching Pikeville [2017-present])
Enrollment: 327
Mascot: Panther
Colors: Maroon and White
Founded: 1915

District: 59th
All Time Record: 1620-1098-1 (0.5958) (Tie occurred in 1916: No overtime rule)
Regional Titles: (11) 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1974, 1999, 2017, 2018

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (93-66) vs. 15th Region (70-38)
2017-18 25-10 (Won Region / Elite 8)
2016-17 23-9 (Won Region)
2015-16 17-16 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2014-15 17-13 (Lost 59th District)
2013-14 11-18 (Lost 59th District)

Key Losses: Wyatt Battaile 6’3’’ (24.1 ppg 8.6 rpg – UofL), Cade Byers (5.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg), Evan Rhodes (7.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg)
Key Returning: Connor Roberts Sr. 5’11’’ (13.9 ppg 3.6 rpg) Kyle Watkins Sr. 5’11’’ (6.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg), Christian Billiter Sr. 6’3’’ (4.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Connor Byers Jr. 6’7’’ (1.8 ppg, 1.1 rpg), Byron Hammond Sr. 6’5’’ (Transfer from Betsy Layne – 11.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg)

3. Paintsville (20-10):

The Tigers lost their leading scorer and arguably their best all-around player to transfer in 6’5’’ Mason Moore (Rowan County) but still have a stable of young talent in juniors Seth Williams and Nick Keeton and freshman Colby Fugate. Despite the current senior class having a losing record (36-47 in three years), Paintsville may have turned the corner last season, picking up 20 wins and advancing to the regional tournament for the first time since the 2008-2009 season. This team will be led by multi-sport star Seth Williams who has a knack for taking and making big shots. Williams is a strong, physical guard, that will play mostly off the ball with Sheldon Clark transfer Brady Dingess running the point guard. Nick Keeton will provide stellar post play for the Tigers and should post a double-double average from the front-court. Freshman Colby Fugate will look to have a break out season and replace the scoring vacated by Mason Moore. Fugate has big time potential that was beginning to take form in the regional tournament last season before being derailed by an ankle injury.

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Paintsville junior Seth Williams will lead the Tigers on the hardwood as they look to take the next step toward Rupp Arena. Paintsville advanced to the regional tournament last season for the first time in 10 years. (Photo Credit: John Flavell – Ashland Daily Independent)

Paintsville will try to create havoc and press opportunistically in both the full and half court. They don’t have a ton of size, but play very physical from the guard and forward positions. They can all handle the ball and have plenty of depth to include projected starter James Allen (senior), Braxton Tharp, Jaxson Watts, and Ryan Gibson. This team will can beat anyone in the region on a given night and by season’s end could be representing region 15 at Rupp Arena.

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Landon Slone
Head Coach Career Record: 28-30 (0.4827) (Entering 3rd Season as a Head Coach)
Enrollment: 228
Mascot: Tiger
Colors: Blue and White
Founded: 1921

District: 57th
All Time Record: 1468-1129-2 (0.5648) (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 (61-71) vs. 15th Region (39-49)
2017-18 20-10 (Lost Regional Semifinal)
2016-17 8-20 (Lost 57th District)
2015-16 8-17 (Lost 57th District)
2014-15 15-10 (Lost 57th District)
2013-14 10-14 (Lost 57th District)

Key Losses: Mason Moore So. 6’5’’ (Transferred to Rowan Co. – 17.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg)
Key Returning: Seth Williams Jr. 5’9’’ (16.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg), Nick Keeton Jr. 6’4’’ (8.9 ppg, 10.8 rpg) Colby Fugate Fr. 6’3’’ (5.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Brady Dingess (Transfer from Sheldon Clark – 19.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg)

4. Shelby Valley (22-9):

Head Coach Jim Hicks and the Shelby Valley Wildcats have another strong squad ready to make a run at a regional title. Valley will be led by the region’s top junior in sweet shooting Cody Potter. With range to 30 feet, Potter has an uncanny ability to catch and shoot from anywhere inside half court. With a near seven-foot wing span it’s difficult for defenders to contest his high release and alter his shot. If it’s going in, it makes for a long night. Potter has also shown the ability to throw down a few dunks from game to game, creating an inside-out mismatch tough for any team in the state to deal with. With the ability to score in the forties, as he did last year, Potter will be a focal point for both Shelby Valley and opposing defenses, but he is not the only option. Senior Camron Worrix might actually lead the team in scoring this season, playing off the fact many teams game plan solely for Potter (and rightfully so). Worrix is a hard-nosed, gritty guard who can score slashing to the basket or on the pull up triple. He is a competitor that can score in all three phases (FT, 2FG and 3FG). While defenders are paying attention to Potter and leaving driving lanes open, Worrix will be taking full advantage. Look for both Worrix and Potter to be key pieces for the Wildcats this season.

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The 15th Regions top junior Cody Potter goes up for a block shot last season at Tug Valley. Potter is a match-up nightmare for anyone in the state with his size and shooting ability. (Photo Credit: Jimmie Earls – Williamson Daily News)

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Jim Hicks
Head Coach Career Record: 269-188 (0.5886) (Entering 6th Season at SV: 18th Overall)
(12-13 while coaching Owsley County [2002] 63-50 while coaching Greenup County [2003-2007] 53-23 while coaching Bath County [2008-2010] 48-42 while coaching Grant County [2011-2013] and 93-60 while coaching Shelby Valley [2014-present]).
Enrollment: 565
Mascot: Wildcat
Colors: Blue and White
Founded: 1990 (Consolidation of Dorton and Virgie)

District: 59th
All Time Record: 569-269 (0.6789)
Regional Titles: (7) 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010 (State Title), 2011

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (93-59) vs. 15th Region (64-37)
2017-18 22-9 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2016-17 16-15 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2015-16 17-12 (Lost 59th District)
2014-15 18-13 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2013-14 20-10 (Lost Regional Championship)

Key Losses: Blake Burke 6’0’’ (15.8 ppg 4.0 rpg)
Key Returning: Cody Potter Jr. 6’7’’ (16.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg), Cameron Worrix Sr. 5’11’’ (9.9 ppg, 2.7 ppg), Orbie McPeek Sr. 6’3’’ (5.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Keian Worrix So. 5’10’’ (3.0 ppg, 1.1 rpg)

5. Floyd Central (19-12):

Floyd Central fell short of their goal of a regional title last season, but are still a viable contender in 15th Region the top returning team in the 58th District. The Jaguars return one of the state’s top rebounders in polished big man in Brady Conn and will lean on his scoring and rebounding ability to carry them this season. Conn has always been a physical force with excellent foot work, but in the off season will surprise teams with his new found ability to shoot from deep. The Jaguars will also see increased usage and production from junior Ethan Smith-Mills. The smooth lefty will be asked to handle the ball more than in the past, but provides a second scoring option and three-point threat to compliment Conn in the post. Smith-Mills will play more like he did his freshman season at Allen Central when he was asked to do more scoring.

Floyd Central had a productive summer schedule, but lost a key piece with the transfer of Rylee Sammons to Pikeville. Sammons averaged in double figures in the summer to include a 30-point performance in a close loss to Johnson Central. This will open minutes up for the entire bench to prove themselves. You could see multi-school transfer and journeyman Kobe Brown get several of these minutes. As always, expectations are high at Floyd Central.

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Floyd Central lost quite a bit to graduation to include J.R. Tackett (center), but still have enough to make a run at the 15th Region title. (Photo Credit: Steve Lemaster – Floyd County Times)

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Kevin Spurlock
Head Coach Career Record: 266-132 (0.6730) (Entering 2nd Season at Floyd Central: 14th Overall)
(9-18 while coaching Trimble county [2002] 89-32 while coaching Hazard [2003-2006] 80-43 while coaching Clay County [2007-2010] 43-19 while coaching Sheldon Clark [2011-2012] 26-8 while at Perry Central [2013] 19-12 while at Floyd Central [2018-present]).
Enrollment: 680
Mascot: Jaguars
Colors: Teal, Black and Gold
Founded: 2017 (Consolidation of Allen Central and South Floyd)

District: 58th
All Time Record: 19-12 (0.6129)
Regional Titles: None

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (19-12) vs. 15th Region (12-3)
2017-18 19-12 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)

Key Losses: J.R. Tackett 6’0’’ (18.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg), Jacob Collins 6’3’’ (8.3 ppg 2.6 rpg), Kyle Isaac 6’2’’ (6.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg) Rylee Sammons Fr. 6’4’’ (2.9 ppg, 1.7 rpg - Projected starter who transferred to Pikeville)
Key Returning: Brady Conn Sr. 6’4’’ (14.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg), Ethan Smith-Mills Jr. 6’2’’ (5.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Grant Blackburn Jr. 6’7’’ (0.5 ppg, 0.9 rpg)

6. Belfry (20-13):

Belfry lost four starters from a twenty-win season and regional semifinal appearance but will still be a factor in the regional tournament again this season. The Pirates return junior starter Dezmon Roblee and senior big man Tyelin May. Both will take on leadership roles for Head Coach Mark Thompson this season as Roblee will be asked to score more while May will provide a front court presence. Belfry will be relatively young, but play hard. It will likely take them until midway through the season to establish a true identity as they can play fast and controlled depending on setting. Their personnel set’s up for more of a zone based team, but they have the ability to play man against certain opponents. Regardless of what their style ends up becoming, expect this young squad to improve throughout the year and be in the regional tournament come post-season.

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Mark Thompson
Head Coach Career Record: 82-127 (0.3923) (Entering 6th season at Belfry: 8th Overall)
(22-39 while coaching Pike Central [2008- 2009] and 60-88 while coaching Belfry [2014- present])
Enrollment: 603
Mascot: Pirate
Colors: Red and White
Founded: 1930

District: 60th
All Time Record: 1346-1080 (0.5548)
Regional Titles: (3) 1990, 1991, 1992

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (60-88) vs. 15th Region (46-48)
2017-18 20-13 (Lost Regional Semifinal)
2016-17 14-18 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2015-16 12-18 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2014-15 6-20 (Lost 60th District)
2013-14 8-19 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)

Key Losses: Koleston Blankenship 6’1’’ (9.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg), Isiah Roblee 6’0’’ (22.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg) Ryan Jessie 6’4’’ (3.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg), Devin Varney 6’2’’ (14.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
Key Returning: Dezmon Roblee Jr. 5’11’’ (4.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg), Tyelin May Sr. 6’4’’ (4.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Brett Coleman Fr. 5’11’’ (2.6 ppg, 0.6 rpg)

7. Magoffin County (9-20):

Last season the Hornets welcomed the return of then junior Brady Whitaker and he did not disappoint averaging nearly twenty points. This season expect Whitaker to average twenty-five plus. Magoffin County is a scrappy team with two excellent guards in sophomore Isaiah Salyer and the aforementioned Whitaker. Throw in sophomore front court player Mason Lovely, who just knows how to play, and up and comer Aden Barnett (eighth grader) and you have a young team with strong leadership. The rest of the team will develop around the four players mentioned, leaning on Whitaker for most of their scoring and big game decisions.

Magoffin showed consistent full court pressure throughout last season for the first time in many campaigns. Look for that trend to continue early in the season and taper the closer we get to tournament time. Fans will be excited to see how many Whitaker can score on a nightly basis but teams should not overlook this Hornet squad as although they may be a year or two away from being really good, they have knockout power right now.

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: James Scott Castle
Head Coach Career Record: 79-62 (0.5603) (70-42 Magoffin County Girls HC [2013-2016] 9-20 Magoffin County Boys Coach [2018-present]) (Entering 2nd Season as Boys Head Coach; 6th Overall)
Enrollment: 598
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: 537-628 (0.4609)
Regional Titles: None

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (73-72) vs. 15th Region (59-50)
2017-18 9-20 (Lost 57th District)
2016-17 18-12 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2015-16 22-9 (Lost Regional Semifinal)
2014-15 9-18 (Lost 57th District)
2013-14 15-13 (Lost 57th District)

Key Losses: Dylan Arnett 6’1’’ (5.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg), Nolan Arnett 6’1’’ (5.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg)
Key Returning: Brady Whitaker Sr. 5’11’’ (19.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg), Isaiah Salyer So. 6’0’’ (6.6 ppg, 1.3 rpg), Mason Lovely So. 6’2’’ (1.8 ppg, 1.7 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Aden Barnett 8th 5’11’’

8. Lawrence County (8-22):

Lawrence County did not experience the regional tournament for the first time in five years last season after being moved to the 58th District, but are expected to get back to the EXPO this season. Travis York lost no key players from last year’s squad and dedicated much of his off season training to the weight room. This Bulldog team will use that added muscle to run up and down the floor like teams past. In fact, outside Johnson Central, Lawrence County is one of the few teams in the region that likes to play very fast, and has the depth to do it. Look for their scores to be high win or lose and look for them to be led by a trio of Maynard’s (Cody and Tyler being the main contributors). Mix in senior leadership from Noah Fairchild and this team can be tough to deal with as they will shoot thirty plus 3FG’s a game. If you are a casual basketball fan, this is a fun team to watch with a coach who coveys a ton of positive energy.

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Travis York
Head Coach Career Record: 78-52 (0.6000) (Entering 5th Year at LC)
(Head Coach at Miami University – Hamilton before coming to LC)
Enrollment: 699
Mascot: Bulldog
Colors: Red and Black
Founded: 1977 (From Louisa High School)

District: 58th
All Time Record: 483-640 (0.4301)
Regional Titles: (1) 2016

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (99-63) vs. 15th Region (55-32)
2017-18 8-22 (Lost 58th District)
2016-17 22-12 (Lost Regional Semifinal)
2015-16 29-5 (Won Region)
2014-15 19-13 (Lost Regional Championship)
2013-14 21-11 (Lost Regional Semifinal)

Key Losses: None
Key Returning: Tyler Maynard Jr. 6’2’’ (16.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg), Cody Maynard Fr. 5’11’’ (14.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg, Noah Fairchild Sr. 6’3’’ (6.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Alex Ratliff Jr. 6’2’’ (5.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg)

9. Prestonsburg (14-19):

Brent Rose returns to the high school sidelines after an eleven-year absence and will lead a team heavy in upper classmen as Prestonsburg looks to advance to the regional tournament for the second straight season. The Black Cats are coming off an improved season and will return Adam and Blake Slone to patrol the front court. After watching them in the summer, this team has a lot of energy around their new coach, but still seems to be establishing a pecking order with the new system. In a wide open 58th District, Prestonsburg could play spoiler and knock someone off come tournament time. Could this be the first winning season in the last seven years? Black Cat nation thinks it might be and this is a workman like team that could restore pride to the area.

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Brent Rose
Head Coach Career Record: 107-113 (0.4863) (Entering 1st Season at Prestonsburg; 9th Overall) (107-113 while at Betsy Layne [2000-2007])
Enrollment: 473
Mascot: Black Cat
Colors: Red, White and Black
Founded: 1930

District: 58th
All Time Record: 1147-1337 (0.4617)
Regional Titles: (1) 1989

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (49-91) vs. 15th Region (38-73)
2017-18 14-19 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2016-17 7-24 (Lost 58th District)
2015-16 7-22 (Lost 58th District)
2014-15 6-16 (Lost 58th District)
2013-14 15-18 (Lost Regional Semifinal)

Key Losses: Phil Cornett 6’0’’ (12.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg), Drake Nunnery 6’0’’ (8.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg)
Key Returning: Austin Endicott Sr. 6’0’’ (11.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Adam Slone Jr. 6’1’’ (8.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg) Blake Slone Sr. 6’0’’ (7.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg)

10. Sheldon Clark (11-20):

Last year the Cardinals lost four starters from a twenty loss team and were eliminated in the opening round of district play for the third straight season. Gone are point guard Brady Dingess (transfer), power forward Ethan Colegrove (transfer), shooting guard Ian Reed (transfer) and shooting guard Austin Horn (graduation). Sheldon Clark still has the best collegiate prospect in the region in big man Trey James, but it will be difficult getting him the ball with such little experience returning. Sheldon Clark should improve as the year goes on, but don’t expect too many wins against quality opponents.

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Jason James
Head Coach Career Record: 39-54 (0.4193) (Entering 4th Season at Sheldon Clark)
Enrollment: 535
Mascot: Cardinal
Colors: Red, White, and Columbia Blue
Founded: 1973 (Consolidation of Inez and Warfield)

District: 57th
All Time Record: 641-644 (0.4988)
Regional Titles: (1) 1983

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (81-67) vs. 15th Region (53-36)
2017-18 11-20 (Lost 57th District)
2016-17 19-12 (Lost 57th District)
2015-16 9-22 (Lost 57th District)
2014-15 23-6 (Lost Regional Semifinal)
2013-14 19-7 (Lost 57th District)

Key Losses: Brady Dingess Fr. 5’10’’ (19.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg – transferred to Paintsville), Austin Horn 6’0’’ (7.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg), Ethan Colegrove Fr. 6’3’’ (11.6 ppg, 8.1 ppg – transferred to Tug Valley), Ian Reed So. 6’1’’ (6.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg – transferred to Tug Valley)
Key Returning: Trey James So. 6’10” (11.5 ppg, 10.9 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Braxton Maynard Jr. 5’11’’ (4.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg)

11. East Ridge (8-20):

Head Coach Randy McCoy enters the season with major health concerns for the second straight year and our thoughts and prayers are with him as we hope for a speedy recovery. East Ridge has been steadily improving for the past two season and will be much better than their record in 2018-2019. Cameron Hess, Dalton Wellman and Kane Taylor give the Warriors three scoring options every night. With McCoy’s controlled style, 50 points from the trio will be enough to be competitive every single contest. East Ridge is up against two very good teams in the 59th district in Shelby Valley and Pikeville, but with patience and practice could pull a major upset come tournament time.

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Randy McCoy
Head Coach Career Record: (549-323) (0.6296) (Entering 7th season at ER: 30th overall)
(222-109 while coaching Elkhorn City [1989-1999], 140-79 while coaching Pikeville College [2000-2007], 91-54 while coaching University Heights [2008-2012] and 96-81 while coaching East Ridge [2013-present]). Coach McCoy holds a career high school record of 409-244 and a college record of 140-79.
Enrollment: 487
Mascot: Warrior
Colors: White and Navy Blue
Founded: 2002 (Consolidation of Elkhorn City, Feds Creek, and Millard)

District: 59th
All Time Record: 254-201 (0.5582)
Regional Titles: (1) 2004

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (80-66) vs. 15th Region (59-50)
2017-18 8-20 (Lost 59th District)
2016-17 19-11 (Lost 59th District)
2015-16 22-12 (Lost Regional Semifinal)
2014-15 15-12 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2013-14 16-11 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)

Key Losses: Jacob Chafins 6’2’’ (9.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg)
Key Returning: Cameron Hess Jr. 6’2’’ (10.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg), Dalton Wellman Jr. 6’1’’ (12.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg), Kane Taylor Sr. 5’11’’ (9.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg)

Newcomers to watch: Hunter Damron So. 6’0’’ (5.0 ppg, 1.6 rpg)

12. Phelps (10-21):

For the first time since their district title in 2012, Phelps has a legitimate chance to advance to the regional tournament. The Hornets will be led by one of best juniors in the region in Trey Francis (averaged double-double last season). Francis can shoot from the outside or play above the rim, but he is not alone. Senior Brandon Turnmire will help with the ball handling and scoring from the guard position. Phelps has some good young talent to go along with Francis and Turnmire to include some size. If they develop under first year Head Coach Jason Sanson, this team should come out of the 60th district. Believe it or not, Phelps has always had great basketball talent, it’s just been a matter of keeping them from transferring. This season could be one where enough kids stayed to make them a factor in the regional tournament.

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Jason Sanson
Head Coach Career Record: 0-0 (Entering 1st Season at Phelps)
Enrollment: 216
Mascot: Hornet
Colors: Blue, White and Gray
Founded: 1932

District: 60th
All Time Record: 955-1336 (0.4168)
Regional Titles: (1) 1988

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (43-105) vs. 15th Region (18-76)
2017-18 10-21 (Lost 60th District)
2016-17 14-17 (Lost 60th District)
2015-16 6-24 (Lost 60th District)
2014-15 8-19 (Lost 60th District)
2013-14 5-24 (Lost 60th District)

Key Losses: None
Key Returning: Trey Francis Jr. 6’3’’ (17.0 ppg, 10.3 rpg), Brandon Turnmire Sr. 5’8’’ (7.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Keegan Bentley So. 6’1’’ (8.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg)

13. Pike County Central (24-9):

The Hawks set the school record for wins in a season last year, but lost 92% of their scoring to graduation. This year, Pike Central will look for the one returning starter, Brady Adkins, to provide key leadership and help develop a roster that has little game experience. Pike Central has decent size, and played an up-tempo style this summer, but like many young teams lack a true identity. This should change as the season goes along, but don’t expect much early. With so many question marks around them, Pike Central is ranked here to start the season. This could be volatile team with respect to where they move in the rankings as they year plays out.

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Ryan Whitaker
Head Coach Career Record: 68-57 (0.5440) (Entering 3rd season at PCC: 5th Overall)
(28-33 while coaching Powell County [2015-2016] 40-24 while coaching Pike Central [2017-present])
Enrollment: 649
Mascot: Hawk
Colors: Blue and Orange
Founded: 1993 (Consolidation of Johns Creek and Mullins)

District: 60th
All Time Record: 371-352 (0.5131)
Regional Titles: None

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (84-68) vs. 15th Region (60-43)
2017-18 24-9 (Lost Regional Semifinal)
2016-17 16-15 (Lost 60th District)
2015-16 12-19 (Lost 60th District)
2014-15 17-14 (Lost Regional Semifinal)
2013-14 15-11 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)

Key Losses: Seth Conn 5’11’’ (7.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg), Levard Missick Jr. 6’6’’ (14.5 ppg, 10.8 rpg)
Christian Mounts 6'3" (19.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg)

Key Returning: Brady Adkins Sr. 6’0’’ (7.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg) Dennis Freeman Sr. 6’4’’ (5.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Bryce Adkins So. 6’0’’ (2.9 ppg, 0.4 rpg)

14. Betsy Layne (12-16):

Former Allen Central Head Coach Brad Short makes his return to the sideline this season for the Bobcats as he replaces Gary Keathley. Betsy Layne was gearing up for what was expected to be an excellent year with the return of play maker and leading scorer Grant Orsborn, but were derailed a bit by the transfer of quality big man Byron Hammond (Pikeville) prior to summer ball. Nonetheless this Betsy Layne squad will be senior laden with plenty of game experience. Expect this team to get better and better as the season progresses and be a very difficult opponent come tournament time. Don’t be surprised to see them climb the rankings as the season progresses.

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Brad Short
Head Coach Career Record: 77-105 (0.4231) (Entering 1st season with Betsy Layne; 8th overall) (77-105 while at Allen Central [2011-2017])
Enrollment: 402
Mascot: Bobcat
Colors: Blue and White
Founded: 1929

District: 58th
All Time Record: 1562-1159 (0.5741)
Regional Titles: (2) 1976, 1980

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (78-72) vs. 15th Region (52-46)
2017-18 12-16 (Lost 58th District)
2016-17 7-23 (Lost 58th District)
2015-16 12-19 (Lost 58th District)
2014-15 21-8 (Lost 58th District)
2013-14 26-6 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)

Key Losses: Byron Hammond Sr. 6’5’’ (11.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg – transferred to Pikeville)
Key Returning: Grant Orsborn Sr. 6’2’’ (13.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg), Zach Bentley Sr. 5’11’’ (8.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Morris Adkins Sr. 6’2’’ (7.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg)

15. Jenkins (0-29):

The Cavaliers entered the 15th Region for the first time in school history last season and it was not kind as they were one of the few winless teams across the state. Jenkins plays in the 59th district and will face tough competition in likes of East Ridge, Shelby Valley and Pikeville. This team is still extremely young but easy to pull for. Hopefully they can pick up a win this season and start building in the right direction.

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Corey Hairston
Head Coach Career Record: 6-84 (0.0667) (Entering 4th season at Jenkins)
Enrollment: 126
Mascot: Cavaliers
Colors: Kelly Green and White
Founded: 1921

District: 59th
All Time Record: 1105-1367 (0.4470)
Regional Titles: None

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (16-146) vs. 15th Region (3-45)
2017-18 0-29 (Lost 59th District)
2016-17 5-26 (Lost 53rd District)
2015-16 1-29 (Lost 53rd District)
2014-15 6-19 (Lost 53rd District)
2013-14 4-24 (Lost 53rd District)

Key Losses: None
Key Returning: Payton Rose Jr. 5’11’’ (10.3 ppg, 0.9 rpg), Ethan Cummings Sr. 6’0’’ (10.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Jason Sandin Jr. 6’0’’ (8.8 ppg)

16. Piarist (3-26):

Piarist has won 41 games in 20 years of basketball and never defeated any 15th Region opponent. The Knights will hopefully pick up a win or two in the Christian league as basketball is more of an extracurricular activity than a sport at the school. They did lose their best player to graduation in Skylar Williams (averaged double-double). Piarist is a high academic school the focuses on GPA more than PPG.

Quick Reference Guide

Head Coach: Kevin Tackett
Head Coach Career Record: 23-134 (0.1465) (Entering 8th season as a head coach of Piarist [2011-2015] [2017-present])
Enrollment: 40
Mascot: Knight
Colors: Blue and Gold
Founded: 1998
District: 60th
All Time Record: 41-371 (0.0995)
Regional Titles: None

Record Last 5 Years: Overall (12-113) vs. 15th Region (0-66)
2017-18 3-26 (Lost 60th District)
2016-17 1-28 (Forfeit 59th District)
2015-16 0-25 (Lost 59th District)
2014-15 5-15 (Lost 59th District)
2013-14 3-19 (Lost 58th District)

Key Losses: Skylar Williams 6’1’’ (13.5 ppg, 10.1 rpg)
Key Returning: Kyle Price Jr. 5’11’’ (7.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Nathaniel Kumar So. 6’0’’ (6.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg)

15th Region Player Rankings:
1. Jacob Rice (Johnson Central) 5’11’’ Senior (PG)
Johnson Central will be led by four-year starter and point guard Jacob Rice. Rice is already a member of the 1,000-point club and will push the 2,000 by career’s end, is on pace to be the school’s all-time leader in assists, game started, and minutes played and has a chance to become the school’s all-time steals leader as well. Needless to say, Rice can do it all and he does it in a way that is conducive to winning. Some nights it might be by running the show and getting others involved while other nights it might by scoring the ball and taking advantage of mismatches. If you come to the gym to watch him play, you will see a son of a coach in every way imaginable. From guarding the other team’s best player to taking the big shot late in the game. The kid just wins and does it within the team concept. In the AAU era of basketball, Rice is a refreshing throw-back that many would consider a coach’s dream.

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Senior point guard Jacob Rice knocks down a big three in last year’s regional tournament. Rice has started in three straight regional championship games and will hold many school records by season end. (Photo Credit: Mike Muncy)

2. Cody Potter (Shelby Valley) 6’7’’ Junior (SF)
A mismatch nightmare for any team in the region lies in the 6’7’’ frame of Cody Potter. The region’s top rated junior can shoot the ball from anywhere on the court and has one of the best strokes since Kyle Gullett was a Mr. Basketball finalist from the 15th. Potter has multiple forty point games as an underclassman, and usually see’s zero help defense on a nightly basis. Despite game plans centered around stopping him, Potter still scores the ball at a high clip by remaining efficient. As a 40% plus 3FG shooter and 90% FT shooter, Potter scores by drawing contact and shooting over smaller defenders, but can also play above the rim as it is not uncommon for him to have a dunk or two every contest. It’s very difficult to stop him from scoring when he gets the ball. If you teams want to beat Shelby Valley they must game plan for Cody Potter.

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Shelby Valley’s junior standout Cody Potter rises up above a smaller defender to get a short range shot off. Potter is one of the purest shooters in the state from any range. (Photo Credit: Teddy Paynter – EKB Sports)

3. Connor Roberts (Pikeville) 5’11’’ Senior (PG)
Multisport star Conner Roberts (starting QB) will try to lead Pikeville to its third straight regional championship in his senior season. Roberts is a three-year starter, has the ability to score the ball from anywhere on the floor and represents the heart and soul of the team on defense. Roberts is strong, physical guard, who can slash to the basket and shoot from deep. He is also very good on defense both on the ball and help side. He is a very good, very solid player who will lead his team and not allow them to beat themselves.

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Pikeville point guard Conner Roberts rises up for as hot in the regional tournament last season. Roberts will try to lead Pikeville to a three-peat in the 15th Region this season. (Photo Credit: Twitter)

4. Isaiah May (Johnson Central) 6’3’’ Sophomore (W)
The top rated sophomore in the region is the do-it-all player Isaiah May. May can play any position on the floor from point guard to center and can guard any position on the floor as well. During a typical game it is not uncommon to see May run the point on offense one possession then guard the center on defense the next (or vise-versa). He has range to 25 feet and also plays well above the rim from the guard position (14 in-game dunks during 24 game summer session). May has an extremely large wing span for his size (6’8’’) and some of the largest hands you will ever find on anyone. This allows him to control the ball with the dribble and though the air with ease. May has a knack for taking and making the big shot in big games as well. He had a regional tournament high (all teams, all games) with 32 points versus Belfry last season and did it on 13 shots. May has no weakness in his game. He can dribble, shoot from range, shoot from mid-range, attack the basket and finish with either hand, play above the rim, create for himself or his teammates, run the point or play in the post and guard anyone on the floor on a given night. Look for the Golden Eagles to go through him in late game pressure situations.

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Isaiah May glides past a defender in last year’s regional championship game. May played like a senior as a freshman last season and will make great leaps again this year. This is one of the top prospects in the mountains. (Photo Credit: Mike Muncy Photography)

5. Trey James (Sheldon Clark) 6’10’’ Sophomore (C)
Sheldon Clark has the best collegiate prospect in the region in Trey James. James will average a double-double easily this season and could average a triple double (blocks) as sophomore. With multiple dunks every game, James is also the best defensive player in the region with his ability to block shots coming from the weak side. Playing as a traditional big in every sense and doing very little creating off the dribble, James still has the ability to dominate games. If he consistently catches it in the post, your team is in for a long night. James will be looking to get his team out of the district tournament for the first time this season.

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Sophomore big man Trey James hammers home a dunk over and opponent last season. James is the top prospect in the region this season for any class. (Photo Credit: Twitter)

6. Brady Whitaker (Magoffin County) 6’0’’ Senior (SG)
Title of the best scorer in the region belongs to Magoffin County’s Brady Whitaker. Scoring 39 in a half last season, Whitaker showed he take over a game by himself. Whitaker has the ability to get crazy hot shooting the ball at any time and handles the ball well enough to create for himself through traffic. He has unlimited range, a very nice floater, and gets to the line 8-10 times a game. Simply put, he has a great ability to score the ball. Whitaker will keep Magoffin in games every night, giving them a chance to win late. Look for him to average 25 plus points a game this season.

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Magoffin County senior guard Brady Whitaker will likely lead the region in scoring this season. Whitaker is the most underrated player in the region. (Photo Credit: Jim Arnett Salyersville Independent)

7. Brady Conn (Floyd Central) 6’5’’ Senior (PF)
Floyd Central’s Brady Conn has been one of the best rebounders in the state since his freshman year at South Floyd and now as a senior will try to lead his Jaguars back to the regional tournament in their second year of existence. Conn has added the ability to shoot from range this season to already impressively strong front court game (figuratively and literally). His is quite possibly the strongest player in the region and an absolute load down low with his power and leaping ability. Conn can put it on the floor to an extent to create in the low post and will see game plans against him every single time he plays an in region opponent. Conn can be a monster if not accounted for.

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Floyd Central’s Brady Conn will be a force in the post the season for the Jaguars. One of the state’s top rebounders will hope to lead the Jaguars on a deep post season run in his final year. (Photo Credit: Steve Lemaster Floyd County Times)

8. Seth Williams (Paintsville) 5’9’’ Junior (SG)
The shortest player on the list might have the most heart. Paintsville’s Seth Williams will likely lead a talented Tiger team in scoring and big play making. Williams returns as a three-year starter and plays just about every sport as his school from soccer to football to baseball. He is a competitor of the highest order who can will his team to wins. Williams is a fun player to watch.

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Seth Williams attacks the basket against cross town rival Johnson Central. Williams is Paintsville’s leading returning scorer after getting them back in the regional tournament last season for the first time since 2008. (Photo Credit: Mike Muncy Photography)

9. Trey Franics (Phelps) 6’3’’Junior (SF)
Hornet’s guard Trey Francis is one of the best kept secrets in the mountains. After averaging a double-double last season as a sophomore, Francis hopes to lead his team to the regional tournament for the first time since 2012. Francis is a complete player that can attack the rim and dunk the ball and shoot from deep.

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Trey Francis of Phelps averaged a double-double last season as a sophomore. He will surprise teams with his athleticism and ability to score in multiple ways. (Photo Credit: Facebook)

10. Cameron Worrix (Shelby Valley) Senior 5’11’’ (SG)
The surprise breakout player in the region is Cameron Worrix of Shelby Valley. Worrix is a hard-nosed guard who knows only one speed, fast. Worrix has the ability to attack the rim and finish through contact with either hand and the ability to stop and pop from 15 to 20 feet. He will be a force to handle with his competitive nature and could help lead Shelby Valley back to Rupp Arena for the first time since 2011.

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Shelby Valley senior guard Cameron Worrix rises up for a shot against rival Pikeville last season. Worrix will carry a much larger scoring role for his team this season. (Photo Credit: Facebook)

Players just outside the top 10 (in no particular order):
Brady Dingess (Paintsville), Nick Keeton (Paintsville) Colby Fugate (Paintsville) Ethan Smith-Mills (Floyd Central), Christian Billiter (Pikeville) Kyle Watkins (Pikeville), Cory VanHoose (Johnson Central), Gabe Ferrell (Johnson Central), Bryson Hackney (Johnson Central), Isaiah Salyer (Magoffin County), Adam Slone (Prestonsburg), Tyler Maynard (Lawrence County), Cody Maynard (Lawrence County), Grant Orsborn (Betsy Layne), Cameron Hess (East Ridge), Dalton Wellman (East Ridge), Keian Worrix (Shelby Valley), Ethan Cummings (Jenkins), Dezmon Roblee (Belfry), Tyelin May (Belfry), Brady Adkins (Pike Central), Dasean Penn (Pike Central)

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 (19-15)
Sheldon Clark (11-20)
Magoffin County (9-20)
Paintsville (20-10)

Projected Winner: Johnson Central
Projected Runner-up: Paintsville
*2019 57th District Tournament is Scheduled to be played at Paintsville

58th District (last years’ record):
Betsy Layne (12-16)
Prestonsburg (14-19)
Floyd Central (19-12)
Lawrence County (8-22)

Projected Winner: Floyd Central
Projected Runner-up: Lawrence County
*2019 58th District Tournament is Scheduled to be played at Prestonsburg

59th District (last years’ record):
Shelby Valley (22-9)
East Ridge (8-20)
Pikeville (25-10)
Jenkins (0-29)

Projected Winner: Pikeville
Projected Runner-up: Shelby Valley
*2019 59th District Tournament is Scheduled to be played at East Ridge

60th District (last years’ record):
Piarist (3-26)
Pike Central (24-9)
Belfry (20-13)
Phelps (10-21)

Projected Winner: Belfry
Projected Runner-up: Phelps
*2019 60th District Tournament is Scheduled to be played at Phelps

**15th Region Tournament will be at Pikeville EXPO Center. Contract was renewed through 2021 season.