15th Region Overview (Golden Eagles - Kings of the 15th):
Johnson Central has dominated the 15th region for nearly a decade and look to repeat this year with an embarrassment of talent. Last season the Golden Eagles advanced to a 15th Region record eighth straight regional title game (5-3 in that span) and return what is expected to be a team capable of running the table in the mountains for years to come. Pikeville will challenge claim to the throne as they have advanced to the regional title game three consecutive years (2-1 in that span) with a stable of young, talented, players that rival JCs. Martin County and Shelby Valley are also strong contenders as they have rosters with Division I talent that will push the two aforementioned squads. With Betsy Layne and Lawrence County being dark horses, this will be a very competitive and fun year for basketball in the mountains. This should be one of the more balanced seasons in the 15th, but make no mistake that they will all be looking up to the Golden Eagles until proven otherwise.
15th Region Team Rankings (Last Seasons Record)
1. Johnson Central (27-8):
The Golden Eagles have been the cream of the 15th Region for nearly a decade, having advanced to eight consecutive 15th Region title games (5-3 in that span). Last season they knocked off Pikeville in the championship as then sophomore standout Isaiah May led the team with 18 points and 9 rebounds despite playing through a sports hernia (played the last third of the season injured). May is back and 100% following summer surgery as he looks to build on his legacy. Last season he became the first sophomore in school history start at all five positions and to score 1,000 points and is currently on pace to break multiple school records. Not far behind May is junior standout Cory VanHoose. Like May, VanHoose scored 1,000 points as a sophomore, reaching the milestone last season at the state tournament versus Louisville Trinity to become the second player in school history to accomplish the feat. VanHoose is a scoring machine who posted a 40-point game last season while going 19/20 from the field. His ability to find angles to score the ball and physical strength is a rare combination in high school basketball.
The junior class not only features standouts like May and VanHoose, but also includes returning starter John King and the return of one of the best all-around athletes in the state in Bryson Hackney. King is on pace to be a 1,000-point scorer and possesses freakish athleticism that creates mismatches at almost every position. He is an amazing leaper off two feet that plays well above the rim despite being only six feet tall. Dont be surprised to see him get some poster dunks this season. Bryson Hackney is one of the best all-around athletes in school history having played eight varsity sports at a high level (football, cross country, golf, basketball, soccer, tennis, baseball and track & field) and being named all area four times across them. After a productive freshman year that saw him play big minutes in the post season, Hackney played very little in his sophomore campaign due three eye surgeries (detached retina). At 63, Hackney can play all five positions despite point guard being his true position. He does not care if he scores, but has the ability to attack the rim and finish with a dunk and guard the other teams best player. He is also an excellent rebounder who can lead the break when he secures the ball on the defensive end. Hackneys return gives the Golden Eagles another dimension of athleticism and unselfishness that will make it very difficult for teams to match.
Isaiah May (left) John King (middle) and Cory VanHoose (right) are three returning Johnson Central starters that headline a talented junior class. (Photo Credit: Ashland Daily left and center / Paintsville Herald right).
It does not stop with the core four juniors for JC. This season they added another 1,000-point scorer from Paintsville in the form of transfer senior Seth Williams. Williams is a Division I baseball signee (Louisville) that will mostly likely come off the bench to keep the pressure on the defense. He can play positions one through three and is an excellent help defender who is exceptional on the back line of a press. He plays with passions and energy, that if harnessed will be a major weapon for JC. Newcomers include sophomore Grant Rice and junior Zach Russell (Division I football recruit: TE). Both are expected to compete for the fifth starting position are very physical and very skilled. Rice plays guard position and Russell is the best size down low.
Johnson Central will play a fast pace, position-less style of basketball. They are very deep with the potential play eleven in a regular rotation. There second five players might be a top seven team in the region by themselves. Having only one senior who is expected to see significant minutes, the Golden Eagles look loaded for the next few years.
Quick Reference Guide
Head Coach: Tommy McKenzie
Head Coach Career Record: 255-130 (0.6623) (Entering 13th Season at JC)
Mascot: Golden Eagle
Colors: Black and Gold
Founded: 1968 (Consolidation of Flat Gap, Oil Spring, Van Lear, and Meade Memorial)
All Time Record: 892-606 (0.5955)
Regional Titles: (10) 1972, 1975, 1984, 2000, 2006, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019
Record Last 5 Years: Overall (116-53) vs. 15th Region (73-17)
2018-19 27-8 (Won Region)
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)
Key Losses: Jacob Rice 511 (12.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg), Gabe Ferrell (10.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg), Braxton Bentley (3.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg)
Key Returning: Isaiah May Jr. 63 (15.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg), Cory VanHoose Jr. 511 (16.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg), John King Jr. 60 (8.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg) Bryson Hackney Jr. 63 (2.1 ppg, 1.8 rpg),
Newcomers to watch: Grant Rice So. 60 (0.9 ppg, 0.6 rpg), Seth Williams Sr. 58 (Transferred from Paintsville) (13.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
2. Shelby Valley (28-6):
Shelby Valley returns Mr. Basketball candidate Cody Potter for what they hope to be a run to Rupp Arena. Last season the Wildcats advanced to the final four of the All-A classic, won a region high 28 games and advanced to the 15th Region Semifinals where they were defeated by eventual champs Johnson Central. It was the fourth time in six seasons that a Jim Hicks led Shelby Valley team has been eliminated in post season play by the Golden Eagles despite several regular season wins (0-4 versus JC in post season). Valley hopes that the addition of East Ridge transfer Elijah Sykes will help them take the next step. Sykes is a 64 traditional big man who plays with physicality, runs the floor well and can play above the rim. Match that with Cody Potter, one of the best shooters the mountains has ever seen and best players in the state and Valley has the ability to control the paint on both ends of the floor.
Thats not all the Wildcats have in their arsenal however, as junior Keian Worrix represents the heartbeat of the team. The undersized guard is one of the best dribblers in Kentucky, plays with tons of passion and is an underrated defender who has a knack for drawing player control fouls. Worrix can hit big shots when needed but his ability to close out games is his most dominate trait. His speed and ball-handling ability make Worrix almost un-guardable when his team has the lead late.
Shelby Valley junior point guard Keian Worrix pulls up for three against Pikeville in the All-A Championship last season. Valley would advance to the All-A state final four. (Photo Credit: Appalachian News Express)
Valley will run most of their offense through Cody Potter, but have great talent at the center and point guard position. Look for them to be opportunistic in their press and controlled late when they have the lead. They run a lot of sets and are extremely well coached. They will be a tough out for any team in the 15th this season and should be the favorites to win the All-A.
Quick Reference Guide
Head Coach: Jim Hicks
Head Coach Career Record: 310-203 (0.6043) (Entering 7th Season at SV: 19th Overall)
(12-13 while coaching Owsley County  76-60 while coaching Greenup County [2003-2007] 53-23 while coaching Bath County [2008-2010] 48-42 while coaching Grant County [2011-2013] and 121-66 while coaching Shelby Valley [2014-present]).
Colors: Blue and White
Founded: 1990 (Consolidation of Dorton and Virgie)
All Time Record: 597-275 (0.6846)
Regional Titles: (7) 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010 (State Title), 2011
Record Last 5 Years: Overall (101-55) vs. 15th Region (74-35)
2018-19 28-6 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
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)
Key Losses: Cameron Worrix 511 (11.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg), Orbie McPeek 63 (7.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg) Sam Stanley 61 (6.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg), John Flanery Sr. 62 (Transferred to Pikeville 3.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
Key Returning: Cody Potter Sr. 67 (22.1 ppg, 9.6 rpg), Keian Worrix Jr. 57 (6.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Elijah Sykes So. 64 (Transferred from East Ridge 10.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
3. Pikeville (23-9):
Pikeville has advanced to three consecutive regional title games (2-1) since Elisha Justice took the helm and are in position to continue that streak. It will be difficult to replace three 1,000 point scorers in Christian Billiter, Kyle Watkins and Connor Roberts who were all lost to graduation, but the Panthers return big man Connor Byers, talented sharp shooter Rylee Sammons and two hard-nosed guards in Leithan Hall and Zac Lockhart that are more than capable of filling that void. All of the aforementioned were role players last season and will have to step up to fulfill expectation this season. Its a different animal when you get the brunt of the opposing game plan tailored against you and this group for Pikeville has yet to experience that, but are more than talented enough to meet the challenge.
Sammons has the ability to shoot from anywhere on the floor and plays above the rim. With his size, Sammons is the best prospect on the team. Byers provides physicality with his defense and rebounding and occasionally gets a dunk in a game. Hall is a left handed guard who plays with passion and can get hot from time to time. He is the heartbeat of the team. Lockhart is a complete player who showed he is not afraid of the big stage with his play in the regional championship last season. Together this team has the ability to make another run, but will be a bit thinner on the bench than in the past seasons. Look for Pikeville to be adaptive in their style. At their core they are a half court team who will trap when you cross the center line, but can also play a fast pace game in needed. With a high level of coaching, this should be another successful season!
Pikeville Head Coach Elisha Justice hopes to add more hardware to the trophy case this season. Pikeville has advanced to three straight 15th Region title games, going 2-1 in that span. Photo Credit Appalachian News Express.
Quick Reference Guide
Head Coach: Elisha Justice
Head Coach Career Record: 103-48 (0.6821) (Entering 4th Season with Pikeville: 6th Overall)
(32-20 while coaching June Buchanan [2015-2016] and 81-28 while coaching Pikeville [2017-present])
Colors: Maroon and White
All Time Record: 1643-1107-1 (0.5972) (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 (105-57) vs. 15th Region (79-28)
2018-19 23-9 (Lost Regional Championship)
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)
Key Losses: Connor Roberts 511 (18.7 ppg 4.0 rpg) Kyle Watkins 511 (10.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg), Christian Billiter 63 (9.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg)
Key Returning: Rylee Sammons So. 66 (10.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg) Laithan Hall So. 511 (3.6 ppg, 1.1 rpg) Connor Byers Sr. 66 (5.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg) Zac Lockhart So. 60 (3.6 ppg, 0.9 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: John Flanery Sr. 62 (Transferred from Shelby Valley 3.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
4. Martin County (0-0):
The artist formally known as Sheldon Clark will now be known as Martin County moving forward. New records will be written almost every night as a new era begins. This is a good thing considering the Cardinals have lost 20 games in three of their last four seasons and are currently on a four-year drought for regional tournament appearances. That trend is not expected to continue this season, however, as Martin County possesses the talent to take them to the regional tournament and beyond.
The Cardinals boast the best collegiate prospect in the mountains in 610 junior Trey James. James will take the state shot block record to heights that will likely never be achieved again and is a force on the backboards. Expect to see a lot of rim rattling dunks this season as James is one of three returning players in the region to average a double-double. James will be reunited with his old running mate Brady Dingess who transferred back from Paintsville after an unsuccessful fit during his freshman season. Dingess plays the game the right way and is a point guard capable of big scoring numbers with his shooting ability. Mix in transfer Ethan Smith-Mills (Floyd Central) and returning guard Braxton Maynard and the Cardinals have a solid core of players. But thats not all they have. Martin County has what is probably the best talent in the 8th and 9th grades in the region exemplified by the play of eighth grader Luke Hale. Hale is going to be a very good player as his career is just taking off. He is a talent that you should keep an eye on.
The 57th district is the toughest in the region year-in and year-out and this season will be no different. Martin County will host the district tournament in their new gym and will be very difficult to beat there. Hopefully they can buck recent trends and get to .500 or better with all the talent around them.
Martin County big man Trey James blocks a shot at the rim at the Williamson Field House. James is will challenge the national shot block record by his senior year. Photo Credit: Appalachian News Express.
Quick Reference Guide
Head Coach: Jason James
Head Coach Career Record: 49-74 (0.3984) (Entering 1st Season at Martin County: 5th Overall)
(49-74 while coaching Sheldon Clark [2016-2019] 0-0 while coaching Martin County [2020-present])
Colors: Red, White, and Columbia Blue
Founded: 1973 (Consolidation of Inez and Warfield into Sheldon Clark Renamed Martin County with new school opening in 2019-2020 calendar year)
All Time Record: 0-0
Sheldon Clark final record = 651-664 (0.4951)
Regional Titles: 0: Sheldon Clark won (1) in 1983
Record Last 5 Years (As Sheldon Clark): Overall (72-80) vs. 15th Region (45-41)
2018-19 10-20 (Lost 57th District)
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)
Key Losses: Nick Maynard (3.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg)
Key Returning: Trey James Jr. 610 (17.9 ppg, 10.9 rpg) Braxton Maynard Sr. 511 (12.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg) Jordan Dalton Jr. 61 (8.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Brady Dingess So. 511 (Transferred from Paintsville 9.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg) Ethan Smith-Mills Sr. 61 (Transferred from Floyd Central 15.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
5. Paintsville (19-8):
Expectations were once through the roof with the Tigers, but the fact remains that they have yet to win a post season tournament of any kind (District, Region, All-A) since 2008. In fact, they have only advanced to the regional tournament twice since 2008. Going into this season they have arguably lost more talent than any team in the region. Seth Williams (1,000-point scorer) transferred to Johnson Central. Brady Dingess (starting point guard) transferred back to Martin County. Ryleh McKenzie (sophomore), a ball handler who would have competed for a starting position, transferred to Johnson Central. Sixth man and former two-year starter James Allen graduated. Thats three likely starters and four key players lost from last season. The good news is that Paintsville will return one of the best players in the region in Colby Fugate and one of the best big men in Nick Keeton. Fugate is 65 guard who can be electric with his dunks and ability to score the ball. Keeton is a 64 forward who is a double-double machine with a high motor. He will post several 20 rebound games this season and gets a few poster dunks on a given night. The question is whether the Tigers will have enough ball-handling to deal with the pressure teams like Johnson Central and Shelby Valley will apply to them (Dingess, McKenzie and Williams were expected to be the primary ball-handlers this season but all are gone). Paintsville also has one of the best defenders in the region in Braxton Tharp. Tharp will get the assignment of guarding the best player on the other team and also has the ability to score the ball.
All-in-all Paintsville has three good players in Fugate, Keeton and Tharp and those three will keep them in a lot of games. They will get solid play from Jaxson Watts but outside that have unproven talent and very little firepower anywhere else. The big three will be enough to win most nights, but will it be enough to play with the top teams in the region. History tells no, but thats why they play the games.
Paintsville sophomore Colby Fugate glides to the rim in district play last season. Fugate will take on a huge offense role for this season for the Tigers. Photo Credit: Paintsville Herald.
Quick Reference Guide
Head Coach: Landon Slone
Head Coach Career Record: 47-38 (0.5529) (Entering 4th season as a Head Coach)
Colors: Blue and White
All Time Record: 1487-1137-2 (0.5663) (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 (70-65) vs. 15th Region (42-44)
2018-19 19-8 (Lost Regional Semifinal)
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)
Key Losses: Seth Williams Sr. 58 (Transferred to Johnson Central) (13.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg) Brady Dingess So. 511 (Transferred to Martin County 9.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg) Ryleh McKenzie So. 61 (Transferred to Johnson Central 1.6 ppg, 0.5 rpg), James Allen 59 (2.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg)
Key Returning: Nick Keeton Sr. 64 (11.6 ppg, 11.9 rpg) Colby Fugate So. 65 (16.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg) Braxton Tharp Jr. 62 (8.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Connor Fugate Fr. 63
6. Lawrence County (22-8):
Head Coach Travis York stepped away from basketball this season to focus on his business, but to his credit left the program in great shape. Enter first year Head Coach Chandler Thompson. Lawrence County is the best dark horse to win the regional tournament and return a starting five that is custom built to match-up with Johnson Central. They shoot a lot of threes, play a five out offense and prefer to speed up the game. Tyler Maynard is one of the best athletes in the region, playing multiple sports, and will led the team on offense and defense. Cody Maynard is one of the most underrated players in the region and has the ability to score in bunches with several 20 point quarters in summer competition (also had multiple 30 point games last season as only a freshman).
Outside the two Maynards, any of the other starters are capable of dropping twenty points in any game. Chase Sartin, for example, is a lanky swing player who can dunk through traffic or shoot the three from the corner. In short, the Bulldogs have a ton of talent and are a scary team. Their only kryptonite will be lack of depth. If any get into foul trouble or tired, it could spell doom against the better competition. Fans in Louisa should expect a great season from this club as they will be very fun to watch this season.
Quick Reference GuideHead Coach: Chandler Thompson
Head Coach Career Record: 0-0 (0.0000) (Entering 1st year as a Head Coach)
Colors: Red and Black
Founded: 1977 (From Louisa High School)
All Time Record: 505-648 (0.4380)
Regional Titles: (1) 2016
Record Last 5 Years: Overall (100-60) vs. 15th Region (58-31)
2018-19 22-8 (Lost 58th District)
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)
Key Losses: Noah Fairchild 65 (7.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg
Key Returning: Tyler Maynard Sr. 62 (20.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg), Cody Maynard So. 60 (16.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg), Chase Sartin Sr. 63 (10.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Corbin Fairchild Sr. 62 (4.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg)
7. Betsy Layne (13-16):
The Bobcats are the second best dark horses to win the regional tournament this season. They have size, great athleticism and play very hard. Jordan Frazier is one of the best dunkers in the region and Chase Mims (quarterback) provides physical play down low. Brady Robinson has a knack for scoring the ball and also plays above the rim. This team is much like Johnson Central and Lawrence County in how they play positionless basketball. All five starters can dribble, pass and shoot and they run a five out flex based offense. If you catch them on a hot shooting night they can beat any of the teams above them, making them a scary opponent. Lack of bench depth and point guard play could hurt the Bobcats this season as there is a drop in talent at these two key places. If they can develop talent throughout the season you could see a deep run in the post season. Betsy Layne will be a factor in All-A and regional tournament.
Quick Reference GuideHead Coach: Brad Short
Head Coach Career Record: 90-121 (0.4265) (Entering 2nd season with Betsy Layne; 9th overall)
(77-105 while at Allen Central [2011-2017], 13-16 while at Betsy Layne [2019-present])
Colors: Blue and White
All Time Record: 1575-1175 (0.5727)
Regional Titles: (2) 1976, 1980
Record Last 5 Years: Overall (65-82) vs. 15th Region (42-54)
2018-19 13-16 (Lost 58th District)
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)
Key Losses: Grant Orsborn 62 (5.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg), Zach Bentley 511 (7.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg)
Key Returning: Jordan Frazier Jr. 61 (13.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg) Brady Robinson So. 60 (10.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Chase Mims So. 63 (6.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
8. Phelps (15-15):
Phelps is coming off their first district championship and first trip to the regional tournament since 2012 and are favorites to repeat in the 60th District. Trey Francis is one of the three returning players to average a double-double last season (Nick Keeton Paintsville; Trey James Martin County) and should put up big numbers again this season. Mix that with sharp shooting Dominick Francis and the Hornets have a one-two punch to carry the scoring load. The Hornets did lose some size and bench depth to graduation so expect a shaky start to the season as roles will need to be established with the younger talent. Phelps will play exclusively in the half court and run everything through the Francis boys with Trey on the inside and Dominick on the outside. Fans should be excited for the Hornets this season!
Quick Reference Guide
Head Coach: Jason Sanson
Head Coach Career Record: 15-15 (0.5000) (Entering 2nd season at Phelps)
Colors: Blue, White and Gray
All Time Record: 970-1351 (0.4179)
Regional Titles: (1) 1988
Record Last 5 Years: Overall (53-96) vs. 15th Region (24-68)
2018-19 15-15 (Lost 15th Region Quarterfinal)
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)
Key Losses: Brandon Turnmire 58 (2.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg)
Key Returning: Trey Francis Sr. 63 (17.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg), Dominick Francis Jr. 62 (10.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Jason Casey Sr. 60 (7.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg)
9. Prestonsburg (16-16):
Brent Rose returned to the sideline last season and led the Black Cats to a .500 or better record for the first time since the 2011-2012 campaign. This season they will look to build off that accomplishment and have a mixture of upper and lower classmen to do it with. Adam Slone and Graham Burchett should carry most of the scoring load, while young guns such as 66 freshman Ryan Rose will try to establish themselves. Prestonsburg lacks an alpha player who can go get them a bucket in crunch time, instead relying on ball movement, screens and sets to get good looks. They will push in certain sets and press when needed, but will mostly play a half court style on both ends of the floor. With the district tournament at their place this year, it will not be easy for other 58th district foes to knock them off.
Quick Reference Guide
Head Coach: Brent Rose
Head Coach Career Record: 123-129 (0.4881) (Entering 2nd season at Prestonsburg; 10th Overall)
(107-113 while at Betsy Layne [2000-2007], 16-16 while at Prestonsburg [2019-present])
Mascot: Black Cat
Colors: Red, White and Black
All Time Record: 1163-1353 (0.4622)
Regional Titles: (1) 1989
Record Last 5 Years: Overall (50-89) vs. 15th Region (37-72)
2018-19 16-16 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
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)
Key Losses: Blake Slone 62 (14.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg)
Key Returning: Adam Slone Sr. 61 (12.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg) Graham Burchett Sr. 60 (11.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Ryan Rose Fr. 66 (1.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg)
10. Magoffin County (15-15):
The Hornets are a team that could surprise the 15th Region with their play. Last season they lost 15th Region POY Brady Whitaker, but return a solid back court in Aden Barnett and Isaiah Salyer and a nice front court in big man Randy Bailey and a well-built Mason Lovely. The Hornets first five is capable of playing with anyone in a loaded 57th District, but will need sustained production from the bench if they want to return to .500 or better.
Head Coach James Scott Castle will show some zone press and man-to-man defense in both the full and half court and will look to run when possible. He is very good at adapting to his personnel and has had this group of kids in his system two years now, thus roles should be well established. This team is physically stronger than many think and solid on the defensive end. If they are able to score the ball efficiently, they will put up some wins. The only downfall is that they play in the toughest district in the region. Look for Aden Barnett to be one of the best freshman in the state and lead his team in scoring this season.
Quick Reference GuideHead Coach: James Scott Castle
Head Coach Career Record: 94-77 (0.5497) (Entering 3rd season as Boys Head Coach; 7th Overall)
(70-42 Magoffin County Girls HC [2013-2016], 24-35 Magoffin County Boys Coach [2018-present])
Colors: Maroon and White
Founded: 1976 (Consolidation of Salyersville to later include Royalton and Magoffin Co. Baptist Institute)
All Time Record: 552-643 (0.4619)
Regional Titles: None
Record Last 5 Years: Overall (73-74) vs. 15th Region (62-54)
2018-19 15-15 (Lost 57th District)
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)
Key Losses: Brady Whitaker 511 (24.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
Key Returning: Isaiah Salyer Jr. 60 (8.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg), Mason Lovely Jr. 62 (4.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg) Aden Barnett Fr. 60 (12.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg), Randy Bailey Sr. 65 (8.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Grayson Whitaker 8th 511 (1.0 ppg, 0.6 rpg)
11. East Ridge (12-16):
Legendary Head Coach Randy McCoy called it a career in Kentucky after 40 years at the high school and college level. He battled health issues this past calendar year that forced him to the sidelines. Coach McCoy relocated to Florida in a consultant role for various basketball programs. This could have been the year he was building toward as the Warriors were supposed to return three players averaging double figures, but Elijah Sykes transferred to Shelby Valley. This leaves seniors Dalton Wellman and Cameron Hess to carry the load for East Ridge as both have played significant minutes since their freshman years.
Enter Head Coach Brody Justice (former Head Coach of Phelps). Coach Justice is a professional person who runs a lot of flex offense and match-up zone defense, but dont expect him to be as deliberate as Coach McCoy was in his game control. He will look to push tempo when available and go through his two playmakers in crunch time. It will be tough sledding for the Warriors in the 59th District with Shelby Valley and Pikeville both having exceptional squads. If East Ridge gets a win in the post season, it will be a major upset.
Quick Reference Guide
Head Coach: Brody Justice
Head Coach Career Record: 30-62 (0.3279) (Entering 1st season with East Ridge, 4th overall)
(20-41 as Phelps Head Coach [2016-2018])
Colors: White and Navy Blue
Founded: 2002 (Consolidation of Elkhorn City, Feds Creek, and Millard)
All Time Record: 266-217 (0.5507)
Regional Titles: (1) 2004
Record Last 5 Years: Overall (76-71) vs. 15th Region (57-56)
2018-19 12-16 (Lost 59th District)
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)
Key Losses: Elijah Sykes So. 64 (Transfer to Shelby Valley 10.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg), Kane Taylor 511 (11.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
Key Returning: Cameron Hess Sr. 62 (13.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg), Dalton Wellman Sr. 61 (12.2 ppg, 2.1rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Hunter Damron Jr. 60 (6.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg)
12. Belfry (8-22):
The Pirates are over 30 games below .500 over the past five seasons despite being two years removed from a 20-win campaign that ended in the regional semifinal. In the offseason they saw what would have been a three-year starter transfer across the river to Mingo Central in the form of Dezmon Roblee. On the bright side, Belfry will have QB Brett Coleman returning to the hardwood where he creates offense with his athleticism and physicality.
The Pirates play hard and are coached hard. They always put a competitive product on the floor regardless of talent. They will mix in press with half court zone and man, but will rely heavily on quit hitters and sets to score. Although the 60th district is not on par with the top of the region, it will be very interesting to see who comes out of that district with Belfry having a better than average chance to advance to the regional tournament. Dont expect a regional championship, but its not out of the question for them to win the district and make some noise past that.
Quick Reference Guide
Head Coach: Mark Thompson
Head Coach Career Record: 90-149 (0.3766) (Entering 7th season at Belfry: 9th Overall)
(22-39 while coaching Pike Central [2008- 2009] and 68-110 while coaching Belfry [2014- present])
Colors: Red and White
All Time Record: 1354-1102 (0.5513)
Regional Titles: (3) 1990, 1991, 1992
Record Last 5 Years: Overall (60-91) vs. 15th Region (47-51)
2018-19 8-22 (Lost 60th District)
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)
Key Losses: Tyelin May 64 (8.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg) Canaan Fletcher 61 (9.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg)
Dezmon Roblee Sr. 511 (10.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg Transferred to Mingo Central)
Key Returning: Brett Coleman Jr. 61 (6.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Isaiah Hackney Sr. 60 (2.0 ppg, 1.4 rpg)
13. Pike County Central (18-14):
The Hawks were one of the surprise teams last season with 18 wins, but did it against a weak schedule. They did, however, advance to the regional quarterfinal and enter the season with three consecutive winning years. Pike Central graduated its top two scorers and leading rebounder, and will rely heavily on unproven upperclassmen to carry the load this season. Look for a lot of corner and wing 3FGs on offense and lots of half court zone on defense. With a weak 60th district, the Hawks have a solid chance to advance to the regional tournament again this season, but dont expect their first regional title any time soon.
Quick Reference Guide
Head Coach: Ryan Whitaker
Head Coach Career Record: 86-71 (0.5478) (Entering 4th season at PCC: 6th Overall)
(28-33 while coaching Powell County [2015-2016] 58-38 while coaching Pike Central [2017-present])
Colors: Blue and Orange
Founded: 1993 (Consolidation of Johns Creek and Mullins)
All Time Record: 389-366 (0.5152)
Regional Titles: None
Record Last 5 Years: Overall (87-71) vs. 15th Region (63-44)
2018-19 18-14 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
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)
Key Losses: Brady Adkins 60 (10.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg) Dasean Penn 64 (10.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg)
Key Returning: Bryce Adkins Jr. 60 (7.2 ppg, 1.4 rpg) Keegan Bentley Jr. 60 (6.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Logan Wood Sr. 60 (4.1 ppg, 0.7 rpg)
14. Floyd Central (6-25):
Alan Joe Moore takes over for the Jaguars after a disastrous season six-win season that somehow ended at the regional tournament. The silver lining from last year is that a lot of young kids got valuable experience and learned to compete despite overwhelming odds. However, two key pieces transferred out in Ethan Smith-Mills (Martin County) and Grant Blackburn (Martin County transfer mid-season). Pieces that would have helped bridge the gap to youth. The young Jags do return Caleb Hager and Brandon Little who both play very hard and are team oriented. With a new coach and unproven talent, it is difficult to predict the style we will see this season. Anticipate lots of sets and organization in a what could be described as a grass roots approach to rebuilding a new a program. One thing is for sure for Floyd Central, the only place they can go is up!
Quick Reference Guide
Head Coach: Alan Joe Moore
Head Coach Career Record: 0-0 (0.0000) (Entering 1st season as a Head Coach)
Colors: Teal, Black and Gold
Founded: 2017 (Consolidation of Allen Central and South Floyd)
All Time Record: 25-37 (0.4032)
Regional Titles: None
Record Last 5 Years: Overall (25-37) vs. 15th Region (18-14)
2018-19 6-25 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
2017-18 19-12 (Lost Regional Quarterfinal)
Key Losses: Ethan Smith-Mills Sr. 61 (Transferred to Martin County 15.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg) Brady Conn 64 (15.3 ppg, 8.6 rpg)
Key Returning: Caleb Hager Jr. 60 (4.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg) Brandon Little Sr. 61 (8.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Braden Moore Fr. 510 (2.0 ppg, 1.4 rpg)
15. Jenkins (3-27):
The Cavaliers, like many others, have been a victim of a declining population in coal country and are struggling just to make ends meet with school finances let alone athletics. Expect another very difficult year for Jenkins as it will be difficult to compete with most teams on their schedule. Hopefully they can get a few wins before close of the year.
Quick Reference Guide
Head Coach: Corey Hairston
Head Coach Career Record: 9-111 (0.0750) (Entering 5th season at Jenkins)
Colors: Kelly Green and White
All Time Record: 1108-1394 (0.4428)
Regional Titles: None
Record Last 5 Years: Overall (15-149) vs. 15th Region (3-57)
2018-19 3-27 (Lost 59th District)
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)
Key Losses: Ethan Cummings 60 (6.5 ppg, 1.6 rpg)
Key Returning: Payton Rose Sr. 511 (13.0 ppg, 0.8 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: Jeremy Potter Sr. 62 (1.5 ppg)
16. Piarist (0-29):
The Knights have never defeated a 15th region opponent in boys basketball and will most certainly continue that streak this season. Hopefully coach Hall can get his first career win against one of the Christian league schools in Kentucky and West Virginia. Piarist treats athletics more like a club sport activity rather than organized sport. They have good kids and a new gym in Johnson County and should be better than most seasons with Seth Hall coming back.
Quick Reference Guide
Head Coach: Josh Hall
Head Coach Career Record: 0-29 (0.0000) (Entering 2nd season as Head Coach of Piarist)
Colors: Blue and Gold
All Time Record: 41-400 (0.0928)
Regional Titles: None
Record Last 5 Years: Overall (9-142) vs. 15th Region (0-64)
2018-19 0-29 (Lost 60th District)
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)
Key Losses: None
Key Returning: Kyle Price Jr. 511 (15.5 ppg, 10.3 rpg) Seth Hall So. 60 (19.9 ppg, 8.0 rpg)
Newcomers to watch: None
15th Region Player Rankings:
1. Cody Potter (Shelby Valley) 67 Senior (SF)
Cody Potter is one the best shooters to ever come from the mountains and will be in the discussing for Mr. Basketball this season. Potter is a 67 three with range to 30 feet plus. He plays above the rim and can rebound and block shots at a high level. Potter has already committed to Division II Rollins College in Orlando, FL despite having offers from several other programs. When he gets it going he is fun to watch and if you let him catch it you cannot block his shot due to his size and high release point.
Cody Potter is one of the best players in the state and will likely represent the 15th Region as their Mr. Basketball candidate (Photo Credit: Twitter)
2. Isaiah May (Johnson Central) 63 Junior (W)
Johnson Central standout Isaiah May is picking up a lot interest heading into his junior season. May has been contacted by the likes of WKU, Dayton and Marshall just to name a few. He can play any position on the basketball floor and started all five during the course of his sophomore season. May plays above the rim and can catch lobs for dunks, but can also run the point while guarding your center. His versatility makes him the most complete player in the region. Last year, May become the first sophomore in school history to score 1,000 points and is on pace to set several records before his time is finished.
Johnson Central standout Isaiah May was named MVP of the Dan Swartz Classic last season at Bath County, averaging nearly 30 ppg during the tournament. It was his 2nd tournament MVP award of the season.
3. Trey James (Martin County) 610 Junior (C)
Martin County big man Trey James holds more Division I offers than any other player in the mountains. Standing 610, James is a dominate force in the middle who also has the ability to with his rebounding and shot blocking ability. James will set the state shot block record to a level that will likely never be broken and will challenge the national record as well. James plays with a high motor and is unmatched by any team in the 15th Region.
Trey James is the best collegiate prospect in the mountains. The junior is a dominate force in the middle with his rebounding and shot blocking ability. Photo Credit: prephoops.com
4. Colby Fugate (Paintsville) 65 Sophomore (SF)
The crown of best sophomore in the region goes to Paintsvilles Colby Fugate. Fugate is a long wing with great athleticism who can play above the rim and is very good at attacking the paint. He is a streaky shooter with a flair for big game moment. Fugate will lead Paintsville to what they hope is a deep post season run.
Paintsvilles Colby Fugate is an athletic win with the ability to take over games. He will lead Paintsville this season in a loaded 57th District. Photo Credit: Appalachian News Express
5. Cory VanHoose (Johnson Central) 511 Junior (G)
The way Cory VanHoose scores the ball against bigger, more athletic competition baffels even the keenist basketball minds. His ability to find an use angles is uncanny. Match that with his physcial strength and speed and Cory is built for the open court regardless of his defenders size. Alongside fellow Johnson Central standout, VanHoose became the second player in school history to score 1,000 points during his sophomore season. VanHoose is one of those players every team needs in order to win. His improved defensive ability is one of the many reasons JC is still the team to beat.
Cory VanHoose is one of the strongest players in the 15th Region and help lead a talented junior class for Johnson Central. VanHoose is on pace to score 2,000 career points. (Photo Credit: Paintsville Herald)
6. Nick Keeton (Paintsville) 64 Senior (PF)
Paintsvilles Nick Keeton is a multi-sport star who plays the post position with a high motor. He never seems to get tired, plays above the rim and dominates the boards. He is an excellent help defender who can score in the post when needed due to excellent foot work. Keeton is a coachs dream who does not need to the ball in order to impact the game. He will lead Paintsville on what they hope is a deep playoff run!
Nick Keeton of Paintsville is a double-double machine that provides physical play and a high motor. He strength and athletic ability allows him to cover almost any position on the floor. (Photo Credit: Hudl)
7. Tyler Maynard (Lawrence County) 63 Senior (F)
Lawrence County's Tyler Maynard is one of the best athletes in the region. His game is based on slashing to the basket, but he can also post up and shoot from distance. Maynard has a high motor and will regularly draw the opposing teams best player on offense. He will be the engine that drives a very talented Bulldog squad.
Lawrence Countys Tyler Maynard is the top returning scorer for a talented starting five that will push anyone in the region. His ability to play outside and inside make him one of the more versatile scorers in the region. (Photo Credit: Levisa Laser)
8. Trey Francis (Phelps) 63 Senior (SF)
Phelps Trey Francis is one of the more underrated players in the 15th Region. He plays inside and out for his team, but he true position is a 2/3 combo guard. Francis averages a double-double and has the ability to stretch the floor beyond the 3FG arc. He hopes to take his team back to the regional tournament for the second straight season as they are currently defending 60th District champions.
Trey Francis is one of three returning players in the 15th Region to average a double-double last season. He led his team to its first district championship since 2012 last year and is the favorite to repeat again this season. (Photo Credit: Williamson Daily News).
9. Keian Worrix (Shelby Valley) 56 Junior (PG)
The shortest player to make the top ten might also be the quickest. Keian Worrix is a magician with the baksetball in his hands and very good at setting players up for the charge on defense. His ability to run the show for Jim Hicks will be needed if the Wildcats are to make a run back to the All-A state and even Rupp Arena. Worrix is heatbeat of his team as he wears his tenacity on his sleeve. He is an easy player to cheer for!
Keian Worrix sizes up a defender during summer league play. Worrix is the best dribbler in the region and an underrated defender for his size. (Photo Credit: Floyd Chronicle).
10. Rylee Sammons (Pikeville) 66 Sophomore (SF)
Pikevilles Rylee Sammons is a mismatch nightmare at his size. Sammons best skill is his ability to shoot from deep, but he can also go in the post and play above the rim. With long arms and height, Sammons will have lots of college coaches knocking at the door soon. Look for him to take a bigger role this season for Coach Justice.
Pikevilles Rylee Sammons battles a defender for a rebound. His length and shooting ability make him a prototypical stretch 3 at the next level (Photo Credit: Appalachian News Express)
Players just outside the top 10 (in no particular order):
Brady Dingess (Martin County), Ethan Smith-Mills (Martin County), Braxton Maynard (Martin County), Bryson Hackney (Johnson Central), John King (Johnson Central), Seth Williams (Johnson Central), Braxton Tharp (Paintsville), Aden Barnett (Magoffin County), Isaiah Salyer (Magoffin County), Randy Bailey (Magoffin County), Mason Lovely (Magoffin County), Brandon Little (Floyd Central), Adam Slone (Prestonsburg), Graham Burchett (Prestonsburg), Jordan Frazier (Betsy Layne), Chase Mims (Betsy Layne), Brady Robinson (Betsy Layne), Cody Maynard (Lawrence County), Chase Sartin (Lawrence County), Bryce Adkins (Pike Central), Brett Coleman (Belfry), Dominick Francis (Phelps), Peyton Rose (Jenkins), Cameron Hess (East Ridge), Dalton Wellman (East Ridge), Elijah Sykes (Shelby Valley), Laithan Hall (Pikeville), Zac Lockhart (Pikeville), Connor Byers (Pikeville)
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 (27-8)
Sheldon Clark (10-20)
Magoffin County (15-15)
Projected Winner: Johnson Central
Projected Runner-up: Martin County
*2020 57th District Tournament is Scheduled to be played at Martin County
58th District (last years record):
Betsy Layne (13-16)
Floyd Central (6-25)
Lawrence County (22-8)
Projected Winner: Lawrence County
Projected Runner-up: Betsy Layne
*2020 58th District Tournament is Scheduled to be played at Prestonsburg
59th District (last years record):
Shelby Valley (28-6)
East Ridge (12-16)
Projected Winner: Shelby Valley
Projected Runner-up: Pikeville
*2020 59th District Tournament is Scheduled to be played at Jenkins
60th District (last years record):
Pike Central (18-14)
Projected Winner: Phelps
Projected Runner-up: Belfry
*2020 60th District Tournament is Scheduled to be played at Belfry
**15th Region Tournament will be at Pikeville EXPO Center. Contract was renewed through 2021 season.