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Overview: With the 15th Region bringing home three state championships and one runner-up in football, the 2019-2020 basketball season opened with all of the top five teams losing to out of region competition. As teams begin to integrate their football players, we will get a better idea of what to expect come March. In the opening week we saw one player drop 43 points, an early match-up between the favorites in the 15th and 16th region and an incredible shooting performance by Mr. Basketball candidate Cody Potter. Listed below are the rankings after one week of play.

Rankings (overall record):
1. (-) Johnson Central (1-1) – The Golden Eagles opened the season with a 1-1 week. They defeated Cross Lanes Christian, WV 69-45 on the road and lost their home opener to Ashland 56-66. In the Cross Lanes game, JC was paced by Cory VanHoose and Isaiah May (21 and 15 points respectively). The Ashland game was an exciting atmosphere that saw JC battle back to within one point late in the fourth quarter despite trailing by 14 at the half. John King led the way for JC with 17 points while May added 16 as Ashland exacted revenge for a 20-point beat-down last season on their senior night. JC has yet to play a game with a full complement of players (football), but will have everyone available in week two as they face Shelby Valley on the road (2 projected starters and four total players play football). Tuesdays game will be a great early test between two of the favorites in the 15th. Expect some rust from the returning football players.

2. (-) Shelby Valley (2-1) – The Wildcats opened the season going 2-1 with wins at home versus Jenkins 87-25 and Cordia 71-54 and a loss at Pike Central versus Spencer County 69-71. In the three games, Mr. Basketball candidate Cody Potter had 29/8 vs Jenkins 19/15 versus Cordia, 27/9 vs Spencer County to include five made 3FG down the stretch. Caden Robinson and Elijah Sykes have been averaging double figures in scoring, but top 10 player Keian Worrix (4.3 ppg) has yet to get going in that column. Unless Shelby Valley wins the 15th Region tournament or All-A they currently have every game scheduled to be played on a 15th region court except one, which will be played in Williamson, WV. Staying in region in week two, Valley will host power Johnson Central, travel to Floyd Central and then host Pike Central. The Valley/JC game is a rematch where Valley was defeated by JC in the regional semi-finals despite going 2-0 against them in the regular season. This should be a great early season game between two teams that have legitimate chances to advance to Rupp Arena and beyond.

3. (-) Pikeville (1-1) – The Panthers, like Johnson Central have been without two starters during the first week of play (Byers – injury / Lockhart – football). Pikeville went 1-1 in week two with a close win on the road at Phelps 54-49 (hit clutch FT’s down the stretch) and a loss at Pike Central versus Cordia 70-71. The Panthers have a strong sophomore class that will take some time to gel now that football is over. Week two will see them host 59th District rival East Ridge and then face Bowling Green at Jackson County in the PRTC Classic. Like the other football state champions in this region, expect some rust from those returning from the gridiron.

4. (-) Martin County (2-1) – Martin County opened the season with a loss on the road versus 14th Region favorite Hazard 63-80, then opened their new facility with a dominating win over Lawrence County 74-42. This was followed up with an 87-53 win at home versus Beth Haven Christian, WV. In the Lawrence County game, junior standout Trey James scored the first home bucket in school history on a dunk and also joined the 1,000-point club (Sheldon Clark / Martin County). In the LC game, the Cardinals put three players in double figures, led by Brady Dingess with 19 points (James with a double-double). Martin County will play in the WYMT Classic in week two, opening with Harlan County. If they advance, they will likely have a rematch with Hazard!

5. (-) Paintsville (0-1) – The Tigers lost their only game in the opening week versus Perry Central 73-80. This despite a career high 43 points for sophomore standout Colby Fugate. The Tigers will welcome the return of senior big man Nick Keeton as they travel to Lawrence County in their only contest in week two. Expect some rust as the Tigers competed in the football championship this past weekend.

6. (Up 1) Betsy Layne (2-0) – The Bobcats are 2-0 early in the season for the first time in a long time. They opened the season with a home win over Pike Central 68-55 and followed it up with a win over Magoffin County 72-64 at Pike Central. High flying Jordan Frazier is leading a balanced scoring attack, averaging 20 plus early in the season (four players are currently averaging double figures). Look for Betsy Layne to work on developing their bench in week two as they host Lee County, then travel to Lawrence County for a huge early 58th District showdown.

7. (Down 1) Lawrence County (2-1) – The Bulldogs have five talented starters who are all capable of scoring 20 points in a game. In the opening week, they went 2-1 with a road win over East Carter 83-70, a loss to Martin County 42-74 and a win over Phelps at home 68-64. In the Martin County game, the had no answer for the size and physical play of the Cardinals. Mix that with a poor shooting night, and you get the blowout we saw. Lawrence has a big week two as they host Paintsville and Betsy Layne before traveling to the 16th Region where they play Boyd County in their own Roundball Classic. Three quality opponents should tell us more about where these Bulldogs stand. The Betsy Layne game could be big in 58th District seeding later in the season with a surging Prestonsburg team that is slated to host districts. You don’t want to play them on their home floor and most likely won’t if you’re the #1 seed.

8. (Up 1) Prestonsburg (2-0) – The surprise team in week one was Brent Rose’s Black Cat squad. They were able to defeated Knott Central at home in a shocker 72-67 led by Gunner Williams 25 points (Knott Central ranked #3 in 14th Region per BGP preview). They doubled down with a 78-64 win over Letcher Central at Pike Central behind Adam Slone’s 20-point game. This young Prestonsburg squad will host Magoffin County then travel to East Ridge in week two. The Magoffin County game always brings a nice crowd and should be an exciting atmosphere!

9. (Down 1) Phelps (1-2) – The Hornets opened the season going 1-2 with a close loss at home versus Pikeville 49-54, a home win versus Hurley, VA 57-36 and a road loss 64-68 at Lawrence County. Trey Francis has carried the load in all three games, hit double figures in scoring in each! Phelps has been in every game with a chance and two of those opponents are ranked higher than them in the ratings. Despite this, Phelps is still the favorite in the 60th District. They will compete in the WYMT Classic in week two, opening with 14th Region favorite Hazard.

10. (-) Magoffin County (1-1) – The Hornets opened the season with a road win at Floyd Central 67-56 and a neutral loss at Pike Central versus Betsy Layne 64-72. In the Floyd Central game, the backcourt combination of Isaiah Salyer and freshman standout Aden Barnett led the way with 21 and 16 points respectively. The Hornets will travel to an early surprise team Prestonsburg in week two in what is expected to be a very good game.

11. (Up 1) Belfry (0-0) – The Pirates have yet to tip off the season but gain a spot after an East Ridge loss at home. In week two they will host East Ridge and Letcher Central before traveling to Bath County. Expect a lot of rust as several football players play big roles on for the basketball team.

12. (Up 1) Pike Central (2-1) – The Hawks opened the season with three road games, picking up two wins. In their opener, they dropped a game to Betsy Layne 55-68, seeing three players hit double figures (Tyler Owens 19 points, Bryce Adkins 16 points and Anthony Palotta 10 points). They would follow this up with an overtime win at East Ridge 59-57 and a runaway at Jenkins 63-36. The Competition steps up in week two as they travel to the WYMT Mountain Classic where they open with 13 Region power Clay County.

13. (Down 2) East Ridge (0-1) – The Warriors lost their home opener in Head Coaches Brody Justice’s East Ridge debut in week one as Pike Central clipped them in overtime. Isaac Woods paced the scoring with 20 points despite a negative team rebounding margin. East Ridge will have Belfry and Pikeville on the road and Prestonsburg at home in week two. They will have a chance to pick up a win, but will not be favored in any of the contest.

14. (-) Floyd Central (1-3) – The Jaguars were the most active team in the 15th Region in week one as they played four games. They lost to Magoffin County by 11, Hazard by 25 and GRC by 39. Sandwiched in between was at 10-point win against Morgan County at home. Brandon Little has been carrying the scoring load thus far averaging 13 points a contest, but its pressure that the Jags struggle with. They will have some practice time to work on this in week two as their only game is against Shelby Valley at home.

15. (-) Jenkins (0-2) – The Cavaliers continue to struggle as Shelby Valley beat them by 62 points and Pike Central beat them by 27. John Fleming led Jenkins in scoring both games with a high of 15 points against Pike Central. The Cavaliers will travel to Breathitt County where they will face Jackson City in the Peggy Moore Memorial Classic in week two.

16. (-) Piarist (0-0) - The Knights opened with Altercrest, OH, but no score was reported at time of print. Currently Piarist only has eight games scheduled for the entire season and will hopefully get a win in the Christian league.

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