silo11's Avatar 1st Region Boys Basketball Preview
Region 1 probably had the best championship game of all regions last year watching upstart Mayfield and favorite Graves County go into overtime. Graves came out on top but Mayfield put the whole region on notice that they will be back for the 2017-18 season as they return two of the top players in West Kentucky in the Guthrie brothers.

A lot of teams were hit pretty hard by graduation this offseason. There are quite a few teams that will be starting over and others that are rising to the top. Region 1 has a few senior players to watch in Reed, Wilson, and Jewel. However the real talents in Region 1 are in the junior class. Some of the top teams in the region all seem to have great talent in the class of 2019. That means the top teams this year will be around for round two next year as well. So here is the rankings and preview for the 14 teams in Region 1.

1. Paducah Tilghman – Coach Roderick Thomas
2016-17 record: 20-11
Key Losses: DeCoven Grubbs (9.3 ppg)
Key Returners: Jerome Reed (14.8 ppg/6.3 rpg), Rodriguez Thomas (13.8 ppg/ 41% from 3 pt), Joe Workman (11 ppg, 39% from 3 pt.)

The Blue Tornado will be looking to finally get over the hump to win Region 1. This is something they haven’t been able to accomplish since the 2009-10 season. Tilghman always seems to have a good team, just not the best team. This may be the year that is different. They will be the favorite to win region 1 going into the season even though Mayfield who beat them in the Region 1 tournament last year will be strong again too. .

This year’s Tornado team will look very similar to last year’s team. They only lost one starter (Grubbs) and return their 3 top scorers for another year. Reed and Workman are seniors and this will be their last chance. Reed is a force to be reckoned with down low. Now that Chris Vogt has moved on, Reed would be considered the premier big man in region 1. He averaged almost 15 points a game and 6.3 rebounds a game last year and he should improve on both of those. A stat line approaching 20 ppg and 8 rpg is not out of the question. Reed is complimented by two fantastic guards. Thomas and Workman both handle the ball well and shoot very well from 3 point range. Thomas is better at driving inside than Workman, but both can score off the dribble. Reed will get some help inside from Michael Laster. Laster had a respectable freshman year averaging over 8 ppg and 5 rpg. He could easily up that do 10 ppg and 6 rpg. If everyone improves on their play from last year, Paducah Tilghman will be very tough to beat.

Paducah’s out of region schedule is just as impressive as last years. They will play games against Christian County (2x), Apollo, North Hardin, and Henderson Co. This should help prepare them for the level of play they will need to compete for the region 1 title. They have the ability, will this be the year they get it done?

2. Mayfield – Coach Chris Guhy
2016-17 record: 23-11
Key Losses: Anton Lumson (13.8 ppg)
Key Returners: Carson Guthrie (15.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 38% from 3 pt), Connor Guthrie (16.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 45% from 3pt.), Kent Tray Matthews (9.2 ppg).

The Cardinals were last year’s biggest mover in Region 1. They started off slow but came on strong and almost took the region losing to Graves County 77-71. Next to Paducah Tilghman, the Cardinals bring back the most talented team in Region 1. The Guthrie brothers were a force to be reckoned with last year and they were only sophomores. This year Connor and Carson may be 1,2 in the region for scoring. Carson has good size for a guard and is a great ball handler. He will be the leader on the court for the Cardinals. He can play inside or outside and has a great basketball IQ. Connor is more a pure scorer who can scorch the nets from the outside. Almost 60% of his shots came from beyond the arc last year, and he made 45% of those. Good luck to all region 1 teams having to guard these two. Add to that Kent Tray Matthews who averaged almost 10 ppg last year, and should improve on those stats with Lumson leaving.

Because of Mayfield’s success in football, their season won’t get started until Dec 7. Carson and Kent Tray both are starters for the Cardinals football team as well as some other key players. It may take them a couple weeks to find their niche like last year. Once they are rolling on all cylinders, they can win this region. The only knock against them is their schedule. They do not play a single out of region game that will challenge them other than the All A Classic. They should win the Region 1 easily and then be challenged at the state tournament. They will need to draw from that experience for the Region 1 tournament and beyond.

3. Graves County – Coach Joshua Frick
2016-17 record: 27-8
Key Losses: Vogt
Key Returners: Ryan Mathis (13.3 ppg), Jordyn Noranjo (11.4)

Nobody in the region was hurt more by graduation than the Eagles. Not having Chris Vogt, the 6’11” big man in the middle will be tough to overcome. He has been a mainstay for Graves County for the past 4 years and the whole game plan has been centered around him. Now that the Region 1 POY is gone, Eagle basketball will have to be played a little different. Good news is, they have Ryan Mathis and Jordyn Noranjo. Mathis and Noranjo will be the go to guys for Graves this year. Both are fully capable of producing for the Eagles.

Mathis will be the leader for this team. After an injury last year, Mathis had to sit out 6 weeks but came back just in time for the Region 1 playoff run. Mathis is a quick guard who plays tough defense and can score from anywhere on the floor. He has a great basketball IQ and can be a real game changer. He will have to figure some new ways to do that now that the focus will be on him instead of his 6’11” teammate. Noranjo blossomed last year when Mathis got hurt. He stepped right into his shoes and the Eagles didn’t miss a beat. In fact, when Mathis came back, he got better. He was the difference maker in Graves County winning the Region 1 title last year. He scored 28 points including 5 for 5 from beyond the arc. The biggest knock against both Mathis and Noranjo is free throw shooting. Both will need to shoot better than 70% this year if they want the chance to win Region 1.
Graves schedule for 2017-18 is not as strong as last year, but they still have some good competition. They play at Hopkinsville and Hopkins County Central. They will host Ohio County and Muhlenberg County. They also have a few holiday tournaments where they could see some tough competition.

4. Marshall County – Terry Birdsong
2016-17 record: 21-11
Key Losses: Houston Harvey
Key Returners: Dylan Walters (11.3 ppg), Aaron Reed (12.3ppg), Matthew French (8.0 ppg)

The Marshalls had some very exciting games last year. They played the top 4 teams in the region very well and hope to improve this year. They played much better the beginning of the year than towards the end, especially against better teams. They are hoping they can play well from start to finish this year with no huge losses leaving and the core of their starting lineup back. The three seniors, mentioned above, will be called upon to lead the Marshalls to this task. All 3 improved from their sophomore year to their junior year, and Coach Birdsong is hoping that will be the case this year. Coach Birdsong, hired in the offseason, is hoping his first year at Marshall will be even more successful than last year. Birdsong should be a great fit for Marshall County, being that he has coached in Region 1 for the majority of his career.

Asked about the upcoming season, Coach Birdsong stated “We’re going to work our tails off to create that toughness, that sense of pride that I felt as a player. It’s not about me, this program is 1,000% about these young men.” The Marshalls have some talent, but they are not as talented as some of the other teams in the Region so they will have to work extra hard to overcome. If they can improve from last year and keep the success going the entire season, they have a chance to do well.

Marshall has one of the better out of region schedules this year. They play Lex Catholic, Holmes, Ohio Co., Warren Central, and a Florida Holiday tournament. Those are pretty good games against some good teams.

5. Carlisle County – Coach Brian O’Neil
2016-17 record: 12-17
Key Losses: none
Key Returners: Trey Wilson (17.4 ppg), Michael Thomason (12.0 ppg)

Coach Oneill has got to be happy last year is over. After losing their entire starting 5, the Comets went from 22-9 to 12-17. This year is the opposite. They really didn’t have any key losses to their lineup. Last year they actually performed above expectations and found a gem of a player in Trey Wilson. Wilson emerged as a scoring machine and teammate Michael Thomason made his mark as well. Now in 2017-18, these two have expectations for the Comets to make strides to competing at a higher level. Wilson and fellow contributor Reese Anderson are both underclassman and have a great opportunity to build a foundation. Thomason and Trevor Elder are both seniors and can lead through their maturity on the floor.

This years team has much higher expectations than last years. They had a whole season to gel together and learn how to play as a team. They showed flashes of that last year, especially during their mid to late season run where they won 8 out of 10 games before falling in their lost 5. Coach Oneill is really looking forward to see what this team can do this season.

Carlisle has a better out of region schedule than last year, but nobody that is overwhelming which is actually a good thing. They will play Ohio Co, Campbellsville, Livingston Central, Lyon Co., and a holiday tournament.

6. McCracken County – Coach Burlin Brower
2016-17 record: 25-9
Key Losses: Sivils, Tyce, Ellington, Hagan
Key Returners: Cameron Cartwright (10.2 ppg, 39% from 3 pt), Nathan Stonecipher (8.6 ppg)

McCracken had its ups and downs last year, but played very well for the most part. Even though the Mustangs didn’t have a superstar last year, they had a lot of contributors. Unfortunately they lost quite a few of those contributors and will have to reload for this year.

The Mustangs will be led by Cameron Cartwright and Nathan Stonecipher. Cartwright was the second highest scorer for McCracken and the senior guard will be looking to vastly improve on his scoring. He shoots very well from the outside, but will need to push into the middle to open things up for his teammates since he will be the focal point. Nathan Stonecipher is the other senior who will have to give some leadership to this team. He plays with real grit and that can be contagious, especially for a young team. Jackson Sivils is a sophomore that showed some promise last year. Look for him to make some noise as he gets more playing time. Especially if he can keep up his 3 point shooting. Last year he hit nearly 50% of his 3 point attempts.

The Mustangs have a strong out of conference schedule this year again. They will play Henderson County, Christian County, Apollo and Hopkinsville. I don’t see McCracken County competing for the region 1 title this year, but the Mustangs always seem to put a solid team on the floor that plays their hearts out, so anything can happen.

7. Hickman County – Coach Jimmy Long
2016-17 record: 12-15
Key Losses: Grant Davis, Logan Pittman
Key Returners: Dalton Jewel (19.3 ppg, 9.2 rpg), Parker Estes (8.3 ppg)

Hickman Co won the 1st District last year, so they ended the season on a positive note before losing to a very good Mayfield team. The Falcons will rely heavily on Dalton Jewel, the teams leading scorer last year. Jewel has the ability to dominate in the paint, especially now that Chris Vogt has moved on. He can shoot from the outside, but its not where Coach Long would really want him to be. He really needs to improve his free throw shooting. He went to the line over 230 times last year, but made just 146. Parker Estes will running the team from the top. He averages almost 9 ppg last year and truly could improve that to 12-13 ppg. He can shoot from the outside, but needs to work on taking good shots. Betweent the two, if they can work inside and out, they have a great chance of winning the 1st district again, and moving further in the regional tournament.

Hickman mainly will play region 1 teams with the exception of a holiday classic and Dawson Springs.

8. Murray – Coach Dior Curtis
2016-17 record: 16-13
Key Losses: Preston English, Zach Flener
Key Returners: Hunter Utley

Murray has a new coach this year, Dior Curtis. Curtis is not unfamiliar with Murray’s program as he has been the assistant coach for the Tigers for a while. He has a challenge in front of him however. The Tigers lost talented guard Preston English who would have won the Region 1 POY if it weren’t for some guy named Vogt. English averaged nearly 24 ppg and 10 rpg. Those are some huge shoes to fill. Have that and the loss of Zach Flener (11 ppg) and it makes the mountain even higher.

Coach Curtis has two contributors returning from last year, Hunter Utley (6 ppg) and Wil Lovins (5 ppg). Those are the only two players returning who had any significant contribution for the Tigers. The good news, the entire team is pretty young. There is only two seniors on the roster this year. This will give Coach Dior the opportunity to shape the team the way he wants it. Things may be a frustrating year at times this year, but if the Tigers can pull together and get good solid fundamental play, they can setup things for a good run next season. One step at a time.

Murray out of region schedule isn’t too shabby and will have some difficult games. They will play Bullitt Central, Todd Co., and UHA. This teams hopefully will only help them learn and become better.

9. Calloway County – Coach Brad Cleaver
2015-16 record: 21-11
Key Losses: : Kamden Price (18.1 ppg), Payton Johnson (11.0 ppg/ 7.5 rpg)
Key Returners, Jeremy Darnell (7.4 ppg)

Calloway had a good run last year winning the 4th district over Marshall County. Then their coach went to Marshall County and they have hired Brad Cleaver. Cleaver appears to have had a great basketball career at Calloway and Morehead State, but this will be his first head coaching opportunity. Unfortunately, like some other region 1 teams, the Lakers will be starting over again. They have lost their two top contributors from last year in Price and Johnson. They will return only two starters, Jeremy Darnell (Sr.) and Garrett Scott (Jr.). Other than a handful of seniors, this team is another young team made up of a lot of sophomores. Coach Cleaver will have the opportunity to build a program in the way he wants. Region 1 isn’t very strong this year after the first few teams, so a winning record isn’t out of the question, but winning the 4th district will be very difficult.

The Lakers out of region schedule has the team playing Muhlenberg, Todd, Trigg, and Caldwell.

10. Fulton City – Coach Jon Dillard
2016-17 record: 12-17
Key Losses: Areon Ferrell
Key Returners: Devontae Alexander (10.3 ppg/6.0 rpg), Branden Walker (16.9 ppg)

The Bulldogs are one of the few teams in the region who did not lose a lot. They will return almost their entire starting lineup. The problem is they haven’t had a ton of talent to compete with other teams in region 1. However, that may change this year since the Region seems to be weaker than in years past. Walker and Alexander have proven they can score last year. If they can improve on that and on the defensive end, they can make some great strides this season. They should at the very least garner a winning record this season. They probably won’t compete for the Region title, but they can still have a successful season.

Fulton City should be better than most teams in the bottom half of the region. They have a very weak out of region schedule that will help their wins totals this year.

11. Fulton County – Coach Jamie Madding
2016-17 record: 11-19
Key Losses: Davis Major, Kahari Miller
Key Returners: Andreous Smith (13.8 ppg/ 5.9 rpg), Caleb Kimble (7.5 ppg)

The Pilots had a tough go of it last year, and unfortunately this year won’t be any easier for Coach Madding. Fulton County loses two of its top scorers in Major and Miller. They will have 3 starters returning, but only Smith and Kimble had major contributions last year. The good news for the Pilots is that really started to play better at the end of last year and made games closer than they should have been. They still lost, but showed tremendous improvement. That is the hope of what will take place this year for FC. They are a very young team with mostly freshman and sophomores, but if they can gel and get some good play from Smith and Kimble, they can win some games and make things close.

12. Ballard Memorial – Coach Marla Cooper
2016-17 record: 7-21
Key Losses Jamarrion Williams
Key Returners: Chandler Bradley (8.6 ppg), Dequin Donlow (7.7 ppg)

The Bombers had a tough season last year, and coach Cooper knew that would be the case going in. They had a great 3 game stretch heading into the region 1 tournament where they won 3 games. Coach Cooper is hoping that this year the team can pick up from that success. There are six seniors on the roster this year. They are led by Chandler Bradley and Dequin Donlow. Both of them will be relied upon to pick up their game and doing some scoring. The Pilots lost top scorer Jamarrion Williams, so they will rely on the duo to pick up the slack. They will also look to Matthew Grogan and Ramon Heard to pick up some slack and make bigger contributions this year.

Look for the Pilots to improve upon last year’s record, but hold expectations in check. It will be difficult for them to get that .500 mark, but they may surprise some.

13. St. Mary – Coach Greg Overstreet
2015-16 record: 12-17
Key Losses: John MacCauley, Aaron Higgins
Key Returners: Hale Sims

The Vikings lose the second leading scorer in the Region, John MacCauley, who averaged 20 ppg. They also lose Aaron Higgins who averaged just under 10 per game. This is significant because St. Mary only averaged 50 ppg. When over half of your scoring is gone, it can make for an unpleasant season. St Mary does have Hale Sims returning so they don’t lose all of their scoring. And they could have another MacCauley show up and play a big game. MacCauley came out of nowhere to lead the Vikings in scoring. Coach Overstreet can hope for another MacCauley this year, but if that doesn’t happen, it could be a very long season indeed.

14. Community Christian Paducah – Coach Daniel Durrett / Rhet McMullen
2015-16 record: 0-30
Key Losses: Logan Browning
Key Returners: Jonathan Rogers

Going winless over the course of a 30 game season is pretty difficult. Things won’t get any easier for the Warriors this year after they lose their leading scorer who averaged almost 16ppg in Browning. Community Christian just can’t field enough talent to compete with most of the teams in Region 1, although their closest game last year was a 7 point loss to Fulton City in the All “A” Classic. Unfortunately for CCA, this may be another tough year, but hopefully wins won’t elude them as much. There is always the possibility of some guys rising to the challenge and growing in their skills with hard work. This team always plays hard and lays it all out every game, even though they don’t match up well.

Top Players to Watch in Region 1

Jerome Reed, Paducah Tilghman (Center/Forward) Senior
Arguably the most talented player in Region 1, Reed had another great summer and looks to be the leader for the Tornados this year. When he is on, he seems unstoppable, but he will need to cut down on fundamental mistakes. He will dominate smaller teams and will hold his own against bigger ones. Exciting to watch and most likely will play at the next level if he continues to improve throughout the year. Team him up with Rodriguez, and he could average close to a double/double on the season.

Connor Guthrie, Mayfield (Guard) – Junior
Conner is probably the best shooter in the region and should be considered one of the best in the state. He lives for the outside shot. Last year he took over 200 shots from 3 points range making 45% of them. He doesn’t have to be set to hit the shot either. He is just as good taking the shot off the dribble and he is setting up and hitting from the outside. He is decent ball handler, but he would be the guy that will hit the big shot when you need it. Pressure doesn’t seem to get to him and he has a chance to play at the next level the way he can shoot.

Carson Guthrie, Mayfield (Guard/Forward) - Junior
Carson is the brother of Connor and probably the more complete player. He has the ability to play inside or outside. He can shoot, rebound, pass, and handle the ball with ease. He is as complete a player in Region 1 as there is, and he is only a junior. He had a huge game in AAU this summer where he carried his team with 32 points and 12 rebounds including 6 three pointers. He compliments his brother’s game and that is what makes the two of them so dangerous. There is a good possibility Carson averages close to 20 ppg and 10 rpg this season…it would not be a surprise if it happens.

Ryan Mathis, Graves County (Guard) Junior
Mathis had been known in Graves as the 2nd best player on the team. Now that Vogt is gone, he is indeed now the best player on the team. Ryan has good ball handling skills, adequate range from 3 point, but he simply is smart for his age and will continue to improve. He seems to excel in big games. He led the Eagles in scoring multiple times last year and was a huge leader on the floor. When he went down in late January because of an off court injury. He recovered quicker than expected and was able to play in the region 1 playoffs and beyond. He should continue to grow and mature.

Rodriguez Thomas , Paducah Tilghman (Guard) Junior
Thomas is a very good player with a pretty good work ethic. He can handle the ball well and is good at penetration. He has a pretty good outside shot, but shoots better from a set position than he does off the dribble. He knows his way around the basket and moves well away from the ball to get open. He still makes some silly mistakes and needs to cut down on those mistakes. He has a pretty high upside. He really needs to make the most of his time with Reed this year.

Dalton Jewel, Hickman County (Center/Forward) Senior
Dalton Jewel is the best big man in the Region next to Jerome Reed. He has great presence around the basket. He rebounds well and shoots well in the paint. He is not as quick as some of his counterparts, but he makes up for that with some savy play on the inside. Really don’t want him straying to far from the basket, but he will shoot from 3 pt range, but it is not advised (25%). It would be really interesting to see what he could do if he was on a higher caliber team. He very well may lead the Region in scoring this year after finishing 3rd last year (19.8 ppg). He also could average a double/double for the season after coming so close last year (9.2 rpg).

Trey Wilson, Carlisle County (Guard) Senior
Wilson is a scrappy player who knows his way around the floor. He is quick and keeps his head up while handling the ball so he has good vision of where his teammates are. He penetrates well and makes good decisions with the ball. He can shoot from the outside. He has a good set shot and is decent shooting off the dribble. He could really use another scorer on his team to take pressure off of him.

Jordan Noranjo, Graves County (Guard) Junior
Noranjo had an opportunity to show what kind of player he was last year when Ryan Mathis went down with injury. He didn't dissapoint. He also carried Graves County to the Region 1 championship with 28 points. He can score from anywhere on the floor, but relies a lot on his jump shot and quickness when getting to the basket.

Joe Workman, Paducah Tilghman (Guard) Senior
Workman was a little of a surprise last year. It was a pleasant surprise for the Tornados. Workman, who wasn't on the team in 2015, scored 27 and 19 points in his first two games. He hit over 38% of his threes last year and he is a nice compliment to Reed and Rodriguez. He can handle the ball well and sees the floor well too. He will play a big part in Tilghman's tournament run this year.

Andreous Smith, Fulton County. (Guard/Forward) Senior
Smith averaged almost 14 points and 6 rebounds per game last year as a junior. Smith has a better inside game than outside. He still shot over 115 times from 3 point range, only hitting 24 of them. If he can shoot better from the outside this year, and continue his work inside, he will have a very nice year, even if playing for an inferior team.