The Fern Creek Tigers made school history last season advancing to the State Sweet 16 Championship for the 1st time in school history. After taking 94 years for Fern Creek to win a regional championship, can they turn around and repeat this season for their 2nd consecutive trip to Rupp? Recent history in the 6th region indicates that trips to Rupp in March come in 2's. In 2011 & 2012 Bullitt East went back to back. In 2013 & 2014 PRP represented the 6th in Lexington. Then in 2015 & 2016 it was the turn of the Doss Dragons to have a repeat trip. Now in 2018 will it be Fern Creek to continue the interesting trend of back to back championships after going to Rupp in 2017?

PRP and Doss should have something to say about Fern Creek keeping up that repeat trend as they both will field strong clubs, especially PRP. Valley & Butler are likely the strongest contenders to join PRP & Doss in keeping Fern Creek from advancing in consecutive years. But as the season kicks off, Fern Creek appears to have history on their side and they have the personnel to make a repeat trip to Rupp Arena in March with 4 of their top 5 scorers returning from their history making season last year.

TEAM RANKINGS

1. Fern Creek Tigers

Recent repeat history aside, picking Fern Creek as the top team in the region makes the most sense. Coach James Schooler, is entering his fifth season as the Tiger's head coach. When entering only his second season as a head coach, it was widely known that Coach Schooler had a very highly rated freshman 2018 class. The question was whether he could win going young while competing in the 6th region. He took the risk as he opted to start three of those freshman with the hopes they would gain experience that would pay off down the road. The end of the road is appearing and that experience should have a major impact in this 2018 season for the Tigers.

After going 35-3 while making it to the Final Four of the State Tournament, the season brings high expectations. Schooler welcomes back two of those former freshmen who have become 4 year starters for the Tigers, elite PG Anthony Wales and versatile Wing, Ahmad Price. They are arguably the best two players in the region. Region Coaches have elected Wales to the 1st team All-6th Region after both his sophomore & junior seasons while Price was a 1st team selection after his junior season. Seniors Tony Rogers and Clint Wickliffe did not play as early as Wales or Price in their careers, but they were major contributors last season and are expected to be two of the better players in the region this season with plenty of experience themselves. Look for freshmen Jayden Rogers (Tony's younger brother) to contribute in scoring and 6'6" Darius Washington to add presence in the paint as Schooler continues to not be afraid to send freshmen to battle in the rugged 6th region.

2. Pleasure Ridge Park Panthers

Coach Dale Mabry is simply a legend in the 6th Region and Metro Louisville; for the entire state for that matter. His teams becomes especially dangerous when he returns as many contributing players as he has coming back this season. Rarely does PRP avoid the loss of talented seniors to graduation, but this season their top 3 scorers return and 7 of their top 8 from last season.
Last season had some ups and downs, but PRP finished with a very respectable 18-11 record. Doss ended the Panther's season in the region semi-finals when PRP only scored 29 points. This season the team has 3 seniors that averaged double figure scoring led by Trey Hill followed by Gerald Gray and BJ Robinson. This year they should continue to lead PRP along with 6'7" Junior Darius Osborne who could be a surprise top player in the region as he matures into his long body. Trey Hill started his career as a key member of the 2018 Fern Creek class until he transferred to PRP during his sophomore season. Now he will be the key to the PRP team that is aiming to dethrone his former teammates. PRP and Fern Creek open the season on November 28 against each other in a preview of what could become the regional final in February.

3. Doss Dragons

Doss was just minutes away from a third straight trip to Rupp Arena until a very close game with Fern Creek tilted towards the Tigers in the last minutes. Doss must recover from losing their best player who also was one of the best players in all of Louisville, Jaylon Hall. Hall has moved on to play Division 1 basketball at Wright State, but the team leader is now Stephon Franklin who has a lot of experience leading winning teams. Stephon played in the State Tournament as a sophomore and is the leader of the Dragons this season. There have been some question marks exactly who will be on the floor with Franklin, but from what we expect it seems like 1st year Coach Blake Stone has assembled a solid supporting cast to go along with Franklin.
Several contributors from last season are big time football players, Terez Traynor & Shawnkel Knight-Goff, who still could change their mind by electing to forego basketball to concentrate on preparing for college football. So far it seems Coach Stone has kept their interest in returning to the basketball court upon football ending. But the major addition is Taye Calloway who followed Coach Stone from Henderson to move to Louisville to complete his final year with Doss. Calloway was the leading scorer for Henderson County last season. The addition of Calloway is why Doss lands in the top 3 and puts them in a position to regain the 6th region title they lost to Fern Creek last season. However, it will be more of a challenge for Doss if any of of that trio ends up not suiting up for the Dragons this season.

4. Butler Bears

Coach KC Goodin returns for his 3rd season with perhaps his best scenario for reaching the regional tournament after being eliminated twice by DeSales in 22nd District 1st round play. There is not an overwhelming favorite between Doss, Butler, or DeSales this season and it is not unreasonable to think Butler could obtain the #1 seed heading into the District tournament. In order to make it to the regionals a #1 district seed almost insures avoiding DeSales a 3rd straight time with a regional berth at stake. Butler at a minimum will improve on their 16-12 record from last season.
Goodin has to replace his three top scorers, but PG Jaquay Wales and Center Michael Burns have plenty of experience with many other younger players looking good at times last seasons as well. Maurice Tolley leads a strong junior class, but the team will only go as far as Wales & Burns are able to take them.

5. Valley Vikings

Valley had an outstanding season last year finishing 22-9 before dropping to Fern Creek in the Regional Semi-Finals. The good news is they return their top 2 scorers in Junior Cam Wilson (15 ppg) and Senior Curt Lewis (13 ppg). Tre Anderson, another senior is the third Viking that returns with a double digit scoring average, but the Vikings lose their 2 post players in Eric George and Raekwon Evans who were also their best rebounders. Valley Head Coach, DeJuan Wheat, made a name for himself as one of the best guards to ever come out of Louisville. How Coach Wheat can improve upon his first season will depend on his ability to get the most out of his trio of guards that all scored in double figures last season.

6. DeSales Colts

The 2016-17 season produced a 18-13 record and advancement to the Sixth Regionals where they lost in a first round game with Fern Creek. The loss of Jaxon Burgess (19 ppg) will make it difficult to achieve the same level of success, but Head Coach Tom Crews is one of the best in the 6th at getting the most of his talent. Fortunately he does have his 2nd leading scorer, Sam Weining, back to lessen the load of replacing Burgess. Sam is a very good player that will pair with big man Travis Seibert to lead the Colts who should be a very good rebounding team as they were the leading rebounders on the team last season. DeSales will need Dalton Kelly to step up his scoring as he returns with the most experience from the guard positions.

7. Fairdale Bulldogs

The Bulldogs have some questions entering the 2017-18 season. Gone from last year’s 13-17 team are the top 2 rebounders and inside players, Craig Ashe & Isaiah Roby. The good news is Glenn Queen returns and he was the leading scorer and playmaker of the team. Coach David Hicks had his team very competitive in the region going 9-9 and will have his team playing hard as they most often do. The 21st District is very competitive and this year will be no different. PRP & Valley may be higher ranked going into the season, but do not be surprised to see the Bulldogs heading to regionals this season. Along with Queen, look for sharpshooters Markelo Sullivan (senior) and Jaxon Gaddie (junior) to lead the team in scoring. This team could surprise people if they are able to get some post play and rebounding help.

8. Holy Cross Cougars

Coach Kent Foushee, returns again this season as his first full season at the top after stepping in for Holy Cross last year mid-season. His biggest weapon will be the tallest player in the 6th region, Ethan Driskell, who also happens to be a Division 1 football prospect. Ethan was the 3rd leading scorer (7 ppg) last season on a team that scored by committee without any scorer in double figures. However, Ethan was far and away the team's leading rebounder as he averaged 7 rpg as well. This year he is poised to have a very good season as he has worked to improve on his overall game. Expect a double double average for points & rebounds from what could be the best big man in all of Louisville. Cooper Scott, Jaren McDonald, Cade Crowley, and Sam Bearden all contributed last season and will do so again this year. Could Holy Cross ride their dominant post player to the regional tournament?

9. Bullitt East Chargers

This is probably the lowest the Chargers have been in a pre-season rating in a long time and it is too low based on their tradition. They have lost so much to graduation and the returning squad does not have much experience returning beyond the very talented Luke Ezell. Jason Couch is a very good coach and the combination of his coaching and Luke leading this team should not be underestimated. It is very possible that Bullitt East will continue their run and be right outside the top 2 or 3 teams while making another regional tournament after being upset by Jeffersontown last season. Luke is a very exciting and fun player to watch, but will need some help. Sean Johnson is another guard who played last season, but will need to really come on to form a guard tandem that helps this team along as the inexperienced players get used to game situations.

10. Jeffersontown Chargers

Jeffersontown has a new coach that will bring this team the experience and winning tradition it needs very badly. Richard Duncan has been with Doss the past few seasons going to back to back state tournaments prior to last season. Richard was a great player himself back in the day and was noted for his defensive excellence. If Coach Duncan can get his team to buy in to his fundamentals training and defensive strategy they could take a big leap this season despite losing talented players to graduation. This season his primary scoring contributors will be junior Chris Trigg and senior Jalen Davis.

11. Western Warriors

Coach James Jones begins his 1st season after replacing long time coach, Terrence Moorman. Coach Jones will bring his enthusiasm and training philosophy to improve the talent that is at Western. Stoney Mack (senior), Rusean Wright (junior), and Kharee Edelen (junior) all appear to be ready to contribute in the new era of the Warriors under Coach Jones.

12. Iroquois Raiders

Coach Jeff Morrow is one of the better X & O coaches on the sidelines in the 6th region. His stint at Iroquois has not provided him the talent he has coached in his previous stops. This year he hopes to improve upon last season's 15-17 record and he has the 2nd & 3rd leading scorers returning to give him more than a fighting chance. Keelan Kennedy and Davarrio Martin were each double figure scorers and will lead this team to what could be a surprise ending if Coach Morrow can work his magic again.

13. Moore Mustangs

Coach Roy Sutton has done a great job advancing to the regional tournament in both of his seasons as the head coach of the Mustangs. As he enters his 3rd season, he needs to rebuild some. His best player will be Junior JJ Weaver who also happens to be one of the best football players in the state of the 2019 class. JJ will keep this team competitive and Coach Sutton could likely reach the regional tournament a third consecutive time.

14. Southern Trojans

Long time Coach Shedrick Jones must replace the vast majority of his team as the three top scorers all graduated and they each were the primary players in all aspects. The lone returning starter is Matthew Jones who will be counted upon to score in double figures as they look to find a replacement for all of their departing scorers.

15. North Bullitt Eagles

Coach Korey Craddock will look to improve on a 7-23 season. This season Peyton Luttrell will be the most experienced returning starter and expect freshman TJ Toney to be a big assist to the team's future success.

16. Bullitt Central Cougars

Coach Jesse Curry is coming off a 10-18 season and hopes to improve enough to challenge for making the regional tournament again. Tyler Tatum had a great freshman season leading the team in scoring and returns as a sophomore expecting to step up his game with a season under his belt.

17. Beth Haven Bearcats

Coach Timothy Hood will try to improve upon a 12-16 record last season. Beth Haven will play a schedule that allows it to taste some success during the regular season. However, once post-season starts it will struggle again.

18. Evangel Christian Eagles

Coach Joe Washington had a 6-22 season last season. Malik Shabazz returns for his senior season who averaged over 17 ppg last season. He may be the best player without awareness in the region.

19. Whitefield Academy Wildcats

Coach Chris Vaughn has the difficult task of rebuilding the Wildcats after 6 wins last season. Tyler Nauert hopes to lead his team to an improved record.

TOP TEN PLAYERS

At the end of the 2016/17 season, 6th regions coaches voted for the CJ All-Region team and 5 juniors were selected to the 1st team while 4 landed on the 2nd team. No sophomores or freshmen were elected. These rankings will start off with those 9 and add a tenth because these are proven players from the 2018 class. That doesn't mean there won't be others worthy, plenty of players like Clint Wickliffe, Cam Wilson, Jaquay Wales, and Tony Rogers could end up being Top 10 players by the time the season ends. Here are the Top 10 to start the season.....

1. Anthony Wales, Fern Creek, 5’11” senior

Elite PG who facilitates and who can score from anywhere on the floor. Only D-1 signee during the early signing period as he executed his LOI with Samford University. He has been on the 1st team 6th Region in both his sophomore and junior seasons while last year being the 2nd leader of receiving votes behind his Fern Creek teammate, Chance Moore, who was Regional POY. Best about Wales is that he carries the "winner" tag when being described.

2. Ahamd Price, Fern Creek, 6’3” senior

5th leading vote getter at the end of last season and again he carries the "winner" tag like his teammate Wales. They each have started since their freshmen campaigns. Price is a great rebounding wing who slashes to the hole with a mean streak. He will play D-1 basketball and has several schools with interest that are awaiting his senior season.

3. Trey Hill, PRP, 6’4” senior

Trey followed Price as the 6th leading vote getter and another well-rounded player who can score when attacking the basket like few can. Trey was also at Fern Creek his freshman season, but has done extremely well at PRP after leaving during his sophomore year. Trey also will play at the D-1 level and has several schools including EKU watching him this senior season. He has very good size and can guard many positions at the next level as well.

4. Curt Lewis, Valley 6’3” senior

Curt was 7th in votes placed after last season and should gain more attention this season while leaving high school with Division I offers as he is very solid in all aspects of his game. He is a good combo guard that has an athletic way about him that leaves you wanting even more production because the game comes so easy to him.

5. Luke Ezell, Bullitt East, 5’10” senior

Luke finished with the 8th leading vote total behind Lewis and was the 5th Junior to make the 1st All-6th Region team along with those mentioned above. He is the most exciting and fun player to watch in the 6th region. He is so smart and exceptional with his penetration. Despite not being as big or strong as others, he still produces at a high level. Luke will be playing basketball at some level in the future when he ends his career at Bullitt East.

6. Glenn Queen, Fairdale, 5'11"” senior

A finisher with the ability to make scoring opportunities for his teammates as well. Queen can get it done from both the outside and inside, but it is his strength going to the hole that makes him an intriguing prospect at some level in college.

7. Gerald Gray, PRP, 6’2” senior

Gerald has a high basketball IQ and is a good shooter at both the 3 point line and with an improving mid-range game. Gerald has some of his best basketball ahead of him and should land at some level in the future, especially if he continues to grow as he is starting to show.

8. Stephon Franklin, Doss, 6’1” senior

Significant contributor for the Doss Dragons the past two seasons. Should lead his team in scoring and be the leader who is capable of playing D-1 basketball if the right things fall in place for him. Very strong going to the hole and if his quickness improves could be an exceptional defender with his strong upper body.

9. BJ Robinson, PRP, 6’2” senior

A standout on the football field, BJ was voted to the 2nd team last year in basketball as well. He has been focused on his football during the off season, so it will be interesting to see if others who focused on basketball will catch up to this high leaper.

10. Ethan Driskell, Holy Cross, 6’9” senior

There are many players worthy of taking this last and final spot, but not many have the size to dominate a game like Ethan does. He will likely play football in college as he has a D1 offer from Marshall to do so already, but a great year on the basketball court could have some college basketball programs calling.

Hope you have comments and can add to this preview with your thoughts on the rugged 6th Region. This is a strong 6th region this year with as many as 5-7 players that could easily end up on a Division 1 roster at some time in their college career.