Sixth Region Preview

Butler is poised to enter the 2018-19 boys' high school basketball season as the favorite in the Sixth Region. After capturing back-to-back Sixth Region boys' basketball championship, Fern Creek much replace all five of its starters from the 2017-18 season squad but remains a title contender. In addition to Butler and Fern Creek, the Sixth Region will have Pleasure Ridge Park, Doss, Jeffersontown, Valley and Bullitt Central, among a few others, in the title mix.

A look at the Sixth Region follows.

Sixth Region Boys' Basketball Preseason Rankings

1. Butler (27-4): Preseason favorite Butler returns leading scorer Maurice Tolley (14.5 ppg) as it looks to dethrone back-to-back champion Fern Creek. Tolley is a senior guard. Butler lost four starters to graduation but returns an overall experienced group. Junior guards Trey Minter (6.1 ppg) and Jadon Lamb (5.7 ppg) and junior forward Cameron Underwood are also back on the court for the Bears. Butler lost to Pleasure Ridge Park in the 2018 Sixth Region Boys' Basketball Tournament quarterfinals.

2. Fern Creek (27-7): Two-time reigning Sixth Region champion Fern Creek is faced with the tough task of replacing all five starters from the 2017-18 season. Senior forward Jaxon Gaddie is left to provide leadership the Tigers. Along with Gaddie, Fern Creek returns sophomores Jaden Rogers (G), Devean Franklin (F) and Darrius Washington (F).
The Tigers lost to eventual state champion Covington Catholic in the quarterfinals of the 2018 Sweet 16 Boys' Basketball State Tournament.

3. Pleasure Ridge Park (21-11): After reaching the Sixth Region semifinals, Pleasure Ridge Park lost its top three scorers to graduation. Leading scorer Gerald Gray (17.3 ppg) was among the losses. But the reigning 21st District champion returns senior forward Darius Osborne (7.9 ppg, 7 rpg) and junior power forward Antwan Lockhart (5.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg). Other returning players for Pleasure Ridge Park include senior guards Cashawn Beasley, Shawn Paris and Tyler Anderson.

4. Doss (24-7): Reigning 22nd District champion Doss is expected to reload for the 2017-18 season. The Dragons lost leading scorer Stephon Franklin (13.6 ppg) to graduation. However, senior guard Jeremiah Boyd (8.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and senior forward Shawnkel Knight-Goff (4.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg) are key players back from the Doss boys' basketball team's previous campaign. The Dragons' 2017-18 season ended with a loss to eventual champion Fern Creek in the Sixth Region semifinals.

5. Jeffersontown (17-14): With its top three scorers back from the 2017-18 season, Jeffersontown figures to be ranked among the Sixth Region's top five teams consistently. The Chargers finished runner-up to Fern Creek in the Sixth Region last season. Senior forward Chris Trigg (12 ppg, 5.6 rpg) is due to lead the way for the Chargers. But Trigg isn't alone. Jeffersontown also returns two other senior forwards, Blake Butler (9 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Justin Baker, along with senior guard Adrian Hatcher.

6. Valley (18-11): For Valley, replacing Sixth Region Player of the Year Curtis Lewis (25 ppg) might take some time. But Coach DeJuan Wheat returns a talented squad. Senior guard Cam Wilson (14.5 ppg) is back to lead the Vikings. Along with Wilson, Valley has welcomed back seniors Xavier Johnson (G), Tyreek Ingram (G), Rajae Johnson (G), Jerry Davis (F) and Isaac Clair (F). The Vikings fell to rival Pleasure Ridge Park in the quarterfinals of the 2018 21st District Boys' Basketball Tournament.

7. Bullitt Central (20-13): With all its starters back from the 2017-18 season, reigning 23rd District champion Bullitt Central is an experienced unit. Junior shooting guard Tyler Tatum (14.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg) and junior guards Jacob Mann (11 ppg, 3.3 rpg) and Chander Ocasio (10.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg) form a talented trio for the Cougars. Forward Trey Kearney (Sr., 8.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg) and point guard Aiden Terry (Sr., 6.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg) provide leadership for the Bullitt Central boys' basketball team.

8. Moore (7-22): Look for senior forward JJ Weaver to make a smooth transition from the gridiron to the hardwood and lead a much-improved Moore boys' basketball team in the season ahead. After an exceptional football season, Weaver (11.3 ppg, 7 rpg) returns as the Mustangs' top scorer. Moore lost leading scorer Larz Smith to graduation but in addition to Weaver returns senior guard Deiontay Branch (6.5 ppg) and junior guard Quintin Anderson (5.6 ppg). Along with its returnees, Moore added senior Hunter McCutcheon, a transfer from Male. As a sophomore during the 2016-17 season, McCutcheon averaged 13.5 points per game for the Bulldogs.

9. Bullitt East (15-16): After nearly finishing the 2017-18 season at the .500 mark, Bullitt East must replace leading scorer Luke Ezell (14.5 ppg). However, another player who averaged double figures in the scoring column last season, senior guard Thomas Wisehart (12 ppg), returns to pace Bullitt East, which lost in overtime to Jeffersontown in the 2018 24th District Boys' Basketball Tournament quarterfinals.

10. Southern (11-14): Senior guard Rickie Wright (8.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg) and junior guard Isaiah Jackson (8 ppg, 3.6 rpg) form an experienced tandem for Southern, which lost leading scorer Matthew Jones (11.9 ppg) to graduation. Along with Wright and Jackson, Southern features senior center Tobias Thompson, junior guard Kaden Crawley and sophomore guards Camden Pfeister and Devonte Wilson.

11. Holy Cross (16-13): The Cougars return one of the most experienced units in the Sixth Region. The group features a pair of players that averaged double figures in scoring during the 2017-18 season. Senior guard Cade Crawley (12.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg) and junior small forward Sam Bearden (10.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg) are the top two scorers back for the Cougars. Holy Cross also features senior guards Keeton Thornsberry (6.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg) and Jaren McDonald (6.1 ppg).

12. DeSales (14-15): Graduation took its toll on DSales as leading sorer Sam Weining (20 ppg) moved on. But a new leader is expected to pace the Colts. DeSales returns senior point guard Keegan Brewer (15.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg) as well as senior power forward Matthew Ruckreigle (9.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg). Another player expected to contribute for the Colts is Logan Lautzenheiser,

13. Fairdale (21-11): Forced to replace its top five scorers from the 2017-18 season, Fairdale will need new leaders to emerge early during the upcoming campaign. Kentucky All-Star Markelo Sullivan (23.2 ppg) leaves a scoring void for the Bulldogs. The leading contributors back for Fairdale are senior forward Jacobi Dixon, junior guard Stephen Moore and junior forward Tristan Bertrand.

14. Iroquois (20-11): After recording a 20-win season, Iroquois must place its top five scorers, three of whom averaged double figures. Keelan Kennedy was among the five graduates. Kennedy averaged 20.9 points per game for the Raiders during the 2017-18 season. Senior Antayvione Hubbard and junior Antoine Butler are the top two players back for the Raiders.

15. Whitefield Academy (14-14): Minus leading scorer Tyler Nauert (13.8 ppg), Whitefield Academy will rely more on two other proven scorers. Junior guard Trevor Nauert (11 ppg) and senior forward Will Hedgespeth (9.1 ppg) will lead the Wildcats. Whitefield Academy fell to Fern Creek in the opening round of the 2018 24th District Boys' Basketball Tournament.

16. North Bullitt (13-16): The Eagles lost leading scorer Lance Johnson (12 ppg) to graduation. A guard, Johnson provided a spark for North Bullitt throughout the 2017-18 season. But North Bullitt returns an experienced group. Senior guard Corey Girton (11.7 ppg), sophomore TJ Toney (8.8 ppg) and juniors Logan Steinmacher (6.3 ppg). Michael Richerson (5 ppg) and Branden Hill (4.3 ppg) are back for the Eagles.

17. Western (4-22): Leading scorer Neairon Finisson (9.9 ppg), a junior wing, returns to lead the Warriors. However, Western must replace three of its top four scorers. Another junior wing, Demarcus Avery, as well as junior guard Jaden Neal and senior forward Seth Sales, return for the Warriors.

18. Beth Haven (6-21): Following a six-win season, Beth Haven must replace the top two scorers from its 2017-18 team. Senior center Zach McClain (10.2 pp, 7.3 rpg) is the top player back for Bearcats. Along with McClain, junior guard Austin Whitehouse (4.3 ppg) is back for the Beth Haven boys' basketball team.

19. Evangel Christian (3-21): Replacing leading scorer Malik Shabazz (23.1 ppg) won't be easy for the Eagles. However, Evangel Christian returns junior small forward Nick Cruse (11 ppg) as well as senior guard Cameron Steffan, senior point guard Dawson Cartia, senior power forward Daniel Cano and sophomore center Colan Trudeaux.

Top 10 Players

1. Cam Wilson (Valley): One of the state's most underrated boys' high school basketball players, Wilson was in the shadow of Sixth Region Player of the Year Curt Lewis throughout the 2017-18 season. Wilson averaged 14.5 points per game for the Vikings during the 2017-18 season and is ready to lead his team as a senior guard.

2. Maurice Tolley (Butler): Preseason favorite Butler is looking to live up to its billing as Tolley, a senior guard, carries the biggest load. Tolley averaged 14.5 points per game during Butler's 27-4 run last season.

3. Darius Osborne (Pleasure Ridge Park): A senior power forward, Osborne is capable of averaging a double-double for the Panthers. Osborne averaged 7.9 points and 7 rebounds per game for Pleasure Ridge Park last season.

4. Chris Trigg (Jeffersontown): Trigg, a senior forward, averaged a team-high 12 points and 5.6 rebounds per game for the Chargers as a junior.

5. Jaden Rogers (Fern Creek): The most productive player back for the two-time defending Sixth Region champion, Rogers is a versatile performer. He'll take on a large role for the Tigers during the season ahead.

6. JJ Weaver (Moore): Set to play NCAA Division I Football, Weaver isn't quite finished on the hardwood. A senior forward, Weaver (11.3 ppg, 7 rpg) is another player capable of averaging a double-double.

7. Keegan Brewer (DeSales): Among the Sixth Region's top scorers, Brewer averaged 15 points per game for the Colts last season. Brewer, a senior point guard, connected on 53-of-151 3-point field goal attempts during his junior campaign.

8. Jeremiah Boyd (Doss): A senior guard and a proven leader, Boyd is poised to reach double figures in the scoring column on a regular basis for the Dragons during the 2018-19 season.

9. Darius Washington (Fern Creek): Another key player for Sixth Region two-time reigning champion Fern Creek, Washington excelled throughout the offseason.

10. Tyler Tatum (Bullitt Central): The consistent Tatum averaged 14.6 points per game for the Cougars as a sophomore. He's heading into a promising junior season that could have him scoring over 500 points.