The Butler Bears prevailed as the champions of the Sixth Region last season, putting an end to Fern Creek’s two-year streak as regional champion. With several key contributors returning, Coach K.C. Goodin is sure to have the Bears at or near the top of the region again this year.

But Fern Creek’s outstanding trio of sophomores return as an outstanding trio of juniors. And they won’t be the only challengers for Sixth Region supremacy, as there are a number of teams that might end up at the top of the heap by season’s end. As has been the case the past several years, the competition in the Sixth Region will be fierce.

TEAM RANKINGS

1. Fern Creek Tigers

Last season’s 14-12 record and not reaching the Sixth Region tournament is not what Coach James Schooler has come to expect from the Tigers. Just three seasons ago, the Tigers went 35-2, won the Sixth Region, and advanced to the semi-finals of the state tournament. Two years ago, Fern Creek was 27-7, again won the Sixth Region, and made it to the state tournament quarterfinals.

The Tigers may return to those lofty heights this season. Returning for Fern Creek are three of the best players in the region, all juniors, in Jaden Rogers (17.5 ppg), Darrius Washington (12.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg), and Zek Montgomery (11.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg). Rogers is a 6’0” guard who can score in a variety of ways. Washington is 6’8” and recently received his first Division I scholarship offer from Morehead. I suspect more will follow. At 6’6”, Montgomery adds size and athleticism to the Tigers’ frontcourt but can also score from the outside.

A pair of sophomores, Andru Markham (5.3 ppg) and Darien Lewis, should see significant minutes for the Tigers. Coach Schooler also expects newcomer junior Ce’Arius Warren, who averaged 7.6 ppg and 8.3 rpg at Southern last year, to add energy and be a major contributor.

I think we will see that last season’s 14-12 record was an aberration. Look for Coach Schooler to have the very talented Tigers back at the top of the region this year.

2. Butler Bears

The Butler Bears are coming off two outstanding seasons. After finishing 27-4 in the 2017-18 season, the Bears went 26-8 last season, won the Sixth Region, and advanced to the second round of the state tournament before losing to Scott County. Veteran coach K.C. Goodin has got something good going at Butler.

In trying to achieve a similar level of success this season, the Bears must deal with the loss of their top scorer Maurice Tolley (13 ppg). While Tolley definitely will be missed, Coach Goodin welcomes back the next three leading scorers from last year, seniors Trey Minter (10 ppg), Jordan Lamb (8.3 ppg), and Cameron Underwood (7.6 ppg). Underwood also was the leading rebounder at 5.5 rpg. Other returnees with substantial playing experience are seniors Yusef Chandler-Westbrooks (30 games last season) and Tom Dozier (32 games).

Coach Goodin will look to juniors Tae Dozier, Mershon Dickerson, and Corey Mucker to see increased minutes and become important contributors. In addition, Turrell Cleaves is a talented sophomore who likely will see plenty of action for the Bears.

While the loss of Maurice Tolley should not be downplayed, the Bears have a veteran coach, multiple returning starters, and additional talented players. That sounds like a recipe for success. Look for the Butler Bears to again compete for the Sixth Region championship.

3. Bullitt East Chargers

Coming off a 20-13 season in which they advanced to the Sixth Region championship game against Butler, the Bullitt East Chargers look to have a similar season this year. Their ability to do so is enhanced by the presence of one of the best returning players in the region in 6’0” senior Zak Perdew. Perdew averaged 15.8 ppg last season and should again be one of the region’s leading scorers.

The big question facing the Chargers is who will step up to fill the void created by the loss of their next three top scorers from last season. Junior Josiah Morris (6.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and senior Hunter Brogan (5.7 ppg) should see their offensive numbers increase.

The Chargers ended last season winning eight of their last nine games, with most of those wins coming against Sixth Region opponents. With Zak Perdew leading the charge, Bullitt East could see similar stretches of success this season.

4. Pleasure Ridge Park Panthers

First year head coach Larry Kihnley faces the impossible task of replacing Dale Mabry, who coached the Panthers for 38 years, amassed an overall record of 937-283 (second most wins in KHSAA history), and led PRP to the 1989 state championship. In his remarkable career, Coach Mabry also led the Panthers to two state runner-up finishes and six Louisville Invitational Tournament titles.

But Coach Kihnley is no stranger to PRP basketball, having graduated from the school and serving as an assistant to Mabry since 1983. And he is intimately familiar with the substantial talent that returns for the Panthers.

Leading the way for the Panthers will be senior point guard James Taylor Jr., who moved to PRP at the beginning of last season and played in 19 games, averaging 8.3 ppg. Taylor is very talented and is expected to have a tremendous senior season. Three additional seniors expected to contribute are Josh Williams ( 6’4”, 5.5 ppg), Jake Miller (5’10”, 6.6 ppg), and Antwan Lockhart (6’2”). Williams should lead the team in rebounding, while Miller was one of the city’s top shooters last season at 47% from 3-point range (61/131). 6’2” junior Nevin White is expected to be the fifth starter. The Panthers should have plenty of depth, including 5’7” freshman Zek McCown, who Coach Kihnley says is the best freshman to enter the PRP basketball program in the last nine seasons.

5. DeSales Colts

DeSales lost its top two scorers from last year in Keegan Brewer (21.4 ppg) and Matthew Ruckriegle (19.3 ppg, 11 rpg), but Coach Damien Anderson welcomes back three seniors, including Logan Lautzenheiser (9.6 ppg) and starting point guard Antione Johnson (4.8 ppg). The Colts’ 2019-20 season got much more interesting when senior Eduardo Tostado and 6’10” junior Sekou Kalle decided they would stay at DeSales and play for the Colts this season. Tostado and Kalle attended DeSales last year while playing for Aspire Academy.

The injection of two very talented players elevated DeSales into a regional contender. The Colts should get a quick sense of where they are when they open the season against the defending state champion Trinity Shamrocks.

6. Fairdale Bulldogs

With four starters returning, Coach David Hicks is excited about the Bulldogs’ potential this season. The Bulldogs likely will again by led by seniors Ty Walter and Stephen Moore, each of whom averaged 15.1 ppg last season. Walter is 5’10” and hit almost 100 3’s last season, shooting them at a 36.6% clip. Moore is 6’2” and can both score and distribute. The other two returning starters are 6’2” senior Tristan Bertrand (7 ppg, 4.8 rpg) and 6’1” junior Isaac Tedford.

The Bulldogs’ outlook for this season took an upward turn at the end of the school year when 6’5” Charles Ward transferred into the school when his family moved from Chicago. Ward will be a senior. Coach Hicks also believes there will be a number of freshmen who may end up being significant contributors.

7. Bullitt Central Cougars

Coming off a 23-11 season that saw the Cougars advance to the semi-finals of the Sixth Region tournament where they lost to eventual champion Butler, the Cougars lost leading scorer Aiden Terry (13.6 ppg) to graduation but return their next two leading scorers and their top two rebounders in seniors Jacob Mann (13.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and Chandler Ocasio (11 ppg, 5.4 rpg). Junior Gavin Hedges (2.2 ppg) and Senior Warren Coogle (1.5 ppg) are expected to see more minutes and provide increased offensive production.

Bullitt Central has won at least 20 games in each of the past two seasons; it will be interesting to see if Coach Shane Popplewell can get the Cougars to a similar level this season.

8. North Bullitt Eagles

Alex Young returns in his second year as head coach of the Eagles, and he brings back everyone from last year’s team that went 9-22 and had wins against teams like Bardstown, Doss, and South Oldham. Back for his fourth year as a starter is senior Logan Steinmacher, who averaged 16.1 ppg and 4.6 rpg. Steinmacher will again be the focus of the offense, but the returnees include plenty players who will again contribute significantly, including Ron Still (9.8 ppg, including 32 points in a win over Doss), Ethan Phillips (8.8 ppg), Brendan Hill (7.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg), Alec Blankenship (6.2 ppg), and Michael Richerson (6.2 ppg). With everyone back, the Eagles could have a very interesting season. Keep an eye on them.

9. Jeffersontown Chargers

Jeffersontown won 18 games last season and advanced to the Sixth Region tournament, losing to eventual champion Butler in the opening round. The Chargers lost from that team two of their top three scorers, including leading scorer and rebounder Blake Butler (16.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg) and Chris Trigg (12.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg). The leading returner around whom the Chargers will build is sophomore Brandon Rayzer-Moore, who averaged an impressive 12.4 ppg as a freshman last year. Also returning are junior Sincere Owens (2.8 ppg) and senior Jacoby Johnson (2.2 ppg). A newcomer expected to contribute significantly is senior Quintin Anderson, who averaged 10.1 ppg last season at Moore.

10. Southern Trojans

The Trojans look to build on last season’s winning record (13-12) and have several key performers returning from last year’s squad. Junior Camden Pfeister (8.8 ppg) will be joined by seniors Kaden Crawley (7.1 ppg), Ronyell May (4.4 ppg), and Quincy Murrell (4 ppg) to give Coach Shedrick Jones a number of experienced players with which to work. While the Trojans don’t shoot a lot of three’s, they hit a high percentage of them, with Crawley shooting 46.6% (34/73) and May shooting 41.7% (10/24) last year. It could be another good year for the Trojans.

11. Moore Mustangs

The Mustangs had an impressive season last year, going from seven wins in 2017-18 to a 16-14 record last year. Coach Roy Sutton believes four year starter senior Rae Von Vaden (5.3 ppg, 4 rpg) and fellow senior Dowan Green (7.2 ppg) should lead the Mustangs this season. Junior Darius Carver (4.5 ppg) will be looked upon to step up. Additional help will come from newcomers Damontre Ellis, a senior transfer from Fairdale who should help on the offensive end, and juniors Gakary Thompson and Jarah Anderson, a transfer from New Albany, IN.

12. Holy Cross Cougars

Holy Cross welcomes back to the sideline Coach Jody Thornsberry, who last coached the Cougars in the 2005-06 season before becoming the school’s Athletic Director. Coach Thornsberry is excited to be back at the helm of the Cougars, perhaps in part because of the return of Sam Bearden for his senior year. The 6’4” Bearden averaged 12.5 ppg and 7.4 rpg last season. Coach Thornsberry will need a new supporting crew for Bearden, as the next 3 leading scorers from last season were lost to graduation. Juniors Chaz Geraghty (4.8 ppg) and Chase Davis (3.8 ppg) return, as does senior Josh Minor (2.6 ppg). If they are able to provide some support for Bearden, the Crusaders may be able to end up with a winning record, which they just missed last year at 14-15.

13. Doss Dragons

After a tremendous five-year run in which the Dragons compiled a 125-39 record, including finishing as the state runner-up in 2015-16, Doss dropped to 10-20 last season. The top three scorers from last season’s team were lost to graduation, including Jeremiah Boyd (11.8 ppg). A number of other contributors from last year return, including sophomores Innslee Carrol (4.2 ppg) and Kenye Green (4.1 ppg) plus juniors Tony Moss (4 ppg) and Chris Anderson (3.6 ppg). Coach Blake Stone will need some of those returnees to step up for the Dragons to improve on last year’s 10-win total.

14. Western Warriors

The Warriors improved their win total from 4 wins in 2017-18 to 10 wins last season, including a noteworthy win over Bullitt Central in mid-January, under first year head coach Brandon Britt. Coach Britt returns and has the good fortune of getting back the two leading scorers from last season in seniors Neairon Finisson (14.8 ppg) and BAngelo Anderson (14.6 ppg). Also returning is senior Jaden Neal, who averaged 8.2 ppg in 12 games last season. With those top scorers having another year of experience under their belt, look for the Warriors to improve on their 10-win total from last season.

15. Valley Vikings

The Vikings lost their top five scorers from last year’s 12-14 team, including 17.5 ppg scorer Cam Wilson. The leading returning scorer is K. J. Savage, who contributed 6.2 ppg last season. Coach DeJuan Wheat will seek to find increased contributions from seniors Javon Warren and William Vaughn plus junior Armani Carr. Valley will be challenged to match last season’s 12-win total.

16. Iroquois Raiders

The Raiders face the upcoming season without Keshawn Dixon, who graduated after leading Iroquois in scoring last year at a 18.4 ppg pace. That is a big loss for veteran coach Jeff Morrow, but the good news is that there are a number of returnees with substantial playing experience, including seniors Derrick Goodloe (7.8 ppg), Antoine Butler (5.1 ppg), Dendheno Saunders (4.1 ppg), and Barry Abdoul (3.6 ppg). Juniors Jamontre Anderson (3.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg) and Gary Morris (3 ppg, 3.7 rpg) will also be expected to contribute. The Raiders dropped from 20 wins in the 2017-18 season to 7 wins last year, and will need players to step up their production to improve on that win total this season.

17. Whitefield Academy Wildcats

Whitefield welcomes back one of the region’s top scorers from last year in senior Trevor Nauert (17.4 ppg) and also returns its leading rebounder, Luke Wheatley (5.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg). Senior A. J. Bruckert (8.3 ppg) joins them to give the Wildcats a trio of experienced contributors. Coach Chris Vaughn returns for his fourth season with the Wildcats, who have hit double digits in victories in each of the past two seasons. Look for Whitefield to improve on last year’s 10-win total.

18. Beth Haven Bears


While head coach Doug Phillips will be a new face on the sidelines for the Bears, the faces on the court largely will be familiar as Beth Haven lost only one player to graduation. Senior guards Isaiah Mahoney (15.3 ppg) and Austin Whitehouse (12 ppg) led the Bears in scoring last year and likely will do so again this season. Athletic junior Luke Easley (8.5 ppg) should once again be a significant contributor. Coach Phillips believes freshman Jordan Harris has the potential to be a special player. Look for the Bears to improve on the 6-win mark it has achieved in each of the last two years.

19. Evangel Christian Eagles

The Eagles’ 12-19 record last season was a big step forward from the 3 wins the Eagles achieved the year before. Coach Jeremiah Hoagland returns for his second year with the Eagles and will look to senior Nick Cruse and freshman Markel Merriwether to lead this season’s squad.
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PLAYER RANKINGS

1. Jaden Rogers, 6’0”, junior, Fern Creek

Point guard who can score (17.5 ppg) will lead the Tigers once again.

2. Darrius Washington, 6’8”, junior, Fern Creek

Averaged 12.2 ppg and 7.6 rpg last season and is beginning to receive Division I offers.

3. James Taylor, 6’1”, senior, Pleasure Ridge Park

Standout point guard will benefit from playing full season with the Panthers.

4. Zek Montgomery, 6’6”, junior, Fern Creek

Athletic wing player averaged 11.7 ppg and 6.9 rpg last season and will join with Jaden Rogers and Darrius Washington to give Fern Creek a powerful trio of juniors.

5. Zak Perdew, 6’0”, senior, Bullitt East

Leading scorer (15.8 ppg) for last year’s regional runner-up returns for his senior season.

6. Sekou Kalle, 6’10”, junior, DeSales

Big man with tremendous potential played at Aspire Academy last season.

7. Trey Minter, 6’0”, senior, Butler

Leading returning scorer (10 ppg) for the defending regional champions.

8. Brandon Rayzer-Moore, 6’3”, sophomore, Jeffersontown

Averaged an impressive 12.4 ppg last season as a freshman.

9. Sam Bearden, 6’4”, senior, Holy Cross

Expected to again lead the Crusaders in both scoring and rebounding, as he did last season (12.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg).

10. Jacob Mann, 6’3”, senior, Bullitt Central

Should increase his 13.8 ppg scoring clip for the Cougars this season.