The 2018-19 season was a great one for the Seventh Region, capped by the Trinity Shamrocks winning their second state championship. It was the eighth straight year that either Trinity or Ballard represented the Seventh Region in the state tournament.

That streak is in serious jeopardy. The Male Bulldogs beat both Trinity and Ballard in an 8-day stretch late in the season last year, serving notice that the 2019-20 season will be a whole new ballgame. Coached by the energetic Tim Haworth, Male is absolutely loaded and deserves to be ranked at the top of the Seventh Region. But anyone who counts out Ballard and Trinity before the season even begins does so at their own peril.

One thing is for sure: it will be another great season in the Seventh Region.

TEAM RANKINGS

1. Male Bulldogs

Coach Tim Haworth enters his second year with the Bulldogs, who won 22 games last season before losing to eventual state champion Trinity in the Seventh Region tournament, with an absolutely loaded roster. 6’5” senior Howard Fleming, who was limited to 14 games last season because of injuries, is now healthy. Fleming averaged 12.3 ppg in that limited number of games last season and can score from both inside and outside. Fleming is attracting attention from a number of Division I schools.

Notwithstanding how productive Fleming is expected to be this season, he likely will not be Male’s leading scorer. Tyren Moore is a 5’11” offensive machine, as suggested by his 17.9 ppg from last season. He is a deadly shooter, shooting 3’s at a 45.5% clip (100/220). I love watching him play. Moore recently committed to attend Lincoln Memorial University.

Also expected to start for the Bulldogs are returnees Noah Courtney and Jake Evans. Courtney (6’5”) averaged 10 ppg and 7.1 rpg and is a strong inside presence. Evans (6’1”) is a steady point guard who can also score (8.9 ppg). Rounding out the starting five for the Bulldogs will be Kaleb Glenn, who some are touting as the best freshman in the Commonwealth. Glenn played for Ballard last season as an eighth grader and in fact started some games for the Bruins. An athletic 6’6” forward, Glenn’s addition makes the Bulldogs an even clearer favorite to win the Seventh Region.

The talent for Male does not end with the starting five. Cam Pope and Trey Stone are junior guards who played quite a bit last season. Junior Dez Lindsay has grown to 6’6” and will join with Kobey Scott to provide quality depth in the frontcourt, although Lindsey can also play the guard position.

Male will be the top pick not only for the Seventh Region but also for the entire Commonwealth. It has the talent and coaching to go down in history as one of Male’s greatest teams, which is saying a lot for a school with four prior state championships.

2. Ballard Bruins

Ballard is not quite ready to hand the Seventh Region title to Male. The Bruins return four of their top five scorers and their top 3 rebounders from last year’s team that won 23 games before losing to eventual state champion Trinity in the Seventh Region final. Senior Rashad Bishop (6’6”, 10.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg) is the leading returning scorer and a quality inside presence. Fellow seniors Josh Minkins (6’3”, 6.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg), a University of Louisville football commit, and Terrence McDaniels (6’4”, 6 ppg, 4.9 rpg) will join with Bishop to give Ballard a frontcourt that will be difficult to handle. Sophomore Maker Barr (6’9”) will back up the three returning seniors in the frontcourt.

Senior Lewis Richards (6’1”, 10.8 ppg, 4.2 apg) will again be the main outside presence. Coach Chris Renner, who is in his 22nd season as the Bruin’s head coach, anticipates freshmen Jake Edelen (5’9”) and Gabe Sisk (6’3”) to play significant minutes, along with 6’2” Keno Hayden. Newcomer senior Justin Buford (5’10”) played in 30 games at Male last season, averaging 3.3 ppg.

While Male has deservedly received a lot of the preseason attention in the Seventh Region, Ballard should not be overlooked. Coach Renner, who has over 600 career victories and a state championship, expects the Bruins to get back to more full court and pressure defenses. Ballard led the Seventh Region in scoring last season at 67.5 ppg, but Coach Renner expects that to go up, perhaps significantly. With experienced size, shooting, rebounding, quality depth, and excellent coaching, Ballard will be a force in the Seventh Region again this season.

3. Trinity Shamrocks

Last season’s state championship gave Coach Mike Szabo his second state championship as the Rocks’ head coach. Trinity has had a tremendous run, winning at least 24 games in each of the past 8 years and at least 29 in each of the last four years.

The upcoming season will present some challenges to Trinity achieving the same level of success. Trinity lost all of their starters from last season, including Sweet Sixteen MVP David Johnson (now at the University of Louisville), and will be a young, inexperienced team. The leading returning player is 6’1” junior guard Ethan Hodge (6.6 ppg). While Hodge did not start last year, he played substantial minutes and a lot will be expected from him this year.

Other returning players Coach Szabo welcomes back include 6’2” junior Zach Stahlman and 6’1” sophomore guard Miles Franklin, both of whom are expected to be significant contributors on the offensive end. Senior Andrew Brian (6’5”) and junior Jack Mitchell (6’3”) should see significant minutes in the frontcourt.

Trinity’s success over the past eight years has been impressive. It will be a challenge to achieve the same level of success this year, but I am not yet ready to count out the Rocks.

4. Waggener Wildcats

Waggener had the best season in its history last year, ending with a 29-4 record that included wins over Ballard (its first ever), Male, and Trinity. The Wildcats were a pleasure to watch.

The bad news is that Waggener lost six of its top seven scorers from last year’s team. But Coach Bryan O’Neill is excited about the group of 11 seniors that return for the Wildcats. Leading the way will be returning starter senior Dallas Rufus (6’3” PG). Rufus had a solid season last year, averaging 7.5 ppg and shooting 35% from three. Coach O’Neill anticipates both of those numbers to increase this season.

Additional returning seniors include Dezman White (6’1”), Deontae Scott (6’0”), DuWaine McCreary (6’1”), and Alix Berry (6’3”), all of whom will see substantial minutes for the Wildcats. Waggener also added two transfers who may have an impact, Richard White (6’5” senior) and Austin Chiles (6’1” junior).

While it will be difficult to match last season’s 29-win total, Waggener again will be among the top teams in the Seventh Region. They will play at a fast pace and play very solid defense. It should be another good year for the Waggener Wildcats.

5. Eastern Eagles

The Eastern Eagles are an intriguing team. The Eagles lost three starters from last season’s 16-16 squad, including leading scorers Jacob Robinson (14.6 ppg) and Trent Robinson (8.3 ppg), and will have no seniors on this year’s roster. Returning starters Ben Craig (8.2 ppg) and Zach Bird (5.4 ppg), both juniors, give the Eagles two solid players to build around. Sophomores James Jewell (3.6 ppg) and Christian Spaulding (4.8 ppg) both played and contributed last season and should take on more important roles this season. I expect Jewell in particular to have a breakout season. The Eagles return several other players who saw action last year and add sophomore Charlie Storm, a transfer from Fern Creek. Veteran coach David Henley, who won a state championship at Covington Holmes, likes his team’s coachability. While it would be easy to say that the Eagles are a year away, it should be interesting to see how they progress over the course of this season.

6. Central Yellowjackets

Veteran coach Doug Bibby always produces a competitive team, and last year was no different, with the Yellowjackets finishing 18-9 and beating the Male Bulldogs early in the season. I anticipate another solid year for Central. While the Yellowjackets will miss the likes of Josh Watkins (13.4 ppg) and Eric Rice (9.9 ppg), Devin Perry (12 ppg) and Shane Bibby (8.6 ppg) return for their junior seasons and will lead the way. Both are effective outside shooters, with Bibby shooting 37% and Perry 35.5% from 3-point range. Size may be an issue, but Coach Bibby has dealt with that issue before.

7. St. Xavier Tigers

The Tigers suffered a significant loss in the off-season when it learned that last year’s leading scorer, Sebian Dillard (16.8 ppg), would not be back this season (he is enrolled at Lexington Henry Clay this year). But Coach Kevin Klein will focus not on what left but on what he has to work with this season. The leading returning scorer is Nicholas Mosley, who averaged 8.5 ppg last season. Also returning are talented sophomore Mekhi Smith (5.9 ppg) and senior Kyle Bansbach (4.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg). Both should see their production increase. Look for Coach Klein, who is in his 12th season as the Tigers’ head coach, to again put a competitive, hard-working squad on the floor.

8. Dupont Manual Crimsons


Manual returns almost its entire roster from last season’s squad that won ten games. Leading the returnees will be one of the top players in the region in 6’7” Eli Roberts, who averaged 13.6 ppg and 6 rpg last season. A strong inside presence with good mobility, Roberts should have a good senior year. And Roberts will have help. Returning sophomore JuWuan Northington, who is having an outstanding season on the football field, averaged 6.5 ppg and 5.2 rpg last year. Also returning are Aaron Smith (junior, 6.9 ppg), Lesther Perez-Garay (senior, 4.9 ppg), Brendan Shene (junior, 4.3 ppg), and Zach Recktenwald (senior, 4.2 ppg). With veteran coach James Just, who has over 500 career victories, at the helm, and with the so many contributors returning, including the talented and hard-working Roberts, it will be interesting to see the level of success the Crimsons might achieve this year.

9. Seneca Redhawks

Before looking ahead to this year, let’s take a moment to recognize the truly wonderful season the Redhawks had last year, finishing 19-11 and beating the likes of PRP, Bullitt East, Ballard, Central, and Male. Losing the athletic Richard Ninamou (17.1 ppg and 9.6 rpg) and big man Carl Parker (14.6 ppg and 9.2 rpg), along with Timothy Gordon (13.1 ppg) and Phillip Armstrong (8.7 ppg), will make it hard for Seneca to achieve the same level of success this year. Coach Miquel Coleman will look to Marcel Railey, who played in 26 games last season and averaged 3.8 ppg, and Trenton Findley, who played in 28 games at Male last year, to lead the way this season. While I don’t expect the Redhawks to achieve the same level of success as last year, they once again should be competitive.

10. Christian Academy of Louisville Centurions

Coach Bryce Hibberd, who previously won a state championship with the Eastern Eagles, comes back for his second year as coach of the Centurions, who saw their win total increase from 6 in 2017-18 to 13 in 2018-19. CAL returns four of its five top scorers from last season in junior Braydon Daniels (8.9 ppg) and seniors Jacob Sangalli (8.2 ppg), Tyler McDaniel (7.9 ppg), and Nate Saettel (6.4 ppg). Coach Hibberd expects juniors Tyler Lagestee and Stephen Wearsch, both of whom saw substantial action last season, to increase their productivity. With the veteran Hibberd at the helm and with so much returning, CAL should improve on its 13-win total from last season.

11. Louisville Collegiate Titans

The Titans return virtually everyone from last year’s squad that went 13-14. Collegiate will once again be led by 6’5” Chez Moore, who last year as a junior led the Titans in both scoring (14.9 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg). Moore is an athletic post player who at times is dominant against other All A schools. Senior Joey Leachman (10.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg) will join with Moore to form a formidable frontcourt for Collegiate. Senior Drew Manning (6.7 ppg) and junior point guard Cole Thompson (5.5 ppg) also return for the Titans. The Titans enter the season as the favorite to win the Seventh Region All A title this season.

12. Shawnee Golden Eagles

Shawnee’s 11 wins last season were the most victories for a Golden Eagles team since the 2008-09 season and was the continuation of a 2-year increase in victories since the 2016-17 season when Shawnee won just one game. Coach Dionte Mucker returns for his second year as head coach, and he will welcome back last year’s leading scorer Josiah Bivens (12.6 ppg). Keyonie Rutledge (4.8 ppg) returns for his sophomore year and should see his offensive production increase. I’m rooting for the Golden Eagles to continue their streak of increased wins and top their win total of 11 from last season.

13. Kentucky Country Day Bearcats

The Bearcats just missed out on having a winning season last year, finishing 14-15 on the season. KCD won the All A regional tournament, beating Collegiate 52-47 in the All A regional final. A trio of returning seniors are expected to lead the way for the Bearcats: Michael Collis (13.2 ppg), Anthony O’Neal (12.8 ppg, including a 32-point game against the Brown Bears), and Jalen Mathis (7.9 ppg). KCD averaged over 65 ppg as a team last season, and I expect the Bearcats to score a lot of points again this season. Look for KCD to again compete for the All A regional title this season and perhaps achieve the winning record that narrowly evaded the Bearcats last season.

14. Portland Christian Eagles

The Eagles, who had a winning season at 16-14 last season, will be without their long-time centerpiece Quincy Dye, who averaged 18.1 ppg and 9.6 rpg last season. Also gone will be Michael Merideth and his 12.7 ppg. But the cupboard will not be bare for Portland Christian, with two double figure scorers returning in juniors Alex Steen (12.7 ppg) and Mason Skees (10.6 ppg). Juniors Ethan Heid (4.5 ppg) and Spencer Sheen (2.2 ppg), plus senior Charlie Niestadt (1.4 ppg), also saw significant minutes and return. The Eagles will be smaller this season, but they return enough to remain competitive in the smaller school circuit.

15. St. Francis Wyverns

The Wyverns lost 5 players who played substantial minutes last season, including significant contributors Ahmad Moore (16.6 ppg, 10.2 rpg), Noah Sparks (11.3 ppg), and T.J. Richardson. Leading the returners is 6’3” junior Darian Wade, who averaged 10.5 ppg and 6.8 rpg last season and has the potential to improve on those numbers. Also returning is 6’0” senior guard Connor Gorman (6.8 ppg), who figures to be the main outside threat, although sophomore Stevaun Butler is expected to increase his minutes and production. The Wyverns also will look for increased production from 6’2” senior forward Bruce Hamilton in their effort to not backslide from last season’s 13-14 record.

16. Atherton Rebels

The Rebels lost their top five scorers from last year’s team that went 5-22. The top returning scorer for Atherton is junior Da Von Johnson (4 ppg). The Rebels’ ability to improve on last season’s win total will turn on Johnson taking advantage of increased playing time and seeing who else might step up for the Rebels. Coach Mark Tudor expects Micah Speaks and Aarion McGinnis to come back from injuries and be major contributors. Coach Tudor also likes his group of sophomores.

17. Brown Bears

Jai’rus Bibb (22.1 ppg) has graduated and certainly will be missed. But his cousin, Josiah Bibb (17.4 ppg last season), returns for his junior season and will lead the way for the Brown Bears. Josiah is only 247 points away from reaching 1000 points for his career. Coach Jermil Bibb expects senior Victor Henderson, who will join Josiah in the backcourt, to have a good season. Junior D. J. Armstrong, a transfer from Doss, should also contribute. Even with Jai’rus gone, look for the Brown Bears to play a fast, up-tempo style that will be fun to watch.

18. Walden Wolverines

Walden welcomes back most of its team from the most successful year in school history, a season that produced an 18-10 record. Isiah Cargill, who averaged almost 20 ppg for the games for which statistics were reported to the KHSAA, returns for his senior year and will be joined by juniors Van Clements (11.9 ppg) and Ty High (8.3 ppg). I am pleased to see that Walden will be playing more Seventh Region teams this season to allow a more accurate assessment as to how they stack up against the other small schools in the area. It should be another successful year for the Wolverines.

PLAYER RANKINGS


1. Howard Fleming, 6’5”, senior, Male

With injuries hopefully behind him, Fleming will be free to show his multiple talents. Holds multiple Division I offers.

2. Tyren Moore, 5’11”, senior, Male

Best offensive player in the region. A 45.5% 3-point shooter last season.

3. Rashad Bishop, 6’6”, senior, Ballard

Strong inside presence on both ends of the floor. Averaged 10.6 ppg and 5.6 rpg last season.

4. Noah Courtney, 6’5”, senior, Male

Best inside player for the Bulldogs who averaged 10 ppg and 7.1 rpg last season.

5. Eli Roberts, 6’7”, senior, Manual

Athletic player with good size who can score from both inside and outside. Averaged 13.6 ppg last year.

6. Ethan Hodge, 6’1”, junior, Trinity

Top returnee for the state champion Shamrocks whose 6.6 ppg average from last season will increase. Good athlete who also is a standout on the baseball field.
.
7. Jake Evans, 6’1”, senior, Male

Solid point guard who can also score (8.9 ppg last season) will run the show for the very talented Male Bulldogs.

8. Dallas Rufus, 6’2”, senior, Waggener

Talented point guard who will lead the balanced Waggener attack. Should see his scoring rise from last season’s 7.5 ppg clip.

9. Chez Moore, 6’5”, senior, Collegiate

Athletic post player got a lot done for the Titans last season, averaging 15.2 ppg and 8.3 rpg.

10. Lewis Richards, 6’1”, senior, Ballard

The Bruins’ main outside threat who averaged 10.8 ppg and 4.2 apg last season.