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1. (tie) Knox Central (7-1 overall, 0-0 vs. 13th Region competition)
The Panthers got off to their best start in more than 20 years after beating Johnson Central Friday, 77-69, but suffered their first loss of the season to West Virginia’s George Washington High School on Saturday, losing, 74-65. Senior guard Markelle Turner led the way with 27 points.
With both Knox Central and Corbin being so close, I’ve gotta leave both of them tied atop the rankings. I’m thinking next week’s Cumberland Falls Invitational will show who the best team is.

1. (tie) Corbin (5-1, 3-0)
The Redhounds had a fantastic week. They defeated South Laurel in a close contest, 62-56, at home while surviving a scare from upstart Jackson County at home, 71-61. Corbin is playing well right now and will be even better once Chase Sanders gets back to 100 percent. Just like I said with Knox Central, I’ll say this — with both teams being so close, I’ve gotta leave both of them tied atop the rankings. I’m thinking next week’s Cumberland Falls Invitational will show who the best team is.

3. South Laurel (6-1, 2-1)
The Cardinals had a tough week, and managed to come away with a 2-1 record. They dropped a heartbreaking loss to Corbin, falling on the road, 62-56, but rebounded in a big way by defeating north Laurel on the road, 65-49 and still County Saturday int he Bobby Keith Classic, 52-46. Junior JJ Ramey continues to shine while showing he is one of the best players on the 13th Region.

4. Harlan County (7-0, 3-0)
The defending 13th Region champions have the best record int he 13th Region and haven’t lost, but are only ranked No. 4? I’m telling you this — they might not be No. 1 currently, but they’re going to be even better by postseason time. Alex Pace is quietly averaging 19.9 points per game while Andrew Creech is averaging 13.4 points per contest.

5. North Laurel (7-1, 2-1)
The Jaguars drop a spot, but don’t worry North Laurel fans, they’re going to be right in the thick of things by season’s end. North Laurel picked up a 15-point win over Whitley County, but dropped a 65-49 decision at home to crosstown rival South Laurel. The Jaguars fell behind 14-0 and played catch-up the remainder of the game. North Laurel did manage to rebound Saturday during the bobby Keith Classic by defeating Clinton County, 70-57.

6. Jackson County (6-2, 2-1)
The Generals could very well make some serious noise this season. They played with No. 2 Corbin on the road for the entire game before falling, 72-62. Jackson County is for real folks and are led by Tanner Harris’ 20.4 scoring average while Hunter Bowling is averaging 17.1 points per game and Drew Akemon is tossing in 12.4 points per contest.

7. Clay County (5-4, 3-0)
The Tigers are the toughest team to figure out int he region. They had trouble defeating both Oneida Baptist and Barbourville this past week, but hung tough with Lexington Catholic before losing 57-40.

8. Whitley County (3-4, 1-3)
The Colonels re-enter the Top 10 after hitting 11-of-14 from 3-point range during their 67-57 road win over Lynn Camp. Whitley County dropped a 79-49 decision to Pulaski County the following day, but only trailed 55-47 with 6:21 remaining in the game. The duo of Corey Johnson and Hunter Hollingsworth are two of the best players int he region.

9. Lynn Camp (5-1, 4-1)
The Wildcats dropped a heartbreaker at home this post week, losing to Whitley County, 67-57. Lynn Camp let a perfect opportunity of being undefeated going into Christmas break slip away during their loss to the Colonels.

10. Bell County (4-2, 1-1)
The Bobcats have reeled off three straight wins and played Harlan County close earlier this season. They’re still a hard team for me to gage until they get into the meat of their regional schedule.

11. Barbourville (2-5, 1-2)
The Tigers might not have the prettiest schedule around, but they’re not a bad team. Just ask Williamsburg — Barbourville defeated the Yellow Jackets at their place last week, 63-43.

12. Williamsburg (4-2, 3-2)
The Yellow Jackets drop out of the top 10 after falling at home to Barbourville by 20 points. They did respond well during their next game by defeating Pineville, 61-37.

13. Oneida Baptist (3-5, 3-5)

The Mountaineers are a scary team at times. I’ve seen them get totally blown out against North Laurel, and then take Clay County to the wire.

14. Middlesboro (4-3, 2-3)
Coach Lewis Morris will have the Yellow Jackets ready to make some noise here in a month or so, just in time for the 13th Region All ‘A’ Classic Tournament.

15. Harlan (0-5, 0-4)
The Green Dragons have me scratching my head right now. Not sure why they haven’t grabbed a win yet.

16. Red Bird (3-5, 1-5)
The Cardinals are putting up some impressive offensive numbers, but just can’t seem to get over the hump.

17. Pineville (2-5, 1-3)
The Mountain Lions have dropped two straight since beating Owlsey County.