Inside the 15th Region (1-18-16)
Overview: Week 7 saw completion of the All-A Tournament, many teams get into district and regional play, and the cream continue to rise to the top in the 15th Region. Lawrence County is playing well after a tough December schedule, Johnson Central remained undefeated in 2016, and Magoffin County continues to roll. With multiple 40 point performances from multiple players, the 15th Region is shaping up for a wild March finish. This weeks rankings listed below:
1. Lawrence County (16-3) In week 7 the Bulldogs defeated 60th District foe Belfry at home by a final of 71-62. In the game Belfys 2-3 zone and size (Cole Bently) created some problems for LC (coupled with an off shooting night), but the regions #1 found a way to win. In week 8 the Bulldogs will travel to Paintsville and Pike Central (60th District). Lawrence County will be heavily favored in both contest.
2. Johnson Central (10-7) Perhaps the hottest team in the 15th Region, the Golden Eagles have won 7 in a row and are undefeated in the new year. Replacing 4 starters from 4 consecutive 15th Region Titles took some growing pains early in the season, but Coach McKenzie seems to have JC rolling in mid-January as he usually does. In Week 7 JC defeated Sheldon Clark and Henry County at home by convincing margins. The Golden Eagles are powered by two very good junior guards in Cole Crace (incredible athlete best all around player) and Mason Blair (one of the states best scorers). Crace averaged 15.5 ppg, 6.2 apg, 5.2 rpg, and 2.1 spg this past week while Blair dropped 40 points for the 2nd time in 3 games vs. Henry County while shooting over 60% (9th 40 point game in school history). In the Henry County game, Blair also had a career high in steals with 8. With these two guards leading the way, JC will be favored at home vs. Knott Central (WYMT Game of the Week streamed live) and on the road at Pikeville in week 8. Week 8 should also see the return of Senior SF Josh Hitchcock as he has been fully cleared for all activity following minor knee surgery in November. Hitchcock has been in practice and is waiting on a custom knee brace to be delivered before taking the floor. Look for him this week.
3. Magoffin County (10-5) After a rough patch near the end of December, the Hornets are back to their winning ways. In week 7 Magoffin defeated Paintsville at home and Phelps at Pike Central in the Hawk shootout (Both by over 17 points). The Paintsville game saw Hornet standout Trenton Russell (Junior) score a career high 45 points, but more importantly move Magoffin County to 2-1 in district play. Week 8 will see MC take on another 57th District opponent in Sheldon Clark (home) and then welcome in Belfry. Dont sleep on the Hornets as they have all the pieces to win the region.
4. Shelby Valley (13-4) Week 7 saw the Wildcats and Head Coach Jim Hicks defend their 15th Region All-A title by defeating Paintsville and East Ridge. Week 7 also saw Shelby Valley defeat East Ridge again in a district seeding game. Shelby Valley has two very good players in Hunter Swindall and Lamont Wright. They rely heavily on their scoring production as both can go for 30 in the same game (just ask Paintsville). Their role players provided enough to keep teams honest and gather clutch baskets and rebounds when necessary. Week 8 will see SV at home for two games against Betsy Layne and Piarist. They will be favored by double digits in both.
5. East Ridge (11-8) After winning 4 in a row, East Ridge has lost 3 in a row (two to Shelby Valley with one of those coming the All-A Championship). The Warriors also lost to Hurricane, WV in OT at the Hatfield-McCoy shootout at South Williamson, WV. Week 8 will see ER host Allen Central then travel to Pike Central. Both should be very good games as the tempo control of Randy McCoy will keep them in almost every contest they play.
6. Pikeville (7-10) The Jekyll and Hyde of the 15th Region lost both contest in week 7. East Ridge defeated the Panthers in the All-A semifinals and Chapmanville, WV defeated them in the Hatfield-McCoy shootout at South Williamson, WV. Needless to say this week 7 was more Jekyll than Hyde. Perhaps Pikeville will release the monster that is Hyde in week 8 as they host South Floyd, East Ridge and Johnson Central to begin what will be a 5 game home stand.
7. South Floyd (7-8) South Floyd won its only game in week 7 in the form of a 58th District win against Betsy Layne. Week 8 will see the Raiders travel to Pikeville for the 3rd time this season and travel to Allen Central for a key 58th District game. With Andrew Tackett leading the way and hopefully the return of J.R. Tackett, South Floyd should be a regional tournament team.
8. Paintsville (5-9) Week 7 saw Paintsville lose to Shelby Valley in the All-A Semifinals then lose in 57th District competition to Magoffin County (Trenton Russell and Jaren Lovely for Magoffin put up 45 points and 27 points respectively thus outscoring Paintsville by themselves 72-67). The Tigers did pick up a win at Greenup County on a buzzer beater. Week 8 will see Paintsville host Lawrence County and Wolfe County.
9. Pike Central (7-10) Teddy Smith is back for the Hawks after a kidney illness that kept him sidelined for over a week. Pike Central has underachieved thus far, but with Smith back may climb up the rankings soon. Week 7 saw the Hawks win at the buzzer (Teddy Smith hit the layup) vs. Prestonsburg and lose to Rock Creek Academy, IN in the Hawk Shootout. Week 8 will see PC travel to Belfry then host both Lawrence County and Phelps. Three 60th Districts opponents in one week will be emotionally draining, but will prepare Pike Central for a potential post season run. The Belfry game should be a great one as a fierce rivalry has always existed between the two but with Isiah Roblee transferring from Belfry to Pike Central just two weeks ago, got greatly intensified. Currently Roblee is ineligible to play pending ruling.
10. Sheldon Clark (6-10) The Cardinals went 2-1 in Week 7 with wins over Betsy Layne at home (led by 25 late) and Sissonville, WV in the Hatfield-McCoy at Williamson, WV. Their lone loss of the week came against 15th region power Johnson Central. Coach James has SC playing better and with their athleticism they could shake up the 57th District come tournament time. Week 8 will see the Cardinals travel to Magoffin County for a huge 57th District matchup and to Buckhorn. Needless to say, Sheldon Clark will be tested this week.
11. Belfry (5-10) Belfry can be very good when they have all their players and will be a force come 60th District tournament time. In week 7 the Pirates defeated cross creek rival Williamson, WV in the Hatfield-McCoy Shootout, defeated Phelps at home, and lost to Lawrence County on the road. In the LC game Belfry cut the lead to 5 late in the 4th quarter before the talented Bulldogs finally pulled away. It will be fun to see what Belfry can do in the post season as they have the tools to knock off one of the top teams in the region on a given night.
12. Allen Central (8-9) Week 7 gave the Allen Central Rebels 2 more wins as they inch closer to .500. AC defeated Jenkins and Piarist before losing to Prestonsburg on the road by 8. The rebels will have a tough week 8 as they travel to East Ridge, host South Floyd, then travel to Phelps. The contest with Phelps is the only one Allen Central will be favored in.
13. Betsy Layne (6-10) In week 7 the Bobcats went 0-3 with losses to Sheldon Clark, South Floyd, and Man, WV. The current losing streak is at 4 games as week 7 competition was too much (games were not very competitive). The young Betsy Layne squad has a nice big man in Andrew Hamilton, but sometimes struggle to get him the ball. Week 8 will see BL travel to Shelby Valley then host Prestonsburg in a 58th District contest. The later of the two should be a great game and pivotal in post season seeding.
14. Prestonsburg (3-13) The Blackcats went 1-1 in week 7 with a huge 58th District win over Allen Central at home followed by a heartbreaking loss to Pike Central by just 1 point (again at home). In the Pike Central game, Prestonsburg trailed by 2 with 6s left in the game. Coming out of a timeout, Junior Blackcat guard Scott Stapleton hit a 3 off an inbounds pass to give Prestonsburg a 1 point lead with 4s remaining. Pike Central threw the ball to Tyler Burnett who took a speed dribble up the middle of the court and found Teddy Smith for the game winning layup as time expired. Prestonsburg is playing harder and playing better and will look to pick up some more wins in week 8 as they host Jenkins then travel to Betsy Layne. Both should be good games.
15. Phelps (3-12) The Hornets went 1-2 in week 7 with a competitive loss to 60th District opponent Belfry on the road, a win vs. Hurley, VA in the Hatfield-McCoy, and a loss to Magoffin County at Pike Central in the Hawk Shootout. Phelps has some nice pieces and will look to keep getting better in week 8 as they travel to Piarist and Pike Central then host Allen Central.
16. Piarist (0-13) The Knights had a chance at their first win in week 7 as they traveled to Riverside Christian (who was also winless at the time) but were unable to come away with the win. Perhaps when Riverside comes to Piarist that win might happen, but dont expect it anytime soon.
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