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Overview: With snow forcing cancellations for over half the week, the mountains saw very little basketball action but was able to get a few games in on Monday and Tuesday. Lawrence is still the team to beat as they flexed their muscle against Paintsville, JC’s post-Christmas win streak keeps rolling, Shelby Valley prepares for the All-A state tournament, and Magoffin County is still quietly feared by everyone. Let’s see the rankings after 8 weeks of play.

1. Lawrence County (17-3) – The Bulldogs were only able to get one game in before the snow came, but were able to defeat Paintsville by a final of 95-65. It was the highest scoring output on the season for LC and saw all five starters hit double figures. Week 9 is loaded as the Bulldogs will run the 60th District gauntlet playing Belfry on the road then hosting Pike Central and Phelps. If that wasn’t enough for the week, Lawrence will play Huntington, WV in their own 1 day showcase on Saturday. LC will be tested again this week but will be favored in every game.

2. Johnson Central (11-7) – Johnson Central defeated Knott Central in Week 8 by a final of 67-58 to extend their win streak to 8 games. It was a game that featured two schools that are currently 4 time defending champions of their region. Cole Crace led the way for JC with 18 pts, 6 rbs, 3 ast, 3 stls and Josh Hitchcock made his season debut (knee surgery) for the Golden Eagles, going 2/2 form deep in just 6 minutes (he will drastically improve their line up). The game was physical to say the least as Johnson Central senior PF Jerry McCarty took a vicious elbow to the brow that resulted in a pool of blood on the court and 15 stitches. Week 9 will see JC travel to Magoffin County in a key 57th District matchup that will likely determine the #1 seed.

3. Magoffin County (11-5) – The Hornets were able to squeeze in one game before the snow hit as they defeated 57th District foe Sheldon Clark at home in a closer than expected contest (68-58). MC standout junior and scoring machine Trenton Russell dropped 32 points and continued to shoot over 90% from the foul line going 11/12. Magoffin has 4 games on the lineup for Week 9 as they host Johnson Central in a huge 57th District battle, host Belfry, travel to East Ridge, and close the week out by welcoming in Pikeville. The will be a taxing week as the Hornets prepare for what could be the deepest post season run in school history.

4. Shelby Valley (14-4) – Shelby Valley defeated Betsy Layne at home in Week 8 by a final of 76-57. Hunter Swindall and Lamont Wright continued to shine both scored 20+ in the game. Week 9 will see the Wildcats represent the 15th Region in the All-A State tournament for the 2nd time in as many years. They will face the All-A winner from Region 5 on Thursday night (Green County / Ft. Knox still alive in Region 5). This game will be toss-up.

5. Pike Central (8-10) – The return of Teddy Smith last week has helped the Hawks get back to their winning ways (won 3 of the last 4). Week 8 saw a heated contest against Belfry on the road go Pike Central’s way powered by 4 players in double figures and Ryan Eads 13 points and 15 rebounds (Final 61-58). Week 9 will see the Hawks host East Ridge then travel to Lawrence County and to June Buchanan. It will be a taxing week to say the least and we will find out if Pike Central is a pretender or true contender in the region.

6. East Ridge (11-9) – The Warriors are currently on a 4 game slide after losing a heart breaker to Allen Central at home in Week 8 (Final 54-55). East Ridge plays a slow, deliberate game that will keep them almost every contest they play but their style does not usually allow them to create separation against inferior teams. ER will travel to Pike Central and Pikeville before traveling to Magoffin County and Belfry in Week 9. This will be the toughest week thus far for the Warriors and likely determine where they will stay in the rankings for the rest of the year.

7. Pikeville (7-11) – Pikeville dropped a home game to South Floyd in Week 8. They have previously defeated the Raiders twice on the season, but were cold from the field in this contest (Final 67-82). Currently riding a 3 game losing streak, the Panthers will look to bounce back in Week 9 as they host East Ridge and Allen Central, before traveling to Magoffin County. If this team will buy into the team concept they could be scary in the tournament.

8. South Floyd (8-8) – Week 8 saw the Raiders even their record with a win at Pikeville, avenging two earlier losses to the Panthers (Final 82-67). South Floyd, like many other 15th Region squads, seem to be getting healthy at the right time as Senior G and sharp-shooter Brady Ousley is rounding back into basketball form after sitting out the entire season due to injury. SF will travel to Hazard and host Betsy Layne in Week 9.

9. Paintsville (5-10) – In week 8, the Tigers lost to Lawrence county 65-95 in a contest they never led. They are young, but play hard and will be a factor in the district tournament on their home floor. Paintsville will travel to Sheldon Clark in Week 9 for a huge 57th District contest. They defeated SC by 26 earlier in the season, but don’t expect the same outcome this time.

10. Sheldon Clark (6-11) – The Cardinals kept one of the best teams in the region close on their home floor but eventually lost to Magoffin County 58-68 in Week 8. A young, but improving back court is gaining valuable experience as the season progresses and this team could pull an upset come district tournament. Sheldon Clark will begin a 6 game home stretch in Week 9 as they welcome in Russell and Paintsville. Look for the Paintsville game to have tons of energy and a huge crowd.

11. Allen Central (9-9) – The Rebels saw the return of senior G Seth Hall (knee surgery in late summer) and picked up an upset win against East Ridge on the road 55-54 in Week 8. AC will host Prestonsburg and Phelps then travel to Pikeville in Week 9 and could be scary if they get completely healthy.

12. Belfry (5-11) – Belfry lost to 60th District foe Pike Central at home 58-61 in a heated affair in Week 9. This team is better than their record indicates and if they can come together as a team can cause problems for many teams with their size and athleticism. Belfry will host Lawrence County then travel to East Ridge and Magoffin County in Week 9. Look for all the games to be competitive as LC only put them away late in the 4thQ just 12 days earlier.

13. Betsy Layne (6-10) – The Bobcats lost at Shelby Valley 57-76 in Week 8. They will look to bounce back in Week 9 as they host Prestonsburg and then travel to South Floyd (both 58th District opponents) and close out the week with Perry Central in the Kentucky Preps Showcase at Jackson City. The game between Prestonsburg may be a good one, but the other two are games Betsy Layne will be heavy underdogs in.

14. Prestonsburg (4-13) – Prestonsburg crushed Jenkins in Week 8 by a final of 77-40. The Blackcats are playing much harder and much better in past two weeks and could knock someone off in the district tournament. Week 9 will see them on the road at Allen Central and Betsy Layne (both 58th District opponents).

15. Phelps (3-12) – Phelps did not play in Week 8 due to weather, but will host Jenkins and will travel to Allen Central and Lawrence County in Week 9. The Hornets have a chance to get their 4th win of the year in the Jenkins game but will be big underdogs the rest of the week.

16. Piarist (0-13) – Piarist did not play in Week 8 and will likely not have a chance at a win until they host Riverside Christian much later in the year.

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