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Overview: After 10 weeks of play 3 teams have rose to the top in the 15th Region. Lawrence County is still the favorite, but Magoffin and Johnson Central have proven they have what it takes to make it to Rupp Arena and the sweet sixteen. South Floyd and Pikeville seem to be getting hot at the right time and could make a run. Shelby Valley has two great scorers and could pose problems in the tournament. Belfry and Pike Central could play spoilers as well as both are better than their records indicate. Let’s see how the rankings pan out of:

1. Lawrence County (21-4) – The Bulldogs went 2-0 in week 10 with a comfortable win over Pike Central on the road in 60th district action and a thriller against Johnson Central is overtime at home. In the Johnson Central game, Lawrence County standout Junior Timmy Dalton dropped 33. Trailing by 5 with 50s to play in the game, LC got a clutch 3 point play then were able to collect a live ball turnover and run out layup to tie it up with under 20s to play. JC missed 2 FT’s with 8s left and LC was unable to get a clean look to end regulation. Overtime belonged to the Bulldogs as they pulled away. Lawrence County is the favorite, but will have to bring their A game against the best in the region to advance to Rupp. The Bulldogs will have Belfry on the road, Morgan County on the road, Phelps on the road, and South Floyd at home in week 11.

2. Magoffin County (17-5) – The Hornets are the hottest team in the 15th, winning 10 in a row and not looking to slow down anytime soon. Impressive wins over Allen Central, Greenup County, and Morgan County in week 10 setup what should be the first 20 win season in a very long time for Magoffin. The Hornets did get some bad news, however, with Jacob Isaac’s MRI confirming a torn ACL and ruptured meniscus. The big man in the middle is a monster down low and potentially a huge loss come tournament time. The injury occurred late in the Greenup County game, but dosent seem to be slowing down the Brown and White express at this time. Week 11 will Magoffin play Betsy Layne, Prestonsburg, Sheldon Clark, and Greenup County. If the Hornets win at Sheldon Clark they will secure a tie in the 57th District with Johnson Central at 5-1 (flip for the #1 seed).

3. Johnson Central (13-10) – The Golden Eagles were overtime warriors in week 10 as they played in 3 extra sessions in their 4 games. JC was able to lock up at least a share of the 57th District #1 seed with wins on the road against Sheldon Clark (overtime) and Paintsville (If Magoffin County wins their last district game against Sheldon Clark then a coin flip will determine the #1 seed). JC lost in overtime to South Floyd (Mason Blair 41 points / 7 Made 3FG) and in overtime to Lawrence County (Mason Blair 36 points / 8 Made 3FG) despite having 6 and 5 point leads respectively with under a minute to play in regulation in both games. Johnson Central is extremely well coached and have an explosive back court in Junior guards Cole Crace and Mason Blair. With solid shooting around them and a good big in the middle in All-State kicker Tyler Pack, the Golden Eagles will be a very tough-out come tournament time as they try to become the first team to win 5 consecutive 15th Region crowns. In week 11, JC will return home to host Pike Central and Ashland.

4. Shelby Valley (16-7) – The Wildcats went 2-2 in week 10 with wins at Phelps and East Ridge and losses to Pikeville and Belfry. The two man show of Hunter Swindall and Lamont Wright keeps the scoring up for SV, but if one is off they are very average. In week 10 the loss to Pikeville could have been potentially devastating for 59th District seeding. If Pikeville defeats East Ridge early in week 11, then Shelby Valley will have to defeat Pikeville by 15 to get a flip for the #1 seed or by 16 or more to outright win the district (first tie breaker is head to head – 2nd tie breaker is point spread). The reason this is huge is because the winner of the 59th District regular season will get to play Piarist in the post season while the #2 seed will play East Ridge at East Ridge to open district play. Needless to say it will be difficult to defeat Pikeville by this many with them knowing they can lose and still basically get a bye into the regional tournament. In the aforementioned Pikeville loss this past week the Panthers did a great job on Swindall (under 20 points) but Lamont Wright had a career high 41 points!

5. South Floyd (13-9) – Winners of 5 in a row, the Raiders of South Floyd defeated Johnson Central (OT), Allen Central, Pikeville, and Prestonsburg in Week 10. The addition of J.R. Tackett from preseason knee injury makes SF a dangerous team in the tournament as their backcourt play is very solid. Week 11 will see the Raiders play host to June Buchanan and travel to Lawrence County. Two very tough games this week.

6. Pikeville (11-13) – The Panthers have been playing very physical, defensive minded, basketball since Coach Bart Williams went to his best defensive lineup. This change has allowed Pikeville to establish a true identity they will carry into post season play and makes them a very tough out. In week 10 the Panthers defeated Piarist and Shelby Valley easily before falling to South Floyd (In the Shelby Valley game, Pikeville big man Dalton Meade went down with an ankle injury but is expected to return before districts). Week 11 will see them stay in Pike County as they play East Ridge, Shelby Valley, Belfry, and Pike Central. If Pikeville defeats East Ridge, then Shelby Valley will have to beat them by 16 or more to get the #1 seed in the 59th and play Piarist at East Ridge. Needless to say, the East Ridge game is huge for Pikeville and the 59th as a whole.

7. Pike Central (9-15) – The Hawks had a lot of hype to start the season, but have struggled of late losing 5 in a row. Week 10 saw them go 0-3 with losses to Belfry, Lawrence County, and Sheldon Clark (in the SC game Ryan Eads did not play for reasons unknown). Week 11 will not get any easier as Pike Central travels to Johnson Central, then hosts East Ridge and Pikeville. If this team can come back together, they could pull and upset in tournament play, but right now they may have to defeat a very scary Belfry team at Belfry in the 60th District opener (If Belfry defeats Lawrence County it could be even worse as they could possibly play LC in that game). The Hawks are looking to steady the ship late in the season.

8. East Ridge (13-11) – The Warriors lost to Pikeville and Shelby Valley and defeated Prestonsburg and Belfry in week 10. Week 11 will see East Ridge play Pikeville, Piarist, and Pike Central. If East Ridge can defeat Pikeville it could throw a huge monkey wrench in the 59th District seeding as East Ridge, Shelby Valley, and Pikeville are all looking for that #1 seed and a district opener with Piarist.

9. Sheldon Clark (8-16) – The Cardinals went 1-3 in week 10, losing by 1 to Johnson Central in OT (a game in which a last second missed layup determined the game), to Powell County by 3 despite only scoring 1 point in the 3Q, and to Greenup County by 16 at home. Sheldon Clark did defeat Pike Central at home. Week 11 will see Sheldon Clark travel to Shelby Valley then host Magoffin County and Belfry. The Cardinals are locked into the 4 seed in the 57th District (will play either Magoffin or Johnson Central in district opener), but got some great news this week as Larry James was named Martin County superintendent. This means Dylan James will likely return for his senior year (currently at Mercer County) and so will his 6’8’’ 7th grade brother Trey James. SC has no seniors on the team this year and will be a top 3 team next year if this happens, perhaps #1. If Sheldon Clark plays as hard as they did in the Johnson Central, they could pull and upset in the district tournament. This team shoots the 3 very well, so don’t be surprised if it happens.

10. Belfry (8-12) – Three wins in a row for the Pirates is a scary sight for the rest of the region. This team has athletes all over the floor, are physically very strong, and rebound well in the middle. The Pirates defeated Pike Central, Phelps, and Shelby Valley in week 10 and will play Perry Central, Paintsville, Pikeville, and Sheldon Clark in week 11. If this team gets rolling then watch out. Despite their record, they have the potential to beat any team in the region on a given night and only a handful of teams can claim that.

11. Allen Central (10-12) – The Rebels lost to South Floyd but defeated Betsy Layne in week 10. Week 11 will see them play Letcher Central, Phelps, Jenkins, and Menifee County. Allen Central will likely be in the 2/3 game in the 58 District tournament and have shown improvement since the return of Hall from a summer knee injury.

12. Paintsville (6-14) – The Tigers have not been competitive of late, getting crushed by Johnson Central (25), Morgan County (23), and Knox Central (30) in week 10. The transfer's they picked up from Johnson Central have not panned out the way Coach Bill Mike Runyon envisioned as the Tigers struggle to score the ball. Paintsville is locked into the 3 seed in the 57th District tournament and will either play Johnson Central or Magoffin in the opener. Week 11 gets no easier as Paintsville will play Belfry and Knox Central again.

13. Betsy Layne (9-15) –
The young Bobcats continue to struggle with pressure, but have been more competitive of late going 2-2 in week 10 (wins over Riverside Christian and Prestonsburg). Betsy Layne will likely be in the 2/3 game in the 58th district vs. Allen Central and should pick up two more wins late in the season as they play Jenkins twice.

14. Prestonsburg (6-17) – Blackcat basketball is in a very down time for the program. They did pick up a win in week 10, but they had to schedule out of district opponent Piarist to do it. Of their six wins this year, 5 of them have come against Piarist (twice), Jenkins, and Phelps (twice). Prestonsburg did give South Floyd a scare this past week in a game they could have won if not for two missed FT’s late, but don’t look for the Blackcats to make much noise in the post season.

15. Phelps (5-17) – The young Hornets are likely locked into the 4 seed in the 60th District (they could pull a late upset, but don’t hold your breath). Phelps did pick up a win in week 10 as they defeated Riverside Christian on the road.

16. Piarist (0-18) – The losses continue to pile up for the Knights. Week 11 will see more of the same, but week 12 might be different as Piarist will host Riverside Christian. The number 1 seed in the 59th District will have Piarist.

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