2016-2017 15th Region Season Review - District Tournament's Preview
15th Region Overview: This has been one of the most competitive and fun seasons in many years within the 15th. There have been no truly dominate teams that can compete with anyone in the state, but they have been able to have some great games amongst themselves. Johnson Central, Magoffin County, Sheldon Clark, and Pikeville have all separated themselves as favorites as it would not be shocking if any of them made the trip to RUPP Arena. South Floyd, Lawrence County, and East Ridge have established themselves as solid dark horses. This region saw two of the top ten scorers in the nation in Tim Dalton and Mason Blair as well as some of the greatest statistical seasons in KHSAA history as many records fell. If the regular season was a main course of basketball, some playoff dessert is going to be one of the sweetest of all time! Let’s look at how the final regular season’s rankings pan out to include a breakdown of each district game.
2016-2017 Preseason Rankings (Released in November):
1. Johnson Central
2. Magoffin County
3. Sheldon Clark
4. East Ridge
6. Shelby Valley
7. Lawrence County
10. Pike Central
11. South Floyd
12. Allen Central
15. Betsy Layne
2016-2017 Final Regular Season Rankings (Record):
1. Johnson Central (23-6)
2. Sheldon Clark (19-11)
3. Magoffin County (17-10)
4. Pikeville (17-8)
5. Lawrence County (19-11)
6. East Ridge (19-11)
7. South Floyd (18-12)
8. Pike Central (16-14)
9. Belfry (13-16)
10. Shelby Valley (15-13)
11. Phelps (14-16)
12. Paintsville (8-19)
13. Allen Central (13-17)
14. Prestonsburg (7-23)
15. Betsy Layne (7-22)
16. Piarist (1-26)
Awards (Based solely on author opinion):
Player of the Year: Tim Dalton – Lawrence County
Coach of the Year: Tommy McKenzie – Johnson Central
All Region 1st Team (Regardless of Position):
Tim Dalton – Lawrence County
Mason Blair – Johnson Central
Trenton Russell – Magoffin County
Dylan James – Sheldon Clark
Wyatt Battaile - Pikeville
All Region 2nd Team (Regardless of Position):
Cole Crace – Johnson Central
Jaren Lovely – Magoffin County
Christian Mounts – Phelps
Brady Conn – South Floyd
J.R. Tackett – South Floyd
All Region 3rd Team (Regardless of Position):
Michael Conn – East Ridge
Cody Potter – Shelby Valley
Blake Wallace – Pike Central
Dave Cantrell – Sheldon Clark
Ryan Mullins – Magoffin County
Honorable Mention: Isiah Roblee (Belfry), Jared Wellman (Lawrence County), Jacob Rice (Johnson Central), Mason Moore (Paintsville), Ryan Eads (Pike Central), Matt Miller (East Ridge), Bradley Dalton (Sheldon Clark), Shawn Moore (Sheldon Clark), Austin Woolum (Belfry), Ethan Smith-Mills (Allen Central), Conner Roberts (Pikeville), Seth Conn (Pike Central), Jacob Collins (South Floyd), Dawson Clark (East Ridge), Conner Roberts (Pikeville)
57th District PreviewTournament Location: Magoffin County High School
Defending Champion: Johnson Central
Johnson Central (1 seed) vs. Paintsville (4 seed) Tuesday 7:00 PM
Sheldon Clark (2 seed) vs. Magoffin County (3 seed) Wednesday 7:00 PM
District Championship (Friday 7:00 PM)
Match-Up #1: Johnson Central [23-6: 4-2 in Districts] vs. Paintsville [9-21: 0-7 in Districts]
Johnson Central finished the regular season strong, winning ten games in a row. In the last week, the Golden Eagles closed with a win at Tates Creek, seeing senior standout Mason Blair brake Chris Harrisons (Tollesboro – 1991) single season record for made 3FG in a season. The record had been 145 and Blair enters district play with 151. Blair is also 9th in the nation in scoring (maxpreps) and just 51 points away from a 1,000 point season (There have been almost twice as many 3,000 point scorers as 1,000 point seasons in KHSAA history).
Paintsville closed the season 1-2 with a win vs. Prestonsburg and losses to Pikeville and Belfry (all games at home). The Tigers have lost 14 of their last 16 and are looking at only the second 20 loss season in school history. Paintsville is small and scrappy, good defensively with their guards, and can be scary when they hit shots.
Johnson Central defeated Paintsville twice on the season. At home, JC won 83-68 in a game that James and Chris Allen did not play (JC led by as many as 31 in the game). On the road, JC won 106-77 (Mason Blair – 47 points in 24 minutes of play). In this game it is unknown if Chris Allen will play (shoulder injury) as he sat out the Pikeville game to close the regular season. Paintsville has the ability to slow down Johnson Central with their defense, but the question is can they keep up the scoring as possessions get lower in the post seasons.
(1) Paintsville currently has the longest drought in the 15th Region for regional tournament appearances (outside Piarist who has never defeated a 15th Region opponents). They last appeared in the regional in 2008 when current Head Coach Landon Slone led them to Rupp Arena.
(2) Tommy McKenzie has won 20 games for seven straight years (8 of his 10 as a Head Coach) and been in the regional tournament for seven straight years.
(3) Johnson Central and Paintsville last met in the post season in 2013 (District play) at Magoffin County. JC won the game 48-43 as Golden Eagle point guard Braxton Blair held the ball under his arm for 6:30 of the fourth quarter with the lead while Paintsville remained in a 2-3 zone. Needless to say it was an intense atmosphere.
Johnson Central 81 Paintsville 62
Match-Up #2: Sheldon Clark [19-11: 5-2 in Districts] vs. Magoffin County [17-10: 4-2 in Districts]
The Sheldon Clark Cardinals closed their regular season strong, winning six of their last seven games. In the final week of the season, SC blew out Lawrence County, Shelby Valley, and Prestonsburg (all at home) and seem to be peaking at just the right time. This is the most complete team in the region as they can score in multiple ways and play multiple styles.
The Magoffin County Hornets also closed strong, avenging a mid-season loss to Pikeville with a win at home 63-62. The Hornets have only been defeated once in their new gym (Knott Central) and in that game they lead by 5 with 90s to play.
During the regular season Sheldon Clark and Magoffin County split. In the first game on December 22, Sheldon Clark won 70-58 at home. Magoffin County was never really in the game as the Cardinals jump trapped Jaren Lovely and played Trenton Russell with zero help. They elected to not guard a few of Magoffin County’s players and they did not make the Cardinals pay. The second game (played January 14th – at Magoffin) was much different. Magoffin County dominated the game for three quarters, building a 20 point lead into the 4th. Then Dylan James got crazy hot and brought Sheldon Clark all the way back to force overtime. In the first extra frame, the teams tied, hitting key FT’s both ways and forcing a second overtime. In the final frame, the Cardinals were up 1 and shooting two FT’s late in the period. They missed both and Jaren Lovely went to the basket for the game winning lay-up as time expired. It was electric in the building that night and should be once again on Wednesday. One very good team is not going to advance to regional tournament.
(1) Sheldon Clark and Magoffin County have not met in the first round of the district tournament since 2000 when Magoffin County defeated the Cardinals 50-35 (played at Magoffin County).
(2) During the last meeting between the two at Magoffin, the handshake line with the cheerleaders resulted in more than a few words being said. Don’t expect the teams to shake hands at the close of this contest.
Sheldon Clark 75 Magoffin County 71
Tournament Location: Betsy Layne High School
58th District Preview
Defending Champion: South Floyd
Allen Central (1 seed) vs. Betsy Layne (4 seed) Monday 7:30 PM
South Floyd (2 seed) vs. Prestonsburg (3 seed) Tuesday 7:30 PM
District Championship (Friday 7:30 PM)
Match-Up #1: Allen Central [13-17: 4-2 in Districts] vs. Betsy Layne [7-22: 1-6 in Districts]
Allen Central closed the final week of the regular season 1-2 with a win against Piarist in their final home game before consolidation into Floyd Central and two losses at the hands of Belfry and Phelps (last two games on the road). Allen Central is more physical than people might realize and very young with their skill players.
Betsy Layne has had a tough year, but showed steady improvement down the stretch by winning four of their last five games. The final week of the regular season saw the Bobcats go 2-1 with blow out wins at home versus both Jenkins and Lee County and an overtime loss by one on the road to June Buchanan. Grant Orsborn has been carrying the team for Coach Keathley as their turnovers have dropped to close out the season.
Allen Central defeated Betsy Layne twice during the regular season. The first meeting was at Betsy Layne on December 2nd and resulted in a 49-34 Rebel win. The second meeting was at Betsy Layne and resulted in a 68-54 Rebel win. Both games were close in the first half, with Allen Central steadily pulling away in third and fourth quarters for comfortable wins. Could the Bobcats use their new found momentum to pull the upset at home?
(1) Allen Central has eliminated Betsy Layne in the first round of the last two district tournaments. This is the third consecutive year the two have met in the opening round.
(2) This will be the last season for Allen Central as they will be consolidated into Floyd Central with South Floyd next season.
(3) The 58th District will welcome Lawrence County next season and should have a whole new look with Floyd Central.
Allen Central 68 Betsy Layne 62
Match-Up #2: South Floyd [18-12: 5-2 in Districts] vs. Prestonsburg [7-23: 3-3 in Districts]
South Floyd closed out the regular season going 2-1 in the final week. Their loss came to Pike Central on the road 65-67 and their wins both came at home versus Piarist and June Buchanan in blow out fashion. Like Allen Central, South Floyd defeated Piarist in their last ever home game before consolidating into Floyd Central. The Raiders have won four of their last five and have the talent to make some noise in the regional tournament.
Prestonsburg has lost six of their last seven to close the season to include 0-3 in the final week of the season. The Blackcats play hard, but often run out of gas and experience long scoring droughts. If they shoot the ball well, they can stay in games.
During the regular season the two teams split. In the first game, South Floyd defeated Prestonsburg on the road by a final of 90-60. In the second game, Prestonsburg traveled to Hi Hat and knocked off South Floyd on a buzzer beat from the volleyball line 52-50. South Floyd is an enigma as they have very good guards and one of the best rebounders in the state in Conn. With the huge talent disparity, Prestonsburg will have a huge hill to climb, but if South Floyd is unmotivated it could be a game.
(1) South Floyd has eliminated Prestonsburg from the district tournament the last two seasons in blowout fashion.
(2) This will be the last run for South Floyd as they consolidate with Allen Central to become Floyd Central next season.
South Floyd 80 Prestonsburg 65
59th District Preview
Tournament Location: Pikeville High School
Defending Champion: East Ridge
Pikeville (1 seed) vs. Piarist (4 seed) Wednesday 6:30 PM
Shelby Valley (2 seed) vs. East Ridge (3 seed) Wednesday 8:00 PM
District Championship (Friday 8:30 PM)
Match-Up #1: Pikeville [18-8: 7-1 in Districts] vs. Piarist [1-26: 0-7 in Districts]
Pikeville stumbled a bit to close the regular season by losing at Magoffin County by one and then pulling away late at Paintsville to win by eight. In the Magoffin County game, the Panthers had multiple chances to hit the game winning shot but failed to convert on a Wyatt Battaile jumper and follow up rebounds.
The Piarist Knights finished the regular season with losses to South Floyd and Allen Central in games that were not very competitive.
During the regular season Pikeville defeated Piarist 93-11, 75-13, and 100-20. The District opener was going to be much of the same, but the Knights elected to go on a skiing trip and forfeited 0-2 when the game could not be move to another date. Pikeville will await the winner of Shelby Valley and East Ridge in the 59th District Championship.
(1) Piarist will be relocated to the 60th district next season as Jenkins will take their place in the 59th.
(2) Pikeville is looking to make their first trip to Rupp Arena since 1999.
Pikeville 2 Piarist 0
Match-Up #2: Shelby Valley [15-13: 3-3 in Districts] vs. East Ridge [19-10: 4-3 in Districts]
Shelby Valley is 2-7 in the last nine games to close the regular season with their only wins coming over Jenkins and Phelps. The team is very young and with a long season has likely been scouted for weaknesses coming down the stretch. The Competition has also picked up compared to earlier in the year.
East Ridge closed the season by winning six of their last eight with losses to Pikeville and Lawrence County (although the last three wins are against very weak competition). Head Coach Randy McCoy returned to the sidelines in the Lawrence County game after some medical concerns and seemed to not miss a beat. If you let them get the lead on you in the second half, East Ridge will spread you out and run clock with Conn and Miller attacking the basket. This team should be considered a top dark horse to win the region.
During the regular season Shelby Valley and East Ridge split their contest. In the first meeting (played at Shelby Valley) the Wildcats prevailed 63-53, icing the game late with free throws. The second contest would see East Ridge get even at home with a narrow 61-60 victory. This game will come down to matchups and pace of play. Don’t expect either team to press unless they have to and don’t expect to see a lot of fast break points. If Shelby Valley is able to knock down some shots from the outside it will be tough on East Ridge. If the Warriors are able to take a lead into the fourth, it will be tough on Shelby Valley. This should be a great game!
(1) East Ridge Head Coach Randy McCoy is going into the KHSAA ring of honor at the state tournament this year.
(2) East Ridge defeated Shelby Valley last season in the district tournament 53-50.
East Ridge 59 Shelby Valley 56
60th District Preview
Tournament Location: Lawrence County High School
Defending Champion: Lawrence County
Lawrence County (1 seed) vs. Phelps (4 seed) Monday 8:15 PM
Belfry (2 seed) vs. Pike Central (3 seed) Wednesday 8:15 PM
District Championship (Friday 8:15 PM)
Match-Up #1: Lawrence County [19-11: 5-1 in Districts] vs. Phelps [14-16: 1-5 in Districts]
Lawrence County has overachieved this season after losing four starters and four 1,000 plus scorers. The reason is Mr. Tim Dalton. He is leading the nation is scoring at over 38 ppg (maxpreps) and also averaging double digit rebounds. The one wrecking crew has not slipped up much this season but did see his team stumble to 1-2 regular season finish as they lost to Boyd County and Sheldon Clark in blowout fashion. The Bulldogs were able to close out the regular season with a win versus East Ridge at home.
Phelps has been a pleasant surprise this year behind the play of junior SG Christian Mounts. Phelps closed the season with four straight wins as Mounts continued to wow crowds with his dunks and deep fade-aways.
Lawrence County and Phelps met twice during the regular season with the Bulldogs winning 82-50 at Lawrence and 77-63 at Phelps. Tim Dalton is just too much for the Hornets to handle as he is able to get to the rim on them at any time and guard Mounts on the other end. If Dalton was to get in foul trouble early, the Hornets could pull the upset, but its going to be a very difficult setting for them. Look for Phelps to stay close for a quarter or two.
(1) This is the third year in the 60th District for Lawrence County. They have won the previous two district championships since being moved from the 57th.
(2) Next season the 60th District will welcome in Piarist and Lawrence County will go the 58th.
(3) Lawrence County defeated Phelps in the opening round of districts by ten points.
Lawrence County 75 Phelps 63
Match-Up #2: Belfry [13-16: 4-2 in Districts] vs. Pike Central [16-14: 2-4 in Districts]
Belfry went undefeated (3-0) in the final week of the regular season but are only 4-4 in the month of February. The Pirates seem to be peaking at right time with wins against Paintsville, Allen Central, and Prestonsburg. Their guard play is strong and outside shooting can be very good. Isiah Roblee broke the made 3FG school record of 85 in a season this past week as proof.
Pike Central went 2-1 in the final week of the regular season as their up and down year continues. The Hawks have not had more than a two game losing streak or two game winning streak all season. Wins against Shelby Valley and South Floyd, followed by a 20 point loss to Letcher Central is how Pike Central closed the season. They have size and athleticism down low. If their guards can make a few baskets and handle pressure, they will be very tough in the half court.
Belfry and Pike Central split during the regular season. In the first meeting Belfry went to Pike Central and came out with a 64-56 win. Two weeks later the Hawks avenged that loss by going to Belfry and getting the 63-52 win. This game should be an absolute war. Both teams do not like each other and both teams are don’t mind physical play. This game will come down to rebounding and FT shooting.
(1) Belfry knocked Pike Central out of the district tournament last season in triple overtime 80-78.
(2) Pike Central has Levard Missick eligible to play (played last few games of season) and he should make a difference in this game.
Pike Central 64 Belfry 63
District Championship Predictions:
57th - Johnson Central 79 Sheldon Clark 76
58th – South Floyd 70 Allen Central 58
59th - Pikeville 69 East Ridge 64
60th – Lawrence County 75 Pike Central 68
Agree or Disagree on anything? Feel free to respond!