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BluegrassPreps.com 3rd Region Boys Basketball Preview

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Ranking the 3rd Region in the preseason is a tall task. Outside Breckenridge County, every team that had winning seasons last year, lost nearly all of its offensive production to graduation or transfer. Also, these rankings are dependent on the kids that have transferred within the region getting eligible. Odds are they will be able to play. All of the other uncertainty should make for an exciting regular season. It will be interesting to see which players take the next step in bigger roles for their teams this season.

 

1. Breckenridge County Tigers - Coach Patrick Critchelow

Last Season (15-13) - 11th Dist. Runner-up - Lost to Owensboro Catholic Region 1st round

Key Losses - Colin Bland - 7ppg/4 rpg - lost 2 Seniors

 

Roster - Breckenridge returns nearly everyone from a team that was middle of the pack last year in the 3rd. They are led by 3rd region player of the year frontrunner, Kobe Poole (24ppg). Poole is a 4 year starter and is easily the most explosive player in the region. He will have help in 3 point marksman Tanner Whitworth. Whitworth averaged right at 10 points per game a year ago, shooting 43% beyond the arc. Jon Whitworth, Joey Howell and Kaveon Mitchell logged several varsity minutes last season. Defensive specialist Brock Lucas came on strong late last season, while big man Trey Irwin is a player to watch off the bench for the Tigers.

 

Outlook - There is no doubt that Breck County returns the most experienced roster in the region. They also feature the best player in the 3rd. This puts them as heavy preseason favorites to make a trip to Rupp Arena in March. Outside the region, they play a pretty light schedule which should give them a very impressive overall record. With their football team coming off a much improved season & their baseball program growing into one of the region’s best, it’s an exciting time to be a Tiger fan!

 

2. Owensboro Catholic Aces - Coach Tim Riley

Last Season (23-10) - 9th District Champs - 3rd Region runner-up to Apollo

Key Losses - The Aces lost 7 seniors, including leading scorers Luke Hayden & JD Marshall

 

Roster - The Aces are going to have to replace a good chunk of their production after losing 7 players who accounted for over 50 points and 23 rebounds per game. Peyton Survant returns as one of the best 3 point shooters in the region. Ty Vincent also logged key minutes off the bench last season and returns to give Catholic a physical presence in the paint. Ohio County's John Parker moved over to Catholic in the summer. He will be a huge addition to this lineup. Andrew Riney and Drew Hartz will look to take a step forward with more varsity minutes this season. Keep your eyes on freshman Brian Griffith and Jai Webb. Both have immense talent and should get plenty of varsity minutes.

 

Outlook - Sure Owensboro Catholic lost a large portion of the guys who fans have come to know over the past 3 years. That core led Catholic to its first ever Sweet 16 appearance, so you instantly think there is going to be a major drop off….but not so fast. Coach Tim Riley has plenty of talent to mold on this roster. With Parker joining up with Survant and Vincent, they will have plenty of leadership to go along with some very nice freshmen. They will look different no doubt, but expect the outcomes to mirror what we've seen from this program over the past few years.

 

3. Muhlenberg County Mustangs - Coach Kyle Eades

Last Season (12-16) - 10th district runner-up - lost in regional semi's to Catholic

Key Losses - Will Noffsinger (24ppg) & Alex Van Hook (7ppg/6rpg)

 

Roster - There are some unknowns when talking about the Mustangs roster this season, but overall, they return a lot of varsity experience. First things first, they are going to have to prove they can win without Noffsinger's 24 points a night. Expect them to take a team approach to finding that production. It starts with seniors Nolan Davis & Trey Boggess. They combined for an average of 15 points and 8 boards last year. Look for Sophomore Nash Devine to take a big step forward this year. He was very impressive, logging several minutes as a freshman a year ago. Role players Landon Guntterman and Noah Phillips return and could provide big games on any given night.

 

Outlook - With a lot of the region losing their core players, the Mustangs bring back as much varsity experience as anyone. Coach Eades did a great job with a group of new faces last year and will build on that this season. Their overall schedule will feature early games against Marshall County and Madisonville, while playing in competitive holiday tournaments at Warren East and LaRue County. Expect more of a team approach for the Mustangs this year, with several players who can contribute night in and night out.

 

4. Meade County Greenwave - Coach Jason Tripure

Last Season (16-10) - 11th District Champions - Lost to Apollo in Round 1 of Regional

Key Losses - Aiden Matthews (19ppg/8rpg), Noah Schwartz (8ppg), Matt Collard

 

Roster - Since taking over as Meade County Head Coach, Jason Tripure has had the Greenwave in the mix for a regional title every year. Expect that trend to continue this season. They will have to find a way to replace, Aiden Matthews, who was one of the best players in the region a year ago. That should start with Chezney Weick (11ppg/6ppg). Chezney played a huge role in the Waves 2016 regional championship. He should have no problem stepping into the teams leadership role. He won’t have to look far to find some help. His younger brother Chaney was impressive as an 8th grader last season and should take a step forward this season. Senior Chris Armstead brings an athletic presence to the guard spot, while fellow senior Kobe Nikolaou will bring the physical presence in the paint. The Crump brothers Carson & Cooper will also log minutes, returning from last season.

 

Outlook - Before last season's first round exit, Coach Tripure had made 3 straight trips to the 3rd region championship game, winning the title in 2017. It would not be a surprise to see them back in that position again this season. They return a great leader in Weick, and have a very solid supporting cast around him. They play in 2 very solid holiday tournaments in Gatlinburg & Nelson County. Due to their location, they also play a very tough 5th region schedule. Come tournament time, they will be battle tested and will be expecting a shot at a regional title.

 

5. Grayson County Cougars - Coach Travis Johnston

Last Season (13-17) - 12th District Champions - Lost to Muhlenberg in round 1 of Regional

Key Losses: Bailey Logsdon (13ppg/5rpg)

 

Roster - Coach Johnston took the reigns’ of this Cougar program last year and improved them every step of the way, much like he did as a player. He will have the benefit of only having to replace 1 senior from a district championship team last year. Logsdon was the offensive leader, no question, but they return a core of guys who will bring more balance to the roster this season. Seniors Caleb Ray & Logan Majors both averaged right at 9 points per game last year, while junior Nolan Shartzer put up 8 a game. Senior Josh Embry will also be expected to take a step forward. Lastly, QDaryius McHenry has moved over from Ohio County. Mchenry is an athletic freak and has already gotten looks from Coach Stansbury at WKU. Expect him to be a major difference maker for the Cougars on the hardwood, much like he has been on the gridiron!

 

Outlook - This is a dangerous Grayson County team on paper. You virtually have the same team as last year, only replacing Logsdon with McHenry. If he can emerge as the player expected, and the role players take steps forward in their 2nd year under Johnston, there is reason to believe the Cougars will contend for a 3rd region title.

 

6. Owensboro Red Devils - Coach Rod Drake

Last Season (19-8) - Upset by Apollo in the 9th district tourney

Key Losses - 3rd Region POY, Cory Gardner (18ppg), Deonte Douglas (12ppg), Jeron Tinsley (11ppg)

 

Roster - Like a lot of teams across the region, the Devils lost a good portion of their varsity production to graduation. The returning players will surely have a bad taste in their mouth after being the regional favorite for most of the year, and falling short in the district tournament. The Devils will have to replace over 65 points and 26 boards per game in production. That will start with returning guard Darrion Wimsatt (7ppg). He was electric at times last season in limited minutes and is a sure breakout candidate this season. Coach Drake will look to Monte Owsley, Issac Humphrey, Jaiden Greathouse and Areon Phillips to take steps forward with more varsity minutes this year. Adante Greer is a returning senior that could contribute, as well as freshman Gavin Wimsatt. Wimsatt was the leader of a very explosive OMS team last season.

 

Outlook - Much like every other team in the region, the Devils have a lot of unknowns heading into the season. While this will be a new cast of players, they will still feature a ton of athletic ability across the board. Their athleticism should help them until they are able to find their offensive footing. As usual, Coach Drake has set up a formidable schedule for his inexperienced Devils. The OHS faithful know that they haven’t reached regional tournament since hanging the state championship banner in the Devil's Den in 2015. Roster turnover or not, they will expect to see their Devil's playing in the Sportscenter come March, this season.

 

7. Ohio County Eagles - Coach Tony Hopper

Last Season (16-14) - 10th District Champions - Lost to Apollo in the Regional Semi's

Key Losses - Logan Sandefur (12ppg), John Parker (14ppg), Dylan Decker (8ppg), Heath Simmons (8ppg/6rpg)

 

Roster - The top of the Eagles roster was hit hard by graduation and transfers. Logan Sandefur, John Parker and QDarrius McHenry are all gone from the midseason roster last year. That said, Coach Tony Hopper ran a lot of guys in and out last season, getting many valuable varsity minutes. Sharpshooting Junior Trey Lewis is the teams top returning scorer (8ppg), shooting a stunning 51% from beyond the arc. Dennis Manning, Shane Frady & Hunter Pharis adds to the impressive class of juniors for the Eagles. Seniors Parker Shrewsbury & Colby Vanover will also add key minutes for Coach Hopper.

 

Outlook - Had Parker and McHenry stayed at Ohio County, they may very well be the favorite to win the region. They will have to find a way to replace that lost production on a consistent basis. The good news for Eagles fans is they have one of the best coaches in the state in Tony Hopper. He has shown the ability to get the absolute most out of his rosters in the past and the cupboard is far from bare. He will have a lot of guys to work with. As usual, he has scheduled very strong outside the region with the likes of Graves and Henderson County on the schedule. Expect the Eagles to bring a total team approach this season.

 

8. Daviess County Panthers - Coach Neil Hayden

Last Season (19-11) - Lost in district to Owensboro Catholic

Key Losses - Blake Boswell (16ppg), Jay Owen (11ppg), Caden Coomes (11ppg), Seth Fenwick (9ppg/6rpg)

 

Roster - Daviess County, like every team in the 9th district, lost a huge core of seniors to graduation. The Panthers had their hearts broken on a last second tip in that ended their season in the district tournament last year. Replacing 4 of 5 starters will not be an easy task, but Coach Hayden does return some talent. It starts with senior Dakota Walden. Walden logged several minutes as a sophomore and took a big step forward as a junior with several double digit scoring nights. He averaged right at 10 points per game last year. Senior Gavin Ray will man the paint to help with scoring and rebounding. Junior forward Logan Hillard & senior forward Mason Payne should see plenty of action. Lasty, Chase Luckett, a senior guard, is expected to be the teams best defender.

 

Outlook - Anytime you lose the kind of production and leadership that the Panthers did, there are going to be a lot of uncertainty. Coach Hayden though, is starting to get a reputation of developing players and finding a way to keep the Panthers among the top teams in the region year in and year out. If Walden can take hold as the leader and increase his production while defenses are bring more attention his way, Daviess County is going to surprise people this year. Of course a lot will depend on the supporting cast, but you can’t help but think that this talented coaching staff is going to find a way to keep the Panthers in the mix.

 

9. Whitesville Trinity Raiders - Coach Nathan West

Last Season (16-15) - lost in district to Edmonson County

Key Losses - Dalton Crisp (7ppg), Zack Roberts (7ppg)

 

Roster - The Raiders return their top 2 scorers in Cameron Wright (16ppg/9rpg) & Trenton Morris (9ppg/5rpg). Wright proved to be one of the more versatile players in the region last year, with the ability to play on the block or shoot the jump shot. On most nights, he will give Trinity the best player on the floor. They will have to replace steady point guard Dalton Crisp, but Coach West returns a nice core of players.

 

Outlook - Trinity has a very solid 1-2 punch in Wright and Morris. They play a favorable schedule and will have a solid chance of winning the Hancock County Holiday tournament. On paper they have a good chance to return to the 3rd region tournament.

 

10. Hancock County Hornets - Coach Mike Orr

Last Season (14-16) - Eliminated in District by Breck County

Key Losses - Jacob White (15ppg/6rpg), Lathan Lamar (7ppg/4rpg), John Fox (9ppg/4rpg)

 

Roster - Over the past 2 season, the Hornets have graduated very talented senior classes. Coach Mike Orr takes over a program that is just 2 years removed from their winningest season in school history. The Hornets success will start with hot shooting guard Jaxson Gray. He averaged 16ppg and improved every time he stepped on the floor a year ago. The question for the Hornets will be the rest of the roster. Football athletes Spencer Harpenau and Darian Clay are listed on the preseason roster but they do not return much other experience. They will be looking to Gray to carry the load while everyone else catches up.

 

Outlook - It’s good to have Coach Mike Orr back in the 3rd Region. He had a lot of success in the early 2000's at Owensboro Catholic. The Hornets will have an uphill battle to close the gap in a very strong 11th district. Jaxson Gray will be one of the better players in the region but will need help. Hancock will host their own holiday tournament and should be competitive against their schedule. An above .500 season will be within reach.

 

11. Apollo Eagles - Coach Steve Barker

Last Season (16-16) - 9th District runner-up - 3rd Region Champions

Key Losses - Nathan Boyle (15ppg), Alex Gray (13ppg/8rpg), Hayden Shelton (13ppg), James Graham (9ppg/9rpg) & Angel Saldana (9ppg)

 

Roster - Apollo emerged late in the season and won a 3rd region title on the backs of their senior leadership. No team in the region lost more production than Apollo. The only returning player that logged key varsity minutes is defensive specialist Malik Wilson. Ryan Ash played sparingly and will have a much bigger role this season. Coach Barker will turn to highly touted freshman Jaden Kelly to run the offense from the point guard spot. Junior Colton Wethington is a player that has turned some heads in the offseason and can shoot the ball. Lastly, newcomer Dan St Claire is a 6-5, 250lb big man who is playing his first year of organized basketball. He has shown a lot of raw ability heading into the season.

 

Outlook - The Eagles are hitting the reset button after 2 years of being at the top of the region. They lost virtually 100% of their production from last years regional championship team. Coach Barker will be looking to mold this new core of guys into the next group of champions. It’s going to be a process for the Eagles.

 

12. Mclean County Cougars - Coach Alex Embry

Last Season (7-21) - lost in District to Ohio County

Key Losses - Keenan Smith (17ppg), Austin Blades, Dylan McMahon

 

Roster - Coach Alex Embry takes over for Greg Stevens in Calhoun this season. He will inherit a roster that lost 6 seniors, led by Keenan Smith. Smith tragically lost his life in a car accident in the offseason. The team will be looking to rally for their fallen teammate. The production will start with junior Logan Patterson (17ppg/10rpg). Patterson is the regions only returning player that averaged a double double last season and will be the backbone for Mclean County. He will have help in fellow juniors Jacob Clark (8ppg) & Brayden Bishop.

 

Outlook - The Cougars will have their work cut out for them in a difficult 10th district, but it certainly helps to have a player like Logan Patterson. A solid attainable goal for Mclean would be to improve on their 7 win season a year ago. If the role players can step up around Patterson, there is no reason they can’t double their win total.

 

13. Butler County Bears - Coach Calvin Dockery

Last Season (11-14) - lost in District to Grayson County

Key Losses - Will Moore (22ppg), Brennan Grubb (12ppg), Caleb Beasley (12ppg)

 

Roster - The Bears will be looking to replace a senior class that was one of the top scoring trio's in the entire region. Will Moore was a scoring machine and powered the Bears offense most nights. Coach Dockery does have the benefit of returning some good size. 6-6 junior Parker Rice is a very athletic big man who averaged 9 points and 8 boards last year. 6-4 senior Jayden Hurt also returns after averaging 8 points and 6 boards per game. Senior guard Justin Elms has flashed during the offseason and should get big minutes. It will be interesting if athletic freshmen Jagger Henderson and Issac Dockery see varsity action.

 

Outlook - Coach Dockery will have a good mix of size and youth this season. With Moore and Grubb no longer in the mix, you can expect more of a half court game with the Bears trying to get the game into the paint. Rice and Hurt will give Butler one of the better front courts in the region. The biggest question will be their ball handling. After losing their steady guard play, Coach Dockery will be forced to go young or inexperienced at the guard spot. With a favorable schedule, if they can limit turnovers, the Bears will have a chance to contend in the 12th district.

 

14. Edmonson County Wildcats - Coach Michael McClintic

Last Season (10-22) - 12th District Runner-up - 1st round loss to Ohio Co at Regional

Key Losses - Logan Lindsey (12ppg), Cole Tucker (9ppg), Logan Minton

 

Roster - After losing the core of their roster, the Wildcats will turn to the next crop of guys to develop. Coach McClintic has done a great job of getting Edmonson to the regional tournament quite often over the past few years. This seasons roster will be led by juniors Dalton Decker & Mason Pierce and sophomore Chaz Wilson.

 

Outlook - While this could probably be considered a rebuilding season for Edmonson County, they will have a shot inside the 12th district. Trinity and Grayson County are the best teams on paper, but Coach McClintic has had a lot of success inside the district.

 

15. Cloverport Aces - Coach Scott Bradley

Last Season (2-26) - Lost to Meade in District

Key Losses - Dylan Simmons (13ppg)

 

Roster - Coach Bradley and the Aces will be looking to improve off a rough 2017-2018. Do everything guard Dylan Simmons was lost to graduation. The Aces will turn to junior Xander Jennings. He averaged 7 points and 7 boards a game last season.

 

Outlook - With only 2 seniors on the roster, Cloverport will turn to a younger roster to try to improve on their 2 win season last year. Outside the region, they will have a shot to put some wins on the board.

 

 

Much like the overall team rankings, the player rankings is a difficult task. A lot of players on this list and just outside this list will be taking on much bigger roles this season. A lot of kids will have more opportunity to break out with more varsity minutes than they have ever had in their careers.

 

1. Kobe Poole -Breckenridge County - G (24ppg) - Poole is one of the most explosive players in Western Kentucky. He can beat you from beyond the arc but is at his best when he is driving the lane. He gets to the rim better than anyone in the region. The 4 year starter will be looking to lead his Tigers to Rupp Arena.

 

2. John Parker - Owensboro Catholic- G/F (14ppg) - Parker moves from Ohio County to Catholic this year. Consistency will be the key. There were times last year that Parker carried Ohio County as a junior. Look for him to take another step forward under Tim Riley.

 

3. Dakota Walden – Daviess County – G (9ppg) – Walden flashed several times over the past 2 years but was one of several offensive threats for the Panthers. Now, he will have to prove he can take a step forward as the teams number 1 option. He has the talent to take on this role and be the leader for Coach Hayden.

 

4. Cameron Wright - Whitesville Trinity – F (16ppg/9rpg) - Wright will be one of the most versatile players in the region. Last year, he proved that he could match up against anyone, putting up nice games against Owensboro Catholic. If he continues to improve, he could be in the mix for 3rd region player of the year.

 

5.Chezney Weick – Meade County – F (11ppg/6rpg) - 2 years removed from helping to lead his Waves to the regional title as a sophomore, Weick is in position to do the same as a senior. He battled injuries last year and didn’t find his footing until late in the season. Look for him to take on the role of team leader this season.

 

6. Logan Patterson – Mclean County – F (17ppg/10rpg) - Patterson is the only returning player in the region to average a double double. Look for him to lead the Cougars to an improved record this year.

 

7. Jaxson Gray – Hancock County – G (16ppg) - Gray came on strong last season and improved throughout the year. He started the year as a 3 point specialist and ended as a kid who could score from anywhere, all while playing very solid defense. This year, he will step into the role as the Hornets number 1 option.

 

8. Darrion Wimsatt – Owensboro – G (7ppg) - Wimsatt had to share a lot of minutes last season, but is in a position to break out this year. He will be featured and should have the ball in his hands on nearly every trip as the Red Devils PG.

 

9. Ty Vincent - Owensboro Catholic - F (8ppg/4rpg) - Vincent will have an opportunity to break out this season in the Aces starting lineup. Ty has a non-stop motor and should be one of the best frontcourt players in the region.

 

10. Q'Daryius McHenry - Grayson County – G - McHenry came into last season with a lot of AAU chatter. He even took a preseason visit to WKU. Q had some flashes with Ohio County before moving to Grayson County in the middle of the season. He should continue to improve as a sophomore this year.

 

11. Payton Survant - Owensboro Catholic – G - Survant already has knocked down plenty of big shots for the Aces. Coming off the bench, you have to defend him as soon as he crosses mid-court. Look for him to take on a bigger role as a starter for the Aces this season.

 

12. Trey Lewis - Ohio County – G - Trey is one of the best shooters in the region. He shot a blistering 51% from beyond the arc last season. Look for much of the same this year under Coach Hopper who loves to shoot the 3 and play tough team defense.

 

13. Tanner Whitworth - Breckenridge County – G - Whitworth has the school record for most 3 pointers made in a game. With Kobe Poole driving the lane, Whitworth will get a ton of good looks from beyond the arc.

 

14. Parker Rice - Butler County – F - Rice showed flashed last year for the Bears. His athletic ability at his size should make him one of the better front court players in the region.

 

15. Trey Boggess & Nash Devine – G’s - Muhlenberg County - Both players really came on strong late last season. Expect both to help Muhlenberg contend for a 3rd region title.

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I agree with your thoughts on the team rankings coming into this year. But the player rankings are so much more difficult to figure out.

 

Case in point is Aiden Matthews, who nobody knew about coming into the season last year and ended up being the 3rd Region's only Associated Press All-State player selection (Honorable Mention). He didn't make your pre-season top 15 (I don't think), but who really knew what to expect from him. From my perspective, he was the best All Around player in the region. I'll be watching out for who comes completely off the radar this year and makes a significant impact. I'm sure you would agree that there will be some!

 

Poole is definitely the top known returning commodity this year and that kid is phenomenal for his size around the basket.

 

I look forward to the season and sharing thoughts!

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I agree with your thoughts on the team rankings coming into this year. But the player rankings are so much more difficult to figure out.

 

Case in point is Aiden Matthews, who nobody knew about coming into the season last year and ended up being the 3rd Region's only Associated Press All-State player selection (Honorable Mention). He didn't make your pre-season top 15 (I don't think), but who really knew what to expect from him. From my perspective, he was the best All Around player in the region. I'll be watching out for who comes completely off the radar this year and makes a significant impact. I'm sure you would agree that there will be some!

 

Poole is definitely the top known returning commodity this year and that kid is phenomenal for his size around the basket.

 

I look forward to the season and sharing thoughts!

 

I couldn’t agree more. It’s always tough to determine which guys have taken that massive step forward. Last year Matthews was that guy. The year before Zach Hopewell was that guy. I think it could be any number of guys this year. The player rankings are really based upon what I’ve seen from them already and what steps I’m expecting them to take. It’s much more important to be on the postseason all region team than the preseason lists. Looking forward to a fun season.

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Just watched Meade Co. handle Louisville Eastern fairly easily today in a preseason game. After watching them today I really think they have a chance to compete with Breckinridge for the District title and could be a contender in the region.

 

Chris Armstead was incredible and showed that he has the potential to be one of the top players in the region. He had a decent AAU season this past year and it looks like his game has just gone to another level. He's an athletic 6'2" wing/guard with crazy speed and elevation. He's starting to get interest from some schools and there may be a lot more if he continues to play this way.

 

Along with Armstead, they have a few kids that can handle and score the ball pretty well. And they are all around 6'1" to 6'3". The bench looks to be deep as well.

 

Meade really surprised me with what I saw today. I didn't expect it.

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For a second straight season opener against Ohio County, Meade Co. was without a key player. Last year it was Schwartz, this year it was Armstead. Armstead suffered a minor injury (ankle) in a preseason game, but I hear he may not be out too long. Meade dominated early, but the offense got stagnant in the second half and one would have to assume that Armstead could have helped. If Armstead is available against Owensboro Catholic, then we should get a better feel for how they match up against the rest of the region.

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OCath next three games are Meade, Breck, and Grayson...so the team that dismantled south spencer 103-38 will certainly get tested early. The Aces look to have a team that will make a lot of noise in the region this year.

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