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BluegrassPreps.com 3rd Region Boys Basketball Preview

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1. Owensboro Red Devils (21-11 – Regional Runner Up)  COACH: Rod Drake

The Devils will be looking to erase last season’s disappointing regional loss to Owensboro Catholic this season.  Owensboro defeated the Aces 3  times in during the season, including the 9th district championship game, but came up 11 points short in the title game.  The biggest question coming into this season is the status of Gavin Wimsatt.  There is a chance he decides to focus on football training with several big time division 1 offers on the table for him.  Either way, the Devils still return several key players from a year ago led by senior guard Amari Robinson Wales.  Wales averaged 14 points per game last season and really found his groove in the postseason.  Sophomore point guard Kenyatta Carbon also returns as one of the best players in the region.  Senior Matthew Brown returns from injury to provide even more fire power for the Devils.  Expect sophomores Cayman Powell, Jalen Rogers and Ethan Pendleton to contribute as well.  From top to bottom, Owensboro should again be one of the most talented teams in Western Kentucky.


2. Owensboro Catholic Aces (21-14 – 3rd Region Champions)  COACH: Tim Riley

Until 2020, finishing your season with a championship game victory has always meant you’re a state champion.  The Aces upset Owensboro to claim the 3rd Region title last season but never made the trip to Rupp Arena.  Returning players Jai Webb, Brian Griffith and Gray Weaver will be looking to actually make that trip this season.   Webb is a dynamic big man who may have the highest ceiling of any player in the 3rd Region.  Brian Griffith is a fearless point guard who can take most anyone off the dribble, or light you up from the 3 point line.  Coach Riley will be looking for role players to fill the gaps left by seniors Drew Hartz and Andrew Riney.  Expect Gray Weaver, Luke Scales, Sam McFarland and Braden Mundy to help fill those roles.  Since taking the Owensboro Catholic job in 2015, Riley has the only 2 regional titles in Owensboro Catholic history and a 15-3 record in district and regional elimination games.


3. Muhlenberg County Mustangs (20-12 – lost in regional semifinals)  COACH: Kyle Eades

The Mustangs are coming off a strong 2019/2020 season and return a lot of key contributors from that team this season.  They are led by player of the year candidate Nash Divine.  Divine was one of the region’s top scorers at 15 points per game a year ago. He electrified the Sportscenter crowd in the regional tournament against Owensboro before exiting the game with a foot injury.   Sophomore guard Trey Lovell also returns after averaging double figures a year ago.  When you add contributors Cole Vincent, Donovan McCoy and Chandler Moore, it’s easy to see that the Mustangs will be a strong contender for a regional title in 2021.


4. Ohio County Eagles (22-8 – upset in the 10th district tournament)  COACH: Tony Hopper

Ohio County still has a bad taste in their mouths with how last season came to an end.  The Eagles were at or near the top of these rankings all season before falling to McLean County in the first round of the 10th district tournament.  While they will have to replace 4 of their top 5 starters, the cupboard is far from bare for Tony Hopper.  Sophomore Elijah Decker will be one of the most dynamic players in the region.  His size and ability to shoot it makes him very well rounded.  Q Jennings recently committed to Murray State to play football, but is expected to return to the hardwood this season for his senior season.  His athleticism will help the Eagles a great deal.  Keep your eye on players like Grant Tichenor and Josh Manning as they take on even bigger role.  With the talent at the youth levels around Ohio County, combined with a great mentor like Tony Hopper, you can never count out the Eagles.


5. Meade County Greenwave (10-17 – 11th district runner up)  COACH: Jason Tripure

On paper, it feels like the 5 spot is up for grabs in the region this year.  Coach Tripure always does a good job of getting the most out of his teams and he returns a lot of contributors from last year’s team, led by Casey Turner.  Turner is a big body who can shoot it from anywhere on the floor.  He put up 13 points per game a year ago and should improve on that this year.  The Waves also return Cannon Decker, Dylan Abell, Cooper Crump and Grant Beavin.  All of those players played key varsity minutes last season and should pay dividends this  season.


6. Daviess County Panthers (8-21 – lost in the 9th district tournament)  COACH: Neil Hayden

Size is the story for the Panthers this season.  Coach Hayden returns a pair of 6-6 post players in Cam Johnson and Bo Stratton who should help create a lot of mismatches down low.  Sophomore Cole Burch is 6-4 as well and should add yet another weapon as a swing man.  The development of sophomore Koki Kato will be key at the guard spot to compliment all of the size of the Panthers.  Expect Daviess County to improve in 2021, but making a dent in a very difficult 9th district will be a challenge.


7. Butler County Bears (21-10 – 12th district champions)  COACH: Calvin Dockery

The Bears will have a hard time replacing big time scorer Parker Rice from a year ago, but return a large cast to help as a unit.  Soloman Fleener, Leevi McMillin, Hayden Hodge, Brody Hunt and Jager Henderson all contributed at a high level last season.  The Bears should be favorites to repeat as 12th district champions this season.


8. Breckenridge County Tigers (20-10 – 11th district champions)  COACH: Patrick Critchelow

No one in the region has to replace as much as Breckenridge County this season.  Kaveon Mitchell was tremendous in 2020 and has followed in his coaches footsteps by taking his talent to Kentucky Wesleyan.   Kason Morris and Issac Seger will step into much bigger roles this season.  Year in and year out, Coach Critchelow is able to find players to step up and show great development from the offseason.  It will be interesting to see which Tiger that is in 2021.


9. Hancock County Hornets (10-17 – lost in the 11th district tournaments)  COACH:  Mike Orr

The Hornets return their top scorer in Kaleb Keown this season.  Keown averaged 11 points per game as a freshman a year ago.  Coach Orr has a very talented and athletic sophomore class and should be in the mix for a district title this season.


10. Grayson County Cougars (10-22 – 12th district runner up)  COACH: Travis Johnston

The Cougars will have to replace the production lost by Nolan Shartzer this season.  Coach Johnston has been able to show steady improvement in the Grayson County program since taking over a few years ago.  Keegan Sharp and Hunter Tomes should have the Cougars in the mix of a district title this season.


11. Apollo Eagles (5-25 = lost in 9th district tournament)  COACH: Mark Starnes

Coach Starns comes aboard this season to replace Coach Steve Barker who left Apollo for Greenup County in the offseason.  Coach Starns will put his focus on defense and rebounding, as Apollo has struggled to score a lot of points over the past 2 seasons.  The Eagles return several key players in Dan St Clare, Cameron Frantz, Landon Hamilton, Harrison Bowman and Jaden Kelly.  They will need to find more production to contend in a very top heavy 9th district.


12. Edmonson County Wildcats (12-15 – lost in the 12th district tournament)  COACH: Mike McClintic

The Cats lost 4 starters from last years team, including Dalton Decker who led the team in scoring.  Chaz Wilson returns after leading the team in scoring an rebounding 2 years ago.  He missed time last year but still put up 11 points and 7 boards per game last season.  The Cats will have a chance inside an always wide open 12th district.


13. Mclean County Cougars (22-12 – Regional semifinalist)  COACH: Darren Lynam

Coach Lynam led Mclean County to their best season in school history and 2 major post season upsets last year.  It was a magical ride with wins over Ohio County and Breckenridge County.  Coach Lynam is carving out the same path he did while at Hancock County, where he also set the school record for wins in a season.  The Cougars however, will have to do it this season with a new cast.  They lost 7 of their top 8 scorers to graduation.  Brady Dame is the lone returnee and is tremendous athlete at 6-4.  They will be leaning heavily on him until the underclassmen get up to speed.  The 10th district will be a tall mountain to climb with 2 of the region’s top teams in Ohio County and Muhlenberg County.


14. Whitesville Trinity Raiders (9-22 – lost in the 12th district tournament)  COACH: Nathan West

When you lose 6 seniors at a small school like Trinity, it always makes the rebuild a little tougher.  Coach Nathan West has done a tremendous job of keeping the program competitive at the highest level of the region.  Landon Huff will be the Raiders top returnee, averaging 8 points and 5 boards last season.  Sophomore Denver Dickens will also help lead the Raiders this season.


15. Cloverport Aces (4-24 – lost in the 11th district tournament)  COACH: Jason Hurst

While Cloverport hasn’t won many games over the past few seasons, their program has shown steady improvement.  A lot of that improvement last season can be directly contributed to Noah Pate.  He led the region in scoring as a junior with 23 points and 9 rebounds per game last season.  The Aces will be leaning heavily on him this season.


All Region First Team

Jai Webb – Owensboro Catholic  - Jai is coming off a solid sophomore season and a tremendous postseason in which he helped lead the Aces to the state tournament.  Webb averaged 13 points and 7 boards last season and you can expect those numbers to improve in his junior season.


Brian Griffith – Owensboro Catholic – Griffith is a fearless point guard who can get his shot in the lane or knock down a step back 3 pointer.  He led the Aces in scoring last season with 14 points per game but is capable of going for 30 any night of the season.


Amari Robinson Wales – Owensboro – Wales had a bit of a slow start last season as he moved positions for the Devils.  He found his footing in the last month of the season to lead Owensboro in scoring at 14 points per game.  Expect him to be at or near the top of the region in scoring this season.


Gavin Wimsatt – Owensboro – Gavin put up 12 points and 6 boards last season and showed a lot of versatility.  He really developed his outside shooting and ability to take the ball off the dribble.  If he decides to return this season, he will contend for player of the year honors.


Nash Divine – Muhlenberg County – Divine proved to be one of the best pure shooters in the region last year but added the ability to get his shot anytime he wanted it.  He nearly led Muhlenberg to an upset win over Owensboro in the regional semi finals before exiting with a foot injury.  He put up 15 points per game as a junior and should improve on that this season.


2nd Team

Kenyatta Carbon – Owensboro – Carbon improved almost every time he stepped on the floor as a freshman last year.  At points during the tournament season, he became the leader for Owensboro.  Kenyatta has a real chance to be the best player in the entire region if he continues his improvement this season.


Elijah Decker – Ohio County – Decker’s size and smooth shooting touch makes him one of the most versatile players in the region.  He should be the leader for Tony Hopper this season.  Expect his scoring average of 11 points per game to rise as a junior.


Trey Lovell – Muhlenberg County – averaged double figures as a sophomore with 10 points per game.  He should be able to get plenty of looks playing alongside Nash Divine this season.


Casey Turner –Meade County – Turner should step into the leadership role for the Waves this season.  He has great size and shooting ability.  He averaged 12 points per game last season and was 33% from beyond the arc.


Kaleb Keown – Hancock County – Keown led the Hornets in scoring as a freshman last season.  Keown averaged right at 11 points per game last season.  The entire team should improve with another years experience for the young Hornets.

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