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BluegrassPreps.com 16th Region Boys Basketball Preview

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All indications are that the Road to Rupp Arena for the 16th region goes right through Ashland.  Coming off an undefeated season Ashland returns much of their production from a year ago.  Ashland appears to be continuing their winning ways and steam roll through the region.  However, as a wise man once said, there is a reason they play the game.  Specifically, Rowan County and Boyd County are not ready to quit and go home.  Both teams are gearing up to make their own run toward a Regional Championship. 

Pre-season Rankings

1. Ashland - They finished the season last year unblemished.  The big knock on Ashland last year was the lack of a big man to clog the middle.  The Tomcats kept rolling as critics kept pointing out that flaw.  For the 2021 season, Ashland now has an answer to those critics with the addition of Seam Marcum from Cabell Midland.  Marcum is a 6’8” big man that was rated as one of the top big men in WV last season.  With Marcum in the middle, returners include Junior Cole Villers, Junior Ethan Sellers, and Sophomore Colin Porter, the Tomcats are both young and experienced.  Freshman Greenup County Transfer, Zander Carter will also look to contribute some of his sharpshooting to the Tomcat success as well. 

The Tomcats have upgraded their schedule for this season.  The schedule includes participation in the Marshall County Hoopfest, playing Marshall County and Fern Creek.  There are also road games against, Highlands, Bardstown, Boyle County, Louisville Male, Simon Kenton, Lexington Catholic, and Covington Catholic.

2. Rowan County - Rowan County is coming off of a 26-8 season last year.  Rowan is the home of two of the region’s top players in Mason Moore and Chase Alderman.  This year will be much of the same with those two players carrying the load for the Vikings.  A key addition to the Vikings, transferring in from Dunbar, is 6’7” Robby Todd.  Todd, the son of Morehead State University Girls Basketball Coach Greg Todd brings not only height in the middle but a high basketball IQ to the Vikings.

The key to the Vikings success are fully in the hands of PG Mason Moore.  Moore, considered by many to be the top player in the region this year, is coming off a 24 point and 10 rebound average last season and will look to continue that success.

3. Boyd County - Boyd lost their 4 year start in Blake Stewart however, the cupboard is far from bare for the Lions.  Austin Gibbs and Carson Webb are key returners on a senior laden team with 8 seniors.  The Lions also added a very athletic man in the middle in Raceland transfer Austin Cumpton.  Cumpton.  With the depth that the Lions have, look for them to run the court on offense and bring a smothering defense everywhere on the court.  A key to success for the Lions this year will be the PG position.  The Lions will most likely look to Rheyce Deboard to fill that role.  Deboard showed good skills in the position in a smaller role last season but will look to make the team flow fulltime this season.

4. Raceland - Raceland finds themselves again starting the season as a top 5 team, sitting behind Ashland, Rowan, and Boyd.  Raceland has some definite talent that will look to make some noise.  Raceland returns some key contributors last season on Kirk Pence and Andrew Floyd.  They also return one of the top 3 point shooters in the region in Kyle Broughton.  The Rams lost the man in the middle last season in a transfer. The middle will be the key point for the Rams this season.  Most likely this void in the middle will be filled by Senior Justin Stephens.  Stephens is an aggressive playing 6’2” senior that has a lot of talent.  Look for the Rams to play Stephens with 4 guards. They will attempt to use their sharpshooting abilities and attacking from the 3-point line.  They have had success in the past and will try to continue that.

5. Russell - The story from Red Devil land this year is Coach Tom Barrick’s second year with the team.  Barrick accepted the Russell job late into the process last year and was learning more about his team through the season last year.  This year there is more comfort between players and coaching staff.  Russell lost a lot of production from last year’s team but returns some talent as well.  6’5” Junior Brady Bell will become the major playmaker for the Devils this season. The Devils offense will be managed by Senior PG Charlie Jachimczuk again this season.  Jachimczuk is used to handling decision making for Russell. He is a 3-year PG and a 3 year QB for Russell football.  Griffin Downs will also look to contribute with his long range shooting.  The area that Devils will look to figure out is in the middle.  In a year that some teams in the 16th have Rare size with 6’7 and 6’8 the devils are missing some of that.  Look for Barrick to figure out a way and for the Devils to have a good year.

6. West Carter - West Carter lost one of the region’s best in Braden Leadingham. However, they return another of the region’s best in Tyson Webb.  The senior averaged over 14 ppg last season.  He will look to improve upon that.  The Comets tallest rostered player is 6’3 so look for them to run and gun with a guard based offense.  Trace Tackett and Dominick Dean will also play expanded roles this season.

7. East Carter - East Carter returns 3 seniors that dug themselves into a hole last year, starting 2-10.  However the Raiders and coach Brandon Baker got things rolling later in the season going 9-6 after that.   They will certainly look for a quicker start this year.  Treven Tussey will be the offensive leader as the team’s PG.  He averaged over 12 points a game last season and will look to expand on that.  Fellow seniors Ethan Miller and Trevor Cline will look at expanded roles for the Raiders this year. 

8. Lewis County - Lewis County is coming off a season in which they peaked at the right time and made a deep post season runner. The Lions finished as the regional runner-up.  However, Vanceburg will have some big changes this season.  The most notable is the change in coaching.  Joe Hampton has resigned as the coach and given the keys to the team to former assistant Scott Tackett.  The Lions also lose the 16th region player of the year Sam O’Keefe.  Losing O’Keefe is a big lose for any team to recover from.  However, the Lions will try to do just that.  Bailey Thomas, Logan Liles, and Kolby McCann each contributed significantly in last season’s run.  However, they each will be asked to contribute in a different role than last year.  This year these 3 will be prime contributors on a daily basis.

9. Bath County - Bath County will start 2021 minus the 7 seniors from last year’s team.  For a smaller school like Bath, a 7-man lose is basically a redo of the roster.  However, one returner is Sophomore Zack Otis. Otis averaged over 14 points a game last year. He will be the team’s leader and will look to lead them to success.  The question will be how quickly the younger wildcats will get into a flow and start producing.  Sooner is better in a very competitive 61st District.

10. Fleming County - Fleming County adds a new coach to the mix this season. A name well known in the 16th region coaching circle, Buddy Biggs.  Biggs will lean on the Panthers three headed monster from last season with Larkin McKee, Jaden Argo, and Landon Lutz each capable of putting points in the bucket by the bunches.  However, the Panthers are facing adversity from the beginning, as McKee, which finished as last year’s leading scorer, is out for the season with a knee injury.    Argo and Lutz will look to fill the void and drive the offence for Fleming County.  Look for improvements through the season and player and coach continue to bond.

11.      Elliott County

12.     Morgan County

13.     Greenup County

14.      Fairview

15.     Menifee County

16.     Rose Hill Christian

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