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Fear 'Les' 13th Region Rankings Jan. 11-17


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Boys Top 5


1. South Laurel (11-5)

What’s the scoop: Despite some people going on the Internet declaring the demise of Steve Wright’s squad after three consecutive losses to national powers, South Laurel showed just how good it was by knocking off Whitley County on the road Tuesday, 79-32.

A win against Corbin at home on Jan. 23 will wrap up the 50th District No. 1 seed for the Cardinals.


Surprise, surprise: I’m still amazed South Laurel was able to defeat the Colonels by 47 points Tuesday, despite getting only a one-point effort from Notre Dame signee Ty Proffitt. But don’t worry, freshman guard Matt Gilbert scored a career-high 20 points on 8-of-8 shooting.

If Gilbert gets going, South Laurel is going to be tough to beat come March.


What’s ahead: South Laurel actually takes a week off before hosting 11th Region power Madison Central on Jan. 16. The Cardinals will travel to play Lafayette on Jan. 19.


2. Bell County (10-1)

What’s the scoop: Despite losing the services of Brent Slusher for the remainder of the season - he opted to leave school early to enroll at Auburn - the Bobcats remain the region’s second best team.

But one coach still believes Bell County might just be the best team in the 13th Region despite Slusher’s absence.

After seeing his Middlesboro Yellow Jackets get outscored 15-2 in the fourth quarter during a 65-49 loss to the Bobcats, coach Bill Jones had this to say in the Middlesboro Daily News: “I was real pleased with our effort. We didn’t execute in the fourth quarter and Bell County did. That’s why they’re - I say number one in the region, everybody else says number two,” he said. “I think they’re the most athletic team in the region right now. South Laurel has got those three big guns, but I think Bell athletically goes about seven or eight deep and you’ve got to have a real good game, not just three quarters, to beat them.”

Bell County the best team in the region? I’m not sure about that. The most athletic? I haven’t seen them play in person yet, so I can’t say yes or no to that.


Surprise, surprise: Star guard Ryan Whitaker scored his 1,000 point during the win against Middlesboro. His 19-point effort was a big reason why the Bobcats knocked off their rivals, 65-49.

Another player to watch out for is senior Trey Goins, who scored 18 points, while slamming home two dunks in the win.


What’s ahead: Bell County is participating in the WYMT Classic this week and is scheduled to play Evarts at home Friday.


3. Corbin (10-4)

What’s the scoop: Things have been quiet in the Redhound camp this past week and I guess it’s because Corbin hasn’t played a game since its 21-point win over Whitley County Jan. 5.

Despite the layoff, the Redhounds are winners of four straight (its longest win streak of the season) and has garnered a No. 2 ranking in the region in the Cantrall Ratings.


Surprise, surprise: I’m not surprised at all by the Redhounds’ recent surge. The only thing that would worry me is the fact for the Redhounds to be successful in March, the freshmen need to be a little bit more consistent.

The freshmen combined to score only 10 points in Corbin’s 83-62 win over the Colonels, but on the positive side, players such as Deke Barley (19 points), Josh Hamlin (15 points) and Josh Smith (14 points) are looking like they’re beginning to hit stride, especially Hamlin.


What’s ahead: The Redhounds will host Adair County Saturday before traveling to play rival Knox Central Tuesday.


4. Cumberland (9-2)

What’s the scoop: It wasn’t easy, but the Redskins managed to slip past Cawood on the road, 58-56.

Winning at the ol’ Trojan Dome is a hard feat and you have to give credit where credit is due, Cumberland did get the “W.”


Surprise, surprise: Kyle Simpson’s two free throws with 1.3 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter gave Cumberland its first win over rival Cawood since 1996.

That’s right, 1996.

The Redskins’ win snapped an 11-year, 28-game stranglehold the Trojans had on the one-sided series.

It looks as if times have changed, though.


What’s ahead: Cumberland will host Middlesboro Friday before Harlan comes to town on Tuesday.


5. Clay County (9-2)

What’s the scoop: The Tigers are winners of four in a row and have a big showdown against rival Jackson County Friday.


Surprise, surprise: Clay County continues to improve and to be honest with the losses the Tigers had due to graduation could be the biggest surprise in the region.


What’s ahead: The Tigers have a tough stretch of games coming up, beginning with a home game against Jackson County Friday, a road game against Dunbar Saturday, along with a home game against Cumberland Tuesday.


The Best of the Rest


No. 6 North Laurel (6-7)

What’s the scoop: I’ll say this: North Laurel is the best 6-7 team around. The Jaguars put up a fight against George Rogers Clark last week before losing, 58-52.


No. 7 Jackson County (8-9)

What’s the scoop: I’m not sold on Jackson County. The Generals have too much talent to be only 8-9 on the season. Jackson County has lost seven of its last 10 games.


No. 8 Barbourville (7-6)

What’s the scoop: The Tigers picked up a big win over 51st District rival Knox Central and will be tested again on the road against Lynn Camp Friday.

Derrick Vanover is back and his presence makes the Tigers a much-better team.


No. 9 Knox Central (7-7)

What’s the scoop: The Panthers’ Cody Miller continues his impressive play by scoring 32 points, while grabbing 13 rebounds against Lynn Camp Tuesday.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again: he’s the most underrated player in the region.


No. 10 Cawood (6-9)

What’s the scoop: I could have went with either Pineville, Lynn Camp or Cawood at this spot and I decided to go with the Trojans.

Pineville is struggling and underachieving in my opinion, while Lynn Camp has lost four in a row and five of six dating back to Dec. 16.

So why not Cawood?


Les Dixon is the Sports Editor and can be reached at ldixon@thetimestribune.com. The Fear ‘Les’ 13th Region boys and girls ratings will be published in every Thursday edition of the Times-Tribune.

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The Middlesboro coach may want to wait until he plays South Laurel before he annoints Bell Co. as the regional favorite. I personally feel like Bell's chances were greatly diminished when Slusher left, but they are still the second best team in the region.

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