2019-2020 15th Region Season Review - District Tournament's Preview
15th Region Overview: 2019-2020 Preseason Rankings (Released in November):
1. Johnson Central
2. Shelby Valley
4. Martin County
6. Lawrence County
7. Betsy Layne
10. Magoffin County
11. East Ridge
13. Pike Central
14. Floyd Central
2019-2020 Final Regular Season Rankings (Record):
1. Martin County (17-12)
2. Shelby Valley (23-6)
3. Johnson Central (17-11)
4. Paintsville (14-12)
5. Pikeville (14-11)
6. Lawrence County (18-11)
7. Phelps (20-10)
8. Betsy Layne (17-11)
9. Magoffin County (15-14)
10. East Ridge (10-15)
11. Belfry (9-17)
12. Pike Central (8-20)
13. Prestonsburg (8-17)
14. Floyd Central (7-21)
15. Jenkins (1-22)
16. Piarist (0-1: Did not field a team and took a forfeit loss)
Awards (Based solely on author opinion):
Player of the Year: Cody Potter (Shelby Valley) Coach of the Year: Jason Sanson (Phelps)
All Region 1st Team (Regardless of Position):
Cody Potter – Shelby Valley
Isaiah May – Johnson Central
Colby Fugate – Paintsville
Trey Francis – Phelps
Trey James – Martin County
All Region 2nd Team (Regardless of Position):
Cory VanHoose – Johnson Central
Rylee Sammons – Pikeville
Tyler Maynard – Lawrence County
Nick Keeton – Paintsville
Jordan Frazier – Betsy Layne
All Region 3rd Team (Regardless of Position):
Keian Worrix – Shelby Valley
Cody Maynard – Lawrence County
Brady Dingess – Martin County
Aden Barnett – Magoffin County
Isaiah Salyer – Magoffin County
Honorable Mention:Bryson Hackney (Johnson Central), John King (Johnson Central), Braxton Tharp (Paintsville), Braxton Maynard (Martin County), Randy Bailey (Magoffin County), Chase Sartin (Lawrence County), Adam Slone (Prestonsburg), Graham Burchett (Prestonsburg), Brady Robinson (Betsy Layne), Chase Mims (Betsy Layne), Ethan Smith-Mills (Martin County), Eli Sykes (Shelby Valley), Eli Rose (East Ridge), Bryce Adkins (Pike Central), Jacob Young (Pike Central), Sal Dean (Belfry), Dominick Francis (Phelps), Kaden Robinson (Shelby Valley), Grayson Harrison (Pikeville), Nick Robinson (Pikeville), William Slone (Floyd Central), Brandon Little (Floyd Central), Payton Rose (Jenkins)
57th District Preview
Tournament Location: Martin County High School Defending Champion: Johnson Central
Martin County (1 seed) vs. Magoffin County (4 seed) Tuesday 7:00 PM
Paintsville (2 seed) vs. Johnson Central (3 seed) Wednesday 7:00 PM
District Championship (Friday 7:00 PM)
Match-Up #1: Martin County [17-12: 5-1 in Districts] vs. Magoffin County [15-14: 1-5 in Districts]
The Martin County Cardinals are the hottest team in the 15th Region! They have won eight in a row and ten of their last eleven to include going 3-0 against Betsy Layne, Prestonsburg and Pikeville in the final week of the regular season. The Pikeville game was closer than expected as the Cardinals found themselves down four points with less than one-minute play, but found a way to win late with clutch play we have become accustomed to.
Magoffin County picked up a ton of momentum two weeks ago with a shocking road win over Johnson Central, but finished the season with a thud, losing three in a row. Two of the three losses were by double figures to teams that have losing records (East Ridge and Pike Central). This team is balanced with respect to their line-up. They have three average to above average guards and functional big men who can score and defend. When the Hornets put it all together, they are a tough team to stop but consistency has been the issue.
Martin County beat Magoffin County in both head-to-head meetings this season, winning at Salyersville 76-57 and at Inez 61-52. The later of the games, the one on Martin County’s home court, was much closer than the score indicated as Magoffin County was up four with the ball with 2-minutes to play before losing the lead late. In both contests, late game defense by Magoffin County and rim protection by Trey James of Martin County has been the difference.
In the district game, Magoffin will need to be hot from the outside to build a lead and then hope their guards can handle the pressure late and hold on for the win. For Martin County, they just need to do what they have been doing. Keep James under the rim for defense and make teams beat them with mid-range jump shots. Expect this game to be close for a while, with Martin County pulling away and winning late in the 8-12-point range.
(1) Martin County/Sheldon Clark has not advanced to the regional tournament under current Head Coach J.J. James (last appearance was in 2015 under then Head Coach Frankie Smith). This season is the first winning season for Coach James.
(2) Magoffin County freshman Aden Barnett is a scoring machine who has game and strength well beyond his years. This kid will likely shatter the Hornets all-time scoring record as he is very close to 1,000 points already.
(3) The last time these two teams met in the district tournament was in in 2017 when a heavily favored Sheldon Clark was upset after leading by double digits late. Magoffin County won at home on a FT with 1s left to play 54-53.
Martin County 63 Magoffin County 55
Match-Up #2: Paintsville [14-12: 4-2 in Districts] vs. Johnson Central [17-11: 2-4 in Districts]
Johnson Central and Paintsville is one of the best rivalries in the state! The two schools are separated by less than a mile geographically, and compete for the athletes from the same talent pool year in and year out. This creates disdain between the fan bases and makes for a packed house every time these two meet.
Johnson Central finished the final week of the regular season strong, winning three of four games with their only loss coming in overtime to Shelby Valley by one point. Junior standout Isaiah May has scored 25 points, 40 points and 24 points in his last three games respectively. Match this with double digit output by his junior running mate Cory VanHoose and one might deduce that JC is playing their best basketball of the season at just the right time and top to bottom has the most talent in the region.
Paintsville closed out the regular season going 1-1 with a one-point win on the road at Pikeville and a seven-point loss on the road at Raceland. In both games Nick Keeton carried the load for the Tigers and hit some milestones as he is now a member of both the 1,000 point and rebound club. Paintsville continues to rely on the play of Colby Fugate, Nick Keeton and Braxton Tharp as those three produce 90% of every major stat for the team. If they can get some help from the other starters and bench they are tough to beat, but that has been hit and miss of late as they are 4-4 in their last eight games.
The two teams split meetings this season with both winning at home. In the first game, Paintsville edged JC 62-60 at home after trailing most of the game by double digits. A late 3FG by Baron Ratliff was the difference as JC missed at the buzzer for the win. The second meeting was taken by JC as 57-47 in a game they could have won by 20 plus had they made layup’s and free throws. Isaiah May and Cory VanHoose led the way with 24 and 18 points respectively as JC never trailed after the first minute of the game.
Expect the district match-up to be a defensive battle and low scoring until late when teams start fouling. The star combinations of May/VanHoose (JC) and Fugate/Keeton (Paintsville) will likely cancel each other out in the stat columns, leaving the role players and bench as the difference. In the last regular season game, JC got 16 points from Bryson Hackney and 19 points off the bench from Rylee McKenzie. In short, JC has a big advantage in the department and John King will be a mismatch for any big Paintsville uses to guard him. JC has a higher caliber supporting cast and thus a larger margin of error in the contest, thus they should win and advance to the regional tournament.
(1) Johnson Central has been in 8 straight 15th Region championship games, but this season is the first time they were below .500 in the 57th District play since 2007-2008 (3-5) when they finished 11-17 in the regular season. JC lost to Paintsville four times that season.
(2) JC holds the all-time series edge over Paintsville 66-60 and is 18-4 against the Tigers dating back to 2010.
(3) There will be four 1,000 point scorers on the floor in Isaiah May, Nick Keeton, Cory VanHoose and Colby Fugate and three of them are not yet seniors.
Johnson Central 62 Paintsville 58
58th District Preview
Tournament Location: Prestonsburg High School Defending Champion: Floyd Central
Lawrence County (1 seed) vs. Floyd Central (4 seed) Tuesday 6:00 PM
Betsy Layne (2 seed) vs. Prestonsburg (3 seed) Tuesday 7:30 PM
District Championship (Friday 7:00 PM)
Match-Up #1: Lawrence County [18-11: 7-0 in Districts] vs. Floyd Central [7-21: 1-6 in Districts]
Lawrence County closed out the regular season losing to both Pikeville and Johnson Central at home while Floyd Central ended on an uptrend, winning three of their last four games, despite winning only seven contest all season.
Lawrence County has five quality starters and plays a five out offense that can be tough to matchup with. Every player can dribble, pass and shoot. In their last regular season game, they were without 20 ppg scorer Tyler Maynard (status unknown) but still put up a fight against regional power Johnson Central.
Floyd Central has struggled to find an identity all season, but are peaking at the right time and playing well down the stretch! They have an athletic big in Brandon Little who plays above the rim and guards who have been playing very well of late.
Look for the game to be fast paced and high scoring with moments of sloppy play. These teams will go at each other! Lawrence County has something to prove after being knocked out of the district tournament on their home floor by a six win Floyd Central team last season. There is a chance you could see a repeat this year as well, but it will be difficult as no one in the district was able to beat Lawrence all season.
(1) Both Floyd Central (Alan Jo Moore) and Lawrence County (Chandler Thompson) are in their first season as Head Coaches.
(2) Chandler Thompson was named KABC COY by his peers this season.
Lawrence County 72 Floyd Central 67
Match-Up #2: Betsy Layne [17-11: 4-2 in Districts] vs. Prestonsburg [8-17: 1-5 in Districts]
According to Head Coach Brad Short, this Betsy Layne team is the best squad he has ever coached. They finished the season on a down note, however, losing two of their final three games with the one win being a three-point contest at home over East Ridge. Betsy Layne has some really athletic kids that can play at all three levels of the game (beyond 3FG, midrange, at the rim), but lack any production at all from their bench. If they get in foul trouble, production really drops off. If they get going, they can beat any team in the region.
Prestonsburg opened the season 5-1 before losing twelve in a row. They finished the final week losing their last three contest and saw two of their three best players quit the team in Graham Burchett and Gunner Williams (leading scorer). It is unclear if they want to or will be welcomed back for districts. The Black Cats closed the season on a bad note and are trending in the wrong direction but sometimes the district tournament has a way of bringing out the best in everyone.
Look for this game to be closer than expected early as both teams are long standing rivals. As the game progresses, the lack of firepower from Prestonsburg will see them slowly tail off. Prestonsburg does have the advantage of playing at home and could get hot for stretches, but will be worn down by the consistent play of Betsy Layne.
(1) Prestonsburg Head Coach Brent Rose is the former Head Coach of Betsy Layne where he saw great success many years ago.
(2) Betsy Layne is young and talented and should be good next season as well.
Betsy Layne 66 Prestonsburg 52
59th District Preview
Tournament Location: Jenkins High School Defending Champion: Pikeville
Shelby Valley (1 seed) vs. Jenkins (4 seed) Monday 8:00 PM
Pikeville (2 seed) vs. East Ridge (3 seed) Tuesday 8:00 PM
District Championship (Thursday 7PM)
Match-Up #1: Shelby Valley [23-6: 7-0 in Districts] vs. Jenkins [1-22: 0-6 in Districts]
Shelby Valley has the most wins in the region and ended the season on a four game win streak to include 3-0 in the final week. They were able to knock off Johnson Central in the final game despite Head Coach Jim Hicks being out with the flu. It avenged an early season loss and saw Keian Worrix go for 27 points to include three FT’s that won the game.
Jenkins has won only one game in the last two seasons and have struggled to be competitive despite having a decent player in senior guard Payton Rose. With the decline in the economy it’s tough for such a small school to be competitive in any sport.
This game will not be close and the entire Shelby Valley bench will get playing time. Don’t put too much stock in any numbers and Jim Hicks will likely let his starters play about a half.
(1) Shelby Valley leads the region in wins for the second straight season heading into post season
Prediction: Shelby Valley 85 Jenkins 50
Match-Up #2: Pikeville [14-11: 4-3 in Districts] vs. East Ridge [10-15: 2-4 in Districts]
Pikeville has battled the injury bug all season, but seems to finding a way despite not having their starting back court. Although Pikeville did lose its final two games of the regular season, it lost them to Paintsville and Martin County by a combine two points and should have been the first team to defeat Martin County on their home floor after leading by four with under a minute to go. They rely heavily on sophomore standout Rylee Sammons who has transitioned to handling the ball against pressure and in the half court due to the aforementioned injuries.
East Ridge is playing their best basketball right now and have won three of their last four games. In the regular season they lost at home to Pikeville 54-62 and on the road 69-85. The Warriors ability to shoot the three can keep them in the game, but they will struggle to rebound and keep Pikeville out of the paint.
This game could produce the only district upset in the region, but don’t look for that to happen. Pikeville has too many weapons and are too physical for East Ridge at every position. Expect this game to be close throughout with the deep shot keeping East Ridge close until late with Pikeville hitting clutch free throws down the stretch.
(1) East Ridge has not been to the regional tournament since 2015-2016. Pikeville has not missed the regional tournament since 2014-2015.
Prediction: Pikeville 53 East Ridge 51
60th District Preview
Tournament Location: Belfry High School Defending Champion: Phelps
Phelps (1 seed) – Bye (Piarist did not field team)
Belfry (2 seed) vs. Phelps (3 seed) Tuesday 8:15 PM
District Championship (Thursday 7:00 PM)
Match-Up #1: Belfry [9-17: 1-3 in Districts] vs. Pike Central [8-20: 1-3 in Districts]
In the 60th District, Piarist did not field a team and thus Phelps gets a bye into the District Championship game and thus the regional tournament. The Hornets finished the season with 20-wins for the first time since the 2007-2008 season when they went 20-7 and won the 60th District. The Hornets are a scary team that is playing very well at just the right time.
Another team that might be peaking coming down the stretch is the Pike Central Hawks. Overall they have had a disappointing season going 8-20, but have won two of their last three to include a win over their biggest rival in Belfry. This team plays very hard and plays together believe it or not. They are just not very talented but don’t show frustration or lack of effort on the floor making them easy to cheer for.
Belfry opened the season 6-2, but finished 3-15 to include losing their last four games going into districts. They do have a bright spot in freshman Sal Dean (Transfer from Charleston, WV). Dean is a quick guard who is an excellent dribbler and scorer that prefers to attack the basket. When his defense catches up to his offense he could be an incredible player. Overall Belfry plays a fast pace on both offense and defense. They like to run and gun and shoot a lot of 3’s. They are coached hard and play hard.
The two teams played each other twice within a five-day span in the regular season, splitting both contests. Belfry won the first game at home easily 68-52 and Pike Central shocked them the following week 67-65 on a full court pass and tip-in with 1s on the clock in what was an amazing play. Belfry has more firepower and will be playing at home in this game. Expect it to be close with Belfry wearing down Pike Central late. This will be a great atmosphere as both fan bases do not like each other.
(1) Belfry is looking to get back to the regional tournament after being knocked out of districts by Phelps last season.
(2) Pike Central has been to the regional tournament three consecutive seasons.
Belfry 62 Pike Central 54
District Championship Predictions:
57th – Martin County 56 Johnson Central 55
58th – Lawrence County 71 Betsy Layne 68
59th – Shelby Valley 67 Pikeville 60
60th – Phelps 65 Belfry 62
Agree or Disagree on anything? Feel free to respond!
Last edited by 15th Region; Feb 24, 20 at 02:21 PM.