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2019-2020 15th Region Tournament Preview

District Tournament Recap:
We were able to correctly predict 6 of the 8 regional tournament teams with one of the districts being perfect on winner and runner-up (60th). Competitive Balance has been the name of the game this season and didn’t seem to slow down during the first week of the tournament. What is different about this year’s regional tournament is that Johnson Central will not be a participant for the first time in ten years, breaking their streak of eight straight regional championship game appearances as they lost in the first round of districts to cross-town rival Paintsville.

This should be one of the best regional tournaments in years as the draw could set up one of the biggest nights in 15th Region semifinal history. Upsets happen, however, as survive and advance is the name of the game this week. Below we break down the 15th region tournament and every quarterfinal game.

15th Region Tournament Preview
Tournament Location: Appalachian Wireless Arena (Pikeville, KY)
2019 Champion: Johnson Central

Session 1 Wednesday 4 March 2020:
Pikeville (59th Winner) vs. Belfry (60th Runner-up) – 6:30 PM
Martin County (57th Winner) vs. Prestonsburg (58th Runner-up) – 8:15 PM

Session 2 Thursday 5 March 2020:
Lawrence County (58th Winner) vs. Paintsville (57th Runner-up) – 6:30 PM
Phelps (60th Winner) vs. Shelby Valley (59th Runner-up) – 8:15 PM

Session 3 Saturday 5 March 2020:
Semi Final 1 – 7:15 PM
Semi Final 2 – 8:45 PM

Session 4 Saturday 7 March 2020:
Championship – 7:00 PM (Winner will play Region 3 Champion)

Overall Team Rankings Entering the Tournament (Record):
1 – Martin County (19-12)
2 – Shelby Valley (24-7)
3 – Paintsville (15-13)
4 – Pikeville (16-11)
5 – Lawrence County (20-11)
6 – Phelps (21-10)
7 – Belfry (10-18)
8 – Prestonsburg (9-18)

Match-Up #1: Pikeville [16-11: 11-6 in Region] vs. Belfry [10-18: 5-13 in Region]
Pikeville is playing their best basketball at just the right time, winning the 59th District Championship for the fourth consecutive time albeit by a combine two points over both East Ridge and Shelby Valley. The fact that Pikeville still won the 59th District despite losing three 1,000 point scorers to graduation and then losing their starting back court and two of their best overall players to injury is somewhat amazing. This is one the better coaching jobs in the region.

Belfry steam rolled rival Pike Central in the district opener then lost a competitive battle to Phelps in the district championship. It was the third time Phelps has beat Belfry this season. The Pirates play hard and are coached hard, but sometimes to a fault. They occasionally over pursue the ball and give up easy run-outs. Belfry shoots a lot of 3’s and when they are on can hang with anyone.

Previous Match-Up’s:
Pikeville defeated Belfry 77-73 at home on January 14th. Rylee Sammons led all scorers with 33 points. Belfry was led by Tyler Chaffins (30 points) and freshman Sal Dean (25 points). It was a back and forth contest that Pikeville sealed with late FT’s.

The Game:
This game should be somewhere in the high 60’s in scoring. Belfry will press and run and gun. Pikeville will adapt to their style of play look to take advantage of their size. Expect it to be close early with Sal Dean knifing to the basket with Pikeville pulling away in the mid third quarter, eventually wearing down Belfry. For the Pirates to win this contest they will need to hit 3’s early and stay hot.

Regional Titles:
Pikeville (11) - 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1974, 1999, 2017, 2018
Belfry (3) – 1990, 1991, 1992

Players to Watch:
Pikeville – Rylee Sammons So. 6’6’’ (16.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg), Grayson Harris Sr. 6’0’’ (12.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg)

Belfry – Sal Dean Fr. 5’10’’ (16.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg), Tyler Chaffin Jr. 6’1’’(11.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg)

Pikeville 68
Belfry 59

Match-Up #2: Martin County [19-12: 15-2 in Region] vs. Prestonsburg [9-18: 4-14 in Region]
Martin County has won ten in a row and finished the season undefeated in their new gym with a district championship. Trey James alters every teams game plan with his ability to protect the paint and Brady Dingess has been playing like a true point guard this season and is one of the most improved players in the region from last season to this season. Match that with excellent guard play from Braxton Maynard and Ethan Smith-Mills and great athleticism off the bench from freshman Parker Davis and you get a team that is talented and playing hard and playing together. Martin County is definitely the team to beat.

Prestonsburg shocked the region by winning their district opener over Betsy Layne in double overtime despite losing two of their top three players in the last week of the regular season (quit team). Betsy Layne had defeated Prestonsburg twice during the regular season. The Blackcats are the lowest rated team in the tournament, but did start off the season hot, opening 6-1 before finishing with only nine wins. This team is small and scrappy outside 6’6’’ freshman Ryan Rose and has overachieved to make it this far. They are well coached, but simply out manned at several positions.

Previous Match-Up:

Martin County defeated Prestonsburg on the road 82-49 February 18th. Trey James scored 21 points (12 rebounds) and Brady Dingess had 18 points as Martin County put four players in double figures with two others scoring nine points each. Prestonsburg was paced by Adam Slone with 21 points and 8 rebounds.

The Game:
A lot of what Prestonsburg does is based on flex cuts and getting to the rim out of a patterned offense. Trey James will take this away and make them hit 15-17-foot jump shots consistently to stay in the game. Martin County will force feed the middle and look to go inside out for 3’s. They will also run off missed / blocked shots for quick buckets. In summary, this is a bad match-up for Prestonsburg. In fact, this is probably the best team in the field vs. the worst team in the field. Don’t expect this game to be very close.

Regional Titles:
Martin County – None (Former school Sheldon Clark won one regional title in 1983)
Prestonsburg – 1989

Players to watch:
Martin County – Trey James Jr. 6’10’’ (15.2 ppg, 11.4 rpg), Brady Dingess So. 6’1’’ (16.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg)

Prestonsburg – Adam Slone Sr. 6’1’’ (14.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg), Ryan Rose Fr. 6’6’’ (7.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg)

Martin County 65
Prestonsburg 45

Match-Up #3: Lawrence County [20-11: 14-6 in Region] vs. Paintsville [15-13: 13-3 in Region]
Lawrence County has been the best dark horse in the region all season long and come into the tournament with their first ever 58th District title and the reigning COY in Chandler Thompson. This team has five very good starters that can all dribble, pass and shoot, but lack a lot of firepower off the bench. Paintsville is very similar in that they go six deep off their bench, but have welcomed back junior Jaxson Watts from injury (clavicle). The Tigers advanced to the regional tournament after defeating crosstown rival Johnson Central in what should be considered an upset. JC was the pre-season regional favorite. Paintsville boast two very good players in volume scorer Colby Fugate and post warrior Nick Keeton. Fugate is hot and cold as shown by the district tournament (scored 31 against Johnson Central in semifinals and 6 against Martin County is championship). If he gets hot, Paintsville goes to another level.

Previous Match-Up’s:

Paintsville defeated Lawrence County on the road 61-56 in overtime on December 10th. Lawrence County took an eleven-point lead into the fourth quarter before seeing Paintsville come all the way back and force overtime before finally winning. Nick Keeton led the charge, scoring at will down low as Lawrence County put a box and one on Colby Fugate, allowing him the space to operate. Overall, Lawrence had the game in hand for most of the contest, but tried to take the air out of the ball too early.

The Game:
This should be a great game! Both teams have very little support from their benches and will play a half-court game with one another. Lawrence County will have no answer for Nick Keeton down low, but Paintsville will not be able to stop both Cody Maynard and Tyler Maynard. They will have to choose one or the other with both capable of scoring 30 plus. This game will come down to fouls, game control, FT’s and whoever makes the big play late. Look for Colby Fugate to try to take over late (which he is capable of) with Lawrence County right there in the end.

Regional Titles:
Lawrence County (1) - 2016
Paintsville (9) - 1933, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1995, 1996 (State Title), 1997, 1998, 2008

Players to watch:
Lawrence County – Tyler Maynard Sr. 6’3’’ (21.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg), Cody Maynard So. 6’1’’ (15.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg)

Paintsville – Colby Fugate So. 6’5’’ (22.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg), Nick Keeton Sr. 6’4’’ (15.4 ppg, 12.4 rpg)

Paintsville 62
Lawrence County 61

Match-Up #4: Phelps [21-10: 12-4 in Region] vs. Shelby Valley [24-7: 18-4 in Region]
Phelps has been the darling of the 15th Region this season and has twenty wins for the first time in over ten years, but it was against a very weak schedule. Shelby Valley has played every game this season on a 15th Region court except one and that game was in Williams, WV right across the river from Belfry. The Wildcats also lead the region in wins with 24 and have the best player in the region in Cody Potter.

Phelps easily won the 60th district over Belfry (back to back champions) and have one of the better players that no one knows about in Trey Francis who has averaged a double-double from the wing position two years in a row. Shelby Valley had a disappointing loss in the district championship to Pikeville after defeating them three times earlier in the season, but are a very talented team.

Previous Match-Up:
The two teams did not play this season. The last matchup was in the regional tournament last season that saw Shelby Valley demolish Phelps 59-33.

The Game:
Shelby Valley is very good and should be focused and motivated for this game. Phelps will have no answer for Cody Potter and no one that guard Keian Worrix. Trey Francis will do his thing for the Hornets and could keep them close for a while. In the end, Shelby Valley has too much over all talent and will wear down Phelps who has not seen the level of play Shelby Valley has from a 15th Region opponent (Phelps best regional win is against Betsy Layne).

Regional Titles:
Phelps (1) – 1988
Shelby Valley (7) – 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010 (State Title), 2011

Players to Watch:
Phelps – Trey Francis Sr. 6’3’’ (18.1 ppg, 12.7 rpg), Dominick Francis Jr. 6’3’’ (13.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg)

Shelby Valley – Cody Potter Sr. 6’6’’ (24.9 ppg, 9.8 rpg), Keian Worrix Jr. 5’5’’ (7.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg)

Shelby Valley 65
Phelps 51

Agree or Disagree? Feel free to respond and discuss!