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Overview: Johnson Central drops from the top spot despite Isaiah May dropping 39 points, Shelby Valley shows early dominance in the 59th district, Martin County takes control of the 57th and asserts themselves as contenders and Paintsville almost drops out of the top ten. Lots of big games are on tap this week as we look at the rankings after five weeks of play!

Rankings (overall record):
1. (Up 1) Shelby Valley (10-3) – The Wildcats are the new number one team in the 15th Region! In their only contest of week five, Shelby Valley knocked off their biggest rival and fellow 15th Region contender Pikeville by a final of 63-59 in what was a back and forth game. Cody Potter and Kaden Robinson both went for 20 plus in the game (Potter 27 / Robinson 23) and a combine 12/20 from deep. In week six, Shelby Valley will host Betsy Layne, travel to East Ridge and then face South Charleston, WV at the Hatfield McCoy shootout. They will be favored in all three games.

2. (Down 1) Johnson Central (6-5) – The Golden Eagles were 0-2 in week five, losing both contests in overtime. Leading by 7 with less than four minutes to play against Martin County, JC was unable to close the deal and fell at home 48-51 (Seth Williams DNP – ankle). They followed this up with an 81-83 overtime loss on the road at Russell after leading by 5 with less than two minutes to play. In the Russell game, Isaiah May had a huge night with 39 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists (hitting a 3FG at buzzer to force OT). JC’s inability to close games has cost them the last two contests and it will not get easier any time soon as they are in the middle of 5 games in 7 day’s stretch. Week six will see them host Pikeville then travel to Floyd Central, Betsy Layne and Paintsville. They might have to play without Isaiah May and Seth Williams as well (both suffered sprained ankles in Russell game – May finished Russel game hobbled, Williams did not). Make no mistake that JC has the most talent in the region and will be a major factor down the stretch as they figure things out.

3. (Up 1) Martin County (6-9) – Martin County picked up a huge win against 57th District rival Johnson Central in overtime 51-48 (Trey James 15 points 17 rebounds 8 blocks), then fell to Knott Central on the road for the second time this season 53-59 (Brady Dingess DNP – reason unknown). The JC win was the first time Martin County has beat Johnson Central in over three years and puts the Cards in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the toughest district in the region. Week six will see another huge road district game, as Martin County travels to Paintsville. Despite the losing record, the Cardinals showed they are in the mix as a favorite to win the region this season.

4. (Down 1) Pikeville (6-5) – The Panthers lost a heart breaker to their biggest rival in week five as they fell to Shelby Valley 59-63 at home. Grayson Harris scored 23 for the Panthers as Rylee Sammons struggled with stiff defense, scoring only 7 points. Pikeville will be road warriors in week six as they travel to Johnson Central, Jenkins, Magoffin County and the Hatfield / McCoy Shootout in Williamson, WV (TBD).

5. (-) Lawrence County (8-6) – The Bulldogs quietly continue to go about their business, picking up another quality win on the road against Belfry in the 2A Classic 86-73. Floyd Central and Morgan County are on the docket for week six as Lawrence County will likely remain unbeaten in 58th District play. This team remains the favorite dark horse as they continue to develop their bench.

6. (Up 2) Magoffin County (7-4) – The Hornets are rapidly moving up the rankings and are right behind Lawrence County as the best dark horse to win the region. This is a complete team with three solid guards, excellent post defenders and two solid bench players that are starting to put things together. They play fast, press and are fun to watch and easy to cheer for. In week five, the Hornets beat Pike Central 52-47 then dominated Betsy Layne 92-64 as freshman Aden Barnett dropped a 32-point triple double. Can the Hornets keep rolling in week six? They will open the 2A Classic with Morgan County before hosting Pikeville. The Pikeville game will let us know if they are ready to take the next step and show they can beat one of the top four teams.

7. (Down 1) Paintsville (3-8) – The Tigers went 0-2 in week five and have now dropped 7 of their last 8 games. They have played a difficult schedule, so it’s hard to gauge where the stack up against top tier 15th Region competition, but the fact remains this team is very close to being 0-11 (two one point wins and one overtime win – two wins came off amazing 4th quarter double digit comebacks). In week six, Paintsville will play two very important district games as they host both Martin County and Johnson Central. They will not be favored in either, but don’t be surprised if they win these rivalry games.

8. (-) Betsy Layne (9-4) – The Bobcats went 1-1 in week five with a 64-63 win on the road against their biggest rival Prestonsburg and a head scratching blow-out loss to Magoffin County 64-92 the very next day. It’s likely Betsy Layne laid an egg against Magoffin after such an emotional win, but Magoffin is also much improved this season. Betsy Layne has a very difficult week six as they travel to Shelby Valley and then host Johnson Central. Like Magoffin County, this week will let us know if Betsy Layne is a pretender or contender.

9. (-) Prestonsburg (6-5) – The Blackcats opened the season 6-1 but have dropped four in a row after losing to Betsy Layne 63-64 in week five. The home district loss could loom huge for 58th district seeding later in March. Prestonsburg will lick its wounds and get back to action on the road against Phelps in week six. It should be a great game.

10. (-) Belfry (6-4) – After opening the season 3-0, Belfry is 3-4 in their last seven games. Week five saw them eliminated from the 2A Classic by Lawrence County 73-86 (2nd loss to Lawrence County this season). Belfry is coached hard and plays hard, but struggles to sustain runs and stop runs. In short, they play stretches of alternating good and bad basketball. If they can weed out the bad, they are dangerous. Week six will see the Pirates play a heated rivalry games versus Mingo Central, WV in Williamson, WV at the Hatfield / McCoy. It should be intense as these two fan bases do not like each other regardless of record.

11. (-) Phelps (6-7) – The Hornets went 1-0 in week five with a win on the road at Twin Valley, VA and have now won two in a row. They have a tough week six as they host Prestonsburg before taking on Mingo Central, WV and Wayne, WV at the Hatfield / McCoy shoot-out in Williamson, WV. Trey Francis continues to lead this team as they should be in the 15th Region Tournament come March.

12. (-) East Ridge (3-7) – East Ridge went 1-0 in week five with a win over Jenkins in a 59th District contest. The Warriors will travel to Magoffin County, host Shelby Valley and then travel to the Hatfield / McCoy in week six (TBD). This team is really missing Eli Sykes (transferred to Shelby Valley) as they struggle to guard in the post.

13. (-) Pike Central (3-11) – The Hawks have dropped four in a row and ten of their last eleven after losing to Magoffin County 47-52 in the 2A Classic. This team plays hard and believe it or not is fun to watch with their effort. They sneak up and beat someone before seasons end that you don’t expect. Week six will provide no opportunities, however, as they are off.

14. (-) Floyd Central (3-8) – The Jags did not play in week five and will play two difficult opponents in week six as they host Lawrence County in the 2A Classic and then Johnson Central. This young squad will continue to grow against and hopefully get valuable experience moving forward as they will not be favored against either opponent.

15. (-) Jenkins (0-8) – Jenkins lost their only week five contest to East Ridge 71-99 but did snow improvement as they led 26-22 at the end of the first quarter. They will face Pikeville and OBI in week six and will be heavy underdogs in both.

16. (-) Piarist (0-1) – The Knights season is not looking good as they have still yet to play or report a game. At this point, it seems they are not competing in basketball this season.

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