Sixth Region BGP Boys Basketball Preview
Pleasure Ridge Park has won three Sixth Region titles already this century, while Iroquois, Fairdale and Central have both won a pair.
Three of those four teams are perched atop the region again.
While Central is expected to be rebuilding after back-to-back titles, Iroquois is loaded for a run at the title and PRP and Fairdale are both strong as usual.
DeSales and Southern are hoping to break up the party.
Here’s a closer look:
IROQUOIS (19-8) – The Raiders have two of the best seniors in the Louisville area and won’t be able to slip up on folks this season.
Donovan Gibbs is the region’s top player. The 6-foot-7 wing averaged 15.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game and has added 20 pounds of muscle since last season.
Junior Jermaine Jackson averaged 16.1 points a game last season, while coach Michael Stinnett also expects big things from Brandon Whitlock and Earl Wade.
Sam Tolliver is a transfer from Jeffersontown, while junior guard Ricky Kemp should provide some depth at the guard position.
PLEASURE RIDGE PARK (23-8) – The Panthers are always going to be tough.
Coach Dale Mabrey and his staff have been at the school for almost 30 years and again this winter will field one of the state’s elite teams.
While perhaps not as athletic as some of the teams in the past, the Panthers again will run and press and try to force the tempo.
Senior center Jamal Stephenson has made strides and will be the leader, while Chad McDowell and Patrick Yocum are other returning players.
FAIRDALE (19-11) – The Bulldogs return senior All-Stater Quintrell Morris and top junior guard Josh Stroud from last year’s squad.
The 6-foot-4 Morris is the son of former All-State player Maurice Morris of Fairdale. He averaged 19.8 points and 8.9 rebounds a game as a junior.
Stroud averaged 9.9 points a game and is expected to have a breakout season running the point guard spot from the Bulldogs.
DESALES (8-14) – The Colts have a new coach in John Mingus and a bunch of returning players that should make this a much better season.
Seniors Brandon Ritchie and Derek Thornberry are both returning after both averaging 14 points a game last season, while 6-6 senior center Nick Roush averaged 10 points and eight rebounds as a junior.
Mike McCauley, Corum Samford, Luke Simmons, Sam Keehner and Evan Bingham are other players Mingus expects big things from this season.
SOUTHERN (16-13) – The Trojans once again will have an outside shot to claim the regional title because of its top player.
Senior forward Chris Richard is one of the state’s top prospects and averaged 13.7 points and 9.6 rebounds as a junior. He hit 40 percent from the field and is the leader.
But the Trojans will have to find some help for Richard if they want to contend with the top programs in the region.
BULLITT EAST (19-10) – The best of the Bullitt County schools should stay the same with Chargers far ahead of Central and North.
The Chargers lost its two top scorers in Willie Moore and Adam Kelty, but there are adequate replacements for those graduated players.
Seniors Hayden Sweat and Brandon Alpin both averaged around eight points a game and will be the mainstays at the guard position.
Cory Washburn is a 6-foot-6 center and must have a big season.
BUTLER (9-17) – The Bears have two players that turned in solid efforts this summer and should be able to improve the win total.
Senior Thomas Blakemore should again be the leading scorer for coach Shawn Purlee’s bunch, while sophomore Jalen Weston is talented.
DOSS (11-18) – The Dragons return three solid players but will need some other younger players to step up if they want a winning record.
The leader is expected to be senior forward Teco King, who averaged five points, five rebounds and two blocked shots a game.
Senior guards Derrick Lee and Troy Robertson are also back.
SHAWNEE (16-15) – Montrelle Irvin has helped the program turn the corner in his first two seasons as the Golden Eagles coach.
Shawnee made it to the All A State Tournament last season and lost to Central in the Sixth Region final but did graduate Kentucky All-Star Cory Jackson.
But Irvin does have some talent returning.
Devon Thompson helped Shawnee in the postseason run and is back as the leader of the team that finished by winning seven of its final eight games.
WESTERN (11-15) – The Warriors could be the sleeper team in the region.
Western has a couple of senior standouts, including Tony Collinswood who is getting ready for his fifth season on the varsity level.
Arthur Jones is one of the best sophomores in the region.
CENTRAL (19-15) – After two consecutive Sixth Region titles, the Yellowjackets are expected to drop off this season.
Ride Wilson was a Kentucky All-Star and is among those who graduated for Central and coach Doug Bibby, who is hoping for some youngsters to step in.
Desmond Brown averaged seven points a game.
BETH HAVEN (18-7) – The Bearcats must replace several quality seniors but coach Brad Morgan has one of the best unknown players in the region.
Stewart Washington is a 6-foot-2 senior guard who started his high school career at PRP. He has played at Beth Haven for two seasons, but really had a breakout summer and is expected to shine for the Bearcats.
HOLY CROSS (12-19) – Adam Troutman is a senior that will be expected to step into a scoring role for the young and inexperienced Cougars.
Coach Mike Durham graduated his top four scorers off last year’s team and several other seniors that contributed.
VALLEY (8-15) – There’s not a lot to get excited about for the Vikings, who lost a bunch of its scoring and rebounding from last season.
While coach Andrew Bailey has good numbers in the program there’s a lot of room for improvement and not much to work with for the Vikings.
BULLITT CENTRAL (4-24) – Coach Joe Pat Lee and his Cougars won only two of its final 14 games last season and it could be much of the same this season.
But there’s one building block Lee has in guard T.J. Flener.
NORTH BULLITT (4-23) – The Eagles lost 14 of their final 15 games and there’s not much to look forward to in Shepherdsville.
EVANGEL (14-11) – After a winning season, coach Stan Cook is hoping two key returning players can help his team do it again.
Charlie Simpson averaged 9.8 points a game, while Cesar Cano chipped in eight points and eight rebounds a game.
ST. FRANCIS (6-20) – John Henry Bonin and Darnell Scott led the Wyverns in scoring last season and return to give the program some hope.
There’s still not a lot of height or quickness on the roster.
BROWN (5-17) – Coach Justin Leonard lost all five starters from last year’s team and obviously doesn’t have a lot of experience coming back.
The Bears have lost 32 games the past two seasons and it will be another long season this winter for the program.
PORTLAND CHRISTIAN (0-23) – The Eagles have a new coach in John Canter but the program is currently on a 24-game losing skid.
There’s not a lot of experience but Canter is hoping some youngsters step up.
TOP 10 PLAYER LIST
1. Donovan Gibbs, Iroquois, 6-7, Sr.
Comment: As good an all-around player as there is in the Louisville area.
2. Chris Richard, Southern, 6-4, Sr.
Comment: Doesn’t get a ton of attention at Southern, but he’s a player.
3. Josh Stroud, Fairdale, 6-5, Jr.
Comment: Had an up-and-down sophomore season but is ready for a breakout.
4. Quintrell Morris, 6-4, Sr.
Comment: Strong, physical player has developed a bit of an outside game.
5. Stewart Washington, 6-2, Sr.
Comment: Not many folks know about him, but he’s a do-it-all type.
6. Jamal Stephenson, PRP, 6-8, Sr.
Comment: Has come a long way, still needs to stay out of foul trouble.
7. Tim Patterson, Central, 6-5, Sr.
Comment: State’s top football player uses his strength to dominate inside.
8. Thomas Blakemore, Butler, 6-0, Sr.
Comment: A steady, heady type of guard that will run the Bears’ attack.
9. Brandon Ritchie, DeSales, Sr.
Comment: Should be the leader of a balanced, much-improved Colts attack.
10. Jermaine Jackson, Iroquois, 6-4, Jr.
Comment: Might lead the Raiders in scoring even with Gibbs on the floor.