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Mountain Top 10 Breakdown heading into Christmas break

Shelby Valley wins second Mountain Classic title
Shelby Valley wins second Mountain Classic title(WYMT)
Published: Dec. 24, 2021 at 9:18 PM EST
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - We are now almost a month into the 2021-22 high school basketball season. Let’s recap how the top ten teams are doing so far as we head into the Christmas break.

BOYS

1. North Laurel (7-2)

The Jaguars retain their top spot as they made a deep run in the King of the Bluegrass Tournament but came up just short of bringing home the title. Nate Valentine’s squad began the tournament with a commanding 72-56 victory against the Eastern Eagles out of Louisville. North Laurel then knocked off North Oldham and Dorman out of South Carolina in the next two games to make it to the championship contest against Covington Catholic. The Colonels got the better of North Laurel in that game, 79-67 but University of Kentucky commit Reed Sheppard was tremendous throughout the entire tournament. The junior took home tournament MVP honors as he recorded a triple-double against Covington Catholic with 25 points, ten rebounds and ten assists.

2. Pikeville (8-0)

The Panthers continue their ascension in the rankings as they move up four spots this week. Elisha Justice’s squad was phenomenal on offense against Harlan as they poured in a season-high 95 points against the Green Dragons in their 26-point victory last Friday. Three players eclipsed the double-figure mark as senior Rylee Samons was the high point man with 27 points. Pikeville continued their hot start with a 79-57 win against Knott Central in the opening round of the Pikeville Invitational on Monday. The Panthers knocked off Pike Central on Tuesday in the semifinals of the Pikeville Invitational, 69-53. That was followed by a 70-54 win against Betsy Layne to secure the tournament crown. Senior Laithan Hall was the team’s leading scorer against the Bobcats with 24 points.

3. Perry Central (11-1)

After their season-opening loss against Harlan County, the Commodores have been on fire. Shannon Hoskins’ team has reeled off eleven consecutive victories including a dominant 80-53 wire-to-wire showing against archnemesis Hazard on December 16th. Landon Napier paced Perry Central in scoring against the Bulldogs as the senior had a game-high 31 points in the 27-point win. The Commodores defeated Harlan for the second time this season last Saturday, downing the Green Dragons by a score of 68-59. Napier led the team in scoring in that contest as well with 24 points. The Commodores edged McCreary Central with a 78-77 win on Monday while Tuesday’s victory against Taylor County was not quite as close, 67-52. Three players tallied at least ten points against the Cardinals including Lanse McKenzie as the senior recorded a double-double with 21 points and ten rebounds. The Commodores were slated to play Barbourville on Thursday but that contest was canceled due to COVID concerns.

4. Pulaski County (12-0)

The Maroons crack the top five this week as they continue their unblemished start to the season. John Fraley’s squad recorded its most lopsided win of the season against Somerset last Friday, routing the Briar Jumpers, 71-34. Pulaski County pulled off an impressive comeback against Louisville-based Doss High School on Monday with a 78-75 victory in the opening round of The Best in Hoops Tournament in Bowling Green. Gavin Stevens was the leading scorer against the Dragons as the senior tallied a team-high 24 points. The Maroons won their next three games in the tournament including an 82-46 win against Grayson County in the final to win the tournament.

5. Bell County (6-1)

Bell County is the second team out of the 13th Region to make this week’s top ten. Brad Sizemore’s crew is making their season debut in the rankings. The Bobcats have not had much competition up until last Friday’s game against Harlan County. Bell County upset the Black Bears in the 13th Region Media Network Classic last Friday, 59-56. Three players reached double figures in that contest including Cameron Burnett. The senior recorded a game-high 24 points in the three-point victory. The Bobcats suffered their first loss of the season on Monday night against Knox Central, 81-52. Burnett was one of two double-digit scorers against the Panthers as he led the way once again with 23 points. Bell County rebounded with a strong victory against Lynn Camp on Tuesday, 72-48. Four players got into double figures against the Wildcats including Dawson Woolum. The junior had a team-high 17 points.

6. Knox Central (7-3)

The Panthers drop four spots in this week’s rankings. Tony Patterson’s team struggled in the Stock Yards Bank & Trust Challenge in Morehead last week. Knox Central lost their opening-round tilt against Boyd County, 69-57. Sophomore Gavin Chadwell paced the team in scoring with 20 points while senior Jevonte Turner was the other player that eclipsed double figures with 12 points. Both players also recorded double-doubles as Chadwell hauled in ten rebounds while Turner secured 11 boards. The Panthers dropped a close affair against Madison Central as well, 66-63. Senior Isaac Mills (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Turner (14 points, ten rebounds) produced double-doubles against the Indians. Knox Central bounced back with a blowout victory against Bell County on Monday night, 81-52. Four players reached double figures against the Bobcats including Mills as the forward tallied a team-high 18 points. The Panthers had another dominant victory on Wednesday, blitzing Russell County, 83-49. Turner led the way 20 points against the Lakers. Knox Central’s game against Frederick Douglass on Thursday was canceled due to COVID concerns.

7. Harlan County (6-3)

The Black Bears check in at number seven this week. Mike Jones’ crew dropped a close contest against Bell County in the 13th Region Media Network Classic last Friday, 59-56. Junior Jonah Swanner had a team-high 18 points against the Bobcats. Harlan County spent this week in South Carolina participating in the Seahawk Holiday Classic. The Black Bears won their first two games against Hilton Head and Cumberland County out of Tennessee before falling to South Carolina-based school Trinity Collegiate in the championship clash, 61-53. Sophomore Trent

Noah had a team-high 21 points and eight rebounds in the final while senior Jackson Huff also made it into double figures with 13 points.

8. Breathitt County (6-2)

John Noble’s squad moves up one spot in this week’s top ten. The Bobcats have won their last three games including a narrow 68-65 victory against Wolfe County last Friday to move to 2-0 in district play. Juniors Christian Collins and Andrew Combs co-led Breathitt County in scoring against the Wolves with 14 points apiece. The Bobcats made short work of Owsley County last Saturday, routing the Owls with a 92-48 victory in the Peggy Moore Classic. Four players cracked double digits in scoring including Austin Sperry. The freshman had a game-high 23 points against the Owls.

9. South Laurel (8-3)

The Cardinals slide down four spots in the rankings this week. Jeff Davis’ team has won three of its last four including a 64-49 victory against Newport Central Catholic in the Stock Yards Bank & Trust Challenge last weekend. That was followed by a 56-37 win against Rowan County on Tuesday in the opening round of the Legacy Nissan Dribble Drive Challenge. Then, South Laurel fell to Cooper on Wednesday, 45-39. The Cardinals bounced back with a gutty 56-54 victory against Lincoln County in double overtime on Thursday.

10. Corbin (7-2)

Corbin reenters the top ten this week as Tony Pietrowski’s team claims the final spot. The Redhounds downed Williamsburg last Friday with a 77-53 triumph. Brody Wells was the team’s leading scorer against the Yellow Jackets as the junior tallied 19 points. The Redhounds were in Gatlinburg this week as they took home the Smoky Mountain Christmas Classic Championship. Corbin won all three of their contests including knocking off Bullitt Central in the title game with a 62-55 victory.

GIRLS

1. Shelby Valley (8-2)

The Lady Kats keep their place on the throne for another week. Lonnie Rowe’s crew participated in the Traditional Bank Holiday Classic in Lexington, finishing with a 2-2 record in the tournament. Shelby Valley won their first tilt against Connor out of northern Kentucky, 54-40 but dropped their next two against Mercy and Anderson County. They did leave Lexington on a positive note as they defeated the hosts, Lexington Catholic, 63-58. Four players reached double figures in the contest against the Lady Knights including Alyssa Elswick. The senior forward paced the team with 14 points.

2. North Laurel (8-1)

The Lady Jaguars follow in the footsteps of Shelby Valley for the second straight week. Eddie Mahan’s team has won five consecutive games after the loss to Knott Central in the Mountain Classic. North Laurel has won two of their last three games by at least 20 points. The Lady Jaguars have held their opponents to less than 50 points in their last two outings. North Laurel scored a season-high in points last weekend as they put up 79 points on the scoreboard against Campbell County. Senior Hailee Valentine and junior Emily Sizemore co-led the team in scoring in their 57-25 victory against McCreary Central as the duo tallied 14 points each.

3. Pikeville (8-1)

Pikeville moves up one spot in the rankings heading into Christmas as Kristy Orem’s crew enters the break red hot. The Lady Panthers have won seven in a row, culminating with a tournament title in the Assumption Rockets Christmas Tournament in Louisville. Pikeville had their way throughout the tournament, winning all three of their matchups by at least 12 points. The Lady Panthers knocked off Highlands in the final by a score of 52-27.

4. Corbin (7-1)

Like Pikeville, the Lady Redhounds finished off the week strong. Issac Wilson’s team has produced a seven-game winning streak of their own. Some of those wins include Leslie County, Somerset, and Danville En route to a championship in the Lady Redhounds Christmas Bash tournament. Corbin had their way against the Lady Admirals in the final with a 67-58 victory. Senior Shelby Stewart leads the team in scoring at 14.6 PPG but the woman of the hour against Danville was Darcie Anderson. The sophomore had a team-high 21 points in the nine-point win.

5. Knox Central (8-2)

The Lady Panthers crack the top five in the latest rankings. After beginning the season 5-0, Knox Central has stubbed their toe a couple of times. Steve Warren’s club dropped a thriller against South Laurel, 66-65 back on December 16th. That followed with back-to-back victories against Metcalfe County and Menifee County then a defeat to West Carter. Knox Central’s final game before Christmas came on Monday against Bryan Station. They were outstanding against the Defenders as they blew out the Lexington-based school, 80-49. Four players reached double figures in the victory against Bryan Station including Presley Partin. The senior led the team in scoring with 18 points while freshman Halle Collins recorded a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

6. South Laurel (6-4)

South Laurel is the fourth 13th Region team in the Girls’ top ten this week. Chris Souder’s group won a tight contest against Knox Central, 66-65 back on December 16 then walloped Scott County in the Traditional Bank Holiday Classic, 80-47 last Saturday in Lexington. The Lady Cardinals participated in the White, Greer & Maggard Holiday Classic, finishing with a 1-2 record in that tournament. The reigning 13th Region Champions lost their first game against Cooper, 60-39 then bounced back against Lexington Catholic, 71-54. That followed with a five-point loss to Anderson County, 49-44. Clara Collins was South Laurel’s leading scorer against the Lady Bearcats with 17 points while senior Rachel Presley recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

7. Lawrence County (7-2)

The Lady Bulldogs move up to the seven spot after being number eight a week ago. Melinda Feltner’s crew enters the Christmas hiatus on a four-game winning streak. After the loss to Shelby Valley, Lawrence County has racked up victories against Prestonsburg, Pike Central, Letcher Central, and Jenkins. With the exception of the Letcher Central contest, the Lady Bulldogs have won all of their games by at least 13 points during their hot run. Sophomore Kaison Ward and junior Emmallee Holt co-led the team in points with 20 points each against the Lady Cavaliers. Junior Kinsley Feltner was the team’s other double-digit scorer with 17 points.

8. Knott Central (7-4)

The Lady Patriots tumble in this week’s rankings, falling five spots from last week. Jeff Honeycutt’s team started off winning six of their first seven contests but have dropped three of their last four since. Knott Central snapped their three-game skid with a 63-32 victory against Lincoln County in the Jack Burford Chevy Christmas Classic in Richmond on Tuesday. Three players reached double figures in scoring against the Lady Patriots as junior Ally Hall and sophomore Kylie Gayheart co-led the way with 12 points each in the lopsided win.

9. Martin County (10-0)

The Lady Cardinals are the lone new entry in this week’s top ten. Robin Newsome’s squad is also the only team in the rankings that has yet to lose a game this season. Martin County has scored at least 60 points in eight of their ten wins this season. The Lady Cardinals took a trip to Gatlinburg to play in the Smoky Mountain Classic this week. They won both games that they played in, defeating Saltillo High School out of Mississippi, 62-50 and beating Whitwell High School out of Tennessee, 50-42.

10. Southwestern (8-4)

The Warriors hold down the final place in the rankings for the second straight week. Junior Molden’s crew played in the Traditional Holiday Bank Classic in Lexington this week, starting out the tournament with a win against South Warren. That was followed by victories against Lexington Catholic and Cooper before losing to George Rogers Clark in their final game in nail-biting fashion, 62-61 in overtime. Four players got into double figures against the Cardinals as freshman Kinsley Molden paced the team in scoring with 15 points.

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