(WYMT) - Let’s take a closer look at the boys’ top 10 in our first basketball breakdown of the season:
1. Hazard (12-2)
Last Week: Defeated Wolfe County 54-51, defeated Cordia 49-42, defeated Knott Central 62-54
This Week: at Perry Central
Al Holland’s squad has easily been the most consistent team so far this season, only losing twice so far this season. After dropping two out of three in Las Vegas, the Bulldogs ran the table in the 14th Region’s All ‘A’ Classic with wins over Wolfe County, Cordia and Knott Central to punch their ticket to the state’s All ‘A’ tournament next week in Richmond.
The Bulldogs are allowing about 50 points per game, good enough for ninth fewest in the state. Senior Reece Fletcher is 13th overall in the state in field goal percentage at 68.9 percent. Hazard will do battle with in-county rival Perry Central for the first time this season on Tuesday. These two teams met four times last year including for the 54th District Championship and 14th Region Championship. The Commodores won all four contests.
2. Clay County (12-5)
Last Week: Defeated Jackson County 79-45, defeated North Laurel 75-73, defeated South Laurel 59-58
This Week: vs. Henry Clay
The Tigers went 3-0 last week including a gut-check win over North Laurel behind enemy lines and a revenge victory against South Laurel in the Bobby Keith Classic. The Cardinals beat Clay County a week earlier in the Raymond Reed Classic.
The Tigers are tied with Williamsburg for the second-most points per game scored in the 13th Region at about 68 points per game. Only Knox Central is averaging more. Connor Robinson leads the team in scoring as the junior guard is averaging about 18 PPG. The Tigers have just one game this week as they will square off with Henry Clay on Friday at Bobby Keith Gymnasium.
3. North Laurel (11-4)
Last Week: Defeated Red Bird 87-49, lost to Clay County 75-73, defeated Southwestern 65-64 (overtime)
This Week: at Rockcastle County, vs. Jackson County, at Perry Central
The Jaguars began their week with the thrashing of Red Bird followed by a heartbreaking loss at home against Clay County. They ended the week by outlasting Southwestern in the Bobby Keith Classic.
Like Clay County, North Laurel has three players in double figures. Freshman Reed Sheppard heads the team in scoring at 18.7 PPG. Senior Cole Kelley (16.7 PPG) and freshman Ryan Davidson (15.3) are the other double-digit scorers for North Laurel. Kelley leads the team in rebounding with 7 rebounds per game.
4. Shelby Valley (12-4)
Last Week: Defeated 83-57, defeated East Ridge 61-41, lost to South
Charleston (WV) 54-33
This Week: 15th Region All ‘A’ Tournament
The Wildcats have been on a nice run the past month as Jim Hicks’ team has won nine of their last eleven. It has already been a special season for Cody Potter, as the senior broke the school record for most points in a game earlier this season with 48 against Betsy Layne. The Rollins College commit also broke the school record for most three-pointers made in a game with 13 and has become the school’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder.
Shelby Valley has their sites set on getting to the state’s All ‘A’ Tournament in back-to-back seasons, but first, the Wildcats have to run the table in the 15th Region All ‘A’ Tournament. The first opponent that is standing in their way will be Prestonsburg on Friday.
5. Somerset (14-2)
Last Week: Defeated McCreary Central 72-52, defeated Casey County 78-46
This Week: 12th Region All ‘A’ Tournament, at Burgin High School.
Perhaps inspired by their football team’s state championship, the Briar Jumpers have had a great season so far. Somerset has not lost since December 27th and is riding a six-game win streak that includes a win over Washington County on Monday night in the first round of the 12th Region All ‘A’ Classic.
Jeron Dunbar’s crew leads the 12th Region in scoring, averaging just less than 73 points per game (72.8). Kade Grundy not only catches touchdowns on the football field but scores buckets on the basketball court as well. The junior leads the team in scoring at 16.5 points per game.
The Briar Jumpers continue their quest for a 12th Region All ‘A’ title on Thursday with a date against hosts Burgin in the semifinals. If the Briar Jumpers win that contest, they will play for the championship on Friday. Somerset is scheduled to play Corbin on that day but that game could get pushed back or canceled.
6. South Laurel (12-4)
Last Week: Lost to Clay County 59-58
This Week: Defeated Wayne County 65-54, vs. Barbourville
The Cardinals played their first game in a week on Saturday at Clay County, losing to the Tigers in heartbreaking fashion, 59-58. This comes after South Laurel got the upper hand the previous Saturday in the Raymond Reed Classic, 56-45. However, Jeff Davis’ squad rebounded with an 11-point victory over Wayne County Monday night.
Coming into Monday’s night action, guard Matthew Cromer was averaging slightly less than 24 points per game (23.8). That number is good for the senior to be in the top 20 in the state in scoring. The defending 50th District champions will defend their home court again on Friday, this time against Barbourville.
7. Knox Central (14-2)
Last Week: Defeated Perry Central 73-67, defeated Bell County 66-61, defeated Corbin 75-70
This Week: Kentucky 2A State Championship
The Panthers are arguably the hottest team in the Mountain Top 10 as Tony Patterson’s squad has won 11 in a row and has not lost since December 20th. That loss came at the hands of last year’s Sweet Sixteen State semifinalist, Campbell County.
Jevonte Turner checks in as the ninth-best scorer in the state as the guard is putting up 25 points per game. For the second year in a row, Knox Central will make the trip to Owensboro to participate in the Kentucky 2A State Championship. The Panthers went 2-1 in the Kentucky 2A State Championship last year, losing to John Hardin in the finals who went on to have an undefeated regular season. As for this time around, the reigning 13th Region champions will meet Warren Central out of the 4th Region in the opening game on Thursday.
8. Pulaski County (12-3)
Last Week: Defeated Central Kentucky Homeschool 80-43, defeated Rockcastle County 85-56
This Week: vs. Lincoln County, vs. Southwestern
The Maroons have had a fantastic season up to this point as well, winning seven of their last eight. John Fraley’s unit has four players that average double figures including nephew Colton Fraley. The senior guard leads the team in scoring (14.5 PPG) and free throw percentage (88.2%).
The schedule for Pulaski County looks pretty favorable on paper as they will play only two more games away from home during the regular season. The Maroons will play their second straight region contest against Lincoln County on Tuesday followed by a matchup with in-county rival Southwestern on Friday.
9. Knott Central (12-4)
Last Week: Defeated June Buchanan 81-52, defeated Lee County 89-52, defeated Buckhorn 61-51, lost to Hazard 62-54
This Week: vs. Cordia
The Patriots carried a six-game win streak into Sunday’s 14th Region All ‘A’ title game against Hazard, but the Bulldogs proved to be a little too much for Bb King’s team. Knott Central has been outstanding from beyond the arc, as they come into this week with tied for the third-best three-point percentage at 43.1 percent.
Junior Colby Napier leads the team in scoring at 18.9 points per game and is connecting on 47 percent of his threes. Knott Central will return to the court against district foe Cordia on Thursday.
10. Wolfe County (11-3)
Last Week: Defeated Owsley County 59-53, lost to Hazard 54-51
This Week: at Lee County, at Oneida Baptist Institute
Even though Wolfe County fell to Hazard in the quarterfinals of the 14th Region All ‘A’ Classic, the Wolves have entered the Mountain Top 10 for the first time this season. Prior to their loss to Hazard, Robert Creech’s squad won five in a row.
The Wolves have spearheaded by the junior duo of Jaz Johnson and Wilgus Tolson. Johnson is averaging 15.4 points per game while Tolson is producing 13.7 PPG. Johnson also leads the team in rebounding with 6.5 RPG. The schedule for this week looks to be favorable for the Wolves as they travel to Lee County on Tuesday followed by a tilt in Clay County with Oneida on Friday.
Here’s the first breakdown of the girls’ high school basketball season.
1. Southwestern (13-2)
Last Week: Defeated McCreary Central 75-38
This Week: at Wayne County, at Pulaski County
The Warriors are looking like a team that wants to make another deep run in the postseason. It has been a seamless transition for new head coach Junior Molden as Southwestern has maintained the top spot in the Mountain Top 10 all season long.
One of the big keys to Southwestern’s success has been shot selection and their ability to make their field goals. Last year’s state runners-up sit tenth in the state in field goal percentage, making 45.5% of their shots. Southwestern begin the first of four straight road games with a win over McCreary Central last week. They continue their road trip this week with a game at Wayne County on Tuesday followed by a contest with in-county rival Pulaski County on Friday.
2. North Laurel (13-1)
Last Week: Defeated Clay County 63-33, defeated Green County 77-54
This Week: at No. 7 Rockcastle County, vs. Jackson County, vs. Holy Cross (Covington) (Martin Luther King, Jr. Classic)
Southwestern may be the top-ranked team, but North Laurel is certainly not far behind. The Lady Jaguars have only one blemish on their record up to this point and that was a four-point loss to Southwestern in the Legacy Nissan Classic back in early December. Eddie Mahan’s team has put on an impressive display offensively as they have scored at least 60 points in all but two games and sit fourth in the state in scoring at 70.9 PPG. The Lady Jaguars also lead the state in free throw shooting, making 80.2 percent of their foul shots.
The Lady Jaguars will meet Rockcastle County in a Mountain Top 10 matchup on Tuesday followed by Jackson County on Friday. They will end their week in Winchester as they face off with Holy Cross out of Covington in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Classic on Saturday.
3. South Laurel (11-4)
Last Week: Lost to Casey County 66-63, defeated 79-43
This Week: at Corbin, vs. Dixie Heights
South Laurel won their second straight Mountain Classic back in December and have had a great season, but things took a turn for the worse when senior guard Ally Collett went down for the rest of the season with a partially torn PCL. Collett led the team in scoring with 20.4 PPG. The WKU commit was also ninth in the state in free throw shooting (85.6%). Still, the team should be in good hands with guards Amerah Steele and Sydnie Hall.
Steele, an EKU commit, is second on the team in scoring with 17.3 PPG while Hall, a Lindsey Wilson commit, is generating 12.6 PPG. Hall is also making 3.3 threes per game, good enough for seventh-best statewide. The Lady Cardinals are sixth in the state in scoring at 69.3 points per game.
Chris Souder’s squad will face district rival Corbin on Tuesday while battling the Dixie Heights Colonels on Saturday.
4. Bell County (13-1)
Last Week: Defeated Knox Central 65-45, defeated McCreary Central 63-42
This Week: at Leslie County, Kentucky 2A State Championship
One of the big surprises this season has been the stellar play of the Lady Bobcats. If not for a five-point loss to Johnson Central at the Peggy Moore Classic, David Teague’s squad would be undefeated. Bell County is led by Talyah McQueen. The freshman is averaging a double-double on the season with 15.8 points per game and 11.8 rebounds per game.
The Lady Bobcats do not stand out in a particular statistic but they have been taking care of business in the most important one and that’s the scoreboard. Bell County will make a trip to Hyden to take on Leslie County on Tuesday before heading out west for the Kentucky 2A State Championship. The Lady Bobcats' first opponent in the tournament will be Christian Academy out of Louisville on Friday, the team who take home the inaugural 2A title last season.
5. Pikeville (12-4)
Last Week: Defeated Magoffin County 64-21, defeated Jenkins 66-29, defeated Paintsville 56-22, defeated Jenkins 66-42, lost to Shelby Valley 58-48
This Week: vs. East Ridge, at Magoffin County
Kristy Orem’s team was finding their form as they rode a seven-game win streak into Sunday night’s 15th Region All ‘A’ Classic semifinal with Shelby Valley. However, the Lady Kats snapped the Lady Panthers' scintillating run.
Pikeville has really locked in on defense lately, holding their opponents to less than 50 points in six of their last eight games. Kirsten Cole-Williamson is putting up big numbers as the senior is producing 17.8 points per game and 10.1 rebounds per game.
The Lady Panthers will host East Ridge on Thursday before journeying to Salyersville for a battle with Magoffin County on Saturday.
6. Shelby Valley (11-5)
Last Week: Defeated Johnson Central 48-34, defeated Martin County 48-26, defeated Pikeville 58-48, defeated Phelps 61-45
This Week: vs. Scott (Martin Luther King, Jr. Classic)
The Lady Kats have climbed up the Mountain Top 10 ladder this week, moving up three spots from last week. A big reason for that is that Shelby Valley has now won four straight, including a payback victory over Pikeville in the 15th Region All ‘A’ Classic semifinal. Lonnie Rowe’s team capped off the tournament with a title over Phelps to book their spot in next week’s state All ‘A’ Tournament in Richmond.
Sophomore Alyssa Elswick is Shelby Valley’s leading scorer with 15.5 PPG and leading rebounder at 9.5 RPG. Like North Laurel, Shelby Valley will partake in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Classic on Saturday, squaring off with the Scott Lady Eagles out of Kenton County.
7. Rockcastle County (12-4)
Last Week: Defeated Anderson County 59-51, lost to Pulaski County 56-47
This Week: vs. No. 2 North Laurel, at Casey County, vs. Fleming County (Martin Luther King, Jr. Classic)
The Lady Rockets have started off the calendar year strong, having won three of their four games to begin 2020. Rockcastle County sits in the top ten in the state in free throw shooting (72.6%) and is in the top five in field goal percentage (48%). The Lady Rockets do not have a standout scorer but are balanced as their three leading scorers (junior Casey Coleman, senior McKenzi Himes and freshman Keelee King) average 11.6, 11.1 and 10.4 PPG.
Chrysti Noble’s squad will be challenged this week as the number two team in the Alice Lloyd Mountain Top 10 in North Laurel comes calling on Tuesday. The Lady Rockets will also face a Casey County team on Friday that has defeated Southwestern, South Laurel and Pulaski County already. Rockcastle County’s final game of the week is on Saturday against Fleming County in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Classic.
8. Letcher Central (12-5)
Last Week: Defeated June Buchanan 70-22
This Week: Defeated East Ridge 82-57, vs. No. 9 Knott Central, vs. Madison Southern
The Lady Cougars kept the status quo in this week’s poll. However, it is worth noting that Keith Baker’s team has not lost a game so far this decade as Letcher Central is 4-0 in 2020.
Letcher Central comes into this week having scored the ninth most points per game in the state at 66.8 PPG. The Lady Cougars have also held their opponents to less than 50 points in three of their last four games. Sophomore Kaylee Banks is the team’s leading scorer at 16.2 PPG.
Letcher Central started this week off with a lopsided victory over East Ridge but the competition should be a little tougher on Friday when they go head-to-head with the ninth team in the Mountain Top 10 in Knott Central. The Lady Cougars will also face Madison Southern on Saturday.
9. Knott Central (11-6)
Last Week: Defeated June Buchanan 75-32, defeated Lee County 67-19, defeated Buckhorn 63-32, defeated Leslie County 66-46
This Week: at Floyd Central, at No. 8 Letcher Central
The Lady Patriots are back in the Top 10 this week after dismantling the opposition on their way to a 14th Region All ‘A’ Classic Championship. Knott Central is hitting their three-point shots at a 35.4 percent clip, good enough for 13th best in the state. The Lady Patriots have three scorers that average slightly above 10 points per game.
Jeff Honeycutt’s squad is currently on a five-game win streak and will be looking to build their momentum going into next week’s action in Richmond as they face Floyd Central on Tuesday followed by a Mountain Top 10 tilt with number eight Letcher Central on Friday.
10. Martin County (9-5)
Last Week: Defeated Phelps 36-28, lost to Shelby Valley 48-26
This Week: Defeated Greenup County 52-34, vs. Betsy Layne, vs. Paintsville
The Lady Cardinals got off to a great start at 7-1, but have now lost four of their last six. Martin County’s calling card all season long has been their defense. Robin Newsome’s squad has yet to allow 60 points in a game this season and has only given up 50 points or more twice.
Things did not go to plan in the 15th Region All ‘A’ Classic for Martin County, but the Lady Cardinals handled Greenup County on Monday with an 18-point victory. The Lady Cardinals will play their next two at home as they go toe-to-toe with Betsy Layne on Tuesday followed by a tilt with Paintsville on Friday.