Boys’ Basketball Preview
Head Coach: Ryan Bonner (2nd)
Season Ended: Sweet 16 Quarterfinals (64-48 Warren Central)
Key Returning Players: Zander Carter, Asher Adkins, Nate Freize
Ashland avenged a district championship loss to Boyd County in the best possible way last.
Win the region.
Ashland rolled past Boyd for their fourth consecutive regional title to put closure to a season that was riddled with controversy and a coaching change just before the season began. Ryan Bonner—an assistant to Jason Mays—earned the nod for the Tomcats and was able to pick up and led the Tomcats to another successful title defense.
Although Ashland returns leading scorer Zander Carter, 22.2 points a game, several key contributors are gone. Point guard Rheyce Deboard and his 17.4 points a night are gone along with Tristin Davis (7.9ppg) and Tucker Conway (8.3), leaving the Tomcats in search of production from the ranks of JV.
Cam Davis will get the nod at point guard for the Tomcats and will work as the facilitator for the offense. Asher Adkins returns from last year with a 5.8ppg average and Nate Frieze will be called on to anchor the post. Braxton Jennings and Tyson Lalonde will see expanded roles after working well off the bench last year with both shooting north of 40% from downtown.
Ashland will be the road warriors most of December with only one home game prior to the AIT after Christmas. Ashland visits Pikeville and Campbell County before the AIT, opens with Ohio County in the AIT on Dec. 28 and a trip to Corbin on Jan. 6 in the Tim Short Auto of Corbin Classic.
Ashland welcomes Boyd County on Jan. 9 before heading to Madison Southern and Madison Central on the 12th and 13th. Ashland entertains Russell on the 22nd, Morgan on the 23rd, Covington Catholic on the 27th and George Washington on the 30th. The Tomcats visit Boyd on Feb. 2 and meets North Laurel at Lexington Christian in the Prep Spin Classic. Ashland closes the season with six road games before returning home against Great Crossing on Feb. 17.
Head Coach: Randy Anderson (13th)
Season Ended: Region Championship (73-51 Ashland)
Key Returning Players: Jacob Spurlock, Jason Ellis, Cole Hicks, Griffin Taylor, Rhett Holbrook, Alex Martin
It's no secret last season was a disappointing ending for Boyd County after falling to Ashland in the regional championship game. But the Lions are ready to make a run for the title this year with another loaded roster that is ready to light up a scoreboard.
Randy Anderson has a good problem to have as a head coach with more offensive playmakers than he can put on the floor at once led by Jacob Spurlock. As a freshman, Spurlock led the Lions with 19.8 points a game, had 5.6 rebounds, shot 80% from the charity strip and shot 40.1% from downtown with 120 made 3s. Cole Hicks was the second primary scorer for the Lions with 17.8 a game with 95 made triples.
Jason Ellis is a beast in the post with 12.2 points and team-leading 8.6 rebounds a game and has the ability to be a double-double any given night. Adding to the mix for Boyd is Griffin Taylor (8.4ppg), Rhett Holbrook (9.1ppg) and Alex Martin (6.7ppg). Boyd will get offensive support from Drew Smith, Degan Jones and Ethan Rardon.
Boyd features a challenging schedule this season with a tandem 62nd District showdown against Morgan and East Carter in the Roundball Classic on Dec. 8th and 9th. Boyd heads to Rowan County Dec. 14-16 with games against Rowan, Capital, WV and George Washington in the Stock Yards Bank & Trust Challenge. Three games follow in the Pikeville Invitational Dec. 20-22 against Pike County Central, Bath County and Pikeville.
Boyd opens district play at Ashland on Jan. 9 followed by a visit by Fairview on Jan. 23. Ashland visits Boyd on Feb. 2. Five of the final six games for the Lions are on the road, with trips to Russell, Greenup, Perry County Central, Fleming and Harlan County before closing the season against Johnson Central at home.
Head Coach: Clarence Thompson (2nd)
Season Ended: Open Round 64th District Tournament (108-69 Boyd)
Key Returning Players: Steven Day, Tamel Smith
Clarence Thompson had big aspirations for turning around a Fairview program that has struggled to be competitive for many seasons. But a roller coaster of a season left the Eagles having to string together four wins out of six games just to get to .500 before heading into the district tournament. But the Eagles were no match for Boyd County after the Lions eclipsed the century mark for the third time in as many meetings.
While the Eagles depart leading scorer Tanner Johnson and his 21.1 points a game, Steven Day returns with his 18 points and 7.8 rebounds a game from last season. Day was a warrior in the pain and shot 51.9% from the field while leading the Eagles from downtown with a 45.2% clip. Tamel Smith kicked in 11.4 points a game while leading the team with 69 made 3s.
Roman Mayes, Aiden Daily and Tanner Reihs will look to be contributors this season. Mayes only appeared in four contests last season, Reihs was a regular off the bench and Daily did not play.
Fairview has a busy schedule around Christmas with three games at Graves County in the Best in Hoops followed by a trip to Pineville after Christmas in the Chain Rock Classic. Fairview opens district play with a visit from Ashland on Dec. 15. They meet Menifee County on Jan. 6 in the All “A” Classic followed by a visit to Boyd on Jan. 24. The Eagles close with five of their final six games in Westwood with visits from Lawrence, Russell, Johnson Central, Adams County Christian and Raceland.
Head Coach: Ryan Whetsel (1st)
Season Ended: Opening Round 64th District (89-31 Ashland)
Key Returning Players: Christian Blevins, Collin Wilburn
Rose Hill welcomes Ryan Whetsel as its new head coach with hopes of building a competitive program against comparable sized schools.
Whetsel inherits both returning leading scorers in Christian Blevins and Collin Wilburn while trying to add a couple new faces to the mix. Blevins paced the Royals with 18.5 points a game while Wilburn kicked in 14 points and a team-high 6.3 rebounds.
The Royals will add Bryant Stephens, Dylan Blevins, Alex Boss and Allan Boss to the mix.
The Royals will maintain status in the 64th District but will only play Fairview in the regular season. They are scheduled to meet Raceland in the All “A” Classic on Jan. 6.
Head Coach: Joe Bryan (3rd)
Season Ended: Opening Round District Tournament (61-45 Russell)
Key Returning Players: Christian Large, Connor Thacker
Raceland had a good season going leading into the All “A” Classic. The Rams 10th win over the season gave them the 16th Region All “A” championship but it would not be a snapshot of what was to come. Raceland managed only three wins the rest of the way including eight of nine and five of the final six.
But the Rams return a good collection of its scoring led by Christian Large and Connor Thacker with the duo combining for nearly 27 points a game. Large led the Rams with 15.6 a night and Thacker poured in 10.7 while leading the Rams on the glass with 6.8 rebounds. Jonah Arnett kicked in 8.4 a night as an eighth grader but will be a late addition to the team this year as the football team made another run to Kroger Field and the State Championship.
Raceland will lean on Conner Sutton in the post and Holden Topping at the point. Sutton returned from a knee injury last season and netted 4.4 points and grabbed 3.5 rebounds in his 15 contests. Topping added 4 points while sharing the point duties last season but as a senior will be the man at the helm of the Rams offense. Jacob Waller will share the duties with Topping at point.
Raceland will work with a rotation of Gavin Vanlandingham, Eli Cains and Reece Hicks off the bench. Parker Ison will join the group from football as well.
Raceland will meet Lawrence County on Dec. 9 in the Roundball Classic. They travel to Pineville after Christmas for the Chain Rock Classic over a three-day even. Raceland opens their title defense of the All “A” against Rose Hill on Jan. 6 and follows with their district opener with Greenup at home on the 16th followed by Russell on the 19th. Raceland closes the season with visits from Morgan and Nicholas County on Feb. 15 and 17, respectively followed by trips to Fairview and Lawrence on the 21st and 22nd.
Head Coach: Derek Cooksey (3rd)
Season Ended: Semifinals 16th Region Tournament (89-65 Ashland)
Key Returning Players: Caleb Rimmer, Noah Quinn, Elijah Neel
Russell was a powerhouse that found out why winning in Vanceburg is so difficult.
Russell was upended by Lewis County, 66-50 in the district championship after winning both regular season matchups, which left the Devils with an unfavorable draw in the regional round that forced them into a matchup with eventual and three-time defending champion, Ashland.
Now the Devils must reset with a mixture of youth and veterans in hopes of becoming one of the top teams in the region. Caleb Rimmer and Elijah Neel played well above their age last season and will be expected to lead the Russell offense. Rimmer netted 10.2 points a game and grabbed 7.1 rebounds while Neel kicked in 6.4 a night. Quinn will also see an expanded role as a starter after scoring 2.1 a night.
Tatum Fleming will become a starter for the Devils and a key component to their post play after scoring only 2.6 a game. Gabe Pridemore will see expanded roles this season along with Quentin Hewlett, Joe Kaczmarcyk and Tyler Cordial.
Russell meets Pikeville in the Roundball Classic on Dec. 9 and plays Spring Valley in the Ironton Classic on Dec. 22. The Devils travel to Estill County Dec. 28-30 for the Railroad Classic with their opener scheduled against Newport Central Catholic. District play begins with a trip to Lewis on Jan. 5, a visit from Greenup on the 12th and Raceland on the 19th. Russell closes out the season with an alternating away and home rotation with Fairview, Bath County, East Carter and Rowan County.
Head Coach: Corey Allison (2nd)
Season Ended: Opening Round 63rd District Tournament (57-53 Lewis)
Key Returning Players: Cohen Underwood, Eli Adkins, Bryson Chandley, Kasey Gammon
Greenup County was as dangerous of a team as there was at times last year with a strong second half of the season after rookie head coach Corey Allison’s system started to roll. But with things rolling as the season ticked away, losses to Raceland and Montgomery County left the Musketeers looking for some answers. That trend continued into the district tournament with a loss to Lewis County that would end the season.
Greenup had only one double-digit scorer last season in Carson Wireman who departs the team. Cohen Underwood and Eli Adkins will be the offensive catalyst this season after being a big part of the Musketeers scoring last year. Underwood netted 9.8 a game and Adkins added 9.6. Underwood led the Musketeers on the glass with 4.7 rebounds, but it was their Achilles heel with only 23.3 a game.
Kasey Gammon and Bryson Chandley will look to expand on their roles from last season. Chandley added 6.3 a game and Gammon kicked in 5.9 while leading Greenup from downtown with a 41.2% clip. Bradley Adkins will work in the mix as well.
Greenup battles Estill County on Dec. 15 in the Kentucky 2A Sectional and travels to Charleston, SC after Christmas for the Carolina Invitational. Greenup opens district play on Jan. 12 with a trip to Russell followed by at Raceland on the 16th and a visit from Lewis on the 19th. Greenup closes the season with visits from Raceland on Feb 6. and Boyd on the 8th. They end the year on the road at Lewis on Feb. 15 and West on the 20th.