The Ashland Beacon
Head Coach: Ryan Bonner (1st)
Season Ended: Sweet 16 Opening Round (76-65 Covington Catholic)
Key Returning Players: Zander Carter, Tucker Conway, Asher Adkins, Tristin Davis
It's no secret that Ashland’s four-year dominance over the 16th Region may be coming to a halt this season after a huge hit to the program after the departures of Colin Porter, Cole Villers and Ethan Sellars due to graduation. Toss in the loss of coach Jason Mays who was released by the school due to recruiting violations which leaves the Tomcats searching for a whole new identity.
With the loss of the above-mentioned players, Ashland finds itself looking for nearly 50 of the Tomcats 77.2 points a game from last season. Zander Carter’s 10.5 points a game is best of the returners for the Tomcats. Tucker Conway and Asher Adkins will see expanded roles this season after netting 8.2 and 6.4 points a game, respectively. Conway led the Tomcats from downtown, shooting 55.4% (72-130).
Ashland adds a familiar name from the 64th District in Rheyce Deboard who transferred from Boyd County during the summer. Deboard averaged 16 points a game for the Lions while shooting 42.1% from the field as the point guard for the Lions.
Although new head Coach Ryan Bonner knows the program well after spending several years as an assistant, this will be his first go as the bench boss with only two weeks of prep before Ashland opens the season at home against Ironton St. Joe on Dec. 2. Regardless of how the season starts or ends, Ashland will be tested early and often with a matchup against Great Crossing on Dec. 3 in the Jersey Mike’s Classic, defending State Champion GRC on Dec. 10 in the Boyd County Roundball Classic and Simon Kenton in the opening round of the AIT on Dec. 28.
With challenges around every corner, Ashland is assured of one of its most challenging seasons since taking the region by storm four years ago. However, do not discard the Tomcats ability to score the basketball, rather expect new faces to become nighty names for this season’s program.
Head Coach: Randy Anderson (13th)
Season Ended: Region Championship (84-52 Ashland)
Key Returning Players: Jacob Spurlock, Jason Ellis, Cole Hicks, Griffin Taylor
With four of the eight Lions losses coming to Ashland last season, it's safe to say they are ready to regain control of the 64th District after playing second fiddle to the four-time defending champs. With a large nucleus of players returning from last season, Boyd County looks poised to make a run at a district crown while hoping to chase down a region title over a field that offers as many as five teams that could represent the 16th Region in Lexington.
Jacob Spurlock returns as the leading scorer for the Lions after Rheyce Deboard transferred to Ashland. Spurlock netted 12 points a game as an eighth grader while shooting nearly 39% from the field. Jason Ellis was close behind with 11.4 points and 9.1 rebounds a game. Cole Hicks kicked in 8.4 points a game. Griffin Taylor worked in 29 of the 31 Lions contests while kicking in 4.2 points a night and shooting 55.8% from the field.
Boyd County gets its district tilts underway early in the season with a pair of home contests against Fairview and Ashland on Dec. 8 and 13, respectively. The Lions open the season on the road at Rowan County on Dec. 1 and meets up with Central Hardin at Rowan County in the Stock Yard Bank & Trust Challenge on Dec. 17.
Boyd County will have to learn how to deal with life on the road in the final month of the regular season with five of the Lions final six contests away from the friendly confines of Cannonsburg. Although the Lions roster only has 10 players this season, the expectation will be for the starting five to carry the Lions deep into the postseason.
Head Coach: Clarence Thompson
Season Ended: Open Round 64th District Tournament (96-57 Boyd)
Key Returning Players: Steven Day, Tamel Smith, Tanner Johnson
Jaxon Manning led Fairview as one of the top players in the 16th Region last season. Manning netted 22.2 a night, shot 52.7% from the field, 73.8% from the charity stripe and led the Eagles with 5.6 rebounds a game. With Manning gone and a new head coach in Westwood, Fairview has to look for more from its returning starters while hoping for an added spark from its youthful roster.
Steven Day, Tanner Johnson and Tamel Smith will anchor the Eagles this season. Day netted 12.8 points and grabbed 5.6 rebounds. Johnson added 11.9 points to round out double-digit scorers. Smith kicked in 4.4 a game.
Fairview has a steady flow of games prior to Christmas before heading to Pendleton County and the Fuller Ford Phillip Wood Classic on Dec. 27 & 28. The Eagles heads to Menifee County on Jan. 9 for the All “A” Classic. Fairview opens the season with a pair of home contests with visits from Greenup County and West Carter on Nov. 29 and Dec. 1.
Head Coach: Charles Wilcoxen (2nd)
Season Ended: Opening Round 64th District (93-31 Ashland)
Key Returning Players: Christian Blevins, Collin Wilburn, Benton Rucker
Rose Hill will be looking for a significant influx of scoring after losing Chase Pennington to graduation and Luke Pennington transferring to Russell. Chase led the Royals with 15.3 points and 7.8 rebounds a game while Luke kicked in 8.6 points. However, Rose Hill returns Christian Blevins who was the only other player to finish in double-digit scoring for the Royals at 11.3 a night. Collin Wilburn added six points a contest.
Benton Rucker scored only 2.6 points a game but led the Royals from the field, shooting 42.6% (29-68). Blevins paced the starters from the charity stripe with a 79% clip (49-62).
Rose Hill travels to Berea before Christmas for the Berea Holiday Classic for a three-game event. The Royals meet up with West Carter in the All “A” Classic at Menifee County on Jan. 7. Rose Hill plays four of its first six games at home, opening with East Carter on the road on Nov. 29 before welcoming Robertson County Dec. 2.
Head Coach: Joe Bryan (2nd)
Season Ended: Opening Round 16th Region Tournament (46-20 Rowan)
Key Returning Players: Jacob Gauze, Landyn Newman
Although things went sideways after the Rams reached the regional tournament, Joe Bryan has to feel positive about his team’s upcoming campaign. However, Bryan has a significant challenge to overcome to open the season with his two leading scorers of Andrew Floyd and Kyle Broughton exiting due to graduation. The duo combined for 28 of the Rams 58 point average an outing last season leaving plenty of scoring opportunities for the new faces in the program.
Raceland will play through its big man of Jacob Gauze who nearly averaged a double-double last season. Gauze netted nine points and grabbed 8.3 rebounds a game. Landyn Newman provided a spark from the guard position late in the season but due to the Rams football team playing deep into the state playoffs, could miss the first week or two of the season. This is the case for four of the 10 players rostered by the Rams this season. Holden Topping and Connor Thacker will work in expanded roles this season.
Raceland opens the season with a visit from Pendleton County on Dec. 3 followed by a pair of road trips to Lawrence County and Spring Valley. Raceland will play host to the Derby Classic on Dec. 19 and 20 with a field including Russell, West Carter and Paris. The Rams face Elliott County to open the All “A” Classic on Jan. 7 at Menifee County. All six of the Rams district tilts come after the turn of the new year with a trip to Lewis County on Jan. 17.
Head Coach: Derek Cooksey (2nd)
Season Ended: Opening Round 16th Region Tournament (67-52 Bath)
Key Returning Players: Carson Blum, Damon Charles, Caleb Rimmer
Every coach but Derek Cooksey was happy to see Brady Bell graduate from Russell last season. Afterall, Bell torched the region for an average of 25.3 a night while grabbing seven rebounds. But Bell was not the only loss for the Devils who lost their top four scorers from a year ago. Griffin Downs had 9.1 points a game while Carson Patrick added 7.8. Bradley Rose netted 6.1 points while snagging a team high 7.1 rebounds.
Carson Blum returns at the point for the Devils, averaging 3.7 points a game. Damon Charles and Caleb Rimmer chipped in 3.8 and 2.8 points a game, respectively. Rimmer shot 54.1% from the field as a seventh grader. Luke Pennington joins the Devils after transferring in from Rose Hill after averaging 8.6 points a contest.
Russell opens the season at home against Martin County followed by a visit from Rowan County on Dec. 3 in the EKC tournament. Russell heads to Mason County on Dec. 10 in the Mike Murphy Classic and plays West Carter on Dec. 19 in the opening round of the Raceland Derby Classic. The Devils head to the Smokies after Christmas for a three-day event before returning home for a three-game homestand to start the new year with visits from East Carter, Lewis County and Morgan County.
Head Coach: Corey Allison (1st)
Season Ended: Opening Round 63rd District Tournament (53-50 Raceland)
Key Returning Players: Eli Adkins, Beau Barker, Cohen Underwood, Carson Wireman
Beating a team three times in a season is one of the most difficult tasks to achieve and that is where Greenup County found itself last season when the Musketeers went up against Raceland in the district tournament. Unfortunately for the Musketeers, they came up short in the district tournament, falling 53-50.
Now the Musketeers must find a way to move forward with the loss of leading scoring Trenton Hannah and point guard Boone Gibson. Hannah averaged 13.5 a game and was a threat for a double-double every night. Gibson added 6.1 a night while leading the team with 6.5 rebounds. Greenup County does return Carson Wireman who was the only other player in double figures each night with 10.6. Wireman shot 33.1% from downtown and led the Musketeers in field goals attempted with 241.
Eli Adkins will see an expanded role this season after appearing in all but one game for the Musketeers while averaging 6.1 points a game. Beau Barker also returns to the mix with 6.7 a contest last season.
Greenup County opens the season on the road at Fairview and Rock Hill on Dec. 3 but then does not play outside the Greenhouse until heading to Charleston, SC and the Carolina Invitational after Christmas. The Musketeers first district tilt comes on Jan. 13 in a visit from Russell.
For the first time in nearly 40 years, Holy Family will have a boys basketball team. The Irish will not compete in a conference or league but will be an Independent team made up of homeschool players and players that didn’t make their high school team. They will play a full season with 24 games against high school and college JV teams.
Holy Family compiled a winning record of 696-626 from 1921-86 including two district championships and two 16th Region runner-ups in 1971 and 1980. The Irish defeated Ashland in the 1980 64th District finals, giving preseason No. 1 Ashland its first loss to a region opponent in five seasons.
Holy Family won their first three games of the season against Ignite 78-20, Adams County Christian 84-18 and St. Joe Central 65-60. The Irish will host Rose Hill in an exhibition game on December 1.