Coach: Mike Allen, fourth year (44-46)
Last season: 18-11 (lost to Scott County in district)
Top players: Jordan Henry (6-0 sr.), Marcellous Washington (6-2 sr.), Daquice Allen (6-0 sr.), Andre Davis (6-0 so.), C.J. Walker (5-11 jr.), Tim Dunn (6-2 so.). Deandre Dishman (6-3 so.), Tequan Claitt (6-3 jr.), Josh Owsley (6-1 jr.)
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Outlook: Bryan Station again doesn't have any tall or bulky low-post players, but Mike Allen no longer considers that a liability. Instead, he embraces his team's guard-stocked roster as "our identity, our brand." The Defenders will use quickness and athleticism to speed things up by applying defensive pressure, getting out in transition and creating their own mismatches.
Bryan Station's backcourt, led by veterans Daquice Allen, Henry and Washington, is its strength. "They're very battle-tested," Mike Allen said. Henry (8 ppg, 3 rpg, 3 apg last year) will run the point. Allen (6 ppg) and Washington (10 ppg) should be reliable scorers.
Walker (5 ppg), one of the state's top football receivers, also has experience. Claitt, another footballer, is athletic and tough enough to play anywhere on the court. Davis, Dishman, Dunn and Owsley will provide depth.
"We're not a traditional team," Allen said. "Sometimes we'll have five guards out there. We're not going to pound you or grind it out. We're going to try to create the tempo we like on both ends of the court."
Dec. 3—ROWAN CO.; 6—at Dunbar; 7—Owen Co. in Wierwille Classic at Berea College; 10—at Henry Clay; 12—at Tates Creek; 14—Frankfort in Farmers National Bank Classic at Mercer Co.; 19-22—Woodford Co. Invitational; 26-30—Republic Bank Holiday Classic at Lexington Catholic.
Jan. 4—Warren Central in New Years Classic at Central Hardin; 7—LAFAYETTE; 11—at Lincoln Co.; 14—HENRY CLAY; 17—at Scott Co.; 18—Wayne Co. in Coaches vs. Cancer at East Jessamine; 21—FRANKLIN CO.; 24—WOODFORD CO.; 27—at Sayre; 31—DUNBAR.
Feb. 3—SCOTT CO.; 4—at Paris; 5—MODEL; 11—at Lafayette; 13—TATES CREEK; 18—at Montgomery Co.
Coach: Daniel Brown, eighth year (165-110 overall)
Last season: 23-10 (lost to Madison Central in region semifinals)
Top players: Jordan Green (6-6, sr.), Jeremiah Tisdale (6-2 jr.), Campbell Setzer (5-8 sr.), Colby Barnes (6-3 jr.), Felix Wilson (6-0 jr.), Isaiah Tisdale (6-0 so.), David McCorvey (6-1 jr.), Alex Ricketts (6-3 jr.), Tariq Smith (6-6 jr.) Leander Ridgeway (6-2 so.), Jordan Houston (6-3 so.).
Outlook: Green, whom Brown considers the best player in the state, is Henry Clay's main man, especially after the transfers of Trey Grundy (Hargrave Military), Christen Cunningham (Cordia) and Teddy Ware (Scott County). Brown said those departures "opened the door for other talented players" to get major minutes. But Green (16 ppg, 6 rpg last year) will carry the load. A wing player who can score off the dribble or from the perimeter, Green is a tough matchup with his size and athleticism. He'll also be counted on to rebound. "He has to be the best player out there; he has to be in attack mode," Brown said. Green has 1,172 points and 505 rebounds in his career.
Jeremiah Tisdale (5 ppg, 4 rpg) is expected to blossom. "I think he's one of the better juniors in the state," Brown said. Wilson has "really improved tremendously," according to his coach. Setzer will be counted on as a spot shooter. McCorvey, Ricketts, Isaiah Tisdale (Jeremiah's brother), Ridgeway and Houston will get a chance to prove themselves. Barnes will bring his football toughness and athleticism to basketball.
Henry Clay's demanding schedule, made before three of its top players transferred, could make for a bumpy ride. But Brown said his team is "ready for the challenge and excited about the future."
BLUE DEVILS' SCHEDULE
Dec. 3—at Tates Creek; 6—Perry Central in Mr. Basketball Classic at Tates Creek; 7—Danville in Wierwillie Classic at Danville; 10—BRYAN STATION; 13—Henderson Co. in Kentucky Bank Shootout at Bourbon Co,; 14—Trinity in Hoops with Heart Classic at Frankfort Civic Center; 19-22—King of the Bluegrass at Fairdale; 26-30—Republic Bank Holiday Classic at Lexington Catholic.
Jan. 3—MOORE; 4—FRANKLIN CO.; 8—SAYRE; 10—SCOTT CO.; 11—at Woodford Co.; 14—at Bryan Station; 16—Dunbar in S.T. Roach Classic; 18—TATES CREEK in Al Prewitt Classic; 25—Hopkinsville in Joe B. Hall Classic at Montgomery Co.; 28—at Harrison Co.; 31—at Lafayette.
Feb. 4—MADISON CENTRAL; 7—at Scott Co.; 13—DUNBAR: 15—Montgomery Co. in Shoot for the Cure at Nicholas Co.; 18—LAFAYETTE.
Coach: Mike Mendenhall III, third year (29-30)
Last season: 16-11 (lost to Dunbar in district)
Top players: Jackson Davis (6-8 sr.), Lance Blakley (6-3 jr.), Dequise Robinson (5-11 sr.), Harrison Lane (5-11 soph.), Ross Jenkins (6-6 so.), William Watkins (6-1 so.), Taylor Hall (6-3 sr.), Lucky Jackson (6-1 jr.), Jaelin Jenkins (5-10 so.), Kevin Bottom (6-2 sr.), Chris Ashford (5-11 so.)
Outlook: Davis' Twitter account is Mr. Double_Double — he averaged 20 points and 11.5 rebounds last season. Davis has worked hard on improving his mid-range game and ballhandling. Mendenhall expects his senior star, already the leading scorer (1,619 points) in Lafayette history, to have another big year. "He's excited. He's challenging himself and his teammates. And he's happy to be back up there, mentioned among the best players in the state."
Davis has a solid supporting cast, led by Blakley (7 ppg), who's moved from point to wing, and ultra-quick Robinson (6 ppg), who will run the point. Lane, son of Transylvania coach Brian Lane, will be at shooting guard. Jenkins, whom Mendenhall calls "a rebounding machine," will give the Generals an inside presence. (Shon Wright, an experienced 6-6 junior, chose not to play this season.)
Lafayette's depth will be provided primarily by Jackson, a talented wide receiver in football, Hall and Watkins. While Davis, Blakley and Robinson are varsity veterans, everybody else is new to the rigors of the 11th Region. "We've got to throw them into the fire," Mendenhall said. "If they mature and are able to handle the transition, I think we've got a shot."
Dec. 6—MADISON CENTRAL; 10—DUNBAR; 13-15—Gonzaga Classic in Washington D.C.; 17—TATES CREEK; 19-23—King of the Bluegrass at Fairdale; 26-30—Republic Bank Holiday Classic at Lexington Catholic.
Jan. 7—at Bryan Station; 10—at Tates Creek; 14—at Lexington Catholic.; 17—LCA; 22-25—Toyota Classic at Scott Co.; 28—at Dunbar; 31—HENRY CLAY
Feb. 4—at Franklin Co.; 7—at LCA; 8—LEXINGTON CATHOLIC in Jock Sutherland Classic; 11—BRYAN STATION; 14—at Trinity; 18—at Henry Clay; 20—at Boyle Co.
Coach: Brandon Salsman, ninth year (243-103 overall)
Last season: 22-11 (lost to Madison Central in region finals)
Top players: Tanner Johnson (6-5 jr.), Jarod Griffin (6-2 jr.), Reese Ryan (6-3 jr.), Michael Talbott (5-10 jr.), Robert Dence (6-7 sr.), Walker Boothe (6-6 jr.), Donovan Morris (5-9 so.), Jared Pippen (6-1 sr.), Jordan Hatton (6-7 jr.), J.J. Ogbogu, (6-2 so.), Sam Letton (6-3 so.), Luke Johnson (6-2 fr.)
Outlook: Lexington Catholic took a big hit from graduation with the loss of all-state big man Jack Whitman. But don't feel sorry for the perennial region contending Knights. "The beautiful thing about our program is it's a program," Salsman said. "A lot of these guys have played together since second grade, so they know each other and they know our system."
Tanner Johnson (13.5 ppg, 5 rpg last year) and Griffin (7 ppg) will set the pace. Johnson is expected to be the most consistent scorer. "He has a great shot to have a big year," Salsman said. Griffin (7 ppg) hit 42 percent from three-point range and 79 percent from the foul line last season. Talbott is another veteran guard. Dence and Boothe will provide low-post scoring and rebounding. Pippen is a three-point threat.
Salsman expects Ryan, a star quarterback in football, to be the team's glue guy like last season. "Reese is our leader. He's always very even-keel," he said. "We can't be the team we hope to be without him." Morris, Letton, Ogbogu and Hatton will also transition from football to basketball.
Without a go-to scorer in the low post like Whitman, the Knights will return to their traditional pressing, up-and-down style.
Dec. 4—FRANKFORT; 7—at Cordia; 13—at North Hardin; 14—at Knott Central; 18-23—Fort Harrod Classic at Mercer Co; 26-30—REPUBLIC BANK HOLIDAY CLASSIC.
Jan. 3—TATES CREEK; 4—ST. LOUIS CHAMINADE IN GOODFELLAS PIZZERIA NATIONAL SHOOTOUT; 7—LCA; 10—at St. Henry 14—LAFAYETTE; 16—MASON CO.; 23—DUNBAR; 25—WESTERN HILLS; 30—at Tates Creek; 31—at Clay Co..
Feb. 4—at Dunbar; 8—at Lafayette in Jock Sutherland Classic; 11—MADISON CENTRAL; 13—at LCA; 15—at Scott Co.; 18—LINCOLN CO.; 21—at Wayne Co.
Coach: Brad Carter, second year
Last season: 11-17 (lost to Lexington Catholic in district)
Top players: Matt Rose (6-6 jr.), Drew Schacht (5-11 jr.), Michael Young (6-5 sr.), Drew Trimble (6-7 jr.), Benton Nighbert (6-4 jr.), Joe Davis (5-10 jr.), John Stein (5-10 jr.), Brad Calipari (6-1 jr.), Neil Rose (6-7, sr.), Trevor Hill (6-2 so.), Nick Whitman (6-3 jr.).
Outlook: LCA looks to have the shooting, size and depth to make it to the region tournament for the first time in school history.
Rose (12 ppg, 6 rpg last year) is the Eagles' best player. Tall and athletic, he can play inside or outside, even as a three-point threat. "His ballhandling is getting better, and he's learning to get his teammates involved when other teams are keying on him," Carter said.
Neil Rose, Matt's younger brother, is playing basketball for the first time in a couple of years. He gives LCA a big body (280 pounds) on the blocks. Young and Whitman (rehabbing a broken foot) will also help out inside.
The Eagles are especially well-stocked in the backcourt. Stein and Schacht (3 apg), who got varsity minutes last year, can play the point. So can Davis (7 ppg), a transfer from Clinton County. Hill (9 ppg), a transfer from Corbin, is a shooting guard, as is Calipari, son of UK Coach John Calipari. "We can go seven or eight guys deep with guys capable of knocking down multiple threes in a game," Carter said. "And I do feel we have an advantage on most teams in that we're two deep at every position. If there's any lack of effort, the bench can be a great equalizer."
LCA's ultimate success will depend on everybody buying into the team concept. "If we don't worry about who the man is on a given night, we should be pretty good," Carter said. "But if it's about getting our stats, we'll be an average basketball team."
Dec. 3—at Boyle Co.; 6—at Lou. Christian; 7—Green Co. (at LaRue Co.); 10—TATES CREEK; 12—at Scott Co. in Hiton Gardens Classic; 14—Shelby Valley in Hilton Gardes Classic at Scott Co.; 17—DUNBAR; 20—PARIS.
Jan. 2-4—at Rock Holiday Classic in Phoenix, AZ; 7—at Lexington Catholic; 10—at Dunbar; 11—at Campbell Co.; 14—WEST JESSAMINE; 17—at Lafayette; 18—at Shelby Co.; 21-25—All "A" region in Frankfort.
Feb. 7—LAFAYETTE in Central Bank Classic; 8—CLARK COUNTY in Central Bank Classic; 11—at Tates Creek; 13—LEXINGTON CATHOLIC; 15—at Franklin Co.; 20—WESTERN HILLS.
Coach: Scott Chalk, second year
Last season: 19-10 (lost to Henry Clay in first round of region)
Top players: Donnie Lewis (6-0 sr.), Troy Black (6-0 sr.), Vince Davis (6-4 sr.), Darius Williams (6-3 so.), Jeremy Ward (6-4 jr.), Kyle Clark (6-6 sr.), Jordan Hurst (6-2 sr.), P.J. Corio ( 6-0 jr.), Jordan Lewis (5-10 so.), 6-4 Dontell Brown (6-4 fr.), Taveion Hollingsworth (6-0 fr.), Vince Clark (5-10 so.)
Outlook: Dunbar had one of the most talented and physically imposing teams in the region last season. But after graduating such standouts as Mike Smith, Will Gary and E.J. Floreal, the Bulldogs have a lot of holes to fill. "It's going to take us a while to figure out what we've got," Chalk said. "We're an unknown quantity."
Donnie Lewis started at point guard the last half of last season. Black, Davis and Williams saw limited action. Those four will be counted on to provide most of the offensive punch, especially early on. Chalk said Williams' summer play established him as one of the top sophomores in the state. Hollingsworth and Brown are promising freshmen. "Taveion has a pure-looking shot and a great feel for the game," Chalk said. "Dontell has great hands and is going to be a good inside player."
Ward should be a good rebounder. Jordan Lewis (Donnie's brother) could see time at point. Corio and Vince Clark are good shooters. Kyle Clark and Hurst will be spot contributors.
Chalk thinks Dunbar could be better in transition than last year, but it'll take a while for the Bulldogs to figure out their identity. "We'll play 10 or 11 guys every game until we see what we've got and what combinations work," Chalk said.
Dec. 3—at Woodford Co.; 6—BRYAN STATION; 7—Cincinnati Princeton in Buckeye-Bluegrass Challenge at Holmes; 10—at Lafayette; 14—Medina, Ohio at Frankfort Civic Center; 17—at LCA; 20-22—Woodford Co. Invitational; 27-30—Gateway Holiday Classic at Montgomery Co.
Jan. 3—Hopkinsville in New Year's Bash at Muhlenberg Co.; 4—Owensboro in New Year's Bash at Muhlenberg Co.; 7—MADISON CENTRAL; 10—LCA; 14—TATES CREEK; 16—HENRY CLAY IN S.T. ROACH CLASSIC: 21—BOYLE CO.; 23—at Lexington Catholic; 28—LAFAYETTE 31—at Bryan Station.
Feb. 4—LEXINGTON CATHOLIC; 7—at Tates Creek; 8—Augusta in Jock Sutherland Classic at Lafayette; 11—at Madison Southern; 13—at Henry Clay; 18—at West Jessamine; 21—SCOTT CO.
Coach: Rob Goodman, first year
Last season: 8-17 (lost to Henry Clay in district)
Top players: Justin Sanders (6-2 sr.), Henry Wolf (6-4 sr.), Martin Durmov (6-3 sr.), Quinn Pergande (6-6 jr.), Jack Henderson (6-0 so.), Alex Webb (6-0 so.), Harrison Dunn (5-9 sr.), Augustine Zambrano (6-2 sr.)
Outlook: Goodman, a former Sayre player and assistant coach, returns home as head coach. "This is where I always wanted to be," he said. "I want more than anything to see Sayre School succeed." Goodman credits Ted Hall, his predecessor, for a group of well-coached returnees, notably Sanders, Wolf, Durmov and Pergrande.
Sanders (14 ppg, 6 rpg) is a proven point guard. "He's got the full package," Goodman said. "He can go by people, shoot jumpers and distribute the ball." Pergrande (8 ppg, 5 rpg) and Durmov (6 ppg, 5 rpg) are expected to ramp up their production. Webb will step into starting role for the first time. Pergrande and Wolf will be counted on inside. Durmov, Webb and Henderson all can score from the perimeter.
Depth is a concern, and Goodman thinks the Spartans must improve their ballhandling and defense to reach their potential. "But the thing we've stressed the most is toughness," he said.
The Spartans will need that toughness, especially in a district with Bryan Station, Henry Clay and Scott County.
"These guys know each other and care about each other," Goodman said. "Some of them have been through the battles and they're prepared to take on the challenges this season."
Dec. 3—ROSE HILL; 6—at Model; 7—at Boone Co.; 10—at Frankfort; 13—PARIS; 20—KY COUNTRY DAY; 28—at Ky. Country Day.
Jan. 4—at Berea; 8—at Henry Clay; 10—at Bath Co.; 11—MORGAN CO.; 13—at Menifee Co.; 16—SCOTT CO.; 18—LaRue Co.; 22—Berea; 27—BRYAN STATION; 28—BURGIN; 31—at Garrard Co.
Feb. 6—NICHOLAS CO.; 7—PENDLETON CO.; 11—WHITEFIELD ACADEMY; 13—WOLFE CO.; 15—ST. PATRICK; 18—at St. Francis.; 21—WESTERN HILLS.
Coach: Wayne Breeden, sixth year (249-120 overall)
Last season: 6-22 (lost to LCA in district)
Top players: Jordan Fucci (6-5 jr), Desmond Duke (6-1 jr.),Ian Davis (6-2 sr.), Alex Polus (6-1 sr.), Trey Sturdivant (6-1 jr.), Blake Rose (5-11 sr.), Tanner Hart (6-0 sr.), Isaiah Patterson (6-4 fr.), Max Sweet (5-8 jr.), Darius Barksdale (5-9 jr.)
Outlook: The Commodores hope for better times after last season when they didn't win a game between Christmas and February. Breeden likes what he's seen so far. "The kids are working hard and I like the way they're being a team, playing together and sharing the ball."
Fucci (12 ppg, 10 rpg) is the most productive returnee. A big-time baseball prospect, he has the size and fire to be a force on the court. "He's a man-child," Breeden said. "He'll be one of the top players in the region because he competes and plays hard." Dom Fucci, Jordan's father and Tates Creek's baseball coach, will be an assistant to Breeden this year. (Dom, a Tates Creek alum, was Kentucky's Mr. Basketball in 1975.)
Duke, grandson of former Dunbar Bearcat Bobby Washington (EKU, NBA), got valuable experience running the point last year. "He has the opportunity to be a real leader for us," Breeden said. Patterson is a promising freshman with good size (225 pounds).
Hart and Rose, who played as sophomores but not last year, are back on the court, and Breeden is impressed by their energy and competitiveness. Hart and Rose will be counted on to provide perimeter play. Davis, Polus and Sturdivant will see lots of time as complementary players.
"We're making progress," Breeden said. "If we continue to develop, we can be a team to reckon with by the post-season."
Dec. 3—HENRY CLAY; 7—Moore in Purple Cow Showcase at Thomas Nelson; 10—at LCA.; 12—BRYAN STATION; 14—Cov. Scott in Kentucky Bank Shootout at Bourbon Co.; 17—at Lafayette; 19-22—Woodford Co. Invitational; 26-28—Red River Classic at Powell Co.
Jan. 6—ST. HENRY; 10—LAFAYETTE; 11—SOUTH LAUREL; 14—at Dunbar; 18—Henry Clay in Al Prewitt Classic; 22—FRANKLIN CO.; 24—at North Laurel; 28—at Madison Central; 30—LEXINGTON CATHOLIC.
Feb. 4—MADISON SOUTHERN.; 7—DUNBAR; 11—LCA; 13—at Bryan Station; 18—WESTERN HILLS; 21—at Ryle.