CORBIN — By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
Boys Top Five
1. Harlan Co. (16-3 overall, 8-0 vs. 13th Region foes)
What’s the scoop: After dropping their first game in the WYMT Classic, the Black Bears responded well by grabbing two wins to finish fifth.
Surprise, surprise: Harlan County is the lone team in the 13th Region that is unbeaten against regional teams at 8-0. The Black Bears continued to distance themselves from the rest of the pack in the region by picking up its second win this season over defending 13th Region champion North Laurel this past week.
What’s ahead: Harlan County will hit the road Friday in an important 52nd District game against Bell County before hosting Knox Central in a 13th Region battle Tuesday.
2. Clay County (11-6, 3-2)
What’s the scoop: The Tigers didn’t do too well in the WYMT Classic by dropping two games in the tournament to Perry Central and Harlan County.
Surprise, surprise: Clay County is struggling offensively and it has shown during its past three games. The Tigers are averaging 47 points per game during the stretch, a far cry from their 67 points per game average before their struggles.
What’s ahead: Clay County will be tested Friday on the road against North Laurel in a key 49th District matchup. Both teams are struggling, but if the Tigers can pull off the win, they can end the Jaguars’ slim hopes of grabbing the district’s No. 1 seed.
3. Corbin (14-5, 8-2)
What’s the scoop: The Redhounds take over the No. 3 spot in the rankings and remain one of the best stories in the 13th Region this season. Not many people thought Corbin would be playing like they are and boy were those people wrong.
Surprise, surprise: What makes Corbin so hard to beat? Well first off, they are well-coached and secondly, this team has a lot of offensive weapons. Hunter Grubb has shown what he can do shooting the ball and Kaleb Maguet, Kevin Goins and Robbie Igo each have picked up their play, too.
What’s ahead: The Redhounds begin a key four-game road stretch Friday at Knox Central before playing against 50th District rival South Laurel on Tuesday.
4. Jackson County (12-7, 7-1)
What’s the scoop: The Generals drop a spot, but they remain a dangerous team. They posted a 2-0 record this past week and a lot of people might be scratching their heads wondering why I moved them? Well, Corbin has played a tougher schedule than Jackson County and I’m just not 100 percent sold on the Generals just yet.
Surprise, surprise: Four of Jackson County’s regional wins are against Class A teams, so I’m wanting to see what they can do against the likes of Harlan County, Knox Central and Corbin.
What’s ahead: Jackson County will be back in action today against Pineville in the semifinals of the 13th Region All ‘A’ Classic Tournament and if the Generals win, they’ll be in the title game on Friday. They will also host Buckhorn on Monday and Berea Tuesday.
5. Barbourville (12-6, 7-2)
What’s the scoop: The Tigers are on a roll. Never in a million years did I believe Barbourville would have 12 wins at this point of the season before the season started — just goes to show you how solid of a basketball program coach Dinky Phipps has.
Surprise, surprise: The Tigers are winners of six straight and hope to continue their dominance of the 13th Region All ‘A’ Tournament this week.
What’s ahead: Barbourville will play Middlesboro today in semifinal action of the 13th Region All ‘A’ Classic Tournament and if the Tigers win, they’ll play in the title game Friday.
The Best of the rest
No. 6 Knox Central (12-6, 4-2)
What’s the scoop: The Panthers have struggled at times, but picked up a big win against South Laurel.
No. 7 Pineville (11-6, 8-5)
What’s the scoop: The Mountain Lions drop a spot.
No. 8 South Laurel (7-9, 4-3)
What’s the scoop: The Cardinals’ inconsistent ways continued this past week.
No. 9 North Laurel (10-10, 4-6)
What’s the scoop: It’s not time to hit the panic button just yet. The Jaguars were 12-8 overall and 3-4 against 13th Region opponents at the 20-game mark last season and ended up winning the region.
No. 10 Bell County (7-10, 3-5)
What’s the scoop: The Bobcats split a pair of games this past week, which included a loss to South Laurel.
Girls Top Five
1. Harlan Co. (18-2 overall, 9-0 vs. 13th Region foes)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Black Bears only participated in one game this past week and saw their nine-game win streak fall to the wayside during the process after losing to Letcher Central, 47-41.
Surprise, surprise: The loss to the Lady Cougars turned out to be Harlan County’s first to an in-state team this season. Coach Anthony Nolan has done a fantastic job with the Lady Black Bears this season.
What’s ahead: Harlan County will travel to play Bell County in an important 52nd District matchup Friday before hosting Barbourville Monday.
2. Whitley County (12-4, 5-0)
What’s the scoop: Injuries haven’t slowed the Lady Colonels down. Whitley County picked up a big 76-67 50th District win over Corbin this past week, which keeps the Lady Colonels in the driver’s seat for the district’s top seed.
Surprise, surprise: Junior guard Brandi Smith turned in a 33-point scoring effort against the Lady Redhounds. Smith continues to be one of the top players in the 13th Region.
What’s ahead: Whitley County will host South Laurel Friday and be back in action at home again Tuesday against Williamsburg.
3. Corbin (14-7, 8-3)
What’s the scoop: This is the highest the Lady Redhounds have been ranked since the 2005-06 season. Coach Jennifer Parsons has done a fantastic job with this year’s group of Lady Redhounds and they just continue to surprise everyone with their solid play.
Surprise, surprise: Corbin snapped an 18-game losing skid to 13th Region foe Clay County this past Monday by picking up an impressive 57-56 win. The last time the Lady Redhounds had beaten the Lady Tigers came back on March 8, 1999, during semifinal action of the 13th Region Tournament. Parsons’ squad remains one of the most dangerous teams in the 13th Region and could very well win the regional title.
What’s ahead: Corbin will host struggling North Laurel Friday before hitting the road Tuesday against Knox Central.
4. Bell County (16-3, 8-1)
What’s the scoop: Corbin jumps over the Lady Bobcats even though Bell County owns a 77-55 win over the Lady Redhounds along with a 78-45 victory. So how can I explain that? It’s simple, Corbin is playing better right now.
Surprise, surprise: Bell County continues to be one of the best teams in the 13th Region, though. Maci Morris recorded another double-double the other day against Williamsburg while continuing to show she’s the best player in the region.
What’s ahead: The Lady Bobcats have an important 52nd District game at home against Harlan County Friday and they’ll be back in action again Monday at home against Clay County. If Bell County can win both games, they’ll move up in the rankings for sure.
5. Clay County (13-4, 4-3)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Tigers entered this season with only two losses to regional teams dating back to the 2005-06 campaign — they’ve already got three after losing to Corbin this past Monday. Yep, things aren’t looking good for the four-time defending regional champions.
Surprise, surprise: Even though Clay County has struggled against teams that has put defensive pressure on their guards, the Lady Tigers remain a dangerous team. The inside duo of Morgan Chestnut and Cheyenne Madden is one of the best in the state.
What’s ahead: Clay County will play today in the Toyota Classic. The Lady Tigers will square-off against Woodford County and will play Bourbon County on Friday. The Lady Tigers play Scott County Saturday before their road game against Bell County on Monday — that’s four games in five days.
The Best of the rest
No. 6 Barbourville (13-5, 8-3)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Tigers move back into the No. 5 spot after the Lynn Camp Lady Wildcats’ recent struggles. Barbourville rebounded from last week’s loss to Lynn Camp by defeating Knox Central with ease, 72-47.
No. 7 South Laurel (8-10, 5-7)
What’s the scoop: To be honest, after the top six, I’m having a hard time ranking the teams. You can make a case for many of the teams in the region for this spot, but for now, I’m going with the Lady Cardinals. They were riding a three-game losing skid before beating North Laurel this past week, 77-42.
No. 8 Pineville (13-7, 9-6)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Mountain Lions move up a spot after capturing the 13th Region All ‘A’ Classic Tournament this past week in a double overtime thriller against Lynn Camp. Coach Matt Schafer has done a great job with this team.
No. 9 Lynn Camp (13-6, 8-5)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Wildcats were just a couple of seconds away from capturing their first-ever 13th Region championship, but fell just short, losing to Pineville in double overtime. Lynn Camp is now riding a three-game losing skid, but should be able to end it today against Oneida Baptist.
No. 10 Knox Central (10-7, 5-4)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Panthers picked up a big win against Lynn Camp this past week, but followed it up with a disappointing loss to Barbourville.