Boys Top Five
1. Harlan Co. (17-4 overall, 9-1 vs. 13th Region foes)
What’s the scoop: Before I get to writing about Harlan County, I’m going to say this is the hardest time I’ve ever had doing the Fear ‘Les’ 13th Region Rankings. You can throw four or five teams in the mix and make a strong case why they should be No. 1, but with that said, I’m staying with the Black Bears once again.
Surprise, surprise: Harlan County confuses me — a lot. The Black Bears are the most talented team in the 13th Region, but for some reason, I just don’t think the Black Bears will win it. It seems like they might have peaked a tad bit early, but we’ll see once postseason play rolls around.
What’s ahead: Harlan County will play Fleming County at Montgomery County Saturday before hosting Middlesboro in an important district matchup Monday.
2. Corbin (15-6, 9-3)
What’s the scoop: I had the Redhounds penciled in at the No. 1 spot, but that was before they dropped a 77-75 decision to South Laurel. Even with the loss, Corbin moves up a spot and deservedly so. The Redhounds have an impressive record against 13th Region teams.
Surprise, surprise: Corbin’s 77-75 double overtime loss to South Laurel Tuesday brought back memories of the battles the two teams had from 2006 through 2008. It was an exciting game, but neither team could get into the flow of things with a combined total of 45 fouls called along with two technicals while both teams combined to shoot 54 free throws.
What’s ahead: The Redhounds will be tested again today against Bell County on Log Mountain before traveling to play Pineville Friday. Corbin will be back in action at home Tuesday against Williamsburg.
3. Clay County (14-6, 6-2)
What’s the scoop: The Tigers seem to have righted the ship after dropping three straight games last week. Clay County is now winners of three straight with hopes of continuing its recent success.
Surprise, surprise: I’m starting to believe the way Tyler McDaniel and Marty Bowling play is the way Clay County goes. These two players are very important to the Tigers’ success.
What’s ahead: The Tigers host Perry Central and Pineville over the next five days.
4. Knox Central (12-8, 4-4)
What’s the scoop: The Panthers move up two spots and yes, I know this comes after dropping a pair of games last week. The key is the two teams Knox Central lost to are sitting at No. 1 and 2 in these rankings, so you can't really count those losses against them.
Surprise, surprise: Knox Central is still without the services of Matt Barger and that's one reason they've struggled as of late, but the play of guys like Jeffrey Adams and Chad Marsee has helped fill the void scoring-wise.
What’s ahead: Knox Central has a tall task in front of them against Johnson Central in the U.S. Energy Showcase Saturday, as well as a road game against Whitley County next Tuesday.
5. Middlesboro (12-7, 7-4)
What’s the scoop: The Yellow Jackets are winners of four straight, including wins over Barbourville and Pineville last week, and will represent the 13th Region in the Touchstone Energy All 'A' Classic starting today when they face Owen County.
Surprise, surprise: Middlesboro shocked a lot of people when they knocked off defending 13th Region All 'A' Champion Barbourville last week at Red Bird. If that wasn't enough, they beat Pineville in the championship game.
What’s ahead: The Yellow Jackets will face Owen County in their first round match-up at the All 'A' State Tournament starting tonight at 9 p.m.
The Best of the rest
No. 6 Jackson County (14-8, 7-2)
What’s the scoop: The Generals have won two straight and six of eight in January.
No. 7 South Laurel (8-11, 5-4)
What’s the scoop: The Cardinals picked up a huge win over Corbin Tuesday, winning 77-75 in double OT.
No. 8 North Laurel (10-11, 4-7)
What’s the scoop: The Jaguars have dropped three straight, but still have time to regroup.
No. 9 Barbourville (12-8, 7-4)
What’s the scoop: The Tigers fall four spots after losses to Middlesboro and Harlan over the past week.
No. 10 Pineville (12-8, 9-6)
What’s the scoop: The Mountain Lions drop two spots after a pair of losses last week.
Girls Top Five
1. Harlan Co. (19-3 overall, 10-1 vs. 13th Region foes)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Black Bears lost to a 13th Region foe for the first time this season when Bell County handed them a 52-47 loss. They managed to recover with a 54-40 win over Barbourville.
Surprise, surprise: The loss to the Lady Bobcats showed that Harlan County is not unbeatable when it comes to 13th Region foes. The fact Harlan County didn't hang their heads bodes well for the Lady Black Bears.
What’s ahead: Harlan County will host Whitley County Friday and will welcome Middlesboro to town on Monday.
2. Clay County (17-4, 5-3)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Tigers jump three spots thanks to wins over Scott County and Bell County last week. Overall, Clay County has won four straight since dropping a 57-56 decision to Corbin back on Jan. 14.
Surprise, surprise: The Lady Tigers picked up three wins during the Toyota Classic, knocking off Woodford County, Bourbon County and Scott County.
What’s ahead: The Lady Tigers will hit the road to face Lexington Catholic Saturday. The Lady Knights are 8-10 this season.
3. Whitley County (13-5, 6-1)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Colonels drop a spot after last week's home loss to South Laurel. The loss was the first time this season a 13th Region opponent had gotten the best of Larry Anderson's squad. Williamsburg also played within six points of the Lady Colonels Tuesday night (68-62).
Surprise, surprise: Larry Anderson's teams have been known to hit a dry spell in January and after starting the month at 2-2, it looks as though history may be repeating. The Lady Colonels will be tested as the month goes on as well, so there's plenty of time to improve on the court.
What’s ahead: Whitley County will travel to Harlan County Friday and host Knox Central Monday.
4. Corbin (16-7, 10-3)
What’s the scoop: Corbin drops a spot this week, despite being the winners of four straight, including wins over North Laurel and Knox Central last week. The Lady Redhounds cruised to a 62-22 win over North Laurel and got past Knox Central, 52-43.
Surprise, surprise: The Lady Redhounds continue to play well against 13th Region teams, improving to 10-3 on the season. This obviously bodes well for Jennifer Parsons' should they advance to the 13th Region Tournament.
What’s ahead: The Lady Redhounds will face an up-and-coming Lynn Camp team Friday and will host WIlliamsburg Monday in a 50th District contest. A win over Williamsburg will assure at least a tie for first place in the district seeding situation.
5. Bell County (17-4, 9-2)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Bobcats drop a spot after a 47-42 loss to Clay County at home. Prior to the loss, Bell County had won seven straight and are now 6-1 in the month of January. Despite dropping to No. 5, Bell County is still one of the teams to beat when it comes to the 13th region.
Surprise, surprise: Even though Bell County lost to the Lady Tigers, they showed they can play with the best teams in the region and should be in the mix when postseason play begins..
What’s ahead: Bell County will hit the road for a pair of games as they head to Jackson County Friday, before traveling to Harlan Monday. After that, five of their final six games are at home.
The Best of the rest
No. 6 South Laurel (9-10, 6-7)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Cardinals moved up one spot this week after wins over North Laurel and Whitley County last week. If they continue to improve, South Laurel will be a tough out in postseason play.
No. 7 Barbourville (14-7, 9-5)
What’s the scoop: Barbourville also drops a spot this week after losses to Harlan and Harlan County.
No. 8 Pineville (14-8, 10-6)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Mountain Lions hold their ground after picking up a pair of wins over OBI and Jackson County. Pineville lost in the first round of the All 'A' Classic to Newport Central Catholic Wednesday.
No. 9 Lynn Camp (16-6, 11-5)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Wildcats continue to play well. They recovered nicely from a three-game skid to win three straight over 13th Region opponents.
No. 10 Knox Central (10-10, 5-6)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Panthers stand their ground despite dropping three games last week. Knox Central has now dropped four straight and will look to recover this week with games against Nelson County and Pineville.