Boys Top Five
1. Harlan Co. (3-0 overall, 1-0 vs. 13th Region foes)
What’s the scoop: The Black Bears are making some noise early in the season while showing everyone in the region why they are considered the team to beat.
Surprise, surprise: The Black Bears are winning because of solid defensive play. They’ve only allowed an average of 43 points a game during their three games this season and forced Lee, Va. into 40 turnovers during their 76-38 win on Tuesday.
What’s ahead: The Black Bears will hit the road Friday and face-off against 52nd District rival Middlesboro. The last time these two teams met the Yellow Jackets came away with the upset win during the 52nd District title game. Harlan County will have another tough game at home Wednesday against defending 13th Region champion North Laurel.
2. North Laurel (2-0, 2-0)
What’s the scoop: So far, so good for the Jaguars playing without the services of Jake Allen, who is out with an injury. North Laurel struggled a bit against Harlan, but responded with an easy win over O.B.I.
Surprise, surprise: Eighth grader Peyton Broughton has scored in double figures both times for North Laurel and will be expected to step up again today against Jackson County and Wednesday against Harlan County. Seniors Kendrick Henson, Marcus Carson and Austin Rush have turned in solid efforts during the Jaguars’ first two games.
What’s ahead: The Jaguars have a big game at home today against 49th District rival Jackson County and will be back in action Saturday in the Whitaker Bank Cougar Classic against East Ride. Then comes a road game at Rockcastle County Tuesday and a road game against Harlan County Wednesday.
3. Clay County (3-0, 1-0)
What’s the scoop: The Tigers are out-muscling teams right now with their size and rebounding skills. This team might be better than what many expected before the season began.
Surprise, surprise: Sophomore guard Tyler McDaniel is running the offense quite impressively along with scoring much-needed points for his team. His 19-point effort against Corbin Tuesday paid big dividends during Clay County’s six-point win.
What’s ahead: The Tigers host Holy Cross in the Bobby Keith Classic on Saturday and Boyle County Tuesday.
4. Knox Central (3-0, 1-0)
What’s the scoop: The Panthers are quietly putting together a solid start to the season despite fielding a rather young squad at times.
Surprise, surprise: Sophomore guard Matthew Barger has scored 50 points during Knox Central’s past two games while Jeffrey Adams and Chad Marsee are putting up big numbers, too.
What’s ahead: Knox Central will travel to play Boyle County Friday before taking a five-day break of playing some games.
5. Corbin (2-1, 0-1)
What’s the scoop: The Redhounds came very close to knocking off Clay County at home Tuesday before falling, 72-66. Corbin held a slim one-point lead (53-52) going into the fourth quarter before seeing the Tigers rally to pick up the win.
Surprise, surprise: Zack Farley has been a big reason the Redhounds have surprised so far this season and this team looks to get stronger with players such as Hunter Grubb, Robbie Igo, Kaleb Maguet and Trevor Hill turning in impressive minutes.
What’s ahead: Corbin will host Lynn Camp today and Jellico, Tenn. Friday. They’ll be back at home Tuesday against 50th District rival South Laurel.
The Best of the Rest
No. 6 Middlesboro (3-0, 2-0)
What’s the scoop: The Yellow Jackets have surprised so far with Austin Poindexter leading the way.
No. 7 Jackson County (3-0, 1-0)
What’s the scoop: We will see just how good the Generals are today when they hit the road to play North Laurel in a key 49th District contest.
No. 8 Pineville (3-2, 2-2)
What’s the scoop: The Mountain Lions have been very inconsistent so far this season.
No. 9 Williamsburg (1-0, 1-0)
What’s the scoop: If the Yellow Jackets shoot the ball like they did against Lynn Camp, they’ll be hard to beat, but they’re going to need Andrew Griffith in the line-up soon.
No. 10 South Laurel (0-3, 0-0)
What’s the scoop: The Cardinals are hoping to gain some momentum this week against Whitley County.
Girls Top Five
1. Clay Co. (2-0 overall, 1-0 vs. 13th Region foes)
What’s the scoop: I’ll say this until Clay County gets beat — the Lady Tigers will remain No. 1 until someone defeats them. I know everyone gets tired of my repetitive theme for Clay County, but it’s simple — they are 106-2 against 13th Region opponents dating back to the 2005-06 season and the Lady Tigers are winners of 61 straight against 13th Region opponents.
Surprise, surprise: It seems as if it doesn’t matter who Clay County graduates because all they do is win. Through two games this season the inside duo of Cheyenne Madden and Morgan Chesnut have been unstoppable. Madden is averaging 24 points and 10.5 rebounds per game while Chesnut is scoring 14 points per game while grabbing 5.5 rebounds a contest.
What’s ahead: The Lady Tigers have a big showdown Monday at home against Whitley County. The Lady Colonels and South Laurel are the lone two 13th Region teams to have beaten Clay County since the 2005-06 season.
2. Whitley County (3-0, 2-0)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Colonels are getting healthy at the right time. Kandace Craig came back during Tuesday’s win over South Laurel and scored five points during the 67-44 win.
Surprise, surprise: Brandi Smith, Taylor Dingess and Maria Jackson have turned in solid scoring efforts during Whitley County’s first three games while guard Bethany Powers is doing a great job running the offense.
What’s ahead: The Lady Colonels will participate in the Lady Defender Classic Saturday against Lafayette before hitting the road to play four-time defending 13th Region champion Clay County Monday.
3. Harlan County (5-0, 3-0)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Black Bears are an impressive 5-0 on the season thanks to solid offensive and defensive play. Coach Anthony Nolan continues to show he’s one of the best coaches around by picking up his 300th career win a couple of games ago.
Surprise, surprise: Sophomore Brooklyn Massingill has carried the load at times for Harlan County this season and leads the team with a 19.4 scoring average. What ever you do, don’t foul her. She is shooting 80 percent from the free-throw line (24-of-30) and she’s deadly from three-point range, too (13-of-25).
What’s ahead: The Lady Black Bears will travel to play Middlesboro Friday before hosting Hazard on Monday.
4. Bell County (4-0, 3-0)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Bobcats could very well be the best team in the region, but I want to see how they fare against teams such as Clay County, Whitley County and Harlan County first.
Surprise, surprise: Sophomore Maci Morris has been a handful for opposing teams to deal with so far this season. She recorded a triple-double during her team's 78-45 win against Corbin Tuesday and is averaging 22.3 points so far this season while leading the team with a 10.8 rebounding average.
What’s ahead: Bell County will host Harlan Friday and North Laurel Monday.
5. Corbin (2-3, 1-2)
What’s the scoop: It looks as if there is a little separation from the top four teams of the region and numbers 5 through 10. But by the end of the season, I expect to see Corbin right in the mix of things.
Surprise, surprise: The Lady Redhounds have been inconsistent at times and will improve as the season progresses.
What’s ahead: Corbin has another tough road matchup Friday against Mercer County before hosting South Laurel at home Monday.
The Best of the Rest
No. 6 Barbourville (3-0, 1-0)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Tigers are off to their best start in some time could be 6-0 before their matchup with Corbin next week. Keep an eye on this team, Barbourville has the talent to make some noise.
No. 7 South Laurel (1-2, 1-2)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Cardinals possess one of the best post players in the region in Taylor Arthur and hope to get things back on track this week.
No. 8 Lynn Camp (3-1, 2-0)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Wildcats have been the surprise team so far in the 13th Region after defeating Knox Central this past week by double digits. Lynn Camp has two players that you need to keep an eye on in Kayla Smith and Heather Wilson.
No. 9 Harlan (1-2, 1-2)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Green Dragons are another team that’s going to be better than what many people expect by season’s end. Harlan picked up an impressive 53-47 come from behind win on the road against North Laurel this past week.
No. 10 Knox Central (2-1, 1-1)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Panthers continue to be one of the hardest teams to figure out. The defending 51st District champions suffered a setback this past week by dropping a 51-39 decision to district rival Lynn Camp and followed that up by barely slipping past Middlesboro, who is now 0-6, by two points (38-36) at home. Darrin Mills’ squad does have some time to get better and i expect they will in the long run.