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Last season: 32-3 (lost to eventual state champ Covington Holy Cross, 41-40, in the Sweet 16 quarterfinals).
Key returnees: Senior forward/center Erin Boley (20.1 ppg, 9.8 rpg); senior wing Rachel Warden (7.7 ppg); junior guard Jada Stinson (9.9 ppg); junior center Taylor Thomas (3.7 ppg).
Outlook: The Lady Panthers lost three players off last season’s squad to Division I schools, but still will be among the state’s elite teams led by Boley, the Miss Basketball favorite who is headed to Notre Dame.
Coach Tim Mudd says: “I think the chemistry with this group, this year is special.”
“Our goal is to win a state championship…Last year, it was upsetting (to lose at State), but you move on and focus on this year.”
Senior Erin Boley says: “I’ve just been so focused on this season and playing with my team that I haven’t really focused on (Miss Basketball). It’s always been a dream, or a goal, of mine, but it’s not really the focus. Right now, that’s just playing with my team.”
Last season: 19-10 (lost to Waggener, 91-89, in OT in the first round of the Seventh Region Tournament).
Key returnees: Senior wing William Olsen (7.4 ppg); senior guard Connor McKim (9.3 ppg); senior forward Billy Basham (3.3 ppg).
Outlook: The Tigers, who look to bounce back from their first-round Seventh Region tourney loss to Waggener, will be led by their strong senior class.
Coach Kevin Klein says: “I think we’ve got a great group of guys who have brought in to what we’re doing and we’re just trying to raise the bar.”
“Hopefully we can learn from that regional loss last year and try to use it to our advantage.”
“I think the Seventh Region’s going to be very exciting, from a spectator standpoint.”
Last season: 17-9 (lost to Ballard, 87-48, in the first round of the Seventh Region Tournament).
Key returnees: Senior guard Brandon Wells (8.6 ppg); senior forward Terrell Davis (2 ppg); senior guard Daivon Thompson (15.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg); junior guard Devin Firman (8.2 ppg).
Outlook: The Yellowjackets, even despite a couple of losses, should be in the mix in the Seventh Region. As always, they’ll rely on their defense.
Coach Doug Bibby says: “We have a lot of experience back from last year, I think we surprised a few people.”
“This team definitely has a chance to be special…Right now it’s just trying to develop chemistry on the court.”
“If we put the pieces together I see some good things happening this season.”
“Rajon (Rondo) and D’Angelo (Russell) worked out with these guys a lot in the summer and showed them how pros do things.”
TAYLOR COUNTY BOYS
Last season: 28-5 (lost to Hopkinsville, 76-64, in the first round of the Sweet 16).
Key returnees: Senior guard Quentin Goodin (21.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg); junior guard David Sloan (12.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg); junior guard Ezra Oliver (5.9 ppg); senior forward Devin Rafferty (4.4 ppg).
Outlook: The Cardinals, the reigning Fifth Region champs, are one of the favorites for the state title led by their dynamic backcourt. Goodin, who has committed to Xavier, is one of the favorites for Mr. Basketball. Sloan also has a slew of Division I offers.
Coach Richard Gatewood says: “We went from last year hunting people, to being the hunted. Now we’ve got the target on our back. We’re the hunted.”
“You can’t go to Wal-Mart, or Kroger, without someone asking you about the season.”
Senior guard Quentin Goodin says: “I don’t really think about (Mr. Basketball), I just try to stay in the gym.”
“I feel like rankings don’t matter. As long as we stay humble and work hard in practice we’re going to have results.”
BULLITT EAST BOYS
Last season: 21-10 (lost to Doss, 65-61, in OT in the Sixth Region semifinals).
Key returnees: Senior guard Tyler Sharpe (16.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg); senior center Jared Farris (11.4 ppg, 6 rpg); senior forward Brandon Klefot (9.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg); senior guard Bailey Rakes (9.1 ppg).
Outlook: The Chargers, who are one of the favorites in the Sixth Region, will look to play more up-tempo this season as they try for their first region title since 2012.
Coach Bob Blackburn says: “Out at Bullitt East and Mount Washington expectations are always high, and this year is no different.”
“We are anticipating this year, and we are very much looking forward to it.
Senior forward Brandon Klefot says: “Last year was Doss’ year. Two years ago was PRP’s year. This year, we feel like it’s our year.”
Last season: 23-7 (lost to Eastern, 41-36, in the Seventh Region semifinals).
Key returnees: Junior guard Tonysha Curry (11.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg); senior center Krys McCune (9.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg); senior guard Sydney MacBlaine (8 ppg, 4.2 rpg); senior guard Amara Ballard (2.2 ppg); sophomore guard Jaela Johnson (8 ppg).
Outlook: The Crimsons will look to improve on last season’s 23-win campaign led by Curry and McCune, who is headed to West Virginia.
Coach Jeff Sparks says: “Hopefully we can learn from last year, accomplish some of the things we weren’t able to accomplish then.”
“We’ve got goals. We think we can get it done. We’ve just got to show we can get it done in the postseason.”
Last season: 6-23 (lost to PRP, 87-65, in the 21st District Tournament).
Key returnees: Junior wing Eric George (14.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg); sophomore guard Tre Anderson (5.5 ppg); junior forward Devious Brooks (7.9 ppg); senior forward Dante Cowherd (7.2 ppg); sophomore wing Curt Lewis (6 ppg).
Outlook: The Vikings return their top eight players from last season led by George. They were extremely young last season, starting an eighth-grader and a pair of freshmen, and should continue to grow.
Coach Joe Harris says: “We were very young last year, tried to come in and change the culture of the program.”
“We can score with anybody, but we’ve got to get stops late in the game.”
“We want to put our face our there, let the city know we’re coming.”
Last season: 15-14 (lost to Trinity, 56-39, in the first round of the Seventh Region Tournament).
Key returnees: Senior forward Alex Cook (10.6 ppg, 6 rpg); junior forward Hogan Brownley (8.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg); senior guard Deondrai Williams.
Outlook: The Bulldogs lost two of their top three scorers from last season, but do return several seniors led by Cook, who is headed to Bellarmine. Brownley is returning from foot surgery and may not be full strength until midseason.
Coach Willie Feldhaus says: “We think we can be competitive.”
NORTH BULLITT GIRLS
Last season: 21-10 (lost to Bullitt East, 64-41, in the Sixth Region semifinals).
Key returnees: Senior guard Katie Downey (15.1 ppg); junior guard Lauren Deel (10.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg); senior guard Erin Dolan (6.5 ppg); sophomore guard Hailey Free (5 ppg).
Outlook: The Lady Eagles return four of their top six seniors from last season led by Downey, who is headed to Bellarmine. They’ll rely on their shooters, but without much height inside they’ll make a concerted effort to hit the backboards harder this season.
Coach David Marion says: “If the old cliche about working hard pays off, we’ve got a chance.”
On the Sixth Region: “I think Butler and Bullitt East are 1 and 1-A.”
Last season: 17-12 (lost to Manual, 51-48, in the Seventh Region semifinals).
Key returnees: Senior guard Jaalam Hill (14.5 ppg); junior guard Jacquess Hobbs (8.9 ppg); senior guard Jaquan Hendricks (8.4 ppg); senior forward Kevin Kirby (7.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg); senior post Nicholas Kratholm (7.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg).
Outlook: The Wildcats lost standout sophomore guard Devon Cooper (17.2 ppg) to Findlay Prep (Nev.) last week, but will still be among the favorites in the Seventh Region this season with the talent they have returning.
Coach Bryan O’Neill says: “I’m confident that with the guys we do have returning…these guys will rise to the occasion.”
Last season: 17-10 (lost to Manual, 65-61, in the first round of the Seventh Region Tournament).
Key returnees: Senior guard Kobey Jones (4.4 ppg); junior guard Sugar Ray Wyche (6.2 ppg); junior forward Jonathon Lane (8.2 ppg, 4 rpg); Caleb Williams (5.8 ppg).
Outlook: The Eagles lost their top two scorers (Cameron Reed and Trey Moses) from last season, but return several key players. They’ll look to rely on their depth and their defense, led by the 6-3 Lane, who has a 7-foot wingspan.
Coach David Henley says: “I think we do have the potential to be in the mix in the Seventh Region, but we have to work hard.”
Last season: 20-11 (lost to Male, 55-50, in the Seventh Region semifinals).
Key returnees: Sophomore guard Grace Berger (13 ppg); sophomore guard Kieran Samsel (9.1 ppg); senior center Lydia Taylor (5.1 ppg); sophomore guard Kia Sivils (4.7 ppg).
Outlook: The Valkyries look to improve on last season’s 20-win campaign led by a sophomore-laden group that is led by Berger. They also should get a boost from freshman guard Ashlee Harris, who played on Butler’s varsity last season. The team will rely on its shooters this season.
Coach Donna Moir says: “I think a lot of people think we’re young, and we look young…but we’re coming in with a lot of experience.”
CHRISTIAN ACADEMY OF LOUISVILLE GIRLS
Last season: 20-9 (lost to Male, 81-51, in the first round of the Seventh Region Tournament).
Key returnees: Junior guard Emma Wesley (12.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg); senior center Emma Bowman (12.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg); junior guard Summer Conti (9.1 ppg).
Outlook: The Lady Centurions return their top two scorers (Wesley and Bowman) and look to build on last season’s success under their new coach. They’ll try to play more up-tempo this season, when they averaged 62.3 points per game.
Coach Perry White says: “I’m really excited about the season. We’ve got some really talented players.”
“I think we should be able to compete this year in the region, and have a chance to go to state.”
Last season: 23-6 (lost to Bullitt East, 56-53, in the first round of the Sixth Region Tournament).
Key returnees: Junior guard Jaelynn Penn (10.3 ppg); junior wing Fontasia Jeffries (8.1 ppg); senior forward Micaiah Bowden (5.7 ppg); senior forward Allison Just (5.6 ppg); junior post Janna Lewis (7.6 ppg).
Outlook: The Bearettes look to bounce back after following up their 2014 state title by losing in the first round of the Sixth Region Tournament. They’ll have an added post threat this season in 6-3 sophomore center Molly Lockhart.
Coach Larry Just says: “The thing that has been really neat to see so far this season is the maturity.”
“I like my chances this year and the way my kids are coming into it.”
“This is my toughest schedule from beginning to end…We need this type of schedule to see where things fall.”
FERN CREEK BOYS
Last season: 18-12 (lost to DeSales, 69-49, in the Sixth Region semifinals).
Key returnees: Senior guard Tony Washington (14.4 ppg); sophomore guard Anthony Wales (9 ppg); sophomore guard Ahmad Price (9.5 ppg); sophomore guard Trey Hill (9.9 ppg).
Outlook: The Tigers return most of their key players, including several sophomores who saw plenty of playing time, from last season. They’ll try to take the next step this season.
Coach James Schooler says: “We have a slew of guys that can put the ball in the basket, but if we can concentrate on defense…we can make a run at the region.”
“We want to leave a legacy. We want to bring a Sixth Region title to Fern Creek.”
On the Sixth Region: “It’s not wide open, it’s a dogfight.”
Last season: 24-6 (lost to Ballard 67-54 in the Seventh Region semifinals).
Key returnees: Senior guard Gabriel Schmitt; senior center Christian Terry.
Outlook: The Shamrocks lost a plethora of players (most notably UofL freshman Ray Spalding), points and rebounds from last season. They’ll play a new style – fast and furious – this season with pretty much a completely new roster.
Coach Mike Szabo says: “We’ve had a great offseason and outstanding summer. This group really works hard. We graduated probably 95 percent of our scoring and defense, but we return a JV team that went undefeated.”
“We’re going to play fast, press and probably shoot a lot of threes.”
“We’re quick, we’re tough, we’ll compete, so we want to play baseline-to-baseline.”
Last season: 26-8 (lost 78-59 to Male in the first round of the Sweet 16).
Key returnees: Senior guard Jessica Laemmle (7.1 ppg), senior guard Maddie Woods (5.6 ppg); senior guard Linda Diersing; senior guard Erin Muthler (3.5 ppg); senior guard Maria Schmitz (4.9 ppg).
Outlook: The Jaguars lost their top two scorers from last season’s Sixth Region, and junior forward Elizabeth Anderson to an ACL injury in the offseason, will look up to make up for the losses with a score-by-committee approach this season.
Coach Keith Baisch says: “Our passion is definitely going to have to be on the defensive side of it. Defense and rebounding.”
BULLITT EAST GIRLS
Last season: 22-9 (lost to Mercy 61-54 in the Sixth Region final).
Key returnees: Junior guard Lindsey Duvall (23.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg); junior forward Kirstie Henn (8.4 ppg); junior center Raegan Williams (9.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg); junior guard Alyssa Peak (7.3 ppg); senior forward Eliza Love (1.2 ppg).
Outlook: The Lady Chargers return just about every one of their key players from last season and look to improve.
Assistant coach Christal Scott says: “We fell short (in the region final last year), but we really look forward to taking that next step and making the state tournament.”
Last season: 19-7 (lost to Male 62-45 in the Seventh Region final).
Key returnees: Senior guard Shavia Thompson (12.9 ppg); junior wing Natalie Collins (12.2 ppg); senior guard Markeia Porter (12 ppg).
Outlook: The Eagles return virtually every key player from last season and could get a boost from Ballard transfer Briana Mishler.
Coach Josh Leslie says: “If we can get off to a good start and get our chemistry together, we will be a tough out (by tournament time).”
Last season: 12-15 (lost to Holy Cross 54-45 in the 21st District semifinals).
Key returnees: Senior forward Tre Richardson (13.9 ppg); sophomore guard Glenn Queen (9.2 ppg).
Outlook: The Bulldogs return six of their top eight scorers from last season and look to return to the top of the Sixth Region.
Coach David Hicks says: “We’re definitely improved.”
Last season: 32-3 (lost to Boyle County 85-70 in the Sweet 16 quarterfinals).
Key returnees: Jamil Wilson (Jr., G); Jake Ramsey (Sr., F).
Outlook: The Bruins must replace three key starters – foremost among those Jalen Perry (21.2 ppg) – from last season’s Seventh Region champ.
Coach Chris Renner says: “Last year I think people thought it was going to be a rebuilding year (for us), but look how it ended.”
On Wilson: “I think he’s the best point guard in Louisville and we’re going to ride him,” Renner says.
Last season: 26-5 (lost to Covington Holy Cross 47-37 in the Sweet 16 semifinals).
Key returnees: Pretty much every key player from last season’s squad. Leading the way again will be Iliyah Green (10.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and Emelia Sexton (12 ppg).
Outlook: The Lady Bulldogs are loaded and are expected to make a run at the state title.
Coach Champ Ligon says: “I think the sky’s the limit if we can stay focused. We just can’t rest on our laurels.”
“We’re not going to talk about 40-0, like UK, I just want to get through the first week.”
Iliyah Green says: “I’m just really excited and hoping to get back to State.”
Last season: 25-6 (lost to Ballard 67-60 in OT in the Seventh Region final).
Outlook: The Crimsons must replace all five starters, most notably All-Star Dwayne Sutton (24.4 ppg, 12.1 rpg).
Key returnees: Eric Niemann (Sr., F); JoAunn Rivers (Sr., G); Steve Gordon (Sr., G).
Coach Jimmy Just says: “It was a special group (last year), you just don’t replace those guys. We don’t have a Dwayne Sutton, but we’ve got guys with a ton of heart and a blue collar work ethic. I think they’re going to be pretty special this year.”