Collins, North Oldham, Oldham County, Shelby County, South Oldham, Spencer County
Coach: Chris Gaither (sixth year),
Last season: 15-18, lost to South Oldham 74-70 in Eighth Region semifinals.
Player to watch: Dominique Turner, a 6-foot-5 senior guard, averaged 10.9 points and 5.5 rebounds last season, hitting 45 percent from 3-point range. “He’s a very versatile player for us,” Gaither said. “He can score at any position on the floor. He can be a tough matchup for other teams. And, he’s our best defender.”
Other players: F Nick Fort (6-5 Jr., 5.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg) G Jacob Feltner (5-10 Jr., 8.1 ppg, 1.0 rpg), F Nick Eades (5-10 So., 2.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg), G Dayvion McKnight (5-11 Fr.), G Charlie Cochran (6-5 Sr., transfer from Seneca).
Outlook: “I really feel like we’ll be in the mix,” Gaither said of the regional-title race. Gaither said he’s comfortable with his freshman point guard (McKnight). “I’m really comfortable with his ability to lead our team. He’s the most competitive kid — from the standpoint of showing up every day to compete — that I’ve ever coached. He’s a great player. He makes good decisions on the court.” Feltner is one of the top shooters in Kentucky, hitting 48 of 98 3-point attempts last season.
Coach: Rob Burton (third year).
Last season: 14-16, lost to Oldham County 65-48 in the first round of the 29th District Tournament.
Players to watch: The Mustangs have a couple of dynamic guards in PG Jalen Henry (6-1 Sr., 14.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and SG Zach Wheeler (6-1 Sr., 14.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg). “Jalen, he’s one of the quickest guards in the Eighth Region,” Burton said. “He does a great job of pushing the ball and making good decisions.” Last season Wheeler made 109 3-pointers. “He’s one of the best perimeter shooters in the region,” Burton said.
Other players: C William Bonny (6-5 Sr., 3.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg), Jeffrey McLellan (6-3, So., 3.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg), F Justin Rose (6-3, Jr., 1.3 ppg, 1.1 rpg), G Justin Burton (6-2 Jr., 2.3 ppg, 0.6 rpg), G Dylan Yates (6-1 Jr., 0.9 ppg, 0.5 rpg).
Outlook: “We’re pretty excited,” Burton said. “We have two guys with a lot of experience, and we have seven solid role players. We have a little bit of everything. We will try to pick up the pace this year and play up-tempo.”
Coach: Coy Zerhusen (fourth year).
Last season: 23-9, lost to Anderson County 59-55 in semifinals of Eighth Region Tournament.
Player to watch: Ismail Jones, a 6-0 guard who averaged eight points a season ago, should get more shots because he won’t have to handle the ball as much, according to Zerhusen. “He can really defend on the ball,” Zerhusen added.
Other players: F Zach Larimore (6-3 Jr., 6.0 ppg), G Jackson Gibson (5-10 Jr., 4.0 ppg), F Travis Henderson (6-4 Jr., 6.0 ppg).
Outlook: The Colonels lost four starters from last year’s 23-win team, and all four our playing collegiate sports of some kind. “But we have a good group of juniors,” Zerhusen said. Just as they have in the past, the Colonels will be employing a full-court press most of the time. The schedule is brutal, starting with a home date with North Hardin in the opener. Other foes include Madison Central, Scott County, Manual, Trinity and Eastern.
Coach: Ken Cates (first year).
Last season: 16-14, lost to Collins 45-41 in the first round of the 30th District Tournament.
Player to watch: Jordan Armstrong, a 6-1 senior who averaged 9.4 points and 6.0 rebounds last season, likely will play point guard for the Rockets, but Cates said he could play every position on the floor. “He just quietly gets it done,” Cates said. “He does nothing flashy.”
Other players: F Josh Edwards (6-6 Sr., 7.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg), G Tyler Drane (6-0 Sr., 9.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg), F T.J. Robinson (6-3, So., 1.8 ppg, 1.6), F Sam Edwards (6-6 So.).
Outlook: “We have some quick, athletic guys, and we’re versatile,” Cates said. “There’s a lot of different things that we can do.” The Rockets will wear warmups commemorating former Rockets star Charles Hurt, who died in September Hurt, who led Shelby County to a state title, worked with and helped the basketball team the last several years. “We want to honor him in the way we play,” Cates said.
Coach: Steve Simpson (16th year).
Last season: 29-6, lost to South Laurel 71-42 in Sweet 16 quarterfinals.
Player to watch: Joe Griffin (10.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg), a 6-2 senior combo guard, leads with a “very high basketball IQ,” Simpson said. “He probably started playing basketball when he could walk. He just does everything well. He doesn’t have a weakness.”
Other players: F Devin Young (6-4 Jr., 8.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg ), F Dyllon Hoover (6-1 Sr., 6.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg), G Aaron Franklin (5-10 Sr. 4.5 ppg, 0.8 rpg), F David Beyerly (6-1 Sr., 1.0 ppg, 0.6 rpg),
Outlook: The Dragons return just two starters from last year’s regional championship team. During its run to Rupp Arena, South Oldham hit a state-record 367 3-pointers and attempted 929. Simpson said to expect more of the same from the Dragons. “Our philosophy is everyone can shoot at any time,” Simpson said. “We just spend a lot of time shooting.” With so many pieces gone from last season’s team, Simpson said the Dragons need to develop depth as the season progresses. “The good news is I think we’ll shoot it well,” he said.
Coach: Jason Burns (fourth season)
Last season: 11-18, lost to Anderson County 68-66 in first round of the 30th District Tournament.
Player to watch: Daniel Wheeler, a 5-11 senior guard (6.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.5 apg), is the “coach on the floor” for the Bears, according to Burns. “He’s, by far, the best leader we’ve had here.”
Other players: F Jacob Coke (6-2 Jr., 2.7 ppg, 1.6 rpg), G/F Jacob Nichols (6-1 Jr., 3.1 ppg, 2.4 apg), F Kadin Smith (6-1 Sr., 4.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg), G Jacob Seawright (5-8 So.), G Jackson Cole (5-11 So.), G Sam Conley (6-1 8th).
Outlook: The Bears lost seven seniors, so they’ll have some new faces on the floor. Still, Burns remains encouraged. “We’re young and inexperienced,” he said. “This is the deepest team we’ve ever had. We’re going to play 10 kids, and we’re going to be playing a lot faster.”