Boys Top Five
1. Harlan Co. (18-4 overall, 9-1 vs. 13th Region foes)
What’s the scoop: The Black Bears have responded well since losing to Bell County a couple of weeks ago. They’ve picked up two straight wins with hopes of going into February of extending the win streak.
Surprise, surprise: Harlan County’s 55-45 win over Knox Central was a good one, but the Panthers were without guard Matthew Barger at the time. With that said, the Black Bears cruised to an easy win over 13th Region All ‘A’ Classic champion Middlesboro by handing the Yellow Jackets a 77-46 loss.
What’s ahead: Harlan County will play Harlan today before hosting 14th Region power Perry Central Friday. The Black Bears will also entertain Barbourville at home Tuesday.
2. Corbin (17-6, 11-3)
What’s the scoop: I’m keeping the Redhounds at the No. 2 spot because I clearly believe they are the No. 2 team right now — makes sense, huh? With that said, Corbin has a chance in a couple of weeks to unseat Harlan County as the region’s top-ranked team, but the Redhounds need to pick up wins over Whitley County, McCreary Central and Rockcastle County first.
Surprise, surprise: Corbin has been on fire during its last 12 games, going 10-2 with its only losses coming against 12th Region favorite Pulaski County and 13th Region rival South Laurel.
What’s ahead: The Redhounds hit the road Friday and can wrap-up the 50th District’s top spot with a win over the Colonels. They’ll be back in action Tuesday at home against McCreary Central.
3. Clay County (15-7, 7-2)
What’s the scoop: You don’t hear a lot out of the Tiger camp, but they have put together an impressive four-game win streak, which includes big wins over North Laurel, Bell County and Pineville
Surprise, surprise: Clay County has an important stretch of games remaining against some top-notch teams. It will be interesting to see how the Tigers will fare against the likes of Lexington Catholic, South Laurel and Perry Central.
What’s ahead: Clay County will hit the road today against Williamsburg before hosting Lexington Catholic on Friday. They will be home again Tuesday against South Laurel.
4. Jackson County (15-8, 8-2)
What’s the scoop: After hitting a rough spot in the 13th Region All ‘A’ Classic Tournament, the Generals have responded with three straight wins.
Surprise, surprise: Jackson County managed to remain in the top five by slipping past Barbourville on the road thanks to a last-second shot by Steven Wagers.
What’s ahead: The Generals hit the road today against Knox Central before hosting 49th District rival North Laurel on Tuesday.
5. Knox Central (13-9, 5-4)
What’s the scoop: The addition of Matt Barger makes the Panthers a top five team in the region. Nathan Cole has also returned to the mix, so Knox Central has some time to get things on track before postseason play begins.
Surprise, surprise: The Panthers snapped a three-game losing skid with their win over Whitley County this past Tuesday. Just how bad did they need that win? They were 2-5 during the past couple of weeks.
What’s ahead:Knox Central hosts Jackson County today and will play Dunbar Saturday in the Kentucky Prep Showcase. The Panthers will travel to play Perry Central Tuesday.
The Best of the rest
No. 6 South Laurel (10-11, 6-4)
What’s the scoop: The Cardinals are getting hot at the right time. If they can beat North Laurel Friday, they’ll capture a season-best fourth win in a row.
No. 7 North Laurel (11-11, 5-6)
What’s the scoop: The defending 13th Region champions seem to be putting something together after snapping a three-game losing streak this past week. North Laurel is hoping to start February off right with a win over rival South Laurel.
No. 8 Bell County (9-12, 5-7)
What’s the scoop: The Bobcats are a dangerous team with scorer Tyler Potter in the lineup. This is one team no one wants to face once postseason play tips off.
No. 9 Barbourville (12-10, 7-6)
What’s the scoop: When Dinky’s boys are hitting from three-point range, they are hard to beat. But when they’re not, they tend to get into some trouble.
No. 10 Pineville (12-9, 9-7)
What’s the scoop: The Mountain Lions are one team that’s hard to figure out.
Girls Top Five
1. Harlan Co. (20-3 overall, 11-1 vs. 13th Region foes)
What’s the scoop: Things are beginning to get interesting on the girls’ side of things in the 13th Region. The Lady Black Bears are winners of two straight, but I’m beginning to wonder if they might have peaked just a tad too early.
Surprise, surprise: Why do I believe Harlan County might have peaked a bit early? Well, the Lady Black Bears managed to only beat Middlesboro, who only has three wins, at home by one point. Is it time to hit the panic button? No, but I’m keeping an eye out on Harlan County.
What’s ahead: The Lady Black Bears will host Harlan today and will be back in action at home again on Friday against McCreary Central.
2. Clay County (19-4, 6-3)
What’s the scoop: Things have been quiet in Manchester and yes, I know, the Lady Tigers have three losses to regional teams, but in the end, they are the four-time defending region champs.
Surprise, surprise: Another positive for the Lady Tigers is a six-game win streak that includes victories over Barbourville, Bell County, Lexington Catholic and Scott County. Folks, this team is dangerous and could be peaking at the right time.
What’s ahead: Clay County has a big game today at home against Madison Central and will host Ryle Saturday. The Lady Tigers will be back in action Monday on the road against North Laurel.
3. Corbin (17-7, 11-3)
What’s the scoop: I really like the way Jennifer Parsons’ squad is playing right now. The Lady Redhounds are winners of five straight while winning nine of their last 10 games.
Surprise, surprise: Corbin has a chance Friday to move into the 50th District’s driver’s seat if the Lady Redhounds can beat Whitley County on the road. The two teams played earlier this season with the Lady Colonels coming away with a 76-67 win.
What’s ahead: The Lady Redhounds will travel to play Whitley County Friday before hosting Lynn Camp Monday at home.
4. Bell County (18-4, 10-2)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Bobcats had a chance to really make some noise after beating Harlan County a few weeks back, but lost the chance to move to No. 1 with their loss to Clay County.
Surprise, surprise: Bell County has been off a week, but managed to hand Harlan a 57-37 loss in the only game the Lady Bobcats played this week.
What’s ahead: The Lady Bobcats host 52nd District foe Middlesboro Friday before hosting 13th Region All ‘A’ Classic champion Pineville Tuesday.
5. Whitley County (14-5, 7-1)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Colonels remain in the top five, but barely. They struggled during this past week’s game against Williamsburg that saw Whitley County eventually pull out a 68-62 win.
Surprise, surprise: The main reason I dropped the Lady Colonels is because of another injury to a key player. Whitley County is already without the services of Kandace Craig and Hallie Jones and could very well be without starting guard Bethany Powers the remainder of the season due to a possible ACL injury.
What’s ahead: The Lady Colonels are in a key 50th District matchup with Corbin Friday. A win over the Lady Redhounds at home moves Whitley County one step closer to the district’s top seed, while a loss leads to Corbin grabbing the top spot.
The Best of the rest
No. 6 South Laurel (11-10, 8-7)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Cardinals are the hottest team in the region at the present time with a four-game win streak, but three of those wins came again teams with a combined win total of seven games.
No. 7 Barbourville (15-8, 10-6)
What’s the scoop: Just when I believe the Lady Tigers have gotten over the hump, they lose. Barbourville hasn’t won consecutive games in a month and that should be very alarming to coach Andrea Hillard.
No. 8 Lynn Camp (18-7, 12-6)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Wildcats set a school record with 18 wins by defeating Red Bird at home this past Tuesday. Richard Jones’ squad have responded well after losing its first two games after the 13th Region All ‘A’ Classic Tournament by going 5-1.
No. 9 Knox Central (11-12, 6-7)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Panthers put an end to their five-game losing skid with a win over Pineville, but it’s hard for me to rank them any higher than that because of the lack of consistency. I’ve said this numerous times about this squad — they are hard to figure out.
No. 10 Pineville (14-9, 10-7)
What’s the scoop: Since winning the 13th Region All ‘A’ Classic Tournament, the Lady Mountain Lions are 2-2, which includes losses to both Newport Central Catholic and Knox Central. I might have them ranked too high right now, so if they continue to struggle this week, they might actually fall out of the top 10.