Boys Top Five
1. Clay County (22-6 overall, 12-2 vs. 13th Region foes)
What’s the scoop: The Tigers hold on to the No. 1 spot for the second straight week and once again, have reached the finals of the 49th District Tournament after upending Red Bird Wednesday.
Surprise, surprise: Clay County might just be the most balanced team in the 13th Region. The Tigers have four players averaging in double figures in scoring — Tyler McDaniel (17.9), Marty Bowling (11.7), Stephon Lyttle (11.3) and Kody Reed (10.1). If coach Robert Marcum continues to get this type of play, Clay County will be tough to beat in the 13th Region Tournament.
What’s ahead: The Tigers are looking to run their win streak to a season-best 12 games today against North Laurel in the finals of the 49th District Tournament. Clay County has already beaten the Jaguars twice this season.
2. Corbin (23-6, 15-3)
What’s the scoop: The Redhounds continue to be the second hottest team in the region behind Clay County. Corbin has won eight games in a row and is an impressive 13-2 since the beginning of the year.
Surprise, surprise: The Redhounds have dominated the 50th District the past four years, winning four straight and will try to capture their fifth in a row today. It’s not going to be easy, though, they’ve split a pair of games with South Laurel this season.
What’s ahead: Corbin will try to enter next week’s 13th Region Tournament as a winner, but to do so, the Redhounds will need to beat South Laurel tonight in the finals of the 50th District Tournament.
3. Harlan County (22-7, 13-3)
What’s the scoop: It looks as if the loss at home to Corbin might have awakened the Black Bears. After losing to the Redhounds, 74-70, Harlan County is 2-0 while outscoring its opponents by a margin of 24.5 points — pretty impressive.
Surprise, surprise: I’ll go ahead and say this — if the Black Bears are going to capture their first ever 13th Region championship or even tournament win, it starts tonight against Middlesboro. The Black Bears need to get the win against the Yellow Jackets.
What’s ahead: If Harlan County’s past two games against Middlesboro are any indication of things to come, Mike Jones’ squad will have an easy time tonight in the 52nd District title game. The Black Bears won on the road against Middlesboro, 70-59, before beating the Yellow Jackets again at home on Jan. 28, 77-46.
4. Barbourville (19-10, 12-6)
What’s the scoop: The Tigers finished regular season play strong and continued their impressive play during semifinal action of the 51st District Tournament by beating Lynn Camp for the third time this season, 84-64.
Surprise, surprise: Barbourville has now won seven games in a row and is hoping to continue its impressive win streak today against Knox Central. The two teams only met once this season with the Tigers coming away with a 44-42 win in overtime.
What’s ahead: Barbourville will square-off against Knox Central today in the 51st District title game with hopes of ending the Panthers’ five-year reign as district champions.
5. Knox Central (16-13, 8-7)
What’s the scoop: When the Panthers are healthy, they are one of the best teams in the region and guess what folks, they are getting healthier by the day, which isn’t a good thing for the rest of the 13th Region.
Surprise, surprise: Knox Central stumbled into postseason play winning only three out of their last 10 games, but boy, did they put on a show during semifinal action of the 51st District Tournament against Pineville? The Panthers shot 62.3 percent for the game and 70 percent during the final three quarters of play.
What’s ahead: Brian Evans’ squad will play against rival Barbourville today in the finals of the 51st District Tournament. A win over the Tigers will give Knox Central its sixth straight district crown.
The Best of the rest
No. 6 South Laurel (13-15, 8-6)
What’s the scoop: It looks as if playing one of the top schedules in the region is beginning to pay off for Jeff Davis’ Cardinals. South Laurel seems to be catching steam at the right time. Can the Cardinals end Corbin’s dominance in the 50th District? We shall see.
No. 7 North Laurel (15-14, 8-9)
What’s the scoop: I should have listened to North Laurel coach Brad Sizemore when he told me last week his team would beat Jackson County in the 49th District Tournament. The defending 13th Region champions are back in the region tournament, which isn’t a good thing for opposing teams.
No. 8 Middlesboro (15-12, 10-8)
What’s the scoop: The Yellow Jackets pulled off a shocker by eliminating Bell County in the semifinals of the 52nd District Tournament after going 0-2 against the Bobcats during the regular season.
No. 9 Jackson County (18-11, 11-4)
What’s the scoop: A promising season came to an end when North Laurel upended the Generals during semifinal play of the 49th District Tournament. This year’s team was one of the best teams to come out of Jackson County in a long time.
No. 10 Bell County (13-14, 8-9)
What’s the scoop: The Bobcats suffered a heartbreaking loss to Middlesboro, but will return one of the region’s top teams next season.
Girls Top Five
1. Clay County (25-5 overall, 11-3 vs. 13th Region foes)
What’s the scoop: I said this last week and I’ll say it again — the four-time defending 13th Region champions are where they usually are during the end of the regular season — sitting atop my 13th Region rankings. A lot of people are counting out Clay County because of its earlier losses to regional teams, but I say not so fast.
Surprise, surprise: The Lady Tigers are now winners of six straight after upending Oneida Baptist during semifinal action of the 49th District Tournament Wednesday. Clay County has put together an impressive 15-3 record since Christmas break.
What’s ahead: The Lady Tigers are looking to capture their eighth straight 49th District title Friday against North Laurel. Who is the last team to beat Clay County in the district tournament? Rockcastle County, back in 2005, who won 66-50.
2. Corbin (23-8, 17-3)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Redhounds punched their ticket into the 13th Region Tournament after defeating Williamsburg during semifinal play of the 50th District Tournament.
Surprise, surprise: The Lady Redhounds will enter the 13th Region Tournament as one of the hottest teams in the region, but they need to take care of business first against Whitley County Friday.
What’s ahead: The Lady Redhounds will face-off against Whitley County Friday in the finals of the 50th District Tournament. The two teams have split a pair of games this season with Corbin winning on Feb. 1 in double overtime, 65-62.
3. Harlan County (25-5, 15-2)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Black Bears are back to their winning ways after going through a two-game losing skid a couple of weeks ago. They are now winners of three straight after beating Middlesboro in semifinal action of the 52nd District Tournament.
Surprise, surprise: Harlan County is led in scoring by Brooklyn Massingill’s 14.8 scoring average. The way she goes, they go.
What’s ahead: Harlan County will play against Bell County Friday to see who is the best team in the 52nd District Tournament. The two teams have split a pair of games this season.
4. Bell County (24-5, 15-3)
What’s the scoop: Maci Morris is back and everyone in Lady Bobcat land is happy, happy, happy. Bell County has put together an impressive 13-2 mark since Christmas break.
Surprise, surprise: The Lady Bobcats can take a huge step forward Friday if they can beat Harlan County in the finals of the 52nd District Tournament.
What’s ahead: After disposing of Harlan, now Bell County will face Harlan County in the title game of the 52nd District Tournament Friday.
5. Whitley County (19-8, 12-3)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Colonels have shown great character this season by overcoming the injury dilemma they had.
Surprise, surprise: Whitley County’s Brandi Smith is one of the best clutch players I have covered. Her three-pointer with three seconds remaining on Tuesday allowed the Lady Colonels to pull out a 43-40 win over South Laurel in the semifinals of the 50th District Tournament.
What’s ahead: Whitley County will have revenge on its mind Friday when the face-off against rival Corbin in the 50th District championship game. The last time the two teams met, the Lady Redhounds pulled out a 65-62 double overtime win.
The Best of the rest
No. 6 Barbourville (20-10, 14-8)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Tigers have shown the entire season they are one of the best teams in the region and clinched their spot in next week’s 13th Region Tournament by defeating Pineville Wednesday.
No. 7 Lynn Camp (23-8, 15-7)
What’s the scoop: The Wildcats continued their impressive season by knocking off rival Knox Central Wednesday in the semifinals of the 51st District Tournament.
No. 8 South Laurel (13-14, 9-9)
What’s the scoop: Taylor Arthur put together a solid senior campaign for the Lady Cardinals, but in the end, South Laurel just couldn’t pull off the win over Whitley County in the semifinals of the 50th District Tournament.
No. 9 Knox Central (13-17, 8-11)
What’s the scoop: Injuries hurt the Lady Panthers in the end, but Knox Central couldn’t get any type of momentum going the entire season.
No. 10 North Laurel (6-24, 5-14)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Jaguars crack the top 10 for the first time this season after upending Jackson County in semifinal action of the 49th District Tournament, 68-34. Can they continue to surprise like they did last year and pull off an upset or two in the 13th Region Tournament?
We shall see.