CORBIN — Sports Editorial by Les Dixon
It seems like high school basketball season just ended, but actually it’s been two months since the round ball has been tossed up in the 13th Region.
And boy, has the rumor mill ran rampant since seeing the Clay County Tigers and the Corbin Lady Redhounds capture their respective boys and girls 13th Region championships.
Not only that, the 13th Region landscape has changed a bit as well. We do know former North Laurel big man Jake Allen has taken his skills to Clay County High School, which will give the defending 13th Region champs a boost in the post with star player and 13th Region Media Player of the Year Tyler ‘Chip’ McDaniel returning to the mix as a junior next season.
At the end of the season, I tagged Knox Central as the team to beat coming into the 2013-14 season, but with so many things happening across the region, I’m not sure who is the team to beat.
If you believe the rumors out there right now, things could get very interesting by the time the 2013-14 season tips off. But once again, just remember, rumors are rumors and until they turn out to be 100 percent true, there is no reason to believe them.
With that said, there are some things we know that will happen next season. For instance, both the boys’ and girls’ 13th Region Tournaments will be played at The Arena, which is great and with the way things look, it will more than likely be there at least for the next three years.
Harlan County hosted both tournaments this past season and the proof was in the pudding — it wasn’t well attended.
I’m not sure, but the long drive is probably one of the main reasons why ticket sales were down. Bottom line, the majority of the region has a shorter trip to The Arena than Harlan County and fans across the 13th Region just didn’t want to travel that far.
But back to what might be next season — the boys’ 49th District is going to be one tough district. Clay County still possesses a lot of talent and should be one of the front-runners for the 13th Region championship again and Jackson County won’t be far behind. North Laurel is going to be young, but coach Brad Sizemore possesses one of the best young talents in the region in Peyton Broughton.
Corbin and South Laurel will continue to battle things out in the 50th District as the Redhounds will try to capture a staggering sixth straight district championship.
Knox Central has dominated 51st District action with six straight district titles and should be the favorite to capture its seventh straight with some of the best young players in the region returning to the mix.
A lot of people are already counting out Harlan County in the 52nd District after seeing players such as Tyler Brewer and Alex Sergent graduate, but not me. I actually believe the Black Bears could be better. They will have to contend with a very good Bell County team that returns Tyler Potter and don’t forget about Middlesboro, who returns the majority of its roster that upset Corbin during the 13th Region Tournament this past season.
The girls’ side is going to be just as competitive.
Clay County should continue to be the cream of the crop in the 49th District while defending 13th Region champion Corbin and Whitley County will battle things out in the 50th District.
Barbourville returns all of its starters and will be the team to beat in the 51st District, but keep an eye out for both Lynn Camp and Knox Central.
Macy Morris returns for Bell County, which makes the Lady Bobcats the team to beat in the 52nd District while Middlesboro will be better with the return of Anajae Stephney and Harlan County will be good as well.
So sit back and enjoy the rumor mill right now, but once things get going this December, what actually takes place on the court will be a whole lot more interesting.