Girls Top Five
1. Whitley Co. (5-0 overall, 3-0 vs. 13th Region foes)
What’s the scoop: For the first time in 66 polls, I have a new girls team atop the Fear ‘Les’ 13th Region Girls Rankings. The last time Clay County wasn’t ranked No. 1 was back in March of 2008 — that’s a long time folks.
Whitley County deserves to be No. 1. The Lady Colonels accomplished something 61 other teams tried to do and they did it. Larry Anderson’s squad could have folded a couple of times against Clay County, but responded like true warriors.
Surprise, surprise: Brandi Smith is getting a lot of love and deservedly so after hitting the game-winning shot to beat Clay County, but you also gotta give credit to both Kandice Craig and Maria Johnson for keeping the ball alive after Bethany Powers’ shot with seven seconds remaining rimmed out. Craig tipped the ball and Johnson came down with the rebound and then was credited with the assist after passing the ball out to Smith.
What’s ahead: Whitley County will be back in action Friday before taking a week off to participate in Calloway County’s Heritage Bank Hardwood Tournament.
2. Bell County (6-0, 5-0)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Bobcats continue to roll and look to be a team hard to beat after starting the season with a perfect 6-0 record.
Surprise, surprise: A lot of Bell County’s success can be credited to the play of standout Maci Morris, who led the Lady Bobcats with 18 points during an 84-45 win over North Laurel Monday, but Jessica Sanders (12.3 scoring average) and Morgan Garnett (11.0 scoring average) are playing well, too.
What’s ahead: The Lady Bobcats will travel to play 12th Region foe Wayne County Saturday before going back on the road Monday to play Harlan County in a 52nd District showdown.
3. Clay County (2-1, 1-1)
What’s the scoop: I’ve been doing the Fear ‘Les’ 13th Region Girls Rankings since 2005 and this is the lowest the Lady Tigers have ever been. But don’t get used to the No. 3 ranking, the defending four-time 13th Region champions remain one of the best teams in the region.
Surprise, surprise: One of the big keys to Clay County’s success this season will be its guard play. For four years Alisha Mitchell ran the point for the Lady Tigers and turned in some of the best play I’ve seen. Both TaLaura Mathis and Ajaycia Cotton have the talent to run the point guard position, but need to cut down on turnovers.
What’s ahead: Clay County will hit the road today and play Knox Central before hosting Betsy Layne Saturday and North Laurel Monday in a 49th District matchup.
4. Harlan County (7-0, 4-0)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Black Bears have been rolling and could easily be ranked anywhere in the top three as well, but it’s hard to see just where they should fit into those three spots right now.
Surprise, surprise: Coach Anthony Nolan has done a fantastic job coaching so far this season for Harlan County and recorded his 300th career victory last week and I expect him to have even more down the road.
What’s ahead: I’ll get a better sense of just how good the lady Black Bears are when they play Bell County at home Monday. That should be a very interesting game.
5. Corbin (3-4, 2-2)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Redhounds picked up a big 50th District win over South Laurel Monday with hopes of continuing to play well down the road.
Surprise, surprise: Corbin has talent, but needs to be more consistent.
What’s ahead: The Lady Redhounds have a big home game against Barbourville today before trailing up I-75 to participate in the Berea Lady Pirate Holiday Classic beginning Friday.
The Best of the rest
No. 6 Barbourville (5-0, 2-0)
What’s the scoop: A win over Corbin today would allow the Lady Tigers to crack my top five for the first time in school history. The Lady Redhounds will be a good test for Barbourville.
No. 7 South Laurel (1-4, 1-3)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Cardinals aren’t picking up many wins, but they are hanging tough against some very good teams. Taylor Arthur might just be the most important player to her Lady Cardinal team than any other player in the 13th Region.
No. 8 Lynn Camp (5-1, 2-0)
What’s the scoop: The Lady Wildcats keep surprising and Kayla Smith keeps showing she’s one of the most underrated players in the 13th Region. This could be one of the best coaching jobs Richard Jones has done in a long time.
No. 9 Pineville (4-3, 3-2)
What’s the scoop: The 52nd District is a whole lot better than people think. The Lady Mountain Lions came away with a big win over North Laurel Tuesday.
No. 10 Knox Central (3-1, 1-1)
What’s the scoop: I say this every week — The Lady Panthers continue to be one of the hardest teams to figure out. We will get to see just how much they have improved today with their home game against No. 3 ranked Clay County. The Lady Tigers will enter the game with something to prove, so Knox Central better be ready to play or the Lady Panthers could be in trouble.