KSR's Kentucky High School Basketball Preseason Preview: Regions 1 and 2 (2024)

It is basketball time in the Bluegrass, and there’s no better feeling in the world. Over the next three weeks, KSR will prepare you for the upcoming season with previews of every region. Today, we will start with the first two regions.

Region 1 Preview

Last year’s champion: Murray

The Cats’ Pause Pre-Season Top 10

1. McCracken County (#T21) – This year marks the first time the Mustangs will be without head coach Burlin Brower, who is one of the best in Region 1 history. They will be led by former assistant Dustin Roberts, who will have the two-headed monster of 6’5 senior Jack McCune and 6’7 senior Ian Hart at his disposal. Hart is coming back from an injury that derailed the Mustangs’ hopes of a Region 1 championship last year. With two of (arguably) the best players in the region, the Mustangs will look to return to Rupp Arena.

2. Murray (#18) – Head coach Dior Curtis will lead the Tigers on their quest to become back-to-back champions of Region 1. They will be led by senior Bellarmine commit Grant Whitaker. The guard averaged 17.5 ppg on an efficient 58% shooting as a junior in 2021-22. The Tigers lost three starters from the championship team including Trey Boggess who averaged 13.5 ppg. The growth of this Tigers offense will come down to the development of junior forward Lincoln English. Coach Curtis will work to prove that the Tigers are here to stay.

3. Calloway County – The Lakers of Calloway County are a young squad with a ton to prove. They will be led by sophom*ore Eli Finley, who averaged 16.2 ppg last year. Head coach Brad Cleaver will have to put on his John Calipari hat with most of his lineup consisting of underclassmen. One of Calloway County’s first games will be on December 1st on the road against Hopkins County Central. This should be a good peek into how good the Lakers can be with such a young squad.

4. Paducah Tilghman – The second-best backcourt in the entire region belongs to the Blue Tornados. Seniors Jayvion Powell and Mian Shaw will lead the squad seeking to win their first regional championship since 2010. Head coach Greg Overstreet will hope that the experience of his squad can lead them back to the promised land. Other Blue Tornado players will need to step up as experts have been doubting their depth. Look for Powell to have one of the best years in the region.

5. Mayfield – The Payton Croft-coached Cardinals are essentially the polar opposite of Calloway County. The squad is all experience and has played together for a very long time. Coming off a year where they won 17 games, a big improvement isn’t out of the question. Look out for the trio of Sam Stone, Nolan Fulton, and Brajone Dabney.

6. St. Mary – After a .500 year, coach Chase Denson will return 70% of his scoring including sophom*ore Luke Sims. The goal this year is to compete in the 2nd district with the likes of McCracken and Paducah.

7. Graves County – 15-15 last year, but won the district championship. New head coach Jason Holland will have Mayfield transfer Cole Mills to help ease into the new job. Graves County is a big wildcard out of the 3rd district.

8. Marshall County – Another new coach in the region will be Wade Moore after the retirement of legendary Terry Birdsong. Marshall County has a lot to prove and will have the opportunity to do so. The Marshals will be led by senior guard Trey Wall.

9. Ballard Memorial – It has been a rough five years for the Bombers. Another new head coach in Zack McDaniel will look to set them straight. Look for the Bombers to be a sleeper in the 3rd district and look for Kameron English to have a big year at the guard position.

10. Community Christian – The Warriors will be led by one of the best scorers in the region, sophom*ore Prince Kahnplaye. In a packed 2nd district, the Warriors will look to make some noise.

Region 2 Preview

Last year’s champion: Lyon County

The Cats’ Pause Pre-Season Top 10

1. Lyon County (#9) – The Lyons will be led by one of (if not the best) juniors in the entire state in four-star recruit Travis Perry. The 6’2 guard averaged an easy 27.5 ppg as a sophom*ore. Perry holds offers from Kentucky, Michigan, Ole Miss, Cincinnati, and Purdue. Head coach Ryan Perry has surrounded the top 100 prospect with enough talent to challenge the best in the entire state. Brady Shoulders (awesome first name) will need to take a big step for the Lyons to dominate. Bradin Nelson has also transferred in from Webster County to add more depth to the backcourt. After a 71-year drought from the Sweet 16, the Lyons are hungry to continue the success.

2. Hopkinsville – This is a squad that will remember what happened all too well in last year’s regional championship game. Anthony Babb’s Tigers will be led by Daisjuan Mercer, a great defensive guard who will attend Miami (OH) next year. He will be flanked by Detravios and Mercer Leavell, Gavarion Northington, and Keimarion Smith. Hopkinsville is the heavy favorite out of the 8th district and will be the main competitor to dethrone Lyon County.

3. Madisonville-North Hopkins – This squad is all about transfer guard Marcus Eaves. The senior G/F is looking to send a message to the rest of the region. The Maroons have all the talent to compete with the very best. For example, DeAron Watkins may be the best freshman in the area. The Maroons will also travel to Panama City Beach, FL, where they’ll play great competition from all over the county. The 7th district will run through Madisonville.

4. Christian County – When looking at a team that went 10-23 last year, nobody expects anything from them. That’s exactly what head coach Toby Miles wants everyone to think. The Colonels will return their top eight players from last year. This team will look to surprise everyone, and there is a good chance that they will. Look for Derrell Batemen to have a huge year and be the leader this squad needs.

5. University Heights – Head coach Melvin Brown and point guard Gavin Grubbs are looking to make a statement this year. University Heights didn’t graduate a single player from last year’s roster; this bodes well for experience, and for wins.

6. Henderson County – Henderson County will be led by the second-best player in the region, guard Gerard Thomas. Sophom*ore Cooper Davenport is the X-factor who could decide how good the Colonels can truly be. Head coach Tyler M. Smithhart will hope for a big year from both to capture the 6th district championship.

7. Union County – Izaiah Manuel is one of the best guards in the region, and he will look to lead the Braves in scoring. Head coach Quaid Girten will look to bring the region back to Union for the first time since 1998.

8. Webster County – Head coach Ryan Haile’s Trojans will look to bounce back after a 13-win season in 2021-22. DeShawn Murphy will look to lead Webster to Rupp Arena for the first time.

9. Hopkins County Central – The Klay Thompson of Kentucky, Drake Skeen, returns to an electric Storm offense. If Hopkins County Central can defend at a high level, then Michael Fraliex’s squad may win the 7th district and challenge for the regional championship.

10. Crittenden County – Legendary head coach Denis Hodge has retired as young D.J. Pigg comes in to take over the Rockets program. Look for Travis Champion to have a huge year on the quest for their first regional title.

KSR's Kentucky High School Basketball Preseason Preview: Regions 1 and 2 (2024)
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