High school basketball is finally upon us, folks. You know what that means right? It means that its time for classic basketball games in the 15th District.
I honestly believe that one of the best-kept secrets in all of Kentucky high school basketball is how competitive and entertaining games in the 15th District are.
I was actually able to witness this firsthand as I was on the Monroe County team that defeated Allen County-Scottsville in the first round of the 2011 District Tournament in five (!!) overtimes. It’s one of the best games I’ve ever had the fortune to be a part of, and I still can remember it well.
Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Every season, it seems like this district turns out the best girls’ basketball teams in the region. Coach Warren Cunningham always has a good Barren County Boys’ team ready to play, and Glasgow consistently puts great athletes on the court.
ACS and Monroe County are right there with Glasgow and Barren County as well. Sure, there are some down years to be had here and there for some teams, but for the most part there has been an outstanding level of parity between these four schools within this decade.
Not only will this year be much of the same, but the 2019-20 season sets up to be a banner year for this district in both boys and girls basketball.
Since the 2005-06 season (the first year of this district as presently constructed), there has not been a season in which the 15th District had a team win both the Boys and Girls Regional Tournament. In fact, not a single boys team from this district has won the region during that time.
You heard it here first: Both of those things may actually happen in March of 2020. Sure, go ahead and call me crazy, biased or just simply stupid.
But if there is a season in which the 15th District actually makes these things happen, it’s this one.
Let’s start with the ladies first. Of course, we all know how Barren County finally ended the district’s long drought of making it to the state tournament as the Trojanettes won the Regional Tournament back in March.
And they just might do it again in 2020. Yes, it’s true that Barren County lost four starters from that team, but this is a program with enough talent to sustain itself despite those departures.
Elizabeth Bertram returns as the preseason pick for Fourth Region Player of the Year as does the very talented Karleigh Delk. With head coach Piper Lindsey still at the helm, expect other players to step up into those starting positions nicely.
What’s really scary is that they might not even be the best team in the district this season. That honor may just go to a Glasgow team that returns two all-region players in Ashanti Gore and Anzley Adwell.
Coach Justin Stinson had his team in the semifinals of the regional tournament last season, and with Gore and Adwell back expect at least a repeat of that happening.
While ACS and Monroe County both have teams who will be vying for winning seasons, Barren County and Glasgow will be the district’s best bets on the girls’ side. Both are picked as two of the top three teams in the region by the Cats' Pause magazine.
Bowling Green High School is the team standing in their way. The Lady Purples have a strong group of players returning so they will be a tough out, but if that mountain is climbed it will be by either the Trojanettes or Lady Scotties.
On the boys’ side of things, you will start to notice a bit of trend. Both Glasgow and Barren County will field some of the best teams in the region. The Scotties have a metric ton of hype leading into this season.
They fell in overtime in the semifinals of the region tournament to a Warren Central team that advanced all the way to the final four of the state tournament.
For the 2019-20 season, they return just about everyone and add the very talented Jaden Franklin who missed last season due to injury. Nik Sorrell leads the charge as the best true point guard in the region, and is joined by six other seniors with revenge on their minds.
Yes, Warren Central and Bowling Green will have two of the best teams in the region once again. They have combined for every regional title since 2008, and many expect 2020 to go the same way. Heck, even the Bowling Green Daily News said “It’s Dragons and Purples — again.”
With all due respect, I strongly disagree with that assessment. This is the most-talented Glasgow boys’ team of this decade, and they already showed they could play right there with Warren Central last season.
That is unless Mr. Cunningham and the Trojans don’t have anything to say about it. While the Trojans finished just 15-15 last season, they return almost everyone, which includes stars Will Bandy and Aden Nyekan.
While they do need to improve their overall team shooting, if Nyekan takes a big step forward after leading the team in rebounding and finishing second in scoring as a freshman, then this is a team that could absolutely win the district and advance deep into the regional tournament.
ACS might pull off a big upset to one of these teams as they return junior guard Mason Shirley who is one of the best guards in the region.
Overall, both Glasgow and Barren County are going to have very good shots at taking the Fourth Region this season in both boys' and girls' basketball. Yes, this is incredibly hard to do, but the point is that they have the talent to get the job done.
Warren Central and Bowling Green High School consistently have a stranglehold on making it to the state tournament. However, this is looking like the season where the 15th District may break through that hold and truly prove its worth.