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Adair County High School's boys' team and the Marion County's Lady Knights appear to be in line to repeat as 20th District Tournament champions in March.
Most folks expected Adair County to be Fifth Region champions in 2008. But, coach Mark Fudge's Indians did it a year early by downing John Hardin for the 2007 crown at Central Hardin.
The Indians return three starters led by preseason All-Fifth Region choices in juniors Darren Ballou and Nick Fudge and senior Kalen Kimberland.
Coach Trent Milby's club prevented an Adair County girls' three-peat last March in Lebanon when his young Lady Knights proved early they could compete with the best in the Fifth Region.
Tennessee Tech-bound Tacarra Hayes leads Marion County, but the "real young" Lady Knights (Dee Johnson and Amber Mudd being the veteran supporters) proved last season they were an excellent supporting cast.
Where does the competition come from for the Indians and Lady Knights?
In the boys' race:
Taylor County appears to have enough firepower to threaten Adair County's reign.
Senior Josh Gumm and junior Chase Cox head a talented backcourt with senior Taylor Cox and juniors Chris Thomas offering a solid inside game.
Coach Troy Young will also need some bench help from sophomores Lloyd Stotts, Matt McDonald and Tyler Moss.
Campbellsville is a sophomore-dominated squad, sounds like Adair County last year, led by standout senior football player Shumari Bridgewater.
Sophomores Thomas Downs and Bryton Taylor head the list of talented 10th graders, but point guard seems to where the Eagles are least experienced.
Marion County, like Campbellsville, will need to pull a rabbit out of the hat to make the district finals, but coach Tim Peterson's outfit does return solid performers in D.J. Hall and sharp-shooting Mitchell Lancaster.
In the girls' competition:
Coach James Turner's Adair County team was hit hard by graduation but center Chene Smith returns as does Hannah Peck, who missed last season after knee surgery.
The Lady Indians' young troops are headed by Carli Burton, who logged valuable minutes last year as a freshman.
Taylor County also was decimated by graduation, but coach David Parsons club is led by a pair of talented sophomores - guard Cayla Rucker and swing player MeLeigha Pollock.
Taylor County should compete strongly with Adair County for the second spot in the 20th District.
Campbellsville, like Taylor County, has no seniors on its roster and first-year coach Mike Sneed will have to depend greatly on juniors Danielle Morris and Bronte Karr. Sophomore Ashyya Robinson and eighth-graders Tiffany Slone and Destiny Wilson will probably complete the Lady Eagle starting five.
In the boys' region race:
Adair County's boys are as good as anyone this time around, but surprise, surprise, North Hardin is extremely talented.
In the 18th District, Hart County has been hurt by the apparent loss of senior Thad Highbaugh to a knee injury suffered in football. LaRue County and Green County have about everyone back and should be the top two squads.
In the 19th District, Bardstown and Nelson County appear to dominate Washington County and Bethlehem.
In the girls' region battle:
Unlike the boys, it seems like most teams have a lot of returnees.
Elizabethtown is the heavy favorite although North Hardin expects to repeat and Central Hardin has two players (Kylie Brady and Samantha Sheeran) headed to Bellarmine and could easily win the big trophy.
And, that's only the 17th District.
Hart County, led by Megan Isaacs and Lindsey Highbaugh, is the favorite in the 18th, just slightly over Green County while LaRue County will be vastly improved.
Center Samantha Drake and guard Sara Beth Gillis puts Nelson County above Bardstown in the 19th.
Fifth Region basketball team ratings
1. Adair County, 2. North Hardin, 3. Bardstown, 4. Taylor County, 5. Nelson County, 6. John Hardin, 7. Central Hardin, 8. Campbellsville, 9. Green County, 10. LaRue County, 11. Elizabethtown, 12. Hart County, 13. Marion County, 14. Washington County, 15. Bethlehem, 16. Caverna, 17. Fort Knox.
1. Elizabethtown, 2. Central Hardin, 3. North Hardin, 4. Marion County, 5. Hart County, 6. Nelson County, 7. Green County, 8. Adair County, 9. Bardstown, 10. Taylor County, 11. LaRue County, 12. Washington County, 13. Bethlehem, 14. John Hardin, 15. Campbellsville, 16. Fort Knox, 17. Caverna.
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Due to Campbellsville High School's advancement in the Class A football play-offs, the Eagle boys will not open its basketball season tomorrow.
The Lady Eagles will host Green County in a junior varsity/varsity doubleheader, beginning at 6:30, while the CHS boys' game with the Dragons will now be played on Tuesday, Dec. 18 with the junior varsity game starting at 6:30.
Campbellsville will host its own Tip-Off Classic this Saturday with a quadrupleheader in Paul J. Coop Gymnasium.
Note: Local rosters and schedules are on page 13.
Campbellsville High School Tip-Off Classic
4:00 Henderson County vs. Louisville Southern
5:30 Barren County vs. Christian Academy
7:00 Louisville Central vs. Raceland
8:30 Campbellsville vs. Rockcastle County