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No boys’ team has won three Fifth Region high school basketball titles since North Hardin’s three championships from 2001-03.
However, John Hardin’s Bulldogs stand right near the ladder for a third straight with Elizabethtown and Bardstown this season while Thomas Nelson and Taylor County are real close behind.
On the girls’ scene, Marion County’s four-year reign, which was a first in region basketball, was highlighted with last season’s undefeated season and state championship in Bowling Green.
The Lady Knights, led by Anthony Epps who replaces Trent Milby who left for Berea College, must surpass Elizabethtown, LaRue County, North Hardin and Nelson County to reach Fifth Region supremacy this time around.
John Hardin’s boys’ squad will need to hold off rival Elizabethtown, who lost 6-7 junior stand-out Zane Najdawi who moved out of state, and a deep Bardstown Tiger team.
The Bulldogs are led by perimeter players Keon Williams and Patrick Anderson plus a set of nice point guards.
Despite the loss of Najdawi, the Panthers still have good size with senior Dominique Harding plus solid wing player Nic McDonald.
The Tigers are 10 players deep, led by junior guard L.J. Cowherd.
Thomas Nelson and Taylor County each have a transfer as they try to crack the region’s top three boys’ units.
Another huge loss in the region came when freshman guard Kel Stotts, a starter of the last two seasons, left Adair County for Russell County.
On the girls’ top player scene, Western Kentucky University-bound Ivy Brown and future Division-1 teammate Alexis Brewer, pace coach Travis Wootton’s LaRue County squad while Elizabethtown sophomore Erin Boley is probably the region’s next McDonald’s All-American and leads a dependable Lady Panther entourage.
Fifth Region boys’ teams’ ratings
1. John Hardin, 2. Elizabethtown, 3. Bardstown, 4. Thomas Nelson, 5. Taylor County, 6, Adair County, 7. Central Hardin, Marion County, 9, LaRue County, 10, Bethlehem, 11. Caverna, 12, North Hardin, 13. Nelson County, 14, Campbellsville, 15. Washington County, 16. Fort Knox, 17. Green County, 18, Hart County.
Boys’ players’ ratings
1. Keon Williams John Hardin
2. Quentin Goodin Taylor Co.
3. Caleb Wigginton Taylor Co.
4. Patrick Anderson John Hardin
5. Nic McDonald Elizabethtown
6. Dominique Harding Elizabethtown
7. Dikembe Dixon Thomas Nelson
8. L.J. Cowherd Bardstown
9. Latrelle Irvin Marion Co.
10. Seivon Schooling Bardstown
Fifth Region girls’ teams’ ratings
1. Elizabethtown, 2. LaRue County, 3. North Hardin, 4. Nelson County, 5. Marion County, 6. Adair County, 7. Green County, 8. Washington County, 9. John Hardin, 10. Caverna, 11. Bethlehem, 12. Bardstown, 13. Central Hardin, 14. Campbellsville, 15. Taylor County, 16. Thomas Nelson, 17. Fort Knox, 18. Hart County.
Girls’ players’ ratings
1. Ivy Brown LaRue Co.
2. Erin Boley Elizabethtown
3. Alexis Brewer LaRue Co.
4. Reauna Cleaver Elizabethtown
5. Alexus Calhoun Marion Co.
6. Kayla Bale Green Co.
7. Madison Faukner Caverna
8. Tamiah Stanford North Hardin
9. Jennifer Keene Washington Co.
10. Zacchea Small John Hardin