Another December, another appealing Ashland Invitational Tournament on tap.
The 59th annual event will tip off on Friday at Anderson Gym and wrap up on Sunday night.
Three 16th Region teams, including the defending champion, two 8th Region squads and the defending 15th Region champion make up the Kentucky teams in the field. Two Ohio teams — Ironton and Roger Bacon — are also involved.
Ashland hasn’t triumphed in the prestigious tournament since 2001. The Tomcats have racked up five runner-up finishes in the last seven seasons, including last year’s loss to Newport Central Catholic in the finals.
Simon Kenton and Johnson Central tip off Friday’s action in what figures to be an entertaining affair. The Golden Eagles are back-to-back 15th Region champions. Simon Kenton is coached by Trent Steiner, who has ties to the Louisa area. He was a head coach at Lawrence County and former assistant at Russell.
Roger Bacon, out of St. Bernard, Ohio (near Cincinnati), takes on reigning 16th Region titleholder Fleming County. Roger Bacon has good tradition, having won two state championships (1982, 2002).
Ironton is coming off a solid string of seasons — including a state semifinal appearance in 2012-13 — but has struggled to this point. The Fighting Tigers face Grant County in the opening round.
Ashland and Lewis County do battle in a rematch of the season opener, one that Ashland won 92-68.
The annual Distinguished Tomcat Award will be presented to Mike Johnson, Sr., prior to tipoff of Friday night’s Ashland-Lewis County contest.
Players to watch: Troy Steward (Fleming County), Shane Hall (Johnson Central), Kyle Gullett (Johnson Central), Nick Miller (Ashland), Steven Friley (Ashland), Fred Moore (Roger Bacon), Brett Ruckel (Lewis County), Aaron Hicks (Grant County), Seth Adkins (Grant County), Taylor Morrison (Simon Kenton).
‰Friday: Johnson Central-Simon Kenton, 2:30 p.m.; Fleming County-Roger Bacon, 4 p.m.; Ashland-Lewis County, 7 p.m.; Ironton-Grant County, 8:30 p.m.
‰Saturday: Consolation games, 2:30 & 4 p.m.; Central-Simon winner vs. Fleming-Bacon winner, 7 p.m.; Ashland-Lewis winner vs. Ironton-Grant winner, 8:30 p.m.
‰Sunday: Consolation games, 2:30, 4 & 6 p.m.; Championship game, 7:30 p.m.
(at Greenup County)
Musketeers second-year coach Harold Tackett accomplished the goal of bringing a holiday basketball tournament back to Greenup County after it went several years without.
Now, he’s hoping to win it.
Four 16th Region teams — Greenup County, Elliott County, East Carter and Fairview — will each go up against different in-state opponents in the opening round of the Our Lady of Bellefonte Classic.
The tournament will tip off on Thursday at noon with Greenup County and Hancock County.
The day-by-day schedule:
‰Thursday: Greenup County-Hancock County, noon; Frankfort-Elliott County, 1:30 p.m; Richmond Model-East Carter, 3 p.m.; Woodford County-Fairview, 4:30 p.m.
‰Friday: Consolation games, noon & 1:30 p.m.; Greenup-Hancock winner vs. Frankfort-Elliott winner, 3 p.m.; Model-East winner vs. Woodford-Fairview winner, 4:30 p.m.
‰Saturday: Consolation games, noon, 1:30 & 3 p.m.; Championship game, 5 p.m.
Ohio River Classic
Raceland’s girls will host the Ohio River Classic, which runs from Thursday to Saturday.
Three 16th Region teams — East Carter, Russell and Raceland — will be on display. Lawrence County, of the 15th Region, is also featured as part of the eight-team field.
The day-by-day schedule:
‰Thursday: Bracken County-East Carter, 3 p.m.; Lawrence County-Owen County, 4:30 p.m.; Villa Madonna-Russell, 6:30 p.m.; Raceland-Henry County, 8:15 p.m.
‰Friday: Consolation games, noon & 1:45 p.m.; Bracken-East winner vs. Lawrence-Owen winner, 3:30 p.m.; Villa-Russell winner vs. Raceland-Henry winner, 4:45 p.m.
‰Saturday: Consolation games, noon, 1:45 & 3 p.m.; Championship game, 4:45 p.m.
Fairview senior Anthony Roark was invited to participate in the Kentucky-Tennessee National Guard Border Bowl on Jan. 11 at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky.
The 6-foot-5, 295-pounder played both right tackle and defensive tackle for the Eagles this past season.
Roark was an All-Area selection.
‘Big Swede’ Sighting
Former Raceland standout offensive lineman Sebastian Johansson will start at left guard for Marshall in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 in Annapolis, Md.
The 6-foot-4, 284-pound redshirt sophomore wears No. 71.
Known as “Big Swede,” Johansson is originally from Karlstad, Sweden.
The Point Guard is currently busy indulging in entirely too much of his favorite Christmas candy, but he’ll be back with the goodies such as the Super Seven, 30-Point Club and The Dime next week.
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AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.