Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

December 8, 2013

AARON SNYDER: Which team is area's Auburn?

ASHLAND — It worked out to near perfection for the Bowl Championship Series, didn't it?

As satisfactory a result as that system can produce, anyway.

The BCS title game will pit the hottest team in the country (Auburn) against the most dominant regular-season squad (Florida State).

Not until midnight on Saturday, though, did it become crystal clear what two teams most deserved to clash for the national crown.

Prior to kickoff of the season, most true college football fans knew Florida State had a legitimate shot of a Pasadena, Calif., destiny.

Very few, however, figured Auburn into the mix of contenders for the Jan. 6 date.

By all early indications, high school basketball in northeastern Kentucky presents similar possibilities.

Most of us may think we have an idea of what schools have the top-tier teams, but an Auburn-like surprise could be in store.

The Dime

‰Your Monday Morning Point Guard was fully prepared to treat Ashland like a pogo stick after the Tomcats bounced two 16th Region foes in dominant fashion. And, they may still belong much higher in "Snyder's Super Seven." However, Saturday's 95-60 setback against Montgomery County served as a reminder that Ashland isn't where it wants to be yet. I'm still impressed, though, especially with Steven Friley. He racked up 31 rebounds in the first two games.

‰The boys from Sandy Hook aren't ready to close the book. When Timmy Knipp graduated in 2011, Elliott County quickly became an afterthought.

The Lions never cried "unfair!" but they're working to improve that it, in fact, was. Logan Nickell leads a smooth-shooting bunch with good basketball IQ this winter.

‰Russell's Johnny McGuire has been unlucky multiple times, but he's not throwing in the towel. After a recent doctor visit, the 6-foot-5 forward who fractured a bone in his leg three times is hopeful for a return in six to eight weeks, according to Russell coach Merle Kidwell.

‰Rowan County's boys, like many teams in the 16th Region, lack size. No matter, say the Vikings. They are off to a 2-1 start, and new faces are beginning to surface. As Tyler Thacker eases back into playing after recovering from a torn ACL, Ryne Callahan, Larry Whelan and Hayden Pratt are among those showcasing their abilities.

‰Not often does a team lose twice in a week and still move up in the PG's rankings, but Lewis County's girls deserve a bump. They had both Ashland and East Carter sweating this past week, and it's only December.

‰Maybe Bath County's girls could be the 16th Region's Auburn. I may be jumping the gun, but with their solid point guard play (Tayler Rogers) and standout post presence (Sarah Price), the potential to rise to the top is there.

‰Monday and Tuesday night will serve as good early-season previews for what to expect in the Fleming County-Rowan County rivalry this season. The 61st District foes face off in both the girls' and boys' EKC Tournaments.

‰Russell's girls, yes, narrowly fell to Rowan County in the opening round of the EKC Tournament on Saturday. But don't forget what the Lady Devils accomplished on Thursday. Beating Boyd County is no easy task. The newly dependable scoring of Maggie Jachimczuk is an X-factor for this team.

‰Are Raceland's boys the favorites in the 63rd District? The Rams are the only team without a loss so far. Of course, they haven't played a single game yet, but so what? Greenup County throttled Prestonsburg, and then turned around and lost to Morgan County, which had fallen to Paintsville by 20 points. Lewis County is off to a frigid start, at 1-2. Russell will battle inexperience for some time. This district race is nowhere close to being decided.

‰The second annual Boyd County Roundball Classic is coming up this weekend at Boyd County Middle School. The inaugural event was a slam dunk a year ago, with now Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins gracing the floor.

This year's slate of games will also feature a great deal of talent. Friday's schedule: Boyd County-Johnson Central girls, 6 p.m.; Boyd County-Elliott County boys, 7:30 p.m.; Huntington Prep-Walnut Hills, 9 p.m. Saturday: Ashland-Huntington St. Joe girls, 11 a.m.; Boyd County-Chesapeake girls, 12:30 p.m.; Rowan County-Fairland boys, 2 p.m.; Ashland-Eastern boys, 3:45 p.m.; Fleming County-Fairdale boys, 5:30 p.m.; Huntington Prep-Pickerington Central, 7:15 p.m.; Boyd County-Lawrence County boys, 9 p.m.

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