The Tigers began the season with three impressive wins over Jessamine County, Lexington Lafayette and Lexington Tates Creek in the Hillbrook Classic. In the finals of the Classic, Paintsville would meet up with Lexington Henry Clay and UK signee, 6-1 guard Sean Sutton, the son of University of Kentucky Coach Eddie Sutton. Henry Clay led most of the first half before Paintsville, with bountiful experience, came back and tied the game at 36 at the half. The game was nip-and-tuck the rest of the way with the Tigers coming out with a 67-63 win in front of UK’s Coach Sutton and staff. Coach Runyon praised his team after the game, “There’s just no substitute for experience. Any coach can say what he wants, but when you’ve got kids with three years experience under their belts, that’s a commodity.” The win propelled Paintsville to the No. 1 ranking in the state, the second time this group of Tigers had been ranked as the best team in Kentucky.
After losing two in a row to Louisville Doss and Louisville Southern, and losing the state’s number one ranking, Coach Runyon put the Tigers through two difficult workouts. Runyon put the squad through a three-hour workout the day after they returned home, following that up with a two-hour session the next day. He hoped that the Tigers would have better intensity for the games in Myrtle Beach, as he believed that is what caused them to lose two in a row. “We played one-on-one and two-on-two and, coupled with a lack of intensity, it spelled doom for us,” Runyon told the Paintsville Herald. “I hope we get back on track this weekend. I’d hate for people to drive 16 hours to watch us stink up the place. If we get our intensity, emotion and effort back up like we had it the first six games, you’ll see a much different team down there.”