Four individual players and all four varsity teams earned preseason plaudits from The Cats' Pause 2020-21 Kentucky Basketball Yearbook, which appeared on newsstands during the holiday season.
Elias Richardson, a senior wing for Scott County boys' basketball, was selected No. 4 among the top 10 players to watch in the 11th Region.
On the girls' side, three county players held down spots in the preseason honor roll. Great Crossing senior point guard Braylee McMath was chosen as the No. 3 player in the 11th Region, one notch ahead of Scott County forward Kenady Tompkins.
Joining them at No. 7 was GCHS guard Timothi Williams.
The yearbook also gave both Scott County teams the early nod as far as the “Battle of the Birds” is concerned. Scott County, four-time defending champion of the 11th Region — an unprecedented feat — checks in at No. 5 in the preseason listing.
Lexington Catholic, which fell to SC in a memorable championship game last season, received top billing, followed by Madison Central, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Frederick Douglass.
Bryan Station was slotted sixth, followed by Great Crossing, Henry Clay, Lexington Christian and Tates Creek.
If those ratings hold true, it means both teams will make it to the region tournament this season. Scott County is predicted second among 42nd District teams, sandwiched between Douglass and Bryan Station, while Great Crossing is the only 41st District squad in the top 10.
Cats' Pause expects last year's four 11th Region semifinalists to lead the pack again this season, topped by defending champion Franklin County. Paul Laurence Dunbar was deemed second-best, followed by Scott County and Great Crossing.
SCHS swept three meetings with its new county rival a year ago, but the scales figure to balance this winter with GCHS returning its entire lineup, while the Lady Cards must replace Division I players Malea Williams (Louisville) and Morgan DeFoor (Morehead State).
Rounding out the anticipated girls' top 10 are Tates Creek, Madison Southern, Madison Central, Berea, Lexington Catholic and Bryan Station.
That indicates Scott County as the favorite to win its fifth consecutive 42nd District title, while Great Crossing is expected to make a return to regions and emerge again as Franklin County's stiffest competition in the 41st.
Ben Johnson of Lexington Catholic, Dashawn Jackson of Frederick Douglass and Kole Browne of Madison Central are the only players ahead of Richardson on the 11th Region boys' preseason watch list.
Rounding out that roster are Tanner Walton of LCA, Myles Morones of Bryan Station, Tim Hall of Dunbar, Nate Turner of Madison Southern, Jack Gohmann of Lexington Catholic and Jackson Twombly of Frankfort.
Franklin County's Brooklynn Miles and Elise Ellison-Coons of Dunbar are the lone girls ranked in front of McMath and Tompkins.
Next in line are Patience Laster of Franklin County and Samantha Cornelison of Madison Southern. Williams is followed by Maddie Kaufman of Tates Creek, Janaya Chenault of Frankfort and Kylee Dennis of Sayre.
Statewide, the other boys' favorites, in order of region: Murray, Christian County, Owensboro, Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, Fern Creek, Ballard, Oldham County, Covington Catholic, George Rogers Clark, West Jessamine, North Laurel, Wolfe County, Martin County and Ashland Blazer.
For a closer look at all four county teams, including rosters and schedules, please see the special preview section in this edition of the News-Graphic.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.