Everyone will be chasing Pike Central in the 60th District this season.
The Lady Hawks are the defending district champions and return a lot of the pieces from last season.
Belfry and Phelps will look to knock the Lady Hawks off the throne in the 60th District.
Here is a closer look at each of the teams in the 60th District.
Pike Central —The Lady Hawks return a lot of experience from last season’s team.
The Lady Hawks finished last season with a 20-12 record and the 60th District championship. Pike Central was knocked out of the first round of the 15th Region Tournament by Pikeville.
Pike Central returns Bailey Birchfield, Kelsi Brinager, Alexis Newsome and Chloe Neace from last season’s team. All are seniors this season.
Pike Central did lose Cassidy Mullins who was the Lady Hawks’ leading scorer last season. They also lost Haley Boyd who saw a lot of playing time last season.
The Lady Hawks play a pressing style that not many teams play now.
Brinager will be the top returning scorer and rebounder for Pike Central. She averaged 10.9 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game last season.
Birchfield also averaged double figures scoring last season with 10.3 points per game.
Neace averaged 5.2 points per game last season and Newsome averaged 4.9 points per game. Look for those two to increase their production this season.
Birchfield shot 38 percent from three-point range last season and Neace followed by shooting 35 percent from deep.
Size will be Pike Central’s big issue.
The Lady Hawks have a lot of guards and speed.
They can play multiple positions, but they don’t have a true post presence.
Depth is Pike Central’s other concern.
The Lady Hawks will have to have a younger player or two to emerge and give Pike Central depth.
Look for a younger player or two to develop and help with the depth.
Brinager is Pike Central’s biggest player, but she’s not a true post player. She’s a slasher and off the dribble type player.
The lack in size will be an advantage one way because the Hawks love to get up and down the court.
If they can create chaos and turn the opposing team over, the size disadvantage will be a big plus for Pike Central.
The only downfall is that style of play sometimes equates a lot of fouls and depth is also an issue.
Look for Pike Central to be in the mix for the 60th District championship and the region title at the end of the season.
Pike Central was scheduled to kickoff the season at home against Martin County last night. The Lady Hawks will be back in action at Pikeville tonight at 7:30 p.m.
Belfry — The Lady Pirates will have a bit of a new look this season.
The Lady Pirates have a lot of young talent on the roster.
Katie Ball is eligible for her senior season after transferring from Mingo Central last season. Ball has good size and will be a force inside.
McKenzie Maynard is no longer on the roster after transferring to Pikeville. That took away a potentially good one-two punch inside for the Lady Pirates.
Starter Linzee Phillips is also back for the Lady Pirates. Plus Kyera Thorsnbury will be entering her eighth-grade season. Thornsbury played well at the end of last season.
After those three, there isn’t a lot of experience back for Belfry.
The Lady Pirates have three seniors, non juniors, five sophomores, three freshmen and three eighth-graders on their roster.
Phillips averaged 5.1 points per game last season and Thornsbury averaged 5.5 points per game last season.
Who is going to emerge for Belfry?
How long is it going to take to the youth to grow up?
Both are valid questions when it comes to Belfry this season.
Look for the Lady Pirates to lean on Ball, Phillips and Thornsbury a lot, especially early this season.
Belfry finished with a 13-18 record last season.
Belfry is scheduled to open the season at home against Letcher Central at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night. The Lady Pirates follow with a home game against Perry Central on Friday night, then they visit Greenup County.
Phelps — The Lady Hornets return Danielle Prater, Chloe Smith, Kacie Dotson and Ashton Reed.
Also add in the addition of Kylie Hall and the Lady Hornets look to be in position to make some noise in the 60th District.
Prater has been one of the top scorers in the 15th Region for the past three seasons. Prater averaged 16.9 points per game last season to lead the Lady Hornets.
Smith followed by scoring 9.4 points per game and 5.4 rebounds per game.
Dotson averaged 5.8 points per game and five rebounds per contest as well.
Phelps finished last season with a 12-15 record.
Hall will be a freshman for the Lady Hornets this season.
She played at Shelby Valley last season and averaged 6.8 points per game and 4.4 rebounds per game.
Hall will help open things up for Prater on the outside and should be able to help Smith inside.
Phelps has a lot of talent.
Depth is an issue, though.
If the Lady Hornets get the same production or more production from Prater, look for that to pay off in the win column.
Prater is a talented scorer and has been one of the top players in the region for a few years.
Hall and Smith might be able to help out and that could mean that the Lady Hornets make some noise in 60th District action.
Phelps will kickoff the season at home against Hurley, Va. tonight at 6:00 p.m. The Lady Hornets follow with games at home against Magoffin County and then they travel to Paintsville. Phelps will follow with games against Man, W. Va., Prestonsburg and Betsy Layne.
Sports Editor’s Note: Piarist is also in the 60th District. The Lady Knights don’t have this year’s schedule or roster up on the KHSAA website.