Johnson Central Basketball Preview

The Johnson Central Basketball programs looks to rebound after a difficult season a year ago. The Lady Eagles went through a coaching change right before the start of the 2021 season that had Boys Head Coach Tommy McKenzie pulling double duty coaching both the boys and girls program throughout the year. Now with the new girls coach in place, the Golden Eagle Fans are excited about the 2022-2023 season.

With the start of the 2022-2023 season, their is a new girls head coach for the Lady Eagles. Jim Hicks will be guiding the Lady Eagles program as they look to get back to the Regional Tournament. Hicks will rely on a great group of Juniors to lead the way.

KEY PLAYERS RETURNING – The Lady Eagles were led in scoring last season by Taylor McKenzie. Taylor averaged 8.5 points per game and was a key defensive presence for her team. The Lady Eagles will rely heavily on McKenize for her leadership and experience.

Next up is Kaylynn McKenzie. The daughter of Boys Head Coach Tommy McKenzie is now entering her Sophomore season was second on the team in both scoring and rebounding. McKenzie looks to improve her 7.0 point and 4.6 rebound per game average as she continues to transition into the speed of the high school game.

Finally, Coach Hicks will rely on the steady play from point guard Becca Wright to help get the Lady Eagles offense in motion. Wright a steady ball handler and play maker must get into the paint to create easy opportunities for her teammates for the Lady Eagles to be successful.

KEY LOSSES – The Lady Eagles will miss last year Senior Claira Blair. Blair was second on the team in scoring with her 8.1 point per game average. The Lady Eagles struggled offensively last season scoring only 39 points per game so the loss of Blair’s offensive ability will definitely hurt. Also, the Lady Eagles will miss KK Vannony as she transferred to cross town rival Paintsville.

Final Thoughts – Its a new day for Johnson Central Lady Eagle basketball. Coach Hicks will bring energy and excitement to the program. The Lady Eagles are young with a lot of talent. If Coach Hicks can harness the talent and utilize the depth he has on this team, watch out for these young Lady Eagles as the make a run toward the post season. Defense will need to be the key for this squad as they will need to create turnovers to make easy offensive opportunities.

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The Johnson Central Golden Eagles look to bounce back to the Regional Tournament after a tough opening round district loss last season. For a program with one of the best coaches in the Mountains the fans of the Golden Eagles expect nothing less than a run toward another Regional title.

KEY PLAYERS RETURNING – The Golden Eagles will rely heavily on their lone starter returning from last season, Ryan Rose. Rose was third on the team in scoring last season with an average of 10.5 points per game. Rose also led the team in rebounding grabbing almost 9 boards every contest.

A big addition for Johnson Central this year will be transfer from Floyd Central point guard Conner Hopkins. Hopkins is a tenacious defender and will bring a steady force to the Golden Eagle back court. Hopkins averaged 5.0 points for the Jaguars last season.

After spending last season injured senior Mason Lawson will be expected to share a large portion of the scoring load.

Through a long line of great players for JC over the past decade, one thing has been consistent in the Golden Eagle program, Coach Tommy McKenzie hasn’t played eight graders on the varsity level. The trend may change with rising superstar Austin Sloan, a kid who played a heavy load of the minutes this Summer.

KEY LOSSES – The Golden Eagles graduated 5 of their top 6 players from last season. It will be on the offensive side these players will be missed. Grant Rice averaged 14.0 point per game, Ryleh McKenzie 13.5 , Jacob Butcher 8.7, Conner LeMaster 7.6 and Reesce Collins 5.6 point per game. The five players listed above accounted for 89% of the Johnson Central offense last season that scored 63.3 points per game. The group also accounted for 68% of the teams rebounds.

FINAL THOUGHTS – Graduating a class of 5 seniors who all played considerable game time as those listed above would be devastating to many programs throughout the Mountains. If any team can overcome this it will be Johnson Central. It will be interesting to see who steps up to fill the offensive void left behind.

Photo courtesy of Golden Eagles Broadcasting Network

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