McCracken County was a half away from earning a trip to Rupp Arena to play in the KHSAA Sweet 16 last March.

Eventually, it was Mayfield that won the First Region tournament, giving Chris Guhy a fitting send-off after 31 years as a coach.

But this year, the Mustangs have their eyes fixed on a First Region title for a send-off of one of their own -- senior forward Jackson Sivills, who is bound for Murray State in the fall.

But McCracken coach Burlin Brower (Guhy's cousin) said while Sivills has his college decision made, he's not letting off the gas pedal.

"He's still got a lot to work on," Brower said of the 6-foot-6 senior, already the school's all-time leading scorer, who had 17 Division I offers to choose from before landing with the Racers. "I think the think about Jackson that makes him unique is he's never willing to just settle on how good he is today. He's always trying to get better for tomorrow and better for the next week. And, he knows he's still got to get better if he's going to step on the floor at Murray State. He comes in there (the gym) and he works to get better, too. He's got his eyes set on a bigger goal of being ready to play when he walks in at Murray."

So, what about guys not named Jackson Sivills?

Junior guard Noah Dumas, Brower said, has made a significant step forward after taking over as the point guard last year from Cam Cartwright (Kentucky Wesleyan). So has senior forward Ramon Heard, in his second season after transferring from Ballard Memorial.

"He may be the best rebounder in the region," Brower said of the 6-foot-8 Heard, who averaged 4.8 caroms and 3.8 points a game as a junior. "He is a rebounding machine."

The Mustangs bench has looked good, too, Brower said.

Ronnie Jones, McCracken's sixth-man, is expected to make a significant contribution as a senior, as is sophomore Ian Hart and junior Ian McCune, when football season ends for the receiver.

Sophomore Brant Brower -- Burlin's son -- may even see increased playing time, too, over last season's minutes.

"That gives us some depth with that sophomore class," the coach said.

The Mustangs open at home on Dec. 5 with Community Christian, before heading to Marshall County Hoopfest to play Madisonville-North Hopkins.

McCracken has games against several potential Rupp-bound teams this season, including a weekend tournament -- the King of the Bluegrass -- at Louisville Fairdale High School and a matchup on Feb. 7 against Collins at Warren Central. The Mustangs also play against Lincoln County and Louisville Eastern in a Christmas tournament at Lexington Christian on Dec. 27.

Certainly, it's a tough test for the Mustangs, who won 31 games last year and 28 in 2017-18.

"I think our schedule is as tough as I've ever made it," Brower said. "We've got a shot to play three, maybe four of the best players in the state of Kentucky this year. Madisonville is going to be a top 10 team in the state. Collins is going to be a top 10 team in the state, for a lot of people. We don't know who we're going to play yet (at King of the Bluegrass), but we're going to have to play Louisville Male, Louisville Ballard, Louisville Trinity or North Oldham."

Tilghman back to the drawing board with new coach, without either Thomas

It'll be a completely different Paducah Tilghman team that steps on to the court this season than in years past for first-year coach Greg Overstreet, formerly of St. Mary.

Former Blue Tornado skipper Rod Thomas is gone, as he's now an assistant coach for McCracken County's girls basketball team. Point guard Rodriguez Thomas is gone, too. He's graduated and off to Murray State, as a walk-on for the Racers.

Forwards Avery Strayhorn and Tyus White graduated, too, while guard Amirion Joyce moved back to Louisville for his senior season.

The only players left on the roster with meaningful varsity playing time are seniors Michael Laster and Jaheim Concentine and junior Eli Brown, who broke his hand late last season and missed the playoffs.

"For these guys that are here, we had, truly, 30 days to make the changes," said Overstreet, himself a Tilghman alum, on the learning curve his team will face this season. "We did a little bit this summer, but you only get so much done in the summertime. We're taking small steps at a time, with the hopes that it'll be late January before we really kind of get going. If there's ever a season where it's probably going to take us a little longer, it would be this year."

Of note for Tilghman this year is a rematch for Overstreet against St. Mary on Dec. 13.

The new skipper shares a great deal with the old one, too.

Greg's son and former assistant coach Wes Overstreet was named to his dad's old job less than a week after it was vacated.

"(I) don't believe it has ever happened at (the) varsity level before," the elder Overstreet said.

St. Mary to take court with experience in '19-20

Like with its soccer teams, returning experience may prove to benefit St. Mary this season.

The Vikings had only one senior graduate, Andre Bellamy, who saw limited time off the bench.

So, the bulk of the returning talent are starters with significant minutes.

That formula worked in the fall for second-year soccer coach Blaine Skeen, so it stands to reason that it'll work, too, for Wes Overstreet when his first season starts on Dec. 3 at home against Carlisle County.

Why?

Most of those players play on both teams.

"This team has huge potential, and I think we are going to shock a lot of people this year," said the younger of the Coaches Overstreet, echoing many of Skeen's sentiments from the beginning of the soccer season.

Colin Doss -- the only member who doesn't play a second sport at St. Mary -- joins multi-sport athletes Joey Eggemeyer (soccer, baseball), Michael Lurtz (soccer, baseball), Parker MacCauley (soccer, baseball) and Billy Johnston (baseball) as the projected starting five.

For his part, however, Doss has garnered significant collegiate interest at the Division II and junior college level and has, his coach said, improved significantly from the junior who averaged 14.3 points and six rebounds for the 12-win Vikings a season ago.

CCA moving up after drastic increase in win total in '18-19

Between February 2016 and February 2018, 63 games in all, Community Christian's boys basketball team won twice -- nearly two years apart, to the day.

CCA would win once more that year, finishing the season 2-26.

Last season, the Warriors multiplied that win total by four, going 8-21.

This year, a similar slate of games should test CCA, which has just one senior -- Sawyer Wilson -- after graduating a pair -- Ben Carter and Elijah Middleton -- this past spring.

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