Bowling Green continued its dominance last season, claiming a third Region 4 title in four years.
The Purples rode that momentum to a state title game appearance, falling to Owensboro.
Now Bowling Green aims to take one step further, entering the season ranked No. 2 in the state, according to the preseason coaches’ poll.
Warren Central will likely be the biggest threat again, with South Warren, Warren East and Greenwood looking to surprise.
Here is a look at District 14:
1. Bowling Green
31-6 last year
The Purples have high expectations, but are ready to embrace the challenge.
Bowling Green must replace the backcourt of Tucker Sine and Malik Carothers, who coach D.G. Sherrill said was the heart and soul of last year’s team.
Juniors Terry Taylor and Kyran Jones and senior Perry Ayers give the Purples plenty of experience to build from. Junior guard Deangelo Wilson is also expected to contribute but is still playing football.
Transfer Thomas Booker averaged about 20 points a game at East Nashville High School, while seniors Jonathan Peay and Seth Peay will see more time.
Sherrill said a host of young guys could see action as well, as the Purples look to add depth.
One player who won’t return is Dane Drobocky, who will concentrate on football.
“This is a new year,” Sherrill said. “While we are embracing the expectations, we understand how tough the 14th district is, how many well coached teams are in this region.
“So when we talk about this year, we talk about trying to get better game-in and game-out and talk about making sure we are able to get through that first district tournament game. If we can do that, then we know it is a day-by-day, night-by-night experience.”
2. Warren Central
23-9 last year
The Dragons lose seven seniors, but coach William Unseld said he still has plenty of talent to work with.
The senior class includes Tristen Murray, Chance Shanklin, Damani Walker and Darrell Bowman.
Unseld said Bowman, who has lost about 50 pounds, has played well in scrimmages and doesn’t look like the same player as last season.
Unseld said he expects his team to be able to play faster this season and be more explosive offensively.
He added that they will be battle-tested with a tough schedule and only seven home games.
“We lost a lot of kids the last couple of years, but we are still very talented,” Unseld said. “If people don’t know these kids now, they will know them before too long.
“The crazy thing is the team I have got this year will able be to do some things that my last two teams couldn’t do. They can shoot the ball, which hurt us at the end. This team is very deep. We have a little bit of everything.”
3. South Warren
14-15 last year
The Spartans will have a third coach in three years, with former Muhlenberg County coach Tony Hopper replacing Deron Breeze, who left after one season.
It’s made for a unique start for Hopper, who hasn’t seen the Spartans’ football players yet.
The Spartans return the top two scorers in seniors Dayton Gumm and Brandon Stacker, but Hopper said they lack experience after that.
Junior Dylan Beckham gives the Spartans size in the paint. Juniors Jaxson Smith and Bryce Clayton and senior Chandler Stephenski are also expected to contribute.
Junior forward Zach Haynes is among the players Hopper expects to have once football season ends.
Hopper said the biggest thing has been working on the culture. South Warren is 0-24 all-time against Bowling Green and Warren Central.
“This is one of the toughest districts in the state, maybe close to being the toughest in the state,” Hopper said. “You’ve got Bowling Green and Warren Central that are perennial powers and these guys have never beat either one of those teams. We are just trying to take one small step at a time.”
4. Warren East
11-15 last year
The Raiders welcome a core of guys back in Brandon Combs’ second season as coach.
Combs said he hopes they have grown and matured so the Raiders can take the next step.
Combs said senior Kaleb Britt is poised for a big season and also has high expectations for seniors Mackenzie Strange and Khalil Britt.
Junior Patrick Satterfield returns in the backcourt with senior Cody Abner, sophomore Tashaun Neal, freshman Adante Barber and junior Jamison Richardson also expected to contribute as the Raiders try for the first Region 4 tournament berth since 1997.
“Obviously we need to get this program to where the Bowling Green’s and Warren Central’s are,” Combs said. “Last year was the first part of that process, where you played hard and hoped to win. You’d like to think this year you would like to win some of those.”
9-19 last year
The Gators are in flux, with graduation losses and several other players no longer on the roster.
Alex Fee isn’t playing, while Collin Jackson transferred to Bowling Green, according to coach Jordan Carter.
Junior Dawson Crump and senior center/forward Stephen Sanders should lead the way. Caleb Miller, Bradley Burgess, Scotty Harris, Luke Littrell and Dillon Nash will also see time as the Gators look to get their toughness back.
“We have to accept who we are,” Carter said. “We are not going to be the most quick. We are not going to be an up and down team or a pressing team that guards you for 94 feet or anything like that. We are going to have to be a team that breaks you down in the halfcourt setting and is physical and aggressive and does all the little things.”