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Warren Central’s Jaiden Lawrence (left) and Chappelle Whitney (right) reach to block a shot by Greenwood’s Lofton Howard during last season’s game at Bowling Green High School.

Editor’s note – This is the 13th in a 17-part series of high school basketball previews counting down to the scheduled opening night of the regular season Nov. 29.

The Warren Central boys’ basketball team saw its run of Region 4 titles come to an end last season with a loss to Greenwood in the District 14 Tournament.

A young roster with limited experience battled through COVID-19 pauses to finish 8-7. And while the season didn’t go as expected, Warren Central coach William Unseld said his roster gained valuable experience and plenty of motivation to get back into the mix for the district, and region, title.

“We played four, maybe five, games in the month of February and we never got any rhythm,” Unseld said. “We didn’t harp on that. I told them, ‘Let that motivate you.’ They’ve been working hard. Physically they look different. Their mental approach is different. Now they know what to expect.”

The Dragons essentially return five starters, with a core group that learned under fire last season. Senior Jaiden Lawrence has matured and taken a larger leadership role, according to Unseld, while juniors Chapelle Whitney, Izayiah Villafuerte, Damarion Walkup and Omari Glover all have experience as starters.

Warren Central has plenty of depth to go with the top five returnees. Junior Malik Jefferson has taken a huge jump and will surprise people, according to Unseld. Sophomore Kade Unseld has also taken a huge jump and is way ahead of the curve offensively, while Warren Central’s coach said he is expecting big things out of junior Tayvion Wells.

“We are going to come off the bench 6-5, 6-5, 6-5 this year with what we already have starting,” Unseld said. “I’m excited about what we can be. This could possibly be – from top to bottom – the most talented team I have had. Now they have to go out and win basketball games. Just having talent isn’t enough.”

Unseld said he expects his team to suffer some growing pains early, but by the end of the season will be ready for another potentially deep postseason run.

“This district is tough this year, but I have seen years before where it has been like that,” Unseld said. “Greenwood brings back a lot of experience. Bowling Green brings back (Turner) Buttry. All five teams in this district are very talented. It’s going to be a dogfight, no matter who you play.

“If you get out of the district then you have to deal with a Barren County (team). Russellville is going to be pretty good this year. You have to deal with some people, but that is the only way I want it.”{&end}

– Follow prep sports reporter Micheal Compton on Twitter @mcompton428 or visit bgdailynews.com.

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