It looks like it will be a fun year for basketball in the 5A-Central, especially on the boys’ side with so many teams in contention for state tournament spot. That is, if you believe how well the nonconference slate has been for Central teams.

The Sylvan Hills Bears are clearly better this season with the steady play of Ronnie Hinton and the emergence of big guys like Aumonie Armond and the steady play of Kordy Winston and Tra Doss.

An appearance in postseason play after missing it last season would be a huge step for the Bears.

But, make no mistake, the road won’t be easy. The Bears’ first opponent, Little Rock McClellan will be a tough test for any team no matter what gym they play in.

Davis has gotten word also from the coaching network that North Pulaski is much improved, as is Mills.

The Pulaski Academy Bruins have a highly touted sophomore in Lawson Korita who scored 32 against Paragould in a nonconference win over the Rams.

Little Rock Christian will likely be a tough out as well, and nobody likes to travel to Helena-West Helena to face a good team down there.

On the girls’ side, look for the Lady Bruins and the Little Rock Christian Lady Warriors to be contenders for the top spot.

The Lady Bears were a state tournament team last season, but have suffered some unexpected attrition and only dress eight players on a regular basis, so depth and youth are going to be an issue throughout the season.

Head coach Shelly Davis is using every method she can think of to get her kids some game experience including scrimmaging the boys on occasion.

Mills and North Pulaski don’t have a numbers problem, but they don’t have a junior high program, so freshmen are automatically moved up to the senior high level.

Jacksonville has been brought back down to earth after winning the 5A state championship last year losing Jessica Jackson to graduation. Jackson now plays for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

It would be tough for experts to accurately predict how the league pecking order to play out. But it is going to be fun to watch.