2016 9th Region Tournament Preview

  1. #1
    by Walter is offline Premium Member
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    And then there were 8. All of the hard work that each team has put in to this point finally culminates in a win or go home three game tournament with the prize being a trip to Rupp Arena for a shot a state championship.

    The Match Ups

    Wednesday March 2nd
    6:30 Conner v St Henry
    8:00 Covington Catholic v Newport

    Friday March 4th
    6:30 Newport Central Catholic v Cooper
    8:00 Dixie Heights v Holy Cross

    Sunday March 6th
    1:00 Semi Final #1
    2:30 Semi Final #2

    Monday March 7th
    7:00 9th Region Finals

    Ranking the Field

    1. Covington Catholic (26-6)

    The hype is real as the Blueboys look to three peat as 9th region champions and reach their 4th consecutive title game. The Colonels enter the region tournament having won 15 consecutive games after losing to Holy Cross in a 35th district seeding match up on the road. Scott Ruthsatz team ran through the 35th district with a 63-36 win over Holmes and a 62-41 win over Holy Cross as tournament MVP Cole Vonhandorf finished with 25 and 29 points on 21 of 29 shooting. I suppose those are decent numbers. If the junior leader plays like that during the region tournament, I don't see anyone in the field that can slow the Colonels down.

    While the Colonels have experience at BB&T Arena, having already won twice there during the regular season, the biggest question is how will the young Colonels respond if they face adversity or have to play from behind?

    Other Players to Watch:
    Sophomore CJ Fredrick (10.9 ppg)
    Senior Andy Flood (10.4 ppg)
    Sophomore AJ Mayer (9.1 ppg, 7 rpg)
    Sophomore Aiden Ruthsatz (7.4 ppg)

    2. Newport Central Catholic (25-4)

    The 36th district tournament was supposed to be a warm up for the Breds but after beating Highlands by 42 points in the semi finals, Ron Dawn's team struggled to get past Newport, escaping with an 85-79 overtime victory over Rod Snapp's Newport Wildcats. Still, the team from the Hill enters the region tournament on a 7 game win streak and having won 13 of their previous 14.

    So why is this the year the Breds just might get over the hump? Two words. Ben. Weyer. The 6'7 Bellarmine commit and 9th region Player of the Year enters the tournament averaging 21.4 ppg and 11 rpg and earned 36th district tournament MVP after posting 26 points in the semi finals and 28 in the finals. Weyer is the most dominant player in the region and one of the most dominant players in the state. He will need help from his supporting cast, but if he plays like he did in the district tournament, the Breds could finally get to Rupp Arena.

    Other Player to Watch:
    Junior Luke Moeves (12.1 ppg)
    Sophomore Brennan Hall (11.6 ppg)


    3. Holy Cross (22-8)

    After starting the season 16-4 and climbing all the way to #1 in Walter's weekly 9th region rankings, the Indians went just 6-4 over their final 10, including a 21 point loss in the 35th district championship. An injury to senior leader Tyler Bezold (16.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg) played a role in that finish to an extent, but Ryan Schrand's team simply hasn't been the same since. Bezold will have to play better than he did in the district championship ( 6 pts, 4 rbs) for Holy Cross to have a chance at making an appearance in the 9th region finals.

    Luckily for Bezold, he has plenty of help in fellow senior Leighton Schrand (15.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg) as well as Erich Jakubowski (9.8 ppg). That trio is one of the better trios in the region and one of the big reasons Holy Cross is back in the region tournament for the first time since 2004.

    With this being Holy Cross first appearance at BB&T Arena, it's hard not to wonder how they will perform on the bigger floor. Holy Cross was really good at home this season with wins over Covcath, Newcath,and Cooper, but they lost to two of those three on a neutral floor.

    4. Cooper (24-4)

    Despite playing the final 11 games without what will likely be arguably the best player in the region next year in Sean McNeil (16.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg), Tim Sullivan's team rallied to go 9-2 over their final 11. The problem is one of those losses came in the district finals to Conner while playing without McNeil and Adam Kunkel (15.7 ppg) which puts them in a tough first round match up with Newcath. To make matters worse, the Jags also lost one of the best defenders in the region in junior Dante Hendrix to a hand/wrist injury during that 54-53 district final loss.

    Cooper will be without Hendrix and Kunkel in the region tournament.

    The Jags might be down, but they aren't out as Sean McNeil should be back for the region tournament opener and with the elevated play of sophomores Chris McNeil (8.3 ppg) and Brayden Runion (14 pts, 13 rbs v Boone County in 33rd district semi's) , as well as senior Trevor Rohlman to go along with how well Cooper defends, anything seems possible at this point.

    5. Newport (17-14)

    It has been a long season for Rod Snapp as his team entered the season having arguably the most talented starting 5 in the region but lost 7 straight games and 8 of their final 10 after deciding to part ways with three of those talented starting 5.

    Without those three, the Wildcats seem to be rejuvenated as Kedan Davis and Ethan Snapp have elevated their play and sophomoe Mekell Burries and junior Anthony Harmon have stepped right in and replaced the production by the departed 3. Burries had 13 points in the district championship loss to Newcath, while Harmon had 18 pts, 13 rbs which has become the norm for him since he started playing regular minutes.

    At the end of the day, this team will go as far as Ethan Snapp and Kedan Davis carry them. Snapp had 29 pts, 9 rbs in the district finals while Davis had 18 pts, 12 rbs. Both will have to play like that in the opening round of the region tournament if the Wildcats are going to avenge last season's first round loss to the same Covington Catholic Colonels.

    6. Conner Cougars (17-10)

    It was a grind but the Cougars enter the region tournament as 33rd district champions after defeating Ryle 56-51 and Cooper 54-53. Conner senior Michael Scott (16.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg) earned 33rd district MVP after posting 18 points in the championship and 29 in the semi finals.

    Jim Hicks team enters the tournament 3-7 against the field and looking for the program's first region tournament win since the Cougars advanceD to the region finals during the 2004-2005 season. Conner did upset region #1 Covington Catholic in the semi finals that year and that is who this year's Conner squad could potentially see again in this year's semi finals.

    Spencer Hemmerich (15.2 ppg , 4.5 rpg) with Michael Scott forms one of the better duos that you will see in this tournament but Travis Connelly (8.5 ppg), Alec Garnett (7.9 ppg), and Kyler Padgett (5.3 ppg) will all have to elevate their games to another level for the Cougars to make a run at the finals.

    7. Dixie Heights (19-10)

    I don't know if there is a team in this region that has exceeded expectations more than Ken Chevalier's Dixie Colonels. With little to no expectations coming in to this season with an inexperienced squad, all the Colonels did was win 19 games and yet another district championship with a 77-62 win over St Henry.

    Leading the Red Colonels will be juniors Reed Bradfield (11.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Hunter Meyer (11.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg) along with senior Ian Brolley (8.8 ppg). One of the big reasons for Dixie's success has been the help and production that sophomore AJ Plitzuweit has provided at 7.5 ppg.

    The Colonels don't always play or win pretty but they defend and rebound very well which can carry you a long way in a win or go home scenario.

    8. St Henry (14-16)

    It's hard to believe a team with a losing record made it in to the region tournament, especially in the 9th region, but that record is a little mis leading as St Henry started the season 3-11 but finished 11-5 to get back to BB&T Arena. Adam Goetz (18.6 ppg) has been very good for the Crusaders this season having scored 25 or more points maybe more than any other player in the region, not named Ben Weyer.

    Paul Wallenhorst (11.7 ppg) and Stephen Maley (10.9 ppg) provide just enough production to keep teams from totally selling out on stopping Goetz, but at the end of the day it will be the 4th and 5th players on the floor with those three that will need to give solid production for St Henry to make any type of run in the tournament.

    As always, as long as Dave Faust is on the sidelines anything can happen.

    Region Tournament Predictions

    Conner v St Henry
    This is one of the more difficult games to predict when looking at the first round match ups. Conner picked up a 60-56 win over St Henry during the regular season but that game was all the way back on December 3rd. Looking at both team's top 3 players it is very even with St Henry probably having the best all around player in Adam Goetz. Still, Michael Scott has shown he can put up serious numbers this season and it could end up being a case of which team's star performs at a higher level as to who wins.

    Cooper was a big favorite over St Henry last year in the first round and the Cru pulled the upset. I think Adam Goetz has a big night in this one but Jim Hicks and Conner get the win.

    Conner over St Henry

    Covcath v Newport

    It's hard to think this will even be a game after the Colonels handled Newport by 31 points three weeks ago but with the distractions gone, I think the Wildcats can make this game.

    Covcath will no doubt use some sort of triangle and 2 or box and 1 defense to try to force the others to beat them but with Newport playing team ball that could actually benefit the Rod Snapp's team.

    Still, the Colonels are absolutely rolling right now and I don't see Newport slowing them down.

    Covcath over Newport by 10-15.

    Newcath v Cooper

    If Cooper were fully healthy, I don't know that this would even be a 1st round match up. Sean McNeil should be back for this game but Cooper is still without 2 of their top 3.

    With Cooper having all of their players in the regular season match up, Newcath still rolled to a 60-46 win on the hill. With Hendrix and Kunkel out in this one, I think we see a repeat outcome.

    Newcath over Cooper.

    Dixie Heights v Holy Cross

    Dixie wins their district and get the unfortunate task of facing the 35th district runner up, which has advanced to the region finals the past 3 years.

    Holy Cross won the regular season match up February 10th 67-56. My guess is Dixie gives another valiant effort but we see a similar outcome as Bezold, Schrand, and Jakubowski lead the Indians in to the region semi finals.

    Holy Cross over Dixie

    Region Semi Finals

    Covcath v Conner
    This was a 30 point blow out during the regular season and with the Colonels playing even better basketball now, I don't see the Cougars keeping Scott Ruthsatz' team from advancing to the region finals for a fourth consecutive year.

    Newcath v Holy Cross
    These two split during the regular season with Holy Cross winning the December match up 65-60 but Newcath winning the late January match up in the All A Finals by a score of 70-52.

    Tyler Bezold only played one quarter in that second game so it's tough to really say what happens in that game if he plays all four quarters. However, I think Newcath wins that one regardless.

    With round 3 coming on another neutral floor, I think the Breds get back to the region finals to set up a re match with the Colonels.

    Newcath over Holy Cross.

    9th Region Finals

    Covcath v Newcath
    This has become maybe the best rivalry in NKY, despite Covcath owning the Breds and not losing to Newcath since a season sweep during Scott Ruthsatz first year in Park Hills.

    I could go on and on about this match up and that match up and refer back to Covcath's 58-43 win over Newcath on January 15th but the bottom line is, despite what either team's players or coaches say, neither team likes one another and it would be an absolute battle if they met with a trip to Rupp Arena on the line.

    Newcath has struggled to win big games over the years, while Covcath has done nothing but win and win big.

    I could make a prediction, but where is the fun in that? I'll leave it to the rest of BGP to predict who would win.

    Now for a little end of the season fun....

    Walter's All 9th Region and Final Top 10 Players

    1. Ben Weyer- Newcath (21 ppg, 11 rpg)
    Simply Put...dominant. Everyone in the gym knew he was the best player on the court and getting the ball and he still scored at will. One of the most versatile big men to come through the region in a while.

    2. Markel McClendon- Holmes (19.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
    Despite seeing virtually every defensive game plan a coach can think of to stop him and force others to beat them. McClendon still produced at a high level. This might not be a popular pick but there might not be a tougher guard to defend in the region one on one. Can hit the outside shot or blow by a defender.

    3. Sean McNeil- Cooper (16 ppg, 7.5 rpg)
    Was injured the final 11 games of the season, but there's not a better all around player in the region. Can Defend and play all 5 positions and is likely my pick for #2 in the region if not for the injury.

    4. Cole VonHandorf- Covcath (16.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg)
    Some might question why CVH is at #4 but I think even he would agree that he didn't play up to his expectations this season and his ppg and fg% reflected that. Still the kid is a winner and if he plays like he did in the district tournament all season, he is probably your player of the year. One of the best defensive guards in the region.

    5. Adam Goetz- St Henry (18.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
    Goetz kind of got over shadowed by the fact that St Henry struggled for the majority of the season. Still, at 48% from the field and 38% from outside, the senior point guard was very efficient and one of the best at also getting his teammates involved.

    6. Ethan Snapp- Newport (17.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
    Snapp's numbers could have been better if not dealing with some of the off the court and locker room issues that went on throughout Newport's season. It should come as no surprise to anyone that when Newport started making "changes" to their personnel, we finally started seeing the player that many of us expected to see.

    7. Tyler Bezold- Holy Cross (16.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg)
    Bezold doesn't look like the type of player that is going to be effective at first glance but the kid flat out gets it done at both ends. Can score from anywhere on the floor with unlimited range and defensively makes up for a lack of athleticism with positioning and moving his feet in space to beat the offensive player to spots on the floor.

    8. Michael Scott- Conner (16.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
    Much like McNeil at Cooper, Scott is another player that can play and defend all 5 positions. Struggled with his shot from outside but tough going to the rim and scores with efficiency.

    9. Adam Kunkel- Cooper (15.7 ppg, 4 rpg)
    Kunkel really blossomed in to a future star during his sophomore campaign. With McNeil out due to injury he showed that he is a capable rebounder by posting a double double and his offensive game speaks for itself. Smooth. Finished the year 50 percent from outside and 51.5 percent from the floor.

    10. CJ Fredrick- Covcath (10.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg)
    44 percent from outside, 53 percent from the field. Not too many sophomores play the minutes that Fredrick did at Covcath this year and make the type of impact that he did. The most underrated part of his game is his defense and much like Kunkel, he blossomed in to a future star with the way he has played this year.

    Honorable Mention:
    Andy Flood- Covcath
    AJ Mayer- Covcath
    Leighton Schrand- Holy Cross
    Spencer Hemmerich- Conner
    Reed Bradfield- Dixie Heights
    Hunter Meyer- Dixie Heights
    Paul Wallenhorst- St Henry
    Kedan Davis- Newport

    Now that all that is out of the way, I guess the only thing to do is get ready for what should be an exciting 9th region tournament at NKU's BB&T Arena. Let the fun begin.

  2. #2
    Walter's Avatar
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    Agree? Disagree?

    Thoughts?

  3. #3
    B-Ball-fan's Avatar
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    Nice breakdown Wally.

    Enjoyed reading.

    Thanks for taking the time to cover it all in such detail, and not leaving a stone unturned.

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    mcpapa's Avatar
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    Good stuff, Walter.

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    Qryche11's Avatar
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    A good read and I agree with pretty much everything.

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    Mr. Sixer's Avatar
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    Normally I agree with most of your assessments but wouldn't you think the NKAC Defensive POY should be on the list? Just my opinion but no way Dante' Hendrix is not at least HM for what he is asked to do for Cooper on the defensive end of the court.
    Last edited by Mr. Sixer; Mar 1, 16 at 12:28 AM.

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    Good work and analysis...thank you for your time and energy!

  8. #8
    Walter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Sixer View Post
    Normally I agree with most of your assessments but wouldn't you think the NKAC Defensive POY should be on the list? Just my opinion but no way Dante' Hendrix is not at least HM for what he is asked to do for Cooper on the defensive end of the court.
    Honest mistake and you are 100% correct that Dante is as deserving as anyone else for honorable mention.

    One of the few players maybe in the state that can Defend one on one with little to no help. He is a top 10 player in the region next year.

  9. #9

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    Always a lot of info and enjoy reading your rankings/previews.
    Only thing I'd have different in ranking the teams would be moving Newport down to the 8 spot and the rest where they are.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Just Jim View Post
    Always a lot of info and enjoy reading your rankings/previews.
    Only thing I'd have different in ranking the teams would be moving Newport down to the 8 spot and the rest where they are.
    Agree.

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    Well done!

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    McClendon is the only player on the list not to make the regional tournament. Not to say that I disagree with your rankings, but if not 1 other player deserves to make this list then I would at least switch his spot with Goetz based on team success alone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Devil4Life33 View Post
    McClendon is the only player on the list not to make the regional tournament. Not to say that I disagree with your rankings, but if not 1 other player deserves to make this list then I would at least switch his spot with Goetz based on team success alone.
    Faulty logic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clyde View Post
    Faulty logic.
    I thought about that after I posted. Please allow me to rephrase, "Based on their team's finish and POTENTIAL of success in the region"

    Still maybe faulty logic, but basically I like the way Goetz plays...

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Walter View Post
    Walter's All 9th Region and Final Top 10 Players

    1. Ben Weyer- Newcath (21 ppg, 11 rpg)
    Simply Put...dominant. Everyone in the gym knew he was the best player on the court and getting the ball and he still scored at will. One of the most versatile big men to come through the region in a while.

    2. Markel McClendon- Holmes (19.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
    Despite seeing virtually every defensive game plan a coach can think of to stop him and force others to beat them. McClendon still produced at a high level. This might not be a popular pick but there might not be a tougher guard to defend in the region one on one. Can hit the outside shot or blow by a defender.

    3. Sean McNeil- Cooper (16 ppg, 7.5 rpg)
    Was injured the final 11 games of the season, but there's not a better all around player in the region. Can Defend and play all 5 positions and is likely my pick for #2 in the region if not for the injury.

    4. Cole VonHandorf- Covcath (16.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg)
    Some might question why CVH is at #4 but I think even he would agree that he didn't play up to his expectations this season and his ppg and fg% reflected that. Still the kid is a winner and if he plays like he did in the district tournament all season, he is probably your player of the year. One of the best defensive guards in the region.

    5. Adam Goetz- St Henry (18.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
    Goetz kind of got over shadowed by the fact that St Henry struggled for the majority of the season. Still, at 48% from the field and 38% from outside, the senior point guard was very efficient and one of the best at also getting his teammates involved.

    6. Ethan Snapp- Newport (17.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
    Snapp's numbers could have been better if not dealing with some of the off the court and locker room issues that went on throughout Newport's season. It should come as no surprise to anyone that when Newport started making "changes" to their personnel, we finally started seeing the player that many of us expected to see.

    7. Tyler Bezold- Holy Cross (16.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg)
    Bezold doesn't look like the type of player that is going to be effective at first glance but the kid flat out gets it done at both ends. Can score from anywhere on the floor with unlimited range and defensively makes up for a lack of athleticism with positioning and moving his feet in space to beat the offensive player to spots on the floor.

    8. Michael Scott- Conner (16.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
    Much like McNeil at Cooper, Scott is another player that can play and defend all 5 positions. Struggled with his shot from outside but tough going to the rim and scores with efficiency.

    9. Adam Kunkel- Cooper (15.7 ppg, 4 rpg)
    Kunkel really blossomed in to a future star during his sophomore campaign. With McNeil out due to injury he showed that he is a capable rebounder by posting a double double and his offensive game speaks for itself. Smooth. Finished the year 50 percent from outside and 51.5 percent from the floor.

    10. CJ Fredrick- Covcath (10.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg)
    44 percent from outside, 53 percent from the field. Not too many sophomores play the minutes that Fredrick did at Covcath this year and make the type of impact that he did. The most underrated part of his game is his defense and much like Kunkel, he blossomed in to a future star with the way he has played this year.

    Honorable Mention:
    Andy Flood- Covcath
    AJ Mayer- Covcath
    Leighton Schrand- Holy Cross
    Spencer Hemmerich- Conner
    Reed Bradfield- Dixie Heights
    Hunter Meyer- Dixie Heights
    Paul Wallenhorst- St Henry
    Kedan Davis- Newport

    Now that all that is out of the way, I guess the only thing to do is get ready for what should be an exciting 9th region tournament at NKU's BB&T Arena. Let the fun begin.
    A few changes for me:

    I don't think Snapp is top 10 unless we're talking all-around great kid then he's near the top. Didn't have a great year.

    Other than Walter I'm probably higher on Markel than most but I'm not sure where I'd rank him but he's legit.

    HM:

    I'd have Chris McNeil , Moeves, Brennan Hall, Hendrix, and Snapp in the mix before Andy Flood(who would compete with Snapp for all-good dude).

    Note: I did not see Dixie so I can't comment on their players.

    Note: Before anyone loses their mind everyone listed can play even those I say I'd remove. I'm talking strictly off of on-court performance on BOTH ends THIS YEAR.

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