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It’s a bitter sweet time for me. It’s sweet because I get to go to NKU and watch a very competitive tournament; however, it is bitter because I must wait till November to sit in a High School Gymnasium and watch a basketball game. This past week as I watched district semis and finals games while sitting in old wooden bleachers and snacking on the concession du’ jour I was constantly reminded why I love high school basketball.

It started on Monday when I saw the Villa Madonna Vikings defeat the favored Ludlow Panthers and continued Tuesday as Beechwood survived an upset bid from the Indians. On Wednesday I felt anguish as I sat at home confused as to why @B-Ball-fan claimed he was “right there with me” while I was watching my children play and trying to find updates.

When Thursday came I was eerily nervous as I drove to Holmes High School to watch the game between the Colonels and the Tigers but then I smiled as I appreciated the beautiful campus and wonderful architecture of the buildings. As the game went on and both sides cheered for their boys, it was like utopia.

On Friday I arrived home from work and my wife had prepared some chicken for dinner as I pondered whether to venture out for another night of basketball or stay home and work my sermon. Then I felt this hand of God smack me in the head and say “Don’t you know that keeping the Sabbath is an Old Testament Command? Get your Holy Tail to the gym, take the family, update the Bluegrasspreps Congregation, and then work on your sermon tomorrow!”

As usual, God was right and I took the ten minute drive to St. Henry and parked so far away from the door that I think I was closer to my house. I was treated to an exciting championship game with some hilarious antics from the St. Henry student section.

I will miss the nights of sitting in the high school gym and watching players run, sweat, and fight, but look forward to watching some amazing action this week at my alma mater.

There are no rankings for this week as I cannot, in all fairness, make a determination. All eight teams have the ability to beat each other and, with the exception of Dixie, each team has indeed defeated a district champion at some point during the season.

Game #1: Monday at 6:30

Beechwood vs. Dixie Heights: The Colonels played the best game of their season in the loss to the St. Henry Crusaders. I saw unselfish scoring between Jabari Karim and both of his post players as they were within ten seconds of victory. The Beechwood Tigers had to deal with two post players of their own and utilized the prowess and determination of Schilling and Bieger to keep the Blue Colonels in check for the second half of their championship game. Beechwood defeated Dixie by 20 points earlier in the year and I predict the Tigers to come away with the victory once again.

Predicted Winner: Beechwood

Game #2: Monday at 8:00

Cooper vs. Highlands: According to reports, Highlands was leading for much of the game but came up short in the last three minutes against the Newport Wildcats, thus preventing my perfect score from last week’s district preview. Earlier this year I saw the Bluebirds play the Jaguars at Cooper and gave them a good fight. I have a feeling that the bigger court may hurt the defense of the Jags and allow the Bluebirds to pull off the victory.

Predicted Winner: Highlands

Game #3: Tuesday at 6:30

Newport vs. Conner: I still remember that cold winter evening when I sat in the stands with my son and watched an event so unlikely it would not have happened over 95% of the time. While Conner has the skill to win, I think Newport will take the victory by double-digits. On a college floor, I think Makhi McGuire and Donnie Miller will be able to run wherever they wish. The only way I see Conner keeping this close is if the Wildcats try to press. Conner is pretty smart with the ball and I have always believed that a bigger floor hurts a defensive team when trying to play full court.

Predicted Winner: Newport

Game #4: Tuesday at 8:00

St. Henry vs. Covington Catholic: Imagine being a district champion and realizing you have to play Covington Catholic in the first round. It is probably not what most people predicted. I see and easy victory for the Covington Catholic Colonels. The Crusaders did stay within 16 points in December, but with the addition of Mayer, I do not see any avenue of success for the Cru.

Predicted Winner: Covington Catholic

*** There will be no article for the final four, but I will be posting a preview for the championship game.