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Well it’s been an interesting week. Highlands lost their first game and Cov Cath limped their way to a 68-point victory. Scotty Draud from Beechwood scored his 2,000th point and some mental math by the Rainmen on bluegrasspreps.com suggest that 3,000 points is a possibility.

There seems to be a 9th Region JV Tournament in our midst. I do not know much about this tournament, but I applaud the Varsity coaches in the region in their collaboration to let this tournament take place. As a former 8th and 10th Region Coach, I recall some individual districts having JV Tournaments, but not an entire region. I have been working in the 9th since 2016, so my information could be outdated.

The All A begins this week and will take place at St. Henry High School. While Beechwood and Newport Central Catholic drew the “play-in game” they should be heavily favored to make it to the semi-finals. It appears that Holy Cross drew the toughest quarter-final match-up having to face St. Henry on their home floor. The 9th Region is unique because almost half of the schools that qualify for the All A are private schools. I have done no state-wide research in this area, but I do not think other regions have this characteristic (notice I did not say “problem” because I do not feel that it is a “problem). Interestingly enough, the 8th region has no private schools at all.

Not sure if everyone realizes it but we are almost exactly half-way through the season. As the official scholar of the 9th Region, I write 11 weekly summaries throughout the year and this is number 6.

Regional Rankings

1. Covington Catholic (12-3): The Colonels are still undefeated in 2020 with their victories against Campbell County and Newport. I predicted a few weeks ago that Covington Catholic will lose to either an 8th, 9th, or 10th Region team this year. The Colonels appear to be finished with the 10th Region, so for my prognostication to come to fruition, it is up to their 8th and 9th Region opponents. The Boys in Blue travel to Ryle and Cooper this week.

2. Beechwood (10-6): Despite everyone thinking that I’ve lost my mind, I still maintain that Beechwood is the #2 team in the region. Teams 2-4 all had similar weeks by winning a game and losing a road game. Beechwood defeated a solid Holmes squad at home and a tough Braves team in Dry Ridge before traveling to Buckner and falling to one of the favorites to win the 8th Region Championship. Beechwood opens up All A play Monday night against Ludlow with the winner of that game playing Dayton.

3. St. Henry (9-3): St. Henry beat Dixie Heights by twenty before falling to Campbell County by 1 point. Had they beaten the Camels; they would have moved up to #2. Jude Bessler scored 44 points in the two game this week. The Crusaders get to host the All A Tournament and I predict they will play in the championship game.

4. Conner (8-5): Conner may have had the best week. The Cougars defeated Simon Kenton, which is something that Beechwood, Holy Cross, and Anderson County could not do and then gifted the Bluebirds their first loss. Keep in mind that this feat took place as Conner was struggling, losing 4 of their previous 5 games. Riley Osterbur is hitting 82% of his free-throws and 49% of his field goals this year. Conner plays Dixie, Ryle, and Grant County this week.

5. Highlands (14-1): Coach Listerman and the Birds deserve credit for their start. No one that I know of (I am kind of sheltered) predicted a 14-0 start for this team. I’ve always believed that 9th Region Basketball is better when Highlands is relevant because it makes the 36th District competitive with three teams. It will be interesting to see how Highlands responds to this loss. They do play Boone County, Holmes, and Campbell County at home this week. Highlands has had an abundance of home games this year, part of me wonders if this could have contributed to their loss this week. Highlands also had a very close game at Newport prior to their defeat and, according to KHSAA.org, these two games were their first true road games of the year; meaning, games that were not part of a tournament or special event. Sam Vinson had a double-double in the loss to Conner while going 9-10 from the free throw line.

6. Holy Cross (8-6): The Indians are playing well. They defeated the Thoroughbreds by 21 points and nearly defeated Brandon Grammar’s former district rival. I do not see them beating St. Henry in the All A Tournament, but they are playing well at the right time. Balanced scoring is key for the Indians as they have four players averaging double-digit points per game.

7. Newport Central Catholic (8-6): Some say that NCC has yet to hit their stride. It is hard to comprehend what that will look like. Jefferson and Mullikin each played in the loss to Holy Cross, but I heard that another key player got injured. New Cath should be able to get by Villa and Bellevue in the All A this week. They will probably have St. Henry waiting for them, and if they can pull it off, no one will care about the Holy Cross defeat.

8. Lloyd Memorial (9-5): The Jugs lost to an average team in Henry County last week. They will play a struggling Newport team in the first round of the All A next week and they are favorited according to the analytics as established by PP1.

9. Cooper (5-8): Cooper beat Newport and Boone County last week. Their style of defense could put them in position to knock off Simon Kenton on Tuesday. Zac Jennings leads the Jaguars with 69 rebounds this season.

10. Dixie Heights (3-11): Dixie beat Ryle for their 3rd win of the year. The Red Colonels host Conner on the 14th. A win would be huge for that program.

11.Ryle (7-8): Ryle beat Bracken and Boone before losing to Dixie this week. The Raiders host Covington Catholic this week and, you know, what do they got to lose? Go play hard and see if you can hang with the #1 team.

12. Holmes (6-9): Holmes was playing with Beechwood for 3 ˝ Quarters before falling apart. When the Bulldogs just play basketball, they are a pretty good team. Holmes came very close to beating NCC earlier last week. The Bulldogs have a chance to knock off Highlands Tuesday if they can listen to their coach, stick to the game plan, and keep their composure.

13. Newport (9-7): The Wildcats at one time were neck and neck with Highlands for the best win/loss record in the region. Newport has lost 7 straight games heading into the All A. I do not think this team is as bad as their recent 7-game nightmare suggests. I find it unlikely that a team will win 9 straight games and then lose 9 consecutive games; therefore, they are due for a win and it could be against the Lloyd Juggernauts in tournament. I do not think they will win, but if I were Coach Volpenheim, I would have wanted Newport to break their losing streak already.

14. Boone County (3-11): Boone loss both of their district games this week. The Rebels play a team from Indiana, Ohio, and the back woods of Carrollton this week. I guess they had some scheduling holes last year.

15. Ludlow (7-6): Ludlow is on a 3-game winning streak. You want to be feeling good going into the All A Tournament. The Panthers play Beechwood on Monday.

16. Dayton (4-9): Dayton beat Bellevue before losing to Calvary by 11. The loss to Calvary Christian should not be disheartening for the Devils (religious humor... Devils vs. Christians... o’h nevermind) considering Calvary has played some top tier teams to very close scores recently.

17. Villa Madonna (4-12): Villa lost by 44 points and 38 points this week. Hopefully their 10-point victory over Bellevue eased the pain. The Vikings will play NCC in the opening round of the All A. Charlie Thiemann did score 17 points in the Bellevue victory though.

18. Bellevue (2-8): Bellevue beat Covington Latin before losing by 30-points to their longtime rival. The Tigers will probably play NCC in the All A. They will probably lose.

19. Heritage (2-9): Heritage plays some other Christian Schools this week.