BluegrassPreps.com 9th Region Boys Basketball Preview

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    by PP1 is offline Premium Member
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    Preamble: In my ten years as a member of the BGP Family I have always thought that 9th Region fans were more active than any other place in the Commonwealth. The task of ranking this region before the first scrimmages begin is trying and gives one the desire to hide their head in the grass of the floodwall in Dayton. However, one of my favorite Bible stories is when Joshua loses a battle and falls on the dirt crying to God. God says “Get off the ground and act like a man (slight paraphrase).” So here it is..... discuss away.


    Regional Preview
    1. Covington Catholic: The defending state champions lost 7 seniors to graduation including a huge inside presence. There is no shortage of size however as Tyler Fleek and Jack Davin run 6’5 as well as two 6’6 players in Michael Mayer and Neil Green. It will be exciting to see Nick Thelen return and perform, Thelen played in all 39 games last year and was the second leading rebounder for the Colonels. I look for them to be playing in the regional championship once again and a definite threat to represent the 9th in the state tournament.

    2. Cooper: It’s hard to believe Cooper is entering only it’s 11th season. Coach Sullivan has been at the helm since the Jaguars’ inception and the stability has helped build a regional favorite year in and year out. It may surprise some to learn that except for St. Henry and Boone County, Coach Sullivan is the longest tenured coach in the 9th region. Blaine Walters is the only returning starter but Ty Houston and Michael Spencer look to have a significant impact. Houston played in 21 games last year and put up a 41% 3pt Percentage while Spencer played significant minutes in all 31 of the Jaguar contests.

    3. Dixie Heights: Last year’s regional runners-up return four senior starters and will look to improve on their offensive statistics. Last Year’s Colonels averaged around 65 points per game and will look to increase that number by 12 or more. The return of Jabari Karim and Jamin Shumate makes this team the clear favorites in their district and Spencer Trimpe and Arien Gentry will try to own the glass night in and night out. Dixie may be one of the more experienced teams in the 9th region and will look to make another run in the regional tournament.

    4. Newport: The Wildcats return four starters, two of which, Donnie Miller and Makhi McGuire, are on pace to score 1,000 points this season. The loss of Tahj Harding who averaged 10.8 rebounds a game and Mekell Burries who averaged 7 will have to be addressed considering the team averaged 35 rebounds a game last year. You should expect this team to run and shoot all night long but may struggle to defend in the half court. I look for this team to return to the regional tournament as a district champion, and with a favorable draw, could win at least one game***.

    5. Beechwood: Some are aloof to the fact that Coach Goetz has built one of the best basketball programs in Beechwood’s recent history. Increasing numbers and a solid staff have allowed this program, that historically struggled to compete, to continue to improve. While they haven’t played in the regional tournament in a while they have an outstanding outside shooter in Scotty Draud (20 ppg.) and some strength from the Baugh brothers to secure the boards. I look for this team to compete for a second consecutive “All A State” birth and an appearance at NKU.

    6. Conner: Conner returns two players that averaged double digits last year in Brenden Ginn and Jared Hicks. They have a chance to be the #2 seed in the district if Nick Marcum and Riley Osterbur are able to produce with regularity. They will be tested the first 9 days of the season with games against Cooper and Simon Kenton. Circle your calendars for December 14th as they play a district seeded game against Ryle. This battle of the titans has a huge impact on the post-season if everyone’s predictions of the Cooper Jaguars hold up.

    7. Ryle: The Raiders are a bit of a Conundrum. They are strong and skilled. They have one of the best players in the region in Vince Rankin, yet struggled to win 11 games last year. Coach McFarland needs to get 9 rebounds a game from Zach Benton in order to compete with the other teams in the district If the Raiders can hold their opponents to under 61 points a game, I like their chances of surpassing their win total from last year..

    8. St. Henry: Coach Faust has almost his entire team back and will have his eyes on a regional birth. Their leading scorer Wyatt Vieth returns with his 43.8% 3-point ability and his team leading 5 rebounds a game. This team should be the #2 seed in the 34th District but will have to play well to hold off some of their other opponents.

    9. Holy Cross: In his first two years as Grant County’s Varsity coach, Brandon Grammer brought in consecutive district titles. He’s got his players believing in his program and the Indians may be a dark horse. They have two very good teams in their district and seemed to get a favorable draw in the All A Tournament. By the end of the season I expect to see Holy Cross as a #3 seed in their district with Pete Knochelman averaging double digit rebounds.

    10. Highlands: As of now there are 10 Seniors on the Bluebirds Roster. I look for this group of young men to lead Highlands back to the regional tournament. Coach Listerman has developed a fine Center in Ben Sisson and I expect to see Guard Sam Vinson feeding him several times a game. They are playing some tough 8th and 10th region schools and this may help prepare them to battle for a district championship.

    11. Newport Central Catholic: Word is a beautiful floor was added to the gym and you will be able to see Point Guard Caleb Jefferson leading the way for the Thoroughbreds. Being in the 36th District gives them a chance to advance and they did draw a favorable first round matchup in the All A Tournament. Coach Collopy will need Evan Mullikin and Paul Kremer to play well for a lot of minutes in order for a successful season.

    12. Holmes: Anticipation is in the air for Brad Carr’s Bulldogs. Wil there be an immediate impact for a team that lost their top 6 scorers from last year? No question that Holmes has always had athletes which would seem to fit Coach Carr’s style. Tico Pouncey played in 24 games last year and will need to get some support. There are some very winnable games on their schedule but their backs may be up against the wall as they are scheduled to play Scott in the first round of the inaugural 2a Classic.

    13. Boone County: Julian Velasquez, RJ Summers, and Parker Kyle will be the Rebel Leaders for Coach McQueary’s squad. There defensive game will have to step up in order to avoid the 4th seed in the 33rd District tournament. They got a rough start to the schedule and will need to play well to try and get some momentum this year.

    14. Lloyd Memorial: The Juggs will be very inexperienced this season. The only experienced player is Guard Devin Mclendon who averaged 3 points per game last year. They open the season against Carroll County and Owen County so there may be a chance for some success in the beginning to build off of. They should be head to head with Villa Madonna to try and earn a 3-seed in the post season.

    15. Villa Madonna: The Vikings will send two 6-5 post players to the floor on a nightly basis in Frank Stoddart and James Thole. If these boys can establish themselves in the post it should open up opportunities for Ben Zalla to knock down some shots. The ex-Blue Lightning should be able to challenge for the #3 seed in the district tournament.

    16. Bellevue: It was the 1948/49 season that last saw the Bellevue Tigers make a trip to the state tournament. While I do not foresee that changing this year I am glad to see some stability with Coach Hicks Entering his 8th Year as the Tigers’ head coach. Senior Tommy Ratterman will look to break Lenny Bays’ career 3-point record set in 1998. While this team is still an underdog to secure a #3 seed in the district, they have a reason to play with confidence.

    17. Ludlow: Division III Al Star Ian Vallandingham gives you a reason to catch a Panther game this year. Against smaller schools, Ian is able to execute some offense. It will be interesting to see what immediate impact Coach Sullivan has in his first year at the helm in Ludlow.

    18. Dayton: Julian Jimenez and Michael Marksbury will try to lead a Greendevil team that lost four seniors. They should improve on their win total of 6 from 2017-2018.

    19. Heritage Academy: The Eagles return their leading scorer in Jacob Chalk. They will try to improve on their 5-13 record from last year.

    20. Covington Latin: According to the state website, this small school will field a team this year and they are listed as being part of the 9th Region. Covington Latin has the honor of having the only gym in northern ky that has never been graced with the presence of PP1.

    Top Ten Players ****

    1. Nick Thelen (Covington Catholic): The Colonels 6-8 Center is a former Junior All-Star. The Bellarmine Commit will be a force on the court and will see more minutes this year than last.

    2. Vince Rankin (Ryle): Vince averaged 18 ppg last year and was also an association D-1 All Star.

    3. Blaine Walters (Cooper): Walters has an excellent supporting cast around him and his talent should shine as bright as anyone’s this year.

    4. Scotty Draud (Beechwood): The Beechwood Tiger is a credit to his name. Draud can score under pressure and could lead the region in 3-pointers made this year.

    5. Donnie Miller (Newport): Could be the best defensive player in the region. Will be asked to score more for the wildcats this year.

    6. Michael Mayer (Covington Catholic): This multi-sport top athlete is strong enough to own the glass this year. HE should emerge as a reliable scorer for the Colonels as well.

    7. Ben Sissen (Fort Thomas Highlands): Coach Listerman likes the look of this 6-5 young man. In a district that is not blessed with a ton of height, Sissen may be the key to the Bluebirds success.

    8. Jamin Shumate (Dixie Heights): Jamin’s scoring ability and FG% were impressive last year. It will be fun to see him and Jabari Kim work together on the court.

    9. Jabari Karim (Dixie Heights): It’s hard to separate Karim from his other teammate on this list. Jabari’s athleticism and ability to put the ball in the hole is exciting to see.

    10. Pete Knochelman (Holy Cross): Knochelmen improved every game last year and with some added muscle could average double figures in rebounds this season.



    *** As of the deadline of this article, Taj Harding has yet to appear on Newport High School’s official roster.
    Last edited by True blue (and gold); Nov 10, 18 at 07:05 PM.

  2. #2
    I gotta go to work's Avatar
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    Nice work!

  3. #3
    B-Ball-fan's Avatar
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    Great job @PP1

    Year after year I look forward to this 9th Region preview, and you did not disappoint. Can't wait for another exciting season of basketball!

    For the record Covington Latin doesn't have a gym... at least not one that I'm aware of. I really don't even know for sure where they play their home games. Normally they only schedule a couple of home games a season. I do recall that many many years ago they held a handful of home games at CovCath, and I sorta recall hearing that in recent years they are played at Thomas More.

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    JackieMoon's Avatar
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    Thanks for the review PP1!

    Dixie had 3 kids transfer to Lloyd. Assuming they are eligible, I would move Lloyd up a few spots.

    I also like St Henry ahead of Ryle. Ryle seems to have no one other than Rankin.

    Its Karim from Dixie and not Kim.

    Personally, I would put CCH's Fleek and Cooper's Houston ahead of Shumate.

    Looking forward to a couple more classic Cooper vs CCH games. They seem to have split the last couple of seasons.

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    Grant Disken is a top 5 player in NKY. People just don't know it yet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Red View Post
    Grant Disken is a top 5 player in NKY. People just don't know it yet.
    Kid can play. I think there will be several Juniors making names for themselves in the ninth this year. I love the 2020 class.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JackieMoon View Post
    Thanks for the review PP1!

    Dixie had 3 kids transfer to Lloyd. Assuming they are eligible, I would move Lloyd up a few spots.

    I also like St Henry ahead of Ryle. Ryle seems to have no one other than Rankin.

    Its Karim from Dixie and not Kim.

    Personally, I would put CCH's Fleek and Cooper's Houston ahead of Shumate.

    Looking forward to a couple more classic Cooper vs CCH games. They seem to have split the last couple of seasons.
    Fleek is 1 of the nicest players in the region. Agree don’t sleep on St. Henry all those kids played for Kevin Shea.

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    PP1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JackieMoon View Post
    Thanks for the review PP1!

    Dixie had 3 kids transfer to Lloyd. Assuming they are eligible, I would move Lloyd up a few spots.

    I also like St Henry ahead of Ryle. Ryle seems to have no one other than Rankin.

    Its Karim from Dixie and not Kim.

    Personally, I would put CCH's Fleek and Cooper's Houston ahead of Shumate.

    Looking forward to a couple more classic Cooper vs CCH games. They seem to have split the last couple of seasons.
    Thanks for the feedback. The truth is, it’s hard to rank the top 10 players in our region. I mean Is there a big difference between say the eighth best player and the 13th best player?

    Sorry about misspelling Jabari’s last name. When previewing the Colonels themselves I used the correct last name. Not sure why I didn’t do it for the top 10.

  9. #9
    True blue (and gold)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PP1 View Post
    Thanks for the feedback. The truth is, it’s hard to rank the top 10 players in our region. I mean Is there a big difference between say the eighth best player and the 13th best player?

    Sorry about misspelling Jabari’s last name. When previewing the Colonels themselves I used the correct last name. Not sure why I didn’t do it for the top 10.
    Fixed that last part for you?

  10. #10
    Colonels_Wear_Blue's Avatar
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    Really nice look at the 9th, @PP1! Thanks!

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    From the original post list,out of all these teams, I am most excited to see how Holmes progresses. I think they will be ahead of a lot of these teams on the original list by seasons end.
    Like most are thinking, CCH should roll.
    Cooper will be tough, but I can see some ugly games like the distant past (really good defense and at times struggle on offensive flow).
    Newport should be interesting. Snapp really puts his heart into things. At times in the past I would wonder "do they actually run a set offense"?
    Dixie, I'm not sold on. Will be interesting to see how things go in year two after Chevalier.
    Beechwood. Truthfully haven't seen them much but the few times I did last year they took some questionable shots from deep (you could say that about a lot of teams).
    St.Henry. Should have a nice first group. Cautiously optomistic (I'm a homer).
    Holmes. Buy in guys. Should be fun to watch.
    Conner.
    Highlands
    Holy Cross
    Newport Catholic
    Ryle
    Lloyd
    Boone

    As always, this is just for fun from an old guy tht doesn't know what he is talking about. Have a great year kids. Have fun and leave it all on the floor.
    Lets hear it from the rest of you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Just Jim View Post
    From the original post list,out of all these teams, I am most excited to see how Holmes progresses. I think they will be ahead of a lot of these teams on the original list by seasons end.
    It'll be interesting to see where their points come from. I don't see more than 50 points per game on their roster. I could be wrong though.

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    I did not want to threadjack;but this was mentioned on another thread and I definitely agree. 9th is really down this year and void of superstar talent. It could be very interesting. There are no Frederick, Kunklle, Weyer, McNeil, Vonhondorf, etc. You have some young potential super talent. IMO it is going to come down to the squad that works the team concept.

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    Looks like the 35th is going to be more fun than I anticipated. The way it should be.

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