Things are certainly coming together for the Ballard Bruins. This week the Bruins looked strong in winning the 73rd annual Louisville Invitational Tournament, giving it both the LIT championship and the King of the Bluegrass championship this season. It is shaping up as a very good season for the Bruins.

But no one is handling them the Seventh Region title yet. There is a lot of basketball yet to be played, and a lot of teams in the Seventh Region that are playing hard and getting better.

And speaking of teams playing hard - congratulations to the Louisville Collegiate Titans on their convincing performance in winning the Seventh Region All A Classic tournament. The Titans are off to Richmond this week for the All A Classic state tournament.

TEAM RANKINGS

1. Ballard Bruins (16-2)

The Bruins have now added the Louisville Invitational Tournament championship to their earlier King of the Bluegrass championship, a true accomplishment. Ballard dispatched DeSales (64-50) and Butler (85-72) on their way to the highly anticipated semi-final match up with the Male Bulldogs, against whom the Bruins turned in an outstanding defensive performance on their way to an 71-58 win. In the final against the Fern Creek Tigers, the Bruins got out to a nice lead, saw Fern Creek battle back to take the lead with a couple minutes left, but then scored the last seven points in the game to win by six. Coach Renner has done a good job mixing veteran players (Rashad Bishop, Terrence McDaniels, Lewis Richards (LIT all-tournament team), Josh Minkins) with several newcomers who are making huge contributions (sophomore Maker Bar, who was named the LIT Most Valuable Player, plus freshmen Gabe Sisk (LIT all-tournament team) and Jake Edelen). The Bruins face fellow Seventh Region members Waggener and St. X this week.

2. Male Bulldogs (15-4)

Male drops to the number two spot following its 71-58 loss to Ballard in the LIT semi-finals. The Bulldogs got there with wins over Collegiate (78-55) and Eastern (63-55). In the loss to Ballard, the Bruins did a good job holding Tyren Moore in check and the remaining Bulldogs could not pick up the slack sufficiently to prevent the loss. Male will work on ways to keep that from happening again, and are looking forward to getting Howard Fleming back. Moore and freshman standout Kaleb Glenn were named to the LIT all-tournament team. Male has a shot at revenge against Ballard on January 31 when the Bulldogs host the Bruins, but before then the Bulldogs have games this week against Eastern and Valley.

3. St. Xavier Tigers (12-4)

St. X lost to Butler 68-50 in the first round of the LIT. Cold shooting seems to have been the culprit; the Tigers’ 37% shooting from the field is way off their 49.2 % shooting percentage for the season. The Tigers have gotten Kyle Bansbach back from injury but still are waiting to get back Mekhi Smith. This week St. X has a big game with Ballard on Friday night and then play Spencer County on Saturday.

4. Seneca Redhawks (14-5)

The Redhawks extended their quite impressive win streak to 14 with a 51-49 win over the Doss Dragons in the first round in the LIT. The streak ended in the second round in a 61-49 loss to Fern Creek. Despite the loss, I was impressed with how hard Seneca played to the end. There were a couple times Seneca could have folded but they never did and kept themselves in the game. Seneca has a rematch against Fern Creek on Friday after playing Eastern on Thursday.

5. Eastern Eagles (13-6)

Eastern opened play in the LIT with a 68-65 win over North Bullitt but then fell to the Male Bulldogs 65-53 in the second round. Ben Craig was named to the LIT all-tournament team. The Eagles get an immediate chance for revenge when they take on the Male Bulldogs again on Tuesday. The Eagles also have an interesting game against Seneca on Thursday. Sophomores Christian Spalding and James Jewell are starting to receive Division 1 offers.

6. Trinity Shamrocks (9-9)

Trinity had a really good week in this week’s LIT. As the 11th seed, the Shamrocks opened play with a 48-39 win over Jeffersontown and followed that with a 67-61 win over the Pleasure Ridge Park Panthers, a game in which Trinity was 19 of 21 from the field in the first half (90%). Trinity’s run ended in the LIT ended in the semi-finals with a 54-45 loss to Fern Creek. The Rocks were behind for most of that game but stayed within striking distance to the end, a common theme for Trinity this season. Miles Franklin and Zach Stahlman were named to the LIT all-tournament team. Certainly an improving team. The Rocks have two games against teams from Lexington this week, playing Bryan Station on Wednesday and Henry Clay on Friday.

7. Waggener Wildcats (10-7)

Waggener exited the LIT in the first round with a 72-54 loss to the Fern Creek Tigers. The Wildcats are back in action on Tuesday against the Ballard Bruins. The Wildcats then face Manual on Friday.

8. Dupont Manual Crimsons (9-6)

The Crimsons fell in the first round of the LIT to the PRP Panthers 58-44. Eli Roberts had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. The Crimsons face Brown and Waggener this week.

9. Louisville Collegiate Titans (12-4)

Collegiate competed hard against the no. 1 seed Male in this week’s LIT but ended up falling to the Bulldogs 78-55. Collegiate then flexed its muscles Thursday night in the championship game of the Seventh Region All A Classic, beating rival Kentucky Country Day 66-38. Joey Leachman (21 points, 11 rebounds) and Chez Moore (19 points, 11 rebounds) both had double doubles for Collegiate, which now advances to the All A state tournament in Richmond where the Titans will face Hazard on Thursday. The Titans also have a game scheduled against Atherton on Saturday.

10. Central Yellowjackets (6-11)

Central went 0-2 this week, falling to Moore 68-55 and Fairdale 57-46. Up this week for the Yellowjackets are games against Atherton and Jeffersontown.

11. Christian Academy of Louisville Centurions (6-6)

The Centurions traveled to Owensboro to participate in the 2A state tournament but had the daunting task of taking on John Hardin, one of the best teams in Kentucky regardless of size. John Hardin got the best of the Centurions 71-54. CAL gets back into action on Tuesday against Spencer County before taking on South Oldham and Iroquois later in the week.

12. Kentucky Country Day Bearcats (7-7)

The Bearcats fell in the championship game of the Seventh Region All A Classic to Collegiate 66-38. KCD plays once this week, going on the road to play Shawnee on Tuesday.

13. Atherton Rebels (6-9)

The Rebels spilt their two games this week against Sixth Region teams, beating Valley 63-59 and losing to Western 67-63. Atherton has three games against Seventh Region opponents against Central, Portland Christian, and Collegiate.

14. Walden Wolverines (11-4)

The Wolverines played once this week, easily getting the best of Frankfort Christian by a 71-25 margin. Walden has games in the upcoming week against Beth Haven, Shawnee, and Jackson City.

15. Shawnee Golden Eagles (9-6)

With Josiah Bivens leading the way with 22 points and Keyonie Rutledge adding 20, Shawnee won its semi-final game in the Sixth Region All A Classic against Beth Haven by a 70-62 margin. The Golden Eagles came up short in the final against Holy Cross, falling to the Cougars 67-47. Shawnee has three games on its schedule this week, a home game against Kentucky Country Day and away games against Walden and Eminence.

16. St. Francis Wyverns (2-10)

St. Francis played just once this week, losing to the Butler County Bears 86-59. The Wyverns travel to the Hoosier State to play Rock Creek Academy (in Sellersburg, IN) on Thursday before returning to Kentucky to play Beth Haven on Saturday.

17. Portland Christian Eagles (4-10)

The Eagles won their first round game in the Sixth Region All A Classic with a 73-49 win over Evangel Christian before falling 78-44 in the semi-finals to Holy Cross. Portland Christian faces Evangel Christian again on Tuesday and then has games against Atherton and Covington Latin later in the week.

18. Brown Bears (2-11)

Brown did not play this week. The Bears have an away game at Manual on Tuesday.