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BluegrassPreps.com 9th Region Boys Basketball Preview

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With basketball approaching and not much to look forward too till January because of Covid-19. I thought I’d go ahead and write my rankings for the region along with the players. First off, I’d like to give a shout out to all the players and coaches for facing adversity head on with an unorthodox season like this year! I am truly hoping this season happens because of all the work these guys have put in, it will truly be a shame if the season doesn’t happen! Here are how the teams fan out IMO! 

1. Covington Catholic 

  • Head Coach: Scott Ruthsatz 
  • District 35
  • Last Season: 29-5 
  • 9th Region Champions 

It’s only right to keep the winners of the 9th region last season as #1. Covington Catholic brings a ton of talent back including smooth 2 guard Donovan Stocks (Senior). Stocks averaged 8.9 points and 3.3 rebounds last season all while shooting 48% from behind the arc! It will be no surprise to me when Donovan starts to get college looks and offers, if he hasn’t already! Chandler Starks (Sophomore)will be the next big piece in Covington Catholics army! Starks standing at 6’6 was able to take over games with his physicality and motor. I don’t think Chandler gets enough credit for his high basketball IQ, it seemed he always made the right play last season. Everyone knows by now he will be a problem the next 3 years. As I was writing this article I thought I was missing someone, and that player was Transfer Mitchell Rylee (Junior). As a Beechwood Tiger, Rylee averaged 8.9 PPG and 6.9 RPG. While standing at 6’6 Rylee has springs for feet and is a put back machine. Covington Catholics front court will be scary this upcoming season with Starks and Rylee! Reece Murphy (Senior) will be taking charge of these guys and running the show. Murphy provided spirts of energy and defensive stops when needed last year backing up Grant Disken. He averaged 3.6 PPG last season off the bench and shot 42.9% from the field. He is more then capable of leading the colonels to another 9th region championship. Next up in this long list of colonels is Colin McHale (Junior). I have seen McHale play a couple of times, and every time I see him he always rises up and has an amazing dunk! Look for McHale to improve his 2.9 PPG from last season, he will be a key piece if the Colonels want to repeat! Walker Horn (Junior), son of NKU Basketball Head Coach, will be making some noise this season with the colonels. He is a savvy little player who will make all the right decisions and is more then capable from beyond the arc! Look for him to improve his points per game as well! Cov Cath indeed has 2 more transfers coming in this season that I almost forgot about. Brothers, John Ipsaro (Senior) and Evan Ipsaro (Sophomore) come in to Covington Catholic both looking to make an impact right away. I have heard that the sophomore will be a problem the next few years to come and may be a starter! All in all, the colonels should be another force to reckon with this season!


2. Highlands 

  • Head Coach: Kevin Listerman 
  • District 36
  • Last season: 28-4
  • 9th Region runner-up

The Bluebirds made a run at the 9th region championship last year, but were defeated by Covington Catholic 59-54 at BB&T Arena! The Bluebirds return 3 starters including senior 9th region player of year Sam Vinson! He is committed to play basketball at Northern Kentucky University and I wouldn’t be surprised if he averages a triple double this season. He can do so much on the floor and makes his teammates around him so much better. He will have a load of shooters around him too! Starting with their first shooter and other returner Luke Muller! Muller may be the best shooter in the state, he can stroke it from anywhere in from the volleyball line. If you watched him play last season, you know I am not joking. Look for Muller to expand his scoring elsewhere while increasing his numbers from last year. The other returning starter from last year is Bryson Cody. Cody averaged 4.7 PPG along with 2.2 rebounds, he will be a key glue player in this years squad, look for him to expand his numbers. 2 upcoming Juniors who contributed last year at the varsity level as sophomores were Zach Barth and Oliver Harris. Barth was the teams 4th leading scoring coming off the bench while averaging 5.4 PPG and shooting 44.3% from behind the arch. Harris came off the bench last year and was a very efficient scorer shooting 53.4% from the floor while averaging 4.8 PPG. Harris stands at 6’4 and has added some muscle this off-season to contribute, I expect for him to make a huge jump this season. Junior Transfer Leyton Read comes in from Covington Catholic. Read will be another one of Vinson’s shooters as he will be a very nice addition onto this Highlands team. No numbers from last year at the varsity level for Read, but anyone who saw him play at JV level at Cov Cath knows he can play! The last main shooter for this Highlands team is incoming sophomore Will Herald! Herald hit 12/22 threes last year for the bluebirds when he came off the bench last year as a freshman for certain situations! I would not be surprised if Herald ends up starting this season, he can flat out stroke it!  Highlands will be a very dangerous team this year and they are my pick to win the 9th region!


3. St. Henry 

  • Head Coach: Dave Faust
  • District 34
  • Last Season: 25-5
  • 9th Region Semi-Finalist 

The Crusaders are will be a team in the hunt to make it to Rupp this season and their leader will be Senior Wyatt Veith! He can score at all 3 levels and averaged 18.4 PPG last season while grabbing 5.9 RPG. Veith is committed to play ball at Thomas Moore University and will be one of the top players in the region! Alongside of Veith will be Senior Jude Bessler who averaged 14.1 PPG and grabbed 6.2 RPG last season! Bessler is a very strong big man and who plays with an extremely high motor! He will be a huge piece of St. Henry wants to win the 9th Region! The Crusaders also bring back another big man in Cody Teten who was their 4th leading scorer at 5.8 PPG and brought down 3.0 RPG. Look for Teten to increase his numbers this season! Cory Shea will end up becoming the point guard for the Crusaders as he averages 3.0 PPG while shooting 38.1% from behind the arch! Ryan Butler & Reid Ravenscraft will also be key returners for St. Henry as Butler averaged 4.6 PPG and Ravenscraft averaged 3.8 PPG. This St. Henry team will be a scrappy bunch and will be a team to look out for come post season! 


4. Beechwood 

  • Head Coach: Erik Goetz
  • District 35
  • Last season: 21-12
  • 9th Region appearance

The Tigers bring back 2 of the top seniors in this 2021 class in Scotty Draud and Will Downtown. Draud has been a top player for Beechwood for 4 years now and will be looking to get a 9th region title. He averaged 22.9 PPG and 7.0 RPG last year as a junior. Downton averaged 10.2 PPG and brought down 3.9 RPG. Downton is one of the most exciting players in the region to watch because he springs for feet! Downton along with Draud will be looking to bring back a 9th region title back to Fort Mitchell, but they will need some help. The first person that comes to mind when you think of Beechwood recently is Cameron Hergott and hopeful Mr. Kentucky Football! Hergott averaged 3.2 PPG and 2.0 RPG. Cameron Decker and Will Rolf will also likely play key roles in Beechwood play this season, both averaged 4.0 PPG a season ago and were key players on last years squad. I think this team will turn some heads in the 9th region, and may even come out on top if they can have a timely tourney run! 


5. Conner 

  • Head Coach: Matthew Otte 
  • District 33 
  • Last Season: 23-6
  • 9th Region Semi-Finals
  • Notable Returners: Osterbure, Skies, Couzins, Saffel

The Conner Cougars had one of their best season in a while, but ended up losing to Highlands in the Semi Finals of the 9th Region tournament last year. This team loses 3 great seniors in Scott, Hicks, and Bowles, but brings back 4 out of their top 6 scorers. One of the best shooters in the region will be Spencer Couzins who averaged 10.7 PPG while shooting 42.4% from behind the 3 Point Line. Look for Couzins to have taken his game to another level by being able to create his own shot off the dribble now that he will be go to scorer. Cougars also bring back Point Guard Riley Osterbur who averaged 10.2 PPG along with a 43.0% from behind the arch. Anyone who watched the Cougars last year knows he is a scrappy player, who will almost always make the right play. Returning for the Cougars at the big man position will be Cole Skies. Skies averaged 6.8 PPG while bringing down 5.4 RPG. Don’t be surprised if he ends up averaging a double-double this season, he’s strong and fundamentally sound. The last returner for the Cougars is Aiden Saffell who averaged 5.3 PPG on 56.7% from the field. He will be a guy the Cougars look to this season to play a huge role, I know he will play his role at a high level. I think this team will end up winning the 33 District Championship! Cougars could potentially make a run in the 9th region tournament, but they will have to be shooting the ball at a very high clip! 


6. Holy Cross 

  • Head Coach: Brandon Grammar
  • District 35
  • Last Season: 15-13
  • Notable Returners: Meyer, Hicks, & McClendon

The Holy Cross Indians will be a force to be reckon with the next 3 seasons all because of Jacob Meyer. I didn’t believe all the hype just because he was a freshman, but when I saw him play for the first time... the kid just glides out there. He averaged 17.8 PPG a season ago while shooting 45.5% from the field. Also returning for the Indians will be Jeremiah Hicks who averaged 12.6 PPG while shooting a high 55.5% from the field.  Hicks is built like a brick wall and will be an animal on the boards this year. He averaged 8.9 RPG and I expect him to average a double-double this season. The next key returner will be Brandon McClendon who averaged 13.8 PPG while shooting 51.8% from the field. McClendon is a level headed guard who will need to increase his 3-Point Shooting this season if Holy Cross wants to beat out Beechwood or Cov Cath. All in all I don’t see Holy Cross beating out the Colonels, but I could possibly see them beating out Beechwood if they play a good game! 


7. Dixie Heights

  • Head Coach: Roger S. Stainforth, II
  • District 34
  • Last Season: 10-21
  • Notable Returners: Snelling, Geraci, Summe, Flynn, & Haigas. 

Dixie will be a very dangerous team this year as they have a whole lot of people returners who had decent averages. Ian Snelling will be at the center of it all as he averaged 17.4 PPG while shooting 49.9% from the field goal. He is a crafty guard who can score at all 3 levels and will be in conversation for a top player in the region! Keirnan Gercaci will also return as he averaged 13.9 PPG and brought down 4.9 RPG. He’s a nice high school player who will increase his numbers from last season! 


8. Cooper 

  • Head Coach: Tim Sullivan 
  • District 33 
  • Last Season: 11-17
  • 9th Region Appearance 
  • Notable Returners: Gavin Rabe & Deere

Although last years Coopers team wasn’t one that was as good as in years past. They were still a scrappy bunch and they bring back 2 DUDES and one of the best coaches in the 9th! Sullivan’s group will obviously play extremely hard and will get after you on the defensive end! They bring back leading scorer of last years squad Gavin Rabe averaging 15.4 PPG while shooting 33.3% from behind the arch. Rabe is a crafty guard who will be the leader of this team, and I see him improving his field goal percentage this year! Coming back with Rabe is his big man Jacob Deere who averaged 7.6 PPG while bringing down 4.0 RPG. I have Cooper ranked this high solely on coaching and these 2. Look for upcoming junior guard Teyon Neale to fill be inserted into the starting lineup with these 2 as he played in 27 games last season while averaging 1.4 PPG. There will be a handful of players fighting for spots, I think Coach Sulley will have this team improved by the end of the season! 


9. Newport Central Catholic

  • Head Coach: Ron Dawn
  • District 36 
  • Last Season: 16-10
  • Notable Returners: Ross Pangallo, Joel Iles, Kaedon Butts, & Preston Bagget. 

The Breds bring back upcoming Juniors Joel Iles and Ross Pangallo. Both were able to score at a high clip last season, Iles averaging 12.8 PPG while shooting 43.5% from behind the arch! Pangallo averaged 9.6 PPG while shooting 37.9% from behind the arch. This teams success will rely heavily on how these 2 play day in and day out! Look for Kaedon Butts and Preston Bagget to pick up where the former senior class left off! The Breds will need to beat out Newport in the tournament if they want to make it to region! 


10. Lloyd Memorial 

  • Head Coach: Sam Volpenhein
  • District 34
  • Last Season: 15-13
  • Notable Returners: Tyrese Davis, Zaire Monroe, Dameion Mitchell, & Jeremiah Israel. 

Lloyd Memorial Juggernauts are a pretty interesting team as they will bring back a lot of players from last years squad that contributed! One of the main scorers from last year was Tyrese Davis who averaged 10.4 PPG. Another returner who contributed lasts year was Zaire Monroe. Dameion Mitchell and Jeremiah Israel will also be coming back and both averaged above 5.0 PPG! This Lloyd team will have a shot at making the 9th region tournament, but they will have to beat out Dixie if they want to make a run! 


11. Ryle

  • Head Coach: Keaton Belcher
  • District 33
  • Last Season: 12-17
  • Notable Returners: Donovan Robinson, Tyler Bush, & Graves Fryman. 

Ryle brings back 2 of their top players from last season, Donovan Robinson and Tyler Bush. Robinson averaged 13.3 PPG while shooting 37.8% from 3. Bush averaged 12.3 PPG while bringing down 2.8 RPG. Robinson is a solid point guard who can create his own shot and Bush has springs for feet. Coming back with them who will need to expand his role will be Graves Fryman who averaged 3.8 PPG while bringing down 3.5 RPG. This Ryle team will have to beat out Boone County and Cooper if they want to make the tournament. However, we have seen some crazy upsets in the 33rd District...


12. Newport

  • Head Coach: Rodney Snapp
  • District 36 
  • Last Season: 15-15
  • 9th Region Appearance
  • Notable Returners: KeAndre Nelson, Alex Greene, Evan Snapp, & Robert Sanders.

The Newport Wildcats, will have to beat out Highlands and Newport Central Catholic if they want to make the 9th region tournament and have a shot at Rupp. It will start with lefty KeAndre Nelson who averaged 12.5 PPG while shooting 50.4 % from the floor. Nelson will have help from returners Alex Greene and Evan Snapp. Both of which are crafty guards and can create their own shot. Newport will be coached well and very hard, I hope I can make it to a few games where Coach Snapp does his thing!


13. Holmes

  • Head Coach: Bradford Carr
  • District 35 
  • Last Season: 11-17
  • Notable Returners: Quantez Calloway , Tayquan Calloway, & Eian Elmer 

The Holmes Bulldogs will have to beat out Beechwood and Holy Cross if they want to make a shot at playing in the 9th region tournament. They return both Calloway brothers who will both be seniors leading the way. Quantez was the main scorer on last years squad scoring 18.2 PPG while shooting 44.2% from the floor. Tayquan averaged 5.5 PPG while bringing down 2.4 RPG. Another returner for the Bulldogs will be Eian Elmer who averaged 7.9 PPG while shooting 47.9% from the field. This team will have to come together if they want to make a run and I hope they do because I love seeing Holmes where they belong! 


14. Boone County 

  • Head Coach: Nathan Browning
  • District 33
  • Last Season: 6-24
  • Notable Returners: Fields and Shumate

The Boone County Rebels return 2 of their top scorers last year in Parker Fields and Cole Shumate. Fields averaged 12.2 PPG and brought down 5.3 RPG. I like Fields game a lot and I don’t think he gets enough credit, he’s a great high school player and I hope he gets a scholarship to play somewhere! Shumate will be the PG of the team as he averaged 9.0 PPG last season while bringing down 2.0 RPG. This team will have a shot at making the tournament, but they will have to beat out Cooper or Ryle! 


15. Ludlow

  • Head Coach: Dan Sullivan 
  • District 34 
  • Last Season: 18-13
  • Notable Returners:  Noah Hoffmeister, Liam Singer, and Ryan Gaiser. 

The Ludlow Panthers bring back 3 of their top 5 scorers from last year. Panthers go to guy this year will be PG Noah Hoffmeister as he averaged 12.0 PPG while shooting 48.4% from the floor. Another returner for the Panthers will be Forward Liam Singer who averaged 6.2 PPG while pulling down 4.0 RPG. The Panthers will have to beat out Dixie and Lloyd if they want to make it to the 9th region tournament! 


16. Dayton

  • Head Coach: Ron Kinmon
  • District 36 
  • Last Season: 12-20
  • Notable Returners: Lorenzo Price, Jordan Marksberry, & Braiden Comstick.

Dayton brings back 2 of their top scorers in Lorenzo Price and Jordan Marksberry. Price averaged 14.7 PPG and brought down 7.5 RPG. Marksberry averaged 14.6 PPG and brought down 5.1 RPG. I think Dayton will have the edge over Bellevue this year because of these 2. Dayton will have to beat out Newport or NCC if they want a shot at making it to the 9th Region tournament! 


17. Bellevue

  • Head Coach: Jim Hicks
  • District 36 
  • Last Season: 3-25
  • Notable Returners: Will Strong, Logan Purnell, Derek Leedy, RJ Harris, & Derrick Turner.

Bellevue returns 5 great players who all contributed at the varsity level last year as underclassmen! The leader of this group will be Junior guard Will Strong who averaged 10.9 PPG. If this group can come together and play good basketball as a team, they have a shot at beating Dayton and maybe beating out NCC or Newport! 


18. Villa Madonna 

  • Head Coach: Nathan Dilts 
  • District 34
  • Last Season: 7-23
  • Notable Returners: Dominic Martin & Charlie Thiemann.

Dominic Martin comes back as a senior this season along with Charlie Thiemann. Martin averaged 8.9 PPG while Thiemann averaged 5.4 PPG. Look for Villa Madonna to play a lot of team ball this year and hope to beat Ludlow, Dixie, or Lloyd!


19. Heritage Academy 

  • Head Coach: Jerry Miles
  • District 33 
  • Last Season: 7-19
  • Returners: Josh Wingham, Keegan Kennedy, & Nate Sicurella.

Heritage returns 3 of their top 4 scorers from last season. Wingham, Kennedy, and Sicurella all averaged above 10 PPG! This Heritage team will have to beat out Boone, Cooper, or Ryle to have a shoot at making the 9the region tournament! 


20. Covington Latin

  • District 35
  • Last Season: 0-19
  • Returners: Andrew Apollonio & Alex Pham. 

No Stats Provided!

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Just now, SnottieDrippen said:

I’ve been here long enough to remember folks calling for Coach Listerman’s job. Sam Vinson helps a lot, but I’m happy to see H back in the mix regardless. 

They will be good for years to come, there is a lot it the pipeline for Coach Listerman and HHS! 

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You forgot that Holy Cross has a transfer in Blake Robinson this year. He averaged nearly 11 points and 4.5 rebounds last year at Grant County. He is a very high IQ player that can really shoot. Can't wait to watch him benefit from those quick guards they have and vice versa. I would put them up there challenging anyone this year. 




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25 minutes ago, BigRob said:

You forgot that Holy Cross has a transfer in Blake Robinson this year. He averaged nearly 11 points and 4.5 rebounds last year at Grant County. He is a very high IQ player that can really shoot. Can't wait to watch him benefit from those quick guards they have and vice versa. I would put them up there challenging anyone this year. 


Thank you, Holy Cross will be a very dangerous team with Robinson! 

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9 hours ago, DanvilleFan said:

As an outside observer, does Draud of Beechwood have any D1 offers?  Seems like he is a scoring machine season after season.


College coaches aren't blown-away by volume like fans are.  Not to say Scotty can't play his way into a nice offer this year, he can, but he needs to be a LOT more efficient.

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