While BluegrassPreps.com refused to fund a trip for me to travel to New Orleans last week to chronicle the Male Bulldogs' play in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Classic, all reports suggest that the Bulldogs looked good in going 3-1 while dealing with additional injuries and illness. It was enough for Male to move back into this week's top spot. If and when Male gets everyone back on the court, look out.

I did make it to see the Ballard Bruins play Pleasure Ridge Park Friday night. The Bruins are good, and Maker Bar looks like he is going to be a real force, but 33 turnovers are going to hurt you every time.

I also made it to see the St. X-Trinity game Sunday night. St. X shot the ball extremely well and looked good in besting the defending state champions.

Nine Seventh Region teams will play in the Louisville Invitational Tournament starting on January 13. But before that, the Seventh Region All A Classic tournament will be played later this week at the old Male gym. Collegiate, which will be playing in the LIT the following week, looks to be the team to beat in this week's All A regional tournament. Good luck to all the participants.

TEAM RANKINGS

1. Male Bulldogs (11-3)

Male went to New Orleans and went 3-1 in the Sugar Bowl Classic. The sole loss was a decisive one, 59-39, to Baton Rogue Scotlandville, while the wins were against Grambling (LA) Lincoln Prep (80-67), Baton Rogue (LA) Catholic (59-44), and Chicago Bloom (58-55). Noah Courtney was named to the all-tournament team. Based on Male’s performance there and Ballard’s loss to PRP, the Bulldogs move back into the number one spot. The Bulldogs, who still are without Howard Fleming and had to deal with the absence of others due to illness and injuries in New Orleans, will be busy this week with games against North Oldham, St. X, and Madisonville-North Hopkins. Male will then enter the LIT as the no. 1 seed and play Collegiate in the first round.

2. Ballard Bruins (10-2)

Ballard lost its second game of the season, and first to a Kentucky team, on Friday night when it fell to the Pleasure Ridge Park Panthers 96-87. The Bruins were playing without Rashad Bishop, who has not yet returned from injury, and Josh Minkins, who was away playing in an all-star football game, but their absences did not cause the 33 turnovers the Bruins committed. PRP also was able to throw over Ballard’s pressing defense, often getting layups as a result. Ballard bounced back the next night to beat a team from Starke, FL 98-62. Ballard will play Floyd Central (IN) and Manual this week. The Bruins will enter the LIT as the no. 4 seed and will play DeSales in the first round.

3. St. Xavier Tigers (11-2)

St. X looked really good in beating rival Trinity 69-54 Sunday night. The Tigers, led by Nicholas Mosley’s 39 points, got out to a 34-18 halftime lead and kept at least a 10-point lead the rest of the way. St. X will look to continue its good play this week with games against Collegiate on Tuesday and the Male Bulldogs on Friday. The Tigers will then enter the LIT as the no. 12 seed and will play Butler in the first round.

4. Seneca Redhawks (11-4)

The Redhawks beat the Western Warriors 75-50 in the only game they played this week, its 11th straight win. Going into the Western game, junior Delshawn Simms was leading the Redhawks in scoring at 16.4 ppg. Up this week are games against Moore and Central. The Redhawks will enter the LIT as the no. 2 seed and play Doss in the first round.

5. Eastern Eagles (10-5)

Eastern hosted the City of Middletown Holiday Classic this week and finished as runner-up. After beating Thomas Nelson (92-56) and Ohio County (76-72), the Eagles lost in the championship game to the still undefeated Highlands Bluebirds 77-68. On the schedule this week are games against Franklin County and Montgomery County. The Eagles will enter the LIT as the no. 8 seed and play North Bullitt in the first round.

6. Waggener Wildcats (7-6)

The Wildcats played once this week, beating the Moore Mustangs 70-58. Dallas Rufus (16.3 ppg) and Richard White (12.1 ppg) lead the way for Waggener, which this week will play Bullitt East, Doss, and Shawnee. The Wildcats will enter the LIT as the no. 10 seed and play Fern Creek in the first round.

7. Trinity Shamrocks (6-7)

Trinity fell behind early to rival St. X but continued to play hard before falling to the Tigers 69-54. On the season (at least going into the St. X game), a trio of Rocks lead the way in scoring, Ethan Hodge and Miles Franklin at 11.5 ppg and Zach Stahlman at 11.3 ppg. This week Trinity will play Ashland and Great Crossing. The Shamrocks will enter the LIT the following week as the no. 11 seed and will play Jeffersontown in the first round.

8. Dupont Manual Crimsons (8-4)

The Crimsons did not play this week. Eli Roberts (11.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and JuWaun Northington (9.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg) are leading the way for the Crimsons. Manual gets back into action on Tuesday when it hosts Southern and then will take on the Ballard Bruins on Friday. The Crimsons will enter the LIT as the no. 14 seed and will play PRP in the first round.

9. Louisville Collegiate Titans (10-2)

Congratulations to the Collegiate Titans on qualifying for the Louisville Invitational Tournament. The Titans clinched that spot with a 49-46 win over Louisville Holy Cross before a packed house Friday night. Collegiate will be quite busy for the next couple weeks starting this week with a home game on Tuesday against the St. X Tigers and then participating in the Seventh Region All A Classic, where it will be the team to beat. Collegiate will then move on to the LIT where it is the no. 16 seed and will play the Male Bulldogs in the first round.

10. Central Yellowjackets (5-8)

The Yellowjackets went 1-2 in the City of Middletown Holiday Classic this week. The victory was a 69-49 win over Henderson County, while the losses were to undefeated Highlands (64-52) and to Atherton (69-53). The loss to Atherton is a little surprising. Central will be back in action on Tuesday against Valley and then plays Seneca on Friday.

11. Christian Academy of Louisville Centurions (4-5)

The Centurions did not play this week but will be back on the court on Wednesday when they open play in the Kentucky 2A sectional tournament against Owen County.

12. Atherton Rebels (5-7)

After falling to McLean County 45-40 early in the week, Atherton had a very successful run in the City of Middletown Holiday Classic at Eastern. Atherton took Ohio County to overtime before losing 76-74, but then beat Thomas Nelson (58-46) and Central (69-53). The Central win is particularly impressive. The Rebels play at Shelby County on Tuesday.

13. Kentucky Country Day Bearcats (2-6)

The KCD Bearcats had a good 67-51 win this week against Shawnee in the Beth Haven Holiday Classic. KCD has games this week against Holy Cross and Evangel Christian and then will play in the Seventh Region All A Classic.

14. Shawnee Golden Eagles (6-3)

Shawnee fell 67-51 to Kentucky Country Day in the Beth Haven Holiday Classic in its only game this week. The Golden Eagles have three games on their schedule this week, with home games against Iroquois and Waggener and an away game at Beth Haven.

15. Walden Wolverines (7-3)

In their only game this week, the Wolverines traveled to Cloverport and came home with a 70-54 win over Frederick Fraize. Walden has a mid-week game against Portland Christian plus a rematch with Frederick Fraize before opening play in the Seventh Region All A tournament on Friday.

16. St. Francis Wyverns (1-7)

The Wyverns played one game in the Beth Haven Holiday Classic, losing to the Louisville Tigers, a home school team, 45-42. The Wyverns host Frankfort Christian on Tuesday before playing in the Seventh Region All A Classic beginning on Friday.

17. Portland Christian Eagles (1-8)

Portland Christian lost both games it played this week, falling to Fort Knox (80-59) and Calvary Christian (79-52). The Eagles will be busy this week with three games, taking on Walden, Danville Christian, and Heritage Academy.

18. Brown Bears (2-9)

Playing in the Beth Haven Holiday Classic, the Bears gained their second win of the season against Heritage Academy (68-61) before losing 54-52 to a home school team from Elizabethtown. Brown plays Western on Tuesday before participating in the Seventh Region All A Classic on the weekend.