Covington Catholic, Cooper, Dixie Heights among favorites in Northern Kentucky boys' hoops districts
Tom Ramstetter | WCPO Contributor
2:20 PM, Feb 20, 2017
3:25 PM, Feb 20, 2017
COVINGTON, Ky. -- District basketball tournaments begin throughout Northern Kentucky Monday and run through Saturday, giving each local team a shot to reach regional tournaments. The finalists in each district move on to the region.
Qualifiers from the 31st and 32nd districts will advance to the 8th region tournament while qualifiers from the 37th, 38th and 39th districts reach the 10th region tournament. The 9th region tournament will feature teams from the 33rd, 34th, 35th and 36th districts.
Here’s a closer look at the boys’ district schedules, favorites and dark horses.
Feb. 21-25 at Williamstown
Schedule: Walton-Verona (24-6) vs. Simon Kenton (15-13) at 7 p.m., Tuesday; Grant County (14-16) vs. Williamstown (16-14) at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Finals: 7 p.m. Saturday
Favorite: WCPO's Power 9 No. 6 Walton-Verona has won eight of nine and 22 of 25 since a 2-3 start to the season. Sophomore center Dieonte Miles and junior guard Zach Clinkenbeard were each double-digit scorers and the top two rebounders during the regular season for the Bearcats.
Dark horse: Simon Kenton beat Walton-Verona early this season, a 68-58 final Dec. 9 at Walton-Verona.
Schedule: Boone County (7-21) vs. Heritage Academy (2-23) Monday at 7 p.m., Cooper (23-4) vs. Boone County or Heritage Academy Wednesday at 6 p.m. and Ryle (14-16) vs. Conner (15-11) Wednesday at 8 p.m.
Finals: 7 p.m. Friday
Favorite: Power 9 No. 2 Cooper enters the postseason on a nine-game winning streak since a 55-52 loss Jan. 18 at No. 1 Covington Catholic, and the Jaguars have won 19 of their last 20. Senior Sean McNeil leads the Jags with 18.4 points per game while shooting 57.9 percent from the field and leading the team with 6.9 rebounds per game. Junior guard Adam Kunkel is second on the team with 17.0 points per game, while junior guard Brayden Runion has added 10.4 points per game.
Dark horse: Conner won its final seven regular-season games and was ranked No. 7 in the final Power 9 of the season. The last Cougars loss was a 70-52 final against Cooper Jan. 24 at Conner.
Feb. 20-24 at Lloyd
Schedule: Villa Madonna (12-15) vs. Ludlow (11-15) at 7:45 p.m. Monday, Dixie Heights (25-5) vs. Villa Madonna or Ludlow at 6 p.m. Wednesday and Lloyd (20-10) vs. St. Henry (6-20) at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday.
Finals: 8 p.m. Friday
Favorite: Power 9 No. 3 Dixie Heights is the clear favorite with an area-high 25 wins this season. The Colonels suffered back-to-back losses -- to No. 1 CovCath Feb. 9 and to No. 2 Cooper Feb. 14 -- but bounced back by closing out the regular season with a 30-point win over Boone County Feb. 17. Dixie has won 13 of 15. Senior guard Hunter Meyer, senior forward Reed Bradfield and senior guard Cameron Thornberry were the top scorers for Dixie throughout the regular season.
Dark horse: Power 9 No. 8 Lloyd has won three straight and six of seven overall entering the postseason and came up just short against Dixie Heights in a 59-57 loss Jan. 24.
Feb. 22-25 at Holy Cross
Schedule: Covington Catholic (25-5) vs. Holmes (12-16) at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Holy Cross (9-17) vs. Beechwood (15-12) at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Finals: 7 p.m. Saturday
Favorite: No. 1 Covington Catholic should win its district with little trouble. The Colonels beat each of the other three district teams by at least 24 during the regular season and have won 13 of 14 entering the postseason. Senior guard Cole Vonhandorf, junior guard Aiden Ruthsatz, junior guard C.J. Fredrick and junior forward A.J. Mayer are the top scorers for the Colonels, while junior center Jake Walter leads the team on the boards.
Dark horse: Holy Cross played CovCath closest of the 35th District teams and should be favored to advance to the finals for another shot at the Colonels.
Feb. 20-24 at Dayton
Schedule: Dayton (12-18) vs. Bellevue (7-23) at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Newport Central Catholic (18-12) vs. Dayton or Bellevue at 6 p.m. Wednesday and Highlands (12-16) vs. Newport (14-15) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Finals: 7 p.m. Friday
Favorite: NewCath, the defending 9th region champion and a 2016 state semifinalist, is the favorite despite four losses in the last five games. Those recent losses came at No. 2 Cooper, at Holmes, at Greater Catholic League Co-Ed Central power Roger Bacon, and at No. 7 Conner. Junior guard Brennan Hall and senior guard Luke Moeves are the top scorers for the Breds.
Dark horse: Highlands ended the regular season as the No. 9 team in the final Power 9 rankings, but the Bluebirds have lost three straight entering the postseason.
Feb. 20-24 at Campbell County Middle School
Schedule: Calvary Christian (14-16) vs. Silver Grove (5-21) at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Campbell County (26-4) vs. Calvary Christian or Silver Grove at 6 p.m. Wednesday and Scott (17-11) vs. Brossart (10-19) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Finals: 7 p.m.Friday
Favorite: Campbell County is the clear favorite with only four losses this season. Two of those losses came at No. 1 Covington Catholic Jan. 23 and against No. 2 Cooper, 85-83 in overtime, Feb. 10. Yet, the other two blights on the Camels’ record were inexplicable losses to Bracken County and Simon Kenton. The Camels do enter the postseason on a two-game winning streak. Seniors Cole Hegyi and Garren Bertsch are the top scorers for Campbell County.
Dark horse: Scott was a regular in the Power 9 rankings throughout the season before falling out for the final edition. The Eagles have lost five of seven, but should be favored to reach the final for another shot at Campbell County. The Camels beat Scott 57-55 Jan. 20 at Scott.
31st District: Gallatin County (17-12) is the top local team while Owen County (6-23) and Carroll County (6-22) are long shots to reach the 8th Region tournament.
38th District: Pendleton County (18-11) is a good bet to beat Harrison County (4-25) in the district semifinals and reach the 10th Region tournament with a good shot at the district crown as well.
39th District: Bracken County has the best record in the district at 15-13.