Cooper Jaguars take over top spot in new Northern Kentucky boys basketball Power 9 ranking

Posted at 10:00 AM, Jan 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-12 14:11:10-05

Cooper surged to the top of the Northern Kentucky Boys’ Power 9 rankings this week, but a battle with No. 2 Covington Catholic looms net week for the Jaguars.

Here’s a closer look at the second edition of the Power 9, based on strength of schedule, overall statistical success and our staff observations from the season.

1. Cooper

Record: 13-3 (Last week: 2)

This week’s opponents: Versus Holmes Friday at the Bluegrass Classic at BB&T Arena.

Cooper ran its winning streak to nine with double-digit wins over Highlands, Boone County and Harrison County last week before outlasting Simon Kenton, 49-45 on Tuesday and the Jaguars have wrestled the top spot away from last week’s No. 1, Covington Catholic.

Junior guard Adam Kunkel led a 61-48 win at Boone County Jan. 6 with 23 points and led the Jags with 10 Saturday at Harrison County in a 55-39 win. Kunkel averaged 16.4 points per game heading into Tuesday’s game and was second on the team behind senior guard Sean McNeil.

McNeil, who missed last week’s games, has averaged 17.6 points and 8.1 rebounds through nine games. Junior guard Brayden Runion averages 9.3 points per game for the Jags, including 16 against Boone County.

Cooper, ranked No. 10 in the Associated Press Kentucky state poll, will take on Holmes Saturday at Northern Kentucky University before visiting No. 2 CovCath Jan. 18 in a battle of the area’s top teams.

RELATED: Here are this week's Ohio boys Power 9 rankings.

2. Covington Catholic

Record: 13-4 (Last week:1)

This week’s opponents: Versus Newport Central Catholic Friday at the Bluegrass Classic at BB&T Arena.

The Colonels cruised past Holy Cross, 59-35, and Conner, 74-39, last week before stumbling at South Laurel, 62-56, on Saturday.

CovCath bounced back with a 74-36 win over Cincinnati Winton Woods Tuesday. Junior guard C.J. Frederick, CovCath’s leading scorer at 21.9 points per game, has not played since a 73-36 win over Boone County Dec. 23 with an injury and will likely remain out for several weeks.

Cole Vonhandorf has picked up the slack in Frederick’s absence. The senior guard scored 20 against Holy Cross and 24 against Conner. Vonhandorf, who missed Tuesday’s game, is the second-leading scorer on the team at 17.9 points per game. Junior center Jake Walter leads the team with 7.0 rebounds per game and junior forward A.J. Mayer has added 7.2 boards.

The Colonels, ranked No. 2 in the AP state poll with one first-place vote, could vault back into the top spot in the Power 9 with wins over NewCath Friday and against No. 1 Cooper Jan. 18.

RELATED: See last week's Northern Kentucky boys' Power 9.

3. Campbell County

Record: 15-1 (Last week: 3)

This week’s opponents: at Conner Friday.

The Camels have made quite a case to top this list with 13 straight wins since an early season loss at Bracken County, which is beginning to look like an aberration.

Campbell County steam-rolled Cincinnati Western Hills Tuesday night, 81-63, behind 35 points by senior leading scorer Cole Hegyi and 17 from senior Garren Bertsch. That followed a 91-70 rout of Mason County at home last week behind 27 points from Bertsch and 23 from Hegyi. Bertsch led a 74-45 win over neighborhood rival Brossart Jan. 7 with 24 points and Hegyi added 16.

Hegyi averages 19.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game and Bertsch and has added 18.4 and 4.8 rebounds.

Campbell County is ranked No. 9 in the AP state poll.

4. Scott

Record: 13-4 (Last week: 5)

This week’s opponents: Versus Dixie Heights Friday at the Bluegrass Classic at BB&T Arena, at Montgomery County Saturday.

Scott has won five straight, including a 75-67 win over Boone County Tuesday, and wins over Holmes and Simon Kenton last week to vault past Dixie Heights for the No. 4 spot.

Senior Jake Ohmer continued his onslaught on foes last week with 30 points and 14 rebounds against the Rebels, 31 points in a 73-55 win over Holmes at Scott, and 25 points in a 62-50 win at Simon Kenton. Ohmer has averaged 27.2 points per game this season while shooting 56 percent from the field. He also leads the team with 8.2 rebounds per game. Jake’s younger brother, sophomore Chad Ohmer, has added 9.9 points per game. Nelson Perrin scored 20 against Boone County and averages 9.4.

The next 10 days could be the toughest stretch this season for Scott with games against No. 5 Dixie Heights Friday and at home against No. 3 and 10th Region foe Campbell County Jan. 20 on the horizon.

5. Dixie Heights

Record: 13-3 (Last week: 4)

This week’s opponents: At Villa Madonna Wednesday, versus Scott Friday at the Bluegrass Classic at BB&T Arena.

The Colonels dropped a close one, 73-70, to Bowling Green, ranked No. 3 in the AP state poll, at the First Security New Year’s Bash at Muhlenberg County Jan. 7.

But Dixie bounced back with a 69-59 win over Newport Jan. 9 at home. Senior guard Hunter Meyer leads the Colonels with 15.9 points per game and senior forward Reed Bradfield is second at 12.8 points per game. Senior guard Cameron Thornberry has added 11.1 points per game and junior guard Tyler Schreck leads Dixie with 6.7 rebounds per game. Meyer has added 5.3 boards per game.

6. Newport Central Catholic

Record: 6-6 (Last week: 7)

This week’s opponents: Versus Beechwood Wednesday, versus Covington Catholic Friday at the Bluegrass Classic at BB&T Arena, vs. TBA Tuesday at 9th Region All “A” Tournament at Lloyd.

The defending 9th region champions and 2016 state semifinalists have lost two straight, most recently a 67-47 loss against John Hardin at Central Hardin, and the Thoroughbreds have tread around the .500 mark all season. They’ve won three straight, lost two, won three and then lost two again. Junior guard Brennan Hall leads the Breds with 16.0 points per game and senior guard Luke Moeves has added 10.9 points per game.

7. Walton-Verona

Record: 11-4 (Last week: 8)

This week’s opponents: Versus Eminence Thursday at 8th Region All “A” Classic semifinals at Walton-Verona and versus Gallatin County or Williamstown Saturday at 8th Region All “A” Classic final at Walton-Verona with a win Thursday.

The Bearcats have won four straight and nine of 10 since a 2-3 start to the season, including a 74-27 rout of Trimble County Tuesday at the 8th Region All “A” Classic at home.

Sophomore center Dieonte Miles led the Bearcats with 13.3 points per game heading into Tuesday’s game. Junior guard Zach Clinkenbeard has added 10.0 points per game and a team-leading 6.4 rebounds.

8. Lloyd

Record: 9-6 (Last week: 6)

This week’s opponents: Versus Newport Wednesday and at Beechwood Monday.

The Juggernauts have lost two straight. Three double-digit average scorers pace Lloyd, led by senior forward Sterling Hamilton at 14.3 points per game. Sophomore guard Devion McClendon has added 11.1 points and senior guard Derrick Cipollone has added 10.6 points per game. Luke Tolle is the Juggernauts’ top rebounder at 9.0 boards per game and Sterling has added 7.0.

9. Simon Kenton

Record: 9-6 (Last week: 9)

This week’s opponents: at South Oldham Friday and at Williamstown Tuesday.

Simon Kenton has lost five of seven since a seven-game winning streak in December, including Tuesday’s close one at Cooper. Senior J.C. Hawkins and junior Zach Kelch are double-digit scorers for the Pioneers and Kelch averages nearly 10 rebounds per game.