Covington Catholic reclaimed the top spot in this week's Northern Kentucky Boys Power 9, with wins over former No. 1 Cooper and No. 3 Campbell County. And the Colonels show no signs of slowing down this season.
Newport Central Catholic also made a big jump in the rankings this week after a fifth-straight 9th Region All "A" Classic championship.
Here's a closer look at the fourth edition of the Northern Kentucky Boys Power 9, based on strength of schedule, overall statistical success and our staff observations from the season.
1. Covington Catholic
Record: 18-4 (Last week: 2)
This week's opponents: versus Holmes Friday, at Highlands Monday and versus Scott Tuesday.
The Colonels reestablished themselves as the top team in Northern Kentucky last week with wins over No. 2 Cooper and No. 3 Campbell County, extending their winning streak to six with wins in eight of nine games overall. Junior guard Aiden Ruthsatz led a 55-52 win over then-No. 1 Cooper on Jan. 18 at CovCath with 22 points. Junior forward A.J. Mayer sealed that win with a conventional 3-point play with five minutes remaining in the game and finished with 10 points. Senior guard Cole Vonhandorf added 12 against Cooper.
The Colonels followed a 77-46 win over Ryle on Jan. 21 with a 72-53 win over No. 3 Campbell County on Jan. 23 at CovCath. Vonhandorf scored 23 against the Camels to become the first CovCath player to reach 2,000 points in his career. Mayer added 19 points and Ruthsatz scored 15 against Campbell County. The Colonels are still without junior guard CJ Frederick, their leading scorer at 21.9 points per game through the first 11 games of the season; he is out with an injury and will likely remain out for several weeks. But Vonhandorf has averaged 17.3 points per game, Ruthsatz has scored 12.7 and Mayer has added 11.4 points per game with a team-leading 7.8 rebounds. Junior center Jake Walter has added 6.8 rebounds per game.
The Colonels moved back up a spot to No. 3 in the Associated Press state poll with two first-place votes.
Record: 16-4 (Last week: 1)
This week's opponents: versus Ryle Saturday and at Newport Tuesday.
Cooper's winning streak ended at 10 last week at CovCath, but the Jaguars bounced back with wins over in-county rivals Boone County on Jan. 20 and at Conner on Jan. 24.
Senior Sean McNeil, the Jags' leading scorer early in the season with 17.6 points per game through nine games, is still out, but junior guard Adam Kunkel has been impressive with 16.3 points per game entering Tuesday's 70-52 win at Conner, including 23 in the 55-43 win over Boone County. Junior guard Brayden Runion had added 9.7 points per game for the Jags, and senior guard Dante Hendrix had added 8.3. Hendrix led the Jags with 15 in the loss at CovCath.
Cooper remained No. 9 in this week's AP state poll.
3. Campbell County
Record: 19-2 (Last week: 3)
This week's opponents: versus Bourbon County Thursday and versus Harrison County Tuesday.
Campbell County moved up to No. 7 in the AP state poll despite having its 16-game winning streak snapped at CovCath. The Camels bounced back Tuesday night with a 57-32 win over Montgomery County at home. They also earned a 57-55 win on the road at Power 9 No. 7 and 10th Region rival Scott on Jan. 20.
Senior Cole Hegyi was averaging 19.5 points per game heading into Tuesday's game against Montgomery County, including 14 at CovCath. Second-leading scorer senior Garren Bertsch was at 17.5 points per game entering Tuesday, with junior forward Tanner Clos at 8.1 points and junior guard Joel Day at 7.7.
4. Dixie Heights
Record: 19-3 (Last week: 4)
This week's opponents: at Simon Kenton Friday and versus Holmes Tuesday.
The Colonels have won seven straight and 10 of 11 overall, including a 59-57 win at Power 9 No. 8 Lloyd Tuesday night.
Senior guard Hunter Meyer led the Colonels with 15.6 points per game entering the game at Lloyd, and senior forward Reed Bradfield was second at 12.8 points per game. Senior guard Cameron Thornberry had added 11.5 points per game, and junior guard Tyler Schreck was leading Dixie with 6.3 rebounds per game while Meyer was at 5.9 boards per game.
The hot Colonels were tested last week with four games in seven days, all of them away from home, and got through unscathed. Meyer led four Colonels in double figures with 15 in a 65-48 win at Conner on Jan. 18 and led Dixie with 19 in a 60-41 win at Highlands on Jan. 20. Bradfield led a 60-46 win over West Jessamine on Jan. 21 at East Jessamine with 14 points.
5. Newport Central Catholic
Record: 11-7 (Last week: 8)
This week's opponents: versus Concordia Thursday at All "A" Classic state tournament at Frankfort Convention Center, versus TBA if still alive Friday, versus TBA if still alive Saturday, and versus TBA if still alive Sunday at the tournament.
The defending 9th Region champions and 2016 state semifinalists surged three spots in the Power 9 this week after winning their fifth consecutive 9th Region All "A" Classic title, with wins over Newport and Power 9 No. 8 Lloyd and then a 62-47 win over Highlands Tuesday night. The Breds, who hovered around the .500 mark most of the season against a grueling schedule, have now won four straight and five of six overall.
Four of NewCath's seven losses have come at the hands of Power 9 teams, including early-season losses to No. 8 Lloyd, No. 4 Dixie Heights and No. 3 Campbell County. Junior guard Brennan Hall led the Breds with 15.8 points per game entering Tuesday's contest at Highlands, and senior guard Luke Moeves had added 10.7 points per game.
Record: 13-4 (Last week: 6)
This week's opponents: versus Danville Thursday at All "A" Classic state tournament at Frankfort Convention Center, versus TBA if still alive Friday, versus TBA if still alive Saturday, versus TBA if still alive Sunday at the tournament, and versus Whitfield Academy Tuesday.
The Bearcats have won eight straight and 13 of 14 overall heading into this week's All "A" Classic state tournament. The red-hot Bearcats have come a long way since a 2-3 start to the season.
Sophomore center Dieonte Miles led the Bearcats with 13.2 points per game entering Tuesday's 60-59 win over Williamstown, and junior guard Zach Clinkenbeard had added 10.2 points per game and a team-leading 6.6 rebounds. Miles scored 18 in a 59-39 win over Boone County on Jan. 18 and Clinkenbeard added 12.
Record: 13-6 (Last week: 5)
This week's opponents: versus Bracken County Friday, at Grant County Saturday and at Covington Catholic Tuesday.
The Eagles have lost two straight following a mid-season six-game winning streak, but those losses have come at the hands of No. 4 Dixie Heights and No. 3 Campbell County. Scott will have a chance to bounce back this week with winnable games against Bracken County and Grant County before a big test on the road Tuesday at No. 1 CovCath.
Senior Jake Ohmer scored 30 in a 57-55 loss against Campbell County Jan. 20 and has averaged 26.9 points per game this season while shooting 54.2 percent from the field and leading the team with 8.0 rebounds per game. Jake's younger brother, sophomore Chad Ohmer, has added 9.7 points per game, including 10 against Campbell County, while junior Nelson Perrin has scored 9.3 points per game.
Record: 13-8 (Last week: 7)
This week's opponents: versus Ludlow Friday, at Gallatin County Saturday and at Villa Madonna Tuesday.
Lloyd has lost two straight to No. 5 NewCath and No. 4 Dixie Heights and is coming off a stretch of four games in seven days. After only a couple of days off, the Juggernauts will play three games between Friday and Tuesday.
Three double-digit average scorers had paced Lloyd entering last week's games, led by senior forward Sterling Hamilton at 14.3 points per game. Sophomore guard Devion McClendon had added 11.1 points, and senior guard Derrick Cipollone had also added 11.1 points per game. Luke Tolle was the Juggernauts' top rebounder at 9.0 boards per game and Sterling had added 7.0.
9. Newport (Last week: unranked)
This week's opponents: at St. Henry Thursday and versus Cooper Tuesday.
The Wildcats enter the Power 9 at No. 9 with wins in three of their last four, including a 72-50 win Tuesday night against Bellevue.
Four double-digit scorers lead a young Newport team, topped by junior guard MeKell Burries at 16.2 points per game. Sophomore guard Donnie Miller has scored 13 points per game, with sophomore center Tahj Harding at 11.2 and sophomore forward Makhi McGuire has 10.9 points per game, including a team-high 22 Tuesday against Bellevue.
Dropped out: Highlands (9-12).
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