CINCINNATI -- Simon Kenton remains atop the Northern Kentucky Girls Power 9 this week, while the Pioneers and No. 2 Holmes Bulldogs remain largely unchallenged by area foes. Perhaps hot on their heels, however, is new No. 3 Cooper. The Jaguars jumped all the way from No. 8 last week to the top three this week while on a red-hot tear through their schedule.
Here's a closer look at the third edition of the Power 9, based on strength of schedule, overall statistical success and our staff observations from the season.
Record: 17-3 (Last week: 1)
This week's opponents: At Conner Thursday, versus TBA at Republic Bank/Coca-Cola Consolidated Louisville Invitational Tournament Friday at Bellarmine University, versus TBA Saturday if still alive, and at Williamstown Monday.
Simon Kenton's winning streak stands at 12 and the Pioneers' dominating run over local teams continued unabated last week with a 68-41 win over Ryle on Jan. 21 and a 74-39 win at Boone County on Jan. 23. Now seven area teams are among the 17 foes to fall to the Pioneers, including Scott and Ryle twice. Ryle's second loss this season at the hands of the Pioneers was the closest a local team has come thus far at 27 points. Scott's second loss to Simon Kenton on Jan. 4 was a 28-point defeat. The Pioneers, who have won 15 of 16, including winning the Toyota Classic last week with three wins at Scott County, are ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press Kentucky girls basketball poll for the third straight week. Simon Kenton remains the only local team ranked in the top 10. This run of wins is likely to be put to the test this weekend at Bellarmine University in Louisville when the Pioneers compete in the Republic Bank/Coca-Cola Consolidated Louisville Invitational Tournament, which will also feature AP No. 1 Louisville Butler, No. 2 Louisville Male, No. 3 Mercer County, No. 7 DuPont Manual and No. 8 Louisville Sacred Heart. Sacred Heart knocked off the Pioneers 84-76 Dec. 10 and Butler beat Simon Kenton 66-62 Dec. 22 -- the last time Simon Kenton lost. Sacred Heart is the likely foe Friday with Butler likely waiting Saturday in the semifinals should both teams advance.
Junior guard Allyson Niece leads the Simon Kenton offense with 18.1 points per game, including 26 against Ryle and 23 against Boone County last week. Junior forward Shelby Harmeyer has added 10.9 points per game with senior center Madi Meier at 9.8, junior guard Bailee Harney at 8.2, freshman guard Maggi Jones at 8.0 and freshman guard Morgan Stamper at 6.0.
Record: 15-3 (Last week: 2)
This week's opponents: Versus Scott Wednesday, versus Conner Saturday, versus Newport Monday.
Holmes won two straight last week after having its six-game winning streak snapped by state No. 7 Manual on Jan. 14, and the Bulldogs maintain a firm grip on the No. 2 spot in the Power 9. The defending 9th Region champs have won eight of nine overall. Sophomore guard Kamari Graham leads four Bulldogs averaging double figures with 14.3 points per game, including 22 on Jan. 22 in a 61-39 rout of Southwestern. Junior guard Laila Johnson has added 14.2 points per game with senior guard Jaynice Stovall at 13.1 and junior forward Tyrah McClendon-Englemon at 11.2 points per game with a team-best 7.8 rebounds per game. The Bulldogs will face perhaps their toughest stretch of the season thus far with home games against No. 4 Scott on Wednesday and No. 5 Conner on Saturday.
RELATED: See last week's NKY girls Power 9
Record: 12-4 (Last week: 8)
This week's opponents: Versus St. Henry Wednesday, versus Dixie Heights Friday, at Scott Saturday and versus Walton-Verona Tuesday.
The Jaguars made the greatest leap of the season in this week's rankings from No. 8 to No. 3 on the strength of three wins last week, two of which were over Power 9 teams. Cooper beat No. 7 Highlands 74-63 on the road Jan. 19 and No. 5 Conner 65-62 at Conner on Jan. 21 before cruising past Grant County, 65-45, Tuesday. The Jags have won seven straight and 11 of 12 since a 1-3 start this season. Junior guard Lexi Held led a trio of double-digit scorers heading into Tuesday's game with 16.5 points per game for the Jags, including 19 against Highlands and 18 against Conner last week. Senior guard Hailey Anderson has added 13.5 points while shooting better than 54.5 percent from the field. Junior guard Asyah Mitchell has made nearly 60 percent of her shots from the field and had scored 11.9 points per game for Cooper entering Tuesday.
Record: 12-8 (Last week: 3)
This week's opponents: At Holmes Wednesday, versus Cooper Saturday and versus Mason County Tuesday.
The Eagles have won two straight since a 67-48 loss to state No. 8 Sacred Heart Jan. 18 and Scott has won six of eight overall, but games with Power 9 No. 2 Holmes on Wednesday and No. 3 Cooper on Saturday loom ahead of a game against a strong Mason County (14-4) team Tuesday. Junior Anna Clephane led the Eagles with 22.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game prior to last week's games while junior Alexis Stapleton had added 13 points and sophomore Summer Secrist had scored 10.6 points per game for the Eagles. Secrist was shooting 50.7 percent from the field following the loss to Sacred Heart.
Record: 17-4 (Last week: 4)
This week's opponents: Versus Simon Kenton Thursday and at Holmes Saturday.
Conner has a pair of tall tasks and big opportunities in the next three days with a game at home against No. 1 Simon Kenton Thursday night and a game at No. 2 Holmes Saturday afternoon. The steady Cougars will enter those games coming off a 68-22 rout of Newport on Jan. 23 and having won five of six and 10 of 12 overall. Conner's only losses in that span have come to No. 4 Scott on Jan. 10 and No. 3 Cooper on Jan. 21. Sophomore guard Courtney Hurst was leading the Cougars with 14 points per game entering the win over Newport to top three Conner sophomores averaging double digits. Forward Maddie Burcham had scored 10.2 and guard Savannah Jordan had added 10.1 points per game. Senior center Calee Duncan was also leading the team with 7.3 rebounds per game and was the fourth-leading scorer at 7.4 points per game.
6. Holy Cross
Record: 13-6 (Last week: 7)
This week's opponents: Versus Monroe County Wednesday 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 Indians' only game last week was a nearly 40-point loss at No. 2 Holmes, but Holy Cross had won five straight prior to that, including a 58-56 win over No. 7 Highlands on Jan. 17. Holy Cross has won nine of 11 overall.
Record: 14-6 (Last week: 5)
This week's opponents: At St. Henry Friday and at Madison Central Saturday.
The Bluebirds bounced back from two straight losses to Power 9 No. 6 Holy Cross and No. 3 Cooper with a 55-46 win over No. 8 Campbell County on Jan. 21. Highlands had won four in a row and 12 of 14 heading into that two-game skid. Senior Jenna Martin leads Highlands with 16.2 points per game and has made 77.4 percent of her free throws this season. Sophomore guard Zoie Barth has added 15.3 points per game, and has made 94 of 112 free throws this season -- 83.9 percent.
8. Campbell County
Record: 15-6 (Last week: 6)
This week's opponents: At Mason County Saturday and versus Notre Dame Monday.
Junior guard Taylor Clos leads the Camels with 21.9 points per game while shooting nearly 50 percent from the field and connecting on 82.6 percent of her free-throw attempts (100 of 121). Junior forward Mackenzie Schwarber is adding 12.8 points per game and a team-leading 8.0 rebounds per contest for the Camels while Clos has also grabbed 4.4 rebounds per game. The defending 10th Region champs have won nine of 11 overall with their only losses in that span coming to Power 9 No. 4 Scott on Jan. 13 and No. 7 Highlands on Jan. 21. Clos scored 20 and Schwarber added 11 in a 44-33 win Jan. 23 at Harrison County.
This week's opponents: At Williamstown Friday.
The Juggernauts make their Power 9 debut on a four-game winning streak and with wins in six of seven overall. Senior guard Devin Cheatum was leading Lloyd with 14.7 points per game entering Tuesday's 61-51 win over Dixie Heights. Freshman Jayla LaBordeaux was adding 9.6 and senior guard Alyssa Binkley was adding 8.9 points per game prior to Tuesday for the Juggernauts.
Dropped out: Ryle (11-12)