Covington Catholic stayed atop the Northern Kentucky Boys’ Power 9, which was unchanged this week. CovCath, No. 2 Cooper, No. 3 Campbell County and No. 4 Dixie Heights remain a cut above the rest of the area teams as the regular season settles into its final two-plus weeks.
Here’s a closer look at the fifth 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: 21-4 (Last week No. 1)
This week’s opponents: At Beechwood Friday.
The Colonels have won nine straight, 11 of 12 overall, and stand firm atop these power rankings after three blowout wins last week that included am 82-46 win over No. 7 Scott Tuesday at home. Junior guard Aiden Ruthsatz led three Colonels in double-figures against the Eagles with 23 points Tuesday while senior guard Cole Vonhandorf added 20 and junior forward A.J. Mayer scored 18.
Vonhandorf scored 27 in a 75-51 win at Highlands Jan. 30 and 24 in a 71-34 win over Holmes Jan. 27 at home. Vonhandorf has averaged 18.1 points per game while shooting 55.1 percent from the field, Ruthsatz has scored 13.1 and Mayer has added 12.0 points per game while shooting 51 percent with a team-leading 7.5 rebounds per game. Junior center Jake Walter has added 7.1 rebounds per game.
The Colonels remained No. 3 in the Associated Press state poll for a second straight week with two first-place votes.
Record: 18-4 (Last week No. 2)
This week’s opponents: Versus Ryle St. Henry Wednesday.
Cooper scored double-digit wins over Ryle and No. 9 Newport last week to run the Jaguars’ winning streak to four and the team has won 14 of 15 overall.
Senior Sean McNeil returned to the lineup with 12 points in a 69-35 win over Ryle Jan. 28 and was leading the Jags with 17.0 points per game heading into Tuesday’s 68-53 win at Newport while shooting 56.3 percent from the field and leading the team with 7.5 rebounds per game. McNeil had missed 11 games with an injury.
Junior guard Adam Kunkel has also been impressive with 16.5 points per game entering Tuesday game. Junior guard Brayden Runion had added 9.9 points per game before leading all scorers with 26 points Tuesday and senior guard Dante Hendrix had added 8.0 points.
Cooper moved up a spot to No. 8 in this week’s AP state poll.
3. Campbell County
Record: 21-2 (Last week No. 3)
This week’s opponents: At Bellevue Wednesday, versus Newport Friday and versus Simon Kenton Tuesday.
The Camels have won three straight since a loss at No. 1 CovCath Jan. 23, including a 76-39 win over Harrison County Tuesday at home, and Campbell County has won 19 of 20 overall. Campbell County also beat Bourbon County last week, 70-53 on Jan. 26. Senior Cole Hegyi leads the Camels with 19.0 points per game, including 28 against Bourbon County. Senior Garren Bertsch scored 22 against Harrison County and is at 17.4 points per game. Junior forward Tanner Clos has added 8.1 points and junior guard Joel Day has added 6.9 points per game for Campbell County.
The Camels fell three spots to No. 10 in the AP state poll this week despite the three straight wins.
4. Dixie Heights
Record: 21-3 (Last week No. 4)
This week’s opponents: Versus Ludlow Friday, versus Lockland (Ohio) Saturday and at Holy Cross Tuesday.
The Colonels just continue to win. Dixie has reeled off nine straight wins, the Colonels have won 12 of 13 overall and only one of their three losses this season has come at the hands of a local team -- a 61-59 loss at Campbell County Dec. 15.
Senior guard Hunter Meyer led the Colonels with 15.0 points per game entering Tuesday’s 68-40 win over Holmes and senior forward Reed Bradfield was second at 12.4 points per game. Senior guard Cameron Thornberry had added 10.7 points per game and junior guard Tyler Schreck was leading Dixie with 6.2 rebounds per game while Meyer was at 5.5 and Bradfield was at 4.7 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. Schreck led the Colonels with 14 points in a 42-38 win at Simon Kenton on Jan. 27. The Colonels will be favored in each of their three games this week with a Feb. 9 home game against No. 1 CovCath and a Feb. 14 game at No. 2 Cooper looming on the late-season schedule.
5. Newport Central Catholic
Record: 14-8 (Last week No. 5)
This week’s opponents: Versus Dayton Wednesday, at Brossart Friday and versus St. Henry Saturday.
The defending 9th region champions and 2016 state semifinalists had won seven straight before falling 66-48 to Paris in the All “A” Classic state final Jan. 29 in Frankfort. The Breds, who hovered around the .500 mark most of the season against a grueling schedule prior to that winning streak, have won eight of 10 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, No. 3 Campbell County and No. 1 CovCath.
Junior guard Brennan Hall was leading the Breds with 16.4 points per game through a 62-56 win over University Heights Jan. 27 in the All “A” quarterfinals and senior guard Luke Moeves had added 11.1 points per game.
Record: 17-5 (Last week No. 6)
This week’s opponents: Versus Grant County Friday, at Trimble County Saturday and versus Lloyd Tuesday.
The Bearcats bounced back after having their nine-game winning streak snapped last week at the All “A” Classic quarterfinals with a 71-29 rout of Whitefield Academy Tuesday night at home. Walton-Verona has won 15 of 17 overall since a 2-3 start to the season. Sophomore center Dieonte Miles led the Bearcats with 13.6 points per game through a 46-33 win over Danville at the All “A” Classic Jan. 26 and junior guard Zach Clinkenbeard had added 10.3 points per game and a team-leading 6.9 rebounds.
Record: 15-7 (Last week No. 7)
This week’s opponents: At Conner Thursday, at Lafayette Saturday and at Ryle Tuesday.
The Eagles have lost three of five following a mid-season six-game winning streak, but those losses have come at the hands of No. 4 Dixie Heights, No. 3 Campbell County and most recently, to No. 1 Covington Catholic Tuesday night.
Senior Jake Ohmer scored 16 Tuesday in Scott’s 82-46 loss at CovCath and has averaged 26.6 points per game this season while shooting 53.9 percent from the field and leading the team with 7.8 rebounds per game. Jake’s younger brother, sophomore Chad Ohmer, has added 9.3 points per game while junior Nelson Perrin has scored 9.3 points per game. Scott will play its next five games on the road.
Record: 15-9 (Last week No. 8)
This week’s opponents: At St. Henry Friday, at Eminence Saturday and at Walton-Verona Tuesday.
Lloyd has lost three of five with a showdown at No. 6 Walton-Verona looming among three games this week. Three double-digit average scorers had paced Lloyd entering last week’s games, led by senior forward Sterling Hamilton at 15.4 points per game. Senior guard Derrick Cipollone had added 11.1 points and sophomore guard Devion McClendon had also added 9.9 points per game. Luke Tolle was the Juggernauts’ top rebounder at 9.0 boards per game and Sterling had added 7.6.
9. Newport (Last week No. 9)
This week’s opponents: At Campbell County Friday and versus Breathitt County Tuesday.
The Wildcats have won four of six and their two losses in that span have come against No. 5 NewCath on Jan. 20 and Tuesday night against No. 2 Cooper. Four double-digit scorers lead a young Newport team, topped by junior guard MeKell Burries at 16.5 points per game, including 18 Tuesday in the 68-53 loss to Cooper. Sophomore guard Donnie Miller has scored 13.1 points per game with sophomore center Tahj Harding at 11.0 and sophomore forward Makhi McGuire at 10.5 points per game. Miller scored 11 against Cooper and Harding added 10.