CINCINNATI -- The Ohio high school basketball season resumes Tuesday night with several games across the Cincinnati area.
With the start of the second half of the season, WCPO.com presents the “Power 9” rankings, a weekly look at the top nine boys’ and girls’ teams based on records, strength of schedule, overall statistical success and our staff observations from the season. Northern Kentucky boys and girls teams will also have rankings.
WCPO.com will highlight these teams throughout the winter leading up to the sectional tournaments starting the week of Feb. 13 (girls) and the week of Feb. 20 (boys).
The season’s first Associated Press statewide media polls start next week. The boys’ basketball poll will publish Jan. 9 and girls on Jan. 10.
This week’s schedule: At Winton Woods Friday. Versus Centerville Saturday.
The Crusaders are clicking on all cylinders entering 2017. Moeller won the Battle at the Villages tournament in Florida over the Christmas break. Moeller coach Carl Kremer picked up his 500th career win Dec. 30. The Crusaders are balanced and are loaded with talent. Senior guard Keegan McDowell, a Liberty University signee, averages 15 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists. Senior guard Caleb Canter averages a team-high 5.8 rebounds. Senior forward Riley Voss, a Cornell signee, averages 7.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.8 steals. Moeller is getting it done defensively too.
The Crusaders have 263 rebounds, 60 steals and 28 blocks through nine games.
2. La Salle
This week’s schedule: Versus Elder Friday. At Roger Bacon Saturday.
The Lancers finished as the Kingdom of the Sun runners-up Dec. 29 in Ocala, Florida. Senior guard CJ Fleming (Bellarmine signee), junior guard Riley Haubner and senior guard Tre Crigler were named to the all-tournament team. Fleming hurt his shoulder late in the third quarter Dec. 29 and is expected to be out a week or two, according to his father, La Salle coach Dan Fleming. Crigler is expected to handle the ball more in CJ Fleming's absence.
The Lancers were working on multiple adjustments in practice Monday. La Salle opens Greater Catholic League play Friday against visiting Elder in what is always a physical battle. The Lancers will face a good test also with an excellent Roger Bacon squad complete with height and athleticism Saturday night too.
This Lancers team has lofty expectations and this week should provide a good barometer without arguably the area's best player.
3. Oak Hills
This week’s schedule: At Colerain Tuesday. Versus Middletown Friday.
The Highlanders made their first trip to Florida in program history over the Christmas break.
"It was a great experience," Oak Hills coach Mike Price said. "The players and assistants made the trip great."
Oak Hills finished third in the Junior Orange Bowl Classic in Miami. The Highlanders lost in overtime to South Miami in the semifinals but went 3 of 9 from the free-throw line and had 20 turnovers.
Senior guard Ryan Batte (Ashland signee) and senior guard Luke Rudy made the all-tournament team. Junior guard Nick Deifel also played very well. He held an Oklahoma State commit to 4 of 23 from the field. South Miami had two Oklahoma State commits and two other uncommitted D-I level players, Price said.
The Highlanders defeated Palmetto 51-45 in the third-place game after Palmetto was 12-1 entering the game. The Highlanders begin Greater Miami Conference play this week and continue to lead the standings with a 3-0 league record.
This week’s schedule: Versus Lakota East Tuesday. At Hamilton Friday.
Mason has been idle since a 44-41 win at Wilmington Dec. 28, but the Comets will be tested against Lakota East Tuesday night.
Mason senior forward Matt King (Ohio Dominican signee) continues to play well -- he averages 12.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.2 steals. Senior guard Eddie Puisis averages 12.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.0 steals and is shooting 47 percent from the 3-point line.
Puisis didn't play in the Wilmington but it was due to a family obligation. The Comets will continue to be among the favorites in the GMC.
5. Summit Country Day
This week’s schedule: Versus Winton Woods Tuesday. Versus Purcell Marian Saturday.
After a 72-46 season-opening win at Princeton, this Summit Country Day team is playing lights out. The closest margin of victory was 14 points against North College Hill Dec. 9 (55-41). All the other games haven’t been close.
Three players average double digits in scoring including senior Alex Dahling, who averages 17.3 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.6 assists. Senior Sam Martin averages 16 points, 3.5 steals, 3.0 assists and 2.6 rebounds. Senior forward TJ Walker averages 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds.
That’s not even to start to mention junior guard Xavier Johnson, a dynamic athlete who is also a football standout. He averages 9.3 points, 3.1 assists and 1.9 steals. The Silver Knights will be a force to be reckoned with in Division III in March. It should be a fun regional tournament with the likes of Summit and Roger Bacon.
6. Roger Bacon
This week’s schedule: Versus Purcell Marian Friday. Versus La Salle Saturday.
Unsurprisingly, coach Brian Neal has his squad playing well yet again this season. The Spartans, a state semifinalist a season ago, defeated Roman Catholic High School (Pa.) 64-41 to win the Rotary Roundball Classic in South Carolina over Christmas break.
Senior 6-6 forward James Johnson averages 13.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks for the Spartans. Sophomore 6-4 guard Alec Pfriem (12.0 ppg., 4.8 rpg.), senior forward Justin Johnson (11.0 ppg., 3.3 rpg.) and senior guard Craig McKee (11.0 ppg., 5.3 rpg., 4.8 apg.) have all played solid for Roger Bacon. McKee recently broke the program’s all-time career assists mark Dec. 23 when he reached 226.
This week’s schedule: At Aiken Tuesday. At Shroder Friday. Versus McNicholas Saturday.
The Senators were a Division II regional runner-up last season and are trending toward another run for the regional final this season.
“We have unfinished business,” Taft coach Demarco Bradley said in the preseason. The Senators have looked the part with solid contributions from multiple players including senior 6-5 forward Malek Green, who averaged 19.7 points and 14 rebounds in mid-December.
Taft will receive a good test at Shroder Friday night.
This week’s schedule: Versus Mariemont Tuesday. Versus Madeira Friday.
The Cowboys have played the fewest games of any of the top nine teams, but that doesn’t mean this squad is any less successful. Wyoming averages nearly 71 points and is led by senior 6-1 guard Lonnie Grayson (Army), who averages 18.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.8 steals.
Wyoming has three other players averaging double figures in scoring including sophomore guard Joey Edmonds (16.6 ppg.), senior forward Garyn Prater (15.0 ppg.) and senior guard Jake Edmonds (10.8 ppg.). Watch for the Cowboys in the Division II tournament this year.
This week’s schedule: At Aiken Friday
Hughes won the 22nd annual Sandestin (Florida) Beach Blowout with an 81-74 victory over Lexington (South Carolina). Hughes 6-3 senior shooting guard Corry Long (Stony Brook signee) had 32 points in the final and was named the tournament MVP. Junior guard Dwayne Rosado also made the all-tournament team. The Big Red will be a team to watch once the Division II tournament starts.
Check back to WCPO.com Wednesday for Northern Kentucky rankings.