CINCINNATI -- The regular season winds down over the next week as the Ohio boys’ basketball sectional tournament approaches.
With the annual seed meeting Feb. 12, area coaches start to prepare their respective teams for what they hope is an opportunity to play in March.
This week, Moeller (Division I) and Summit Country Day (Division III) remain the only undefeated area teams and will certainly be top seeds in their respective divisions.
Let’s take a closer look at the Power 9 rankings this week:
Last week’s ranking: 1
This week’s schedule: Versus Western Hills Tuesday. Versus St. Xavier Friday. At Lakota West Saturday.
The Crusaders moved up to No. 20 nationally this week by MaxPreps and Moeller is riding a school-record 18-game win streak into Tuesday's game against visiting Western Hills. But Moeller coach Carl Kremer doesn’t like discussion about rankings or winning streaks.
“Winning streaks and all that -- we put no value in that,” Kremer said. “Our value is to be the best we can be in March.”
Moeller has the depth and balance to reach Columbus, but as senior forward Riley Voss said Friday night, the team isn’t looking past the task at hand.
“If we’re focused every day we know that in the long run things will just take care of itself,” Voss said.
Last week’s ranking: 2
This week’s schedule: At Lakota East Tuesday. Versus Lakota West Friday.
There are multiple teams that could be ranked No. 2 in the power rankings, but the Comets have proven to be solid all season despite a recent upset at the hands of Princeton last week.
Mason and Oak Hills are still locked in a battle for the Greater Miami Conference title and that likely won’t be decided until early next week. Mason junior guard Tanner Knue tied a season-high with 17 points to go along with six rebounds and four steals in a 72-55 win over Hamilton Friday night. The Comets are battle-tested and they have the experience and depth to make a run at the regional tournament.
3. Oak Hills
Last week’s ranking: 5
This week’s schedule: Versus Colerain Tuesday. At Princeton Friday.
The Highlanders jump again in the rankings after impressive wins at Sycamore (54-38) and at Middletown (51-24) last week.
Oak Hills senior guard Luke Rudy had 21 points including five 3-pointers in the win over the Middies. Senior Cam Naber had 18 points and senior guard Ryan Batte (Ashland signee) had 16 points and eight rebounds in the win over Sycamore. The defensive pressure Oak Hills is known for seems to have returned after giving up 76 points to Mason Jan. 27.
4. La Salle
Last week’s ranking: 3
This week’s schedule: Versus Lebanon Tuesday. At Elder Friday.
La Salle coach Dan Fleming didn’t mince words after Friday’s loss at home to Moeller. The top-ranked Crusaders snapped La Salle’s 23-game home winning streak. Fleming said Moeller is clearly the top team in the area but he wishes the Lancers would’ve competed more with them on the floor.
McNicholas took La Salle to overtime Jan. 31 before La Salle won by 10. Friday’s game against Moeller exposed some flaws that Fleming didn’t expect. La Salle was 4 of 20 shooting in the first half and couldn’t convert its layups.
"We’re just not very good right now," Fleming said. "We have a good record. We are better than a lot of teams. But I think we are underachieving.”
It’s way too early to panic and the Lancers should certainly be one of the area favorites to reach the regional tournament.
5. Summit Country Day
Last week’s ranking: 4
This week’s schedule: At Clark Montessori Tuesday. At CHCA Friday.
This is the first time Summit has been undefeated in the regular season in at least 15 years. The Silver Knights have three consecutive road games in the next week before closing the regular season at home against Seven Hills. The Silver Knights have their eye on the prize in March in Columbus and this group has the right blend of balance and chemistry.
Three players average double figures in scoring including senior guards Sam Martin (14.9 ppg.) and Alex Dahling (14.8 ppg.) and senior forward TJ Walker (12.4 ppg., 7.1 rebounds per game).
Last week’s ranking: 6
This week’s schedule: Versus Aiken Friday.
The Big Red is one of the most consistent teams in the area with 13 consecutive wins. Hughes junior forward Arian Smith had 21 points and eight rebounds in a 73-56 win over Taft Friday night. Hughes outscored Taft 27-15 in the fourth quarter.
Junior guard Giovanni Santiago added 15 points, nine assists and six rebounds.
“We are extremely proud of the guys,” Hughes coach Bryan Wyant said. “We have a great group. They are fun to coach and there is great leadership.”
Last week’s ranking: 7
This week’s schedule: Versus Finneytown Tuesday. At Reading Friday. Versus Purcell Marian Saturday.
The Cowboys won two games by overwhelming margins last week including at Mariemont (80-34) and at Madeira (86-38). If Wyoming wins the remainder of its Cincinnati Hills League games, the Cowboys will have a fourth consecutive conference title. Senior guard Lonnie Grayson (West Point) leads the CHL with 21.7 points per game.
Last week’s ranking: Unranked
This week’s schedule: At Lakota West Tuesday. Versus Oak Hills Friday.
The Vikings have won three in a row and five of its past seven games since junior Darius Bazley became eligible in mid-January. Bazley, an Ohio State commit, had his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and 15 rebounds in Friday’s 63-47 win over Lakota East. Junior guard Darweshi Hunter had 20 points and four rebounds and senior guard Aaron Levy had 15 points, five assists and four rebounds. The Vikings will be a team to watch entering the sectional tournament.
Last week’s ranking: 8
This week’s schedule: At Centerville Tuesday. Versus Shroder Friday. Versus Ponitz Saturday.
Taft has lost two straight games but those were against high-quality opponents in Summit Country Day and Hughes. The Senators will be tested with a solid Centerville team Tuesday before back-to-back weekend games. This Senators team will be ready for the Division II tournament once it arrives and could very well see Hughes again in the postseason.