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9th Region Boys Tournament Preview
2/23/2013 - by Ryan Roberts
After an exciting regular season and district tournaments that featured classics between Holmes and Newcath, Covcath and Newcath , Cooper and Ryle Round 1, Villa Madonna and Lloyd, and Holmes and Covcath in the 35th district championship, to name a few, it is finally 9th region tournament time. The 2013 9th Region Tournament will once again be on the campus of Northern Kentucky University at the Bank of Kentucky Center. This year’s field includes Dixie Heights, Newport, Covington Catholic, Ryle, Newport Central Catholic, Holmes, Cooper, and St. Henry.

Here is a look at the schedule of the tournament before we start with the team previews:

Monday 2/25
6:30 - Dixie Heights vs Newport
8:00 - Covington Catholic vs Ryle

Tuesday 2/26
6:30 - Newport Central Catholic vs Holmes
8:00 - Cooper vs St. Henry

Saturday 3/2
12:00 - Game 1
1:30 - Game 1

Sunday 3/3 at 6:00 PM

Here is a preview of each team and game:
Dixie Heights Colonels (17-13)
The Colonels come in to the tournament on a three game winning streak and advanced to the 9th region tournament by knocking off Lloyd 55-34 behind 21 points and 7 rebounds from junior guard Brandon Hatton. In the 34th district championsip, Dixie defeated St. Henry 61-47 behind 28 points from MVP Brandon Hatton and 11 points from Nick Niehaus. Dixie features one of the best players in this tournament and region in Brandon Hatton. If he gets hot, he is good enough to single handedly lead Dixie to the finals. The key is for Dixie to continue to get solid production from the sophomore class of Andrew Hedger, Liam Rabe, Austin Schreck, Mitch Bolin, and Nick Niehaus.

Newport Wildcats (20-10)
Newport comes in to the tournament with more than half of their losses coming in the final 13 games (7-6), but advanced to the region tournament with a 67-57 win over Bellevue and a 36th district championship loss to Newcath by a final score of 50-42. In the Bellevue game, Arroyal Wright (17 points), Jasean Short (17 points), Marquise Commodore (11 points), Cody Pearson (11 points), and Jaquan Short (10 points) all reached double digit scoring. The Wildcats fell short of the district champions goal as Marquis Commodore was the only Newport player to reach double figures with 12 points. Newport has been a very balanced team throughout the season but in order for them to advance in the region tournament, they will need to continue to get production from all 5 starters, similar to the Bellevue game, and avoid foul trouble, as they aren’t a very deep team.

Dixie v Newport Prediction:
Both teams have come a long way since the first meeting between the two, in which Dixie won 70-62. This game will be Dixie’s youth and depth v Newport’s athleticism and experience. Newport is more athletic but Dixie’s size in the front court could be a problem for Newport, as they are also more physical. In the end, Brandon Hatton is the best player on the floor and will be the reason that the Colonels advance to the 9th Region semi finals.

Covington Catholic Colonels (25-6)
The Colonels come in to the region tournament as winners of 8 of their last 10, but more importantly enter as 35th district champions, a feat they haven’t accomplished since 2007. Covcath is led by one of the best back courts in the area in Nick Ruthsatz and Nick Fredrick, but it is the recent emergence of sophomore Bo Schuh that helped carry the Colonels through the district tournament. In their 69-57 win over Holy Cross in the district semi’s, Schuh led the way with 22 points, 9 rebounds, followed by 16 points apiece from Sawyer Pauly and Nick Ruthsatz. With Zack Tobler manning the middle, the Colonels will be tough to handle. The Park Hills squad will go as far as Nick Ruthsatz takes them, however. In the 35th district championship, the junior guard led his team with 29 points, including a half court buzzer beater to send the Crazies in to a frenzy as they knocked off the 28-1 Holmes Bulldogs on their own floor. Covcath gets a favorable draw being in the upper bracket.

Ryle Raiders (12-17)
Ryle has struggled throughout the season during stretches, but advanced to the region tournament with a 69-51 win over rival Boone County. In that game they were led by Will Stuhr who had a Kevin Love like performance with 23 points and 23 rebounds. Ryle also got 13 points from senior leader Drew Mays in the win. In the district championship the Raiders got off to a hot start but couldn’t overcome the inside game of Cooper, as the Union squad fell 63-54 in the 33rd district finals, despite getting double digit contributions from Will Stuhr (16 points), Drew Mays (12 points), and Mark Fussennegger (10 points). Ryle will also be playing without Travis King who has been a key contributor for the Raiders at the point guard position. In the end, it is the trio of Will Stuhr, Drew Mays, and Mark Fussenegger that will need to lead the Raiders if they are going to advance. Travis Bellew and Tanner White playing well also wouldn’t hurt the Raiders cause.

Covcath v Ryle Preview
The Colonels beat Ryle a little less than a month ago by 15. I’d expect the rematch to be a little closer but Covcath has too much offensive firepower for the Raiders to pull the upset.

Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds (30-2)
The Breds are once again 36th district champions heading in to the 9th region tournament after knocking off Highlands 48-37 in the district semi’s and Newport 50-42 in the district championship. In both the Highlands game and Newport game it was MVP Drew McDonald that led the way with 13 points, 14 rebounds and then a 22 point performance in the finals. If Newcath is going to win the region tournament and make noise at Rupp in the state tournament, they will need him to continue to play well throughout the next two weeks.The Breds have had good guard play all year with Michael Beuter and Zach Pangallo but both will have to shoot well going forward, as Coach Brannen stated his team hasn’t knocked down shots much lately. The x factor for this team will be senior Nick Seibert, who at 6’6, can alter a game at both ends. Newcath got the worst 1st round match up that they could’ve gotten, however, despite being the favorite and hottest team in the region with 18 consecutive wins.

Holmes Bulldogs (28-2)
After starting the year 25-0, the Bulldogs are 3-2 in their last 5, including a 73-72 loss to Covcath in the 35th district finals. Still this is a team that is two last second shots away from being 30-0, district champions, and the favorite to go to Rupp. In the district semi’s, Holmes knocked off Beechwood behind a 30 point performance from sophomore James Bolden and 10 points each from Quenton Chames and Chris Englemon, who also pulled down 15 rebounds. In the district championship, Holmes trailed by 10 at the half but fought their way back to a 2 point lead with 7 seconds left. Covcath got a last second shot off to get the win and end the Bulldogs 5 year run of district championships. More importantly, they suffered an injury to 6th man Armani Housely, who had really come on late in the season as a kid that could score double digits if given the opportunity. The one positive is the balance they showed with 21 points from Quan Palmer, 19 from James Bolden, and 13 apiece from Quenton Chames and BJ Coston. The key for Holmes going forward will be the play of Chris Englemon. When he plays well, Holmes is tough to beat.

Newcath v Holmes Preview
It doesn’t get much better than this. These two played a double overtime classic in their first meeting a couple weeks ago, in which Newcath pulled out an 88-85 win. Heading in to this game, Holmes will have to limit the front court play of Newcath, while Newcath will have to find a way to stop Holmes’ sophomore James Bolden as he had 37 against them in the first game, while also limiting the outside shooting of the Holmes’ guards. Both of these teams are top 10 caliber i in the state and one will have their season ended in this game.

Cooper Jaguars (23-5)
The Jags come in to the 9th region tournament as 33rd district champions for the second year in a row. In order to get there, it took a double overtime win over Conner (72-68) and also a 27 point performance from junior Spencer Holland. The Jags trailed by as many as 11 but fought their way back to get the win and solidify their spot in the tournament. In the district championship, the Coop Squad knocked off Ryle 63-54 with senior Lou Maniacci leading the way with 15 points, 7 rebounds. Senior AJ Collins also finished with 15 points in the win, but it was the play of MVP Drew Shelton down low at both ends that helped take Cooper to another level. With the front court trio of Shelton, Maniacci, and sophomore Colin Hathorne, Cooper is very tough to score on down low. Aaron Morgan runs the show at the point but it is the guard duo of AJ Collins and Zach McNeil that makes this Cooper team so tough to game plan for. If Maniacci plays like he did in the district championship, Cooper has more than a legit chance to knock off Holmes or Newcath in the semi finals.

St. Henry Crusaders (10-15)
The Cru come in to the tournament as 34th district runner up and losers of 4 of their last 5, but have come a long way since the beginning of the season. In the district semi’s, St. Henry beat Ludlow 67-36 with the double digit scoring trio of Darius Meiman (19 points), Nick Rechtin (11 points), and Jordan Noble (10 points). The Cru couldn’t get by a solid Dixie team in the finals, as they fell 61-47, but still are a threat because of how well coached they are with Dave Faust.

Cooper v St. Henry Preview
In the first match up between these two, it was a 12 point win for the Cooper Jags. With more being on the line in this game, I’d expect a similar result as Cooper simply has too much size and guard play, as well as depth for St. Henry to be able to compete with for 32 minutes.

Ranking the teams:
1. Newport Catholic
2. Holmes
3. Cooper
4. Covington Catholic
5. Dixie Heights
6. Ryle
7. Newport
8. St. Henry

Top Players to watch for each team:

Newport Catholic
Michael Beuter, Drew McDonald, Nick Seibert, Jake Schulte, Zach Pangallo

James Bolden, Quan Palmer, Chris Englemon, BJ Coston, Quenton Chames

Aaron Morgan, AJ Collins, Zach McNeil, Drew Shelton, Lou Maniacci

St. Henry
Mike Best, Darius Meiman, Jordan Noble, Nick Rechtin

Covington Catholic
Nick Ruthsatz, Nick Fredrick, Sawyer Pauly, Bo Schuh, Zack Tobler

Tanner White, Drew Mays, Mark Fussennegger, Will Stuhr

Jasean Short, Jaquon Short, Marquis Commodore, Arroyal Wright

Dixie Heights
Brandon Hatton, Liam Rabe, Andrew Hedger, Adam Daria, Nick Niehaus
 Monday, Mar 27 
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