The Campbell County Camels have become not only a consistent 37th District champion, but a 10th Region contender with Aric Russell as head coach. The Camels own nine consecutive district championships and have four region championships driving all the way to the state semifinals in 2019 during his tenure.
Defending state champion George Rogers Clark has won three straight region titles. But Campbell County, among others, could challenge the Cardinals.
Here’s how the district breaks down:
Campbell County Camels
The Camels put together another solid campaign last year at 20-11. But it ended in heartbreaking fashion, a 71-69 loss to Bracken County in the regional semifinals at Holmes. Campbell County had chances to ice that game in regulation, but did not seal the deal.
The good news is the majority of Camels off that team return minus two seniors that graduated, guard Garrett Siry and Trent Sorgenfrei, while starting power forward Dez Davie is no longer enrolled at Campbell County.
“We’re really excited about how things are going and there are some good underclassmen coming through,” Russell said. “It’s a good mix with our upperclassmen. It’s going to be a fun year watching the underclassmen and these veterans gel together and see what we can get done.”
The four returning starters are senior guards Jake Gross at 6-3, 6-1 Keegan Hill, 6-4 forward Ayden Hamilton, and sophomore 5-11 guard Garyn Jackson. Hamilton, who recently signed to play baseball at the University of Kentucky, and Gross averaged 19.6 and 12 points per game. Junior 6-3 guard/forward Nathan Smith also returns after seeing action in 31 games last year.
“I’m just excited for another successful year,” Hamilton said. “We really want to make the most out of it and do the best we can since it’s our last year.”
The Camels travel to Dixie Heights on Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. battle.
Bishop Brossart Mustangs
Ben Franzen takes over a program with a proud tradition. The Mustangs finished 12-19 last year but eight of those losses came by four or fewer points. They lost 69-50 to Mason County in the region quarterfinals.
The Mustangs saw 6-4, 245-pound center David Govan graduate after he averaged 14.9 points per game. But Bishop Brossart welcomes back their second-leading scorer in 6-1 forward Mason Sepate, who averaged 11.5 points per game.
“We feel like not only are athletics growing here, but the school is growing as well,” Franzen said. “We’re looking forward to hopefully having a successful year on the court. These guys have put a lot of work in. We had some play football, a couple that golfed and some that played soccer. It didn’t really hold them back from putting work in whether it be conditioning or skills work in the gym.”
Bishop Brossart lists seven seniors and 12 sophomores on its roster. The other six seniors are 6-2 forward/center Luke Schumacher, 6-2 forward Sam Willike, 5-10 forward Jack Poe and three guards, 5-9 Anthony Kruse, 5-11 Logan Woosley and 5-8 Brandon Bezold.
“I think our chemistry is great,” Poe said. “We’ve all been playing since grade school and freshman year all the way through. We have a lot of experience together so we know what we’re going into. We’re feeling good this year.”
Brossart travels to Villa Madonna on Monday for a 7:30 p.m.
The Eagles took their lumps in a 7-21 season last year that ended with a 40-38 loss to Bishop Brossart in the district semifinals marking just the second time in head coach Steve Fromeyer‘s head coaching tenure that the Eagles did not make it to the 10th Region tournament.
The Eagles were 1-6 in games decided by three or fewer points.
Seven seniors graduated from that team including two starters. The Eagles return junior post Nolan Hunter, who averaged 11.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game along with senior Brayden Howell and junior Dylan Giffen, who averaged 11.8 and 6.8 points per game last year.
“Things have really ramped up with the competition and the speed of the kids,” Fromeyer said. “This team has gelled early, which I like. Now, we have a lot of kids that are going to play a lot of varsity minutes that we’re still needing some experience with so things might get a little shaky. But I like our group.”
A number of others could step forward this year, including senior Dasani Lane and juniors Jon Evans and Xarek Sarakatsannis.
“I think we learned from our mistakes last year. We’re trying to go back to the old Scott basketball – quick, pride in our defense, gritty,” Evans said. “That’s what we’re going to try to focus on this season and get that positive record. We’re all connected this year. Everyone plays a role. Execution is a big thing.”
Scott opens the season on Tuesday against Highlands. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Calvary Christian Cougars
The Cougars finished 20-11 last year, losing to Campbell County in the region semifinals. Nine seniors graduated from that team.
Calvary lists one senior on the roster, Josiah McCulley, along with eight juniors and five sophomores. Only two juniors, guard Race Zachary and forward/guard Lucas Toro, return with some varsity experience.
“I love this group. They are very coachable kids,” said Orlando Donaldson, Calvary head coach. “I told the coaching staff it’s going to be a year two process. We actually have a good young group coming in. It’s hard to focus on one sport at a school like Calvary. But they played a lot of summer ball.”
Calvary Christian opens the season Tuesday at Milford (Ohio) Christian. Game time is 7:30 p.m.