Alrighty, the dog days of the season are here. Late January bus rides in the cold, practices getting stale and those practice jerseys starting to reek no matter how much Tide and dryer sheets are used in the washer. It’s the point of the season where the great teams separate themselves from the good ones as teams wait for February and the postseason to get here as we’re two-thirds of the way through the regular season.
While the small schools that made it out of their respective regions get to go play for an All “A” state title this week in Richmond, others are jockeying for position in their respective districts with some big matchups taking place over the next few weeks for seeding.
Some districts are much tougher than others and that’s just the lay of the land sometimes. Especially in the girls’ 33rd District where one of either Ryle or Conner will be sent home early in the first round of the district tournament next month. Others like the girls 37th District is where the No. 1 seed is crucial, the team earning that top spot avoids the dreaded win or go home first round district tournament game between Bishop Brossart, Campbell County and Scott.
The movement in the polls wasn’t too shifty this week as Covington Catholic jumped back into the top spot while Conner made the biggest drop with a clunker at Grant County last week. Some top 10 matchups this week should help, or who knows, could hurt the clarity of the top 10.
Cooper remained solid with their No. 1 ranking on the girls side while minimal movement happened outside of the bottom few teams.
Only four weeks remain in the regular season, so buckle up and come along for the ride because before you know it, the postseason and March Madness will be here.
Here’s a look at the weekly LINK nky area top 10 in boys and girls hoops (For Boone, Campbell and Kenton County):
- Covington Catholic (16-2, Previous Week: 2) – Back to the top spot after losing it for a week. Wins over Highlands, Lloyd Memorial and North Laurel the start of a 13-game end of regular season stretch in which they’ll also face the likes of Cooper, Ashland, Campbell County, Male, North Laurel again and Madison Central. If the Colonels can make it out of the next 10 games unscathed, they very well could be the No. 1 team in the state when the postseason hits.
2. Holy Cross (13-5, Previous Week: 3) – Head into the All “A” state tournament on a roll, having won five in a row and are one of the favorites to win it all come Sunday. They’ll open up with Danville at EKU on Thursday at 5 p.m.
3. Newport (16-4, Previous Week: 4) – Have won seven of eight, 14 of their last 16 headed into their showdown with Conner on Monday night in Hebron. Maybe I’ll look like a fool for ranking the Wildcats ahead of the Cougars come late Monday, but this Newport team continues to improve with their lone loss in 2023 coming in the final seconds to Holy Cross in the 9th Region All “A” championship. I’m not sure you can consider them a “sleeper” or “darkhorse” to win the 9th Region anymore.
4. Conner (12-6, Previous Week: 1) – The 27-point loss to Grant County last week was a head scratcher, but we’ll point it to being an off night as the Cougars went 0-of-14 from the 3-point line in the contest. Newport on Monday night starts a seven-game stretch to end the regular season in which they’ll face the Wildcats, Simon Kenton, Mason County, Highlands and Lloyd Memorial to get them primed and ready for the postseason.
5. Highlands (15-6, Previous Week: 5) – Defeated NewCath on Saturday by 30 in what looks like it will be a first round 36th District tournament game if Newport handles their business against Dayton and Bellevue over the next couple of weeks.
6. Simon Kenton (14-6, Previous Week: 6) – The good? Locked up the No. 1 seed in district play with three straight wins over Walton-Verona, Williamstown and Grant County. The bad? Lost a second game this season to Collins, a potential 8th Region tournament opponent. The Pioneers are 6-2 in 8th Region play, the region shaping up to be a solid four-team race with Collins, North Oldham, Simon Kenton and Grant County.
7. Cooper (12-7, Previous Week: 8) – These next three spots are tough. Cooper beat Campbell County earlier in the year, but lost to Lloyd Memorial in overtime last week. The Jags are 7-2 in their last nine, so they’ll get the nod this week. Their next four games: Covington Catholic, Highlands, Walton-Verona and Newport.
8. Campbell County (12-9, Previous Week: 7) – See: Cooper. But they beat Lloyd by 19 on Jan. 12 so they get the nod here. How about their game with Boyd County on Saturday? A 110-107 loss in double overtime. Tied for the 16th highest scoring game in KHSAA history.
9. Lloyd Memorial (9-7, Previous Week: 10) – See: Cooper. Big two week stretch ahead with three district games on tap starting with Dixie Heights on Tuesday. They then get Ludlow on Saturday and St. Henry next week.
10. St. Henry (8-9, Previous Week: NR) – Crusaders are 6-2 in their last eight after a seven-game losing streak. Dave Faust is now one win away from tying Ken Shields 9th Region record of 460 wins and will have a chance to break the record this week with a win over Boone County on Thursday and Bluegrass United on Friday.
Next up: Walton-Verona (13-6), Scott (8-12), Newport Central Catholic 9-11)
- Cooper (15-2, Previous Week: 1) – Another week at the top spot and will look to hold firm with their No. 3 ranking in the statewide media poll that comes out on Tuesday after a victory over Bowling Green on Saturday. Whitney Lind surpassed the 2,000-point marker for her career in the victory. Now they head to the premiere Republic Bank Louisville Invitational Tournament, one of just four teams in the state outside of Louisville to get an invite. They open up with Assumption on Wednesday.
2. Ryle (16-6, Previous Week: 2) – A tough ask on Saturday facing Mercy in Louisville after a district rivalry win on Friday night over Conner. The result showed, losing to Mercy by 34. Of their six losses, five of them are to top 10 teams in the state: George Rogers Clark, Bowling Green, Sacred Heart, Cooper and Mercy. The only other one was a season opening loss to Simon Kenton.
3. Dixie Heights (15-6, Previous Week: 3) – Played the rare doubleheader on Saturday as they knocked off Villa Madonna and Ursuline Academy (Ohio). Now they can clinch the No. 1 seed in the 34th District over the next eight days with victories over Lloyd Memorial and Ludlow.
4. Holy Cross (17-5, Previous Week: 4) – Enter the All “A” state tournament on a four-game winning streak that includes a big victory over district rival Notre Dame on Thursday. The question now is can they win four games in Richmond? They were close last year, losing to eventual champion Owen County by one in the semifinals. They have a chance to avenge that loss if the Indians and Rebels win their first round games, setting up a rematch on Friday in the quarterfinals. From there if they win, a matchup with Pikeville in the semis looks possible.
5. Conner (12-6, Previous Week: 5) – Had their five-game winning streak snapped in a loss to Ryle on Friday but bounced back with a blowout victory over Campbell County Saturday. Life in the 33rd District on the girls side isn’t fun, Conner staring at the No. 3 seed and another date with Ryle in the first round of the district tournament in a win or go home game. Have to imagine Conner will shoot better than the 25% they did on Friday night the next time around.
6. Notre Dame (11-6, Previous Week: 6) – Couldn’t buy a bucket down the stretch in a 37-29 loss to Holy Cross on Thursday. The Pandas are 3-6 since an 8-0 start to the season, but the schedule has certainly ramped up during that time.
7. Highlands (15-6, Previous Week: 7) – Have won eight of their last 10 and can lock into the No. 1 seed in the 36th District with a win over Bellevue next Monday.
8. Bishop Brossart (16-5, Previous Week: 10) – Have won seven in a row as they head to the All “A” state tournament on Wednesday, opening up with Jackson County at Eastern Kentucky University’s Alumni Coliseum. The win streak includes an impressive 25-point victory over NewCath on Saturday. Molly Kramer and Zoee Myers averaging in double figure scoring and also shooting over 50% from the field.
9. Scott (9-8, Previous Week: NR) – Of their eight losses, five of them are by five points or less. Still have two big district games starting with Campbell County on Friday and then Bishop Brossart on Feb. 7. Win those two and they guarantee a berth into the 10th Region tournament.
10. Simon Kenton (10-9, Previous Week: 8) – Snapped their four-game losing streak with a win over Pleasure Ridge Park on Friday.
Next Up: Newport Central Catholic (10-8), St. Henry (10-8)