WALNUT HILLS — Though they lost top point producers in MaCio Teague and Caleb Tregre, Walnut Hills coach Ricardo Hill never blinks and is back with more high-flying basketball Eagles for 2015-16.
The Eagles were 19-6 overall last season and second behind Milford and Kings in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference at 11-3. Among his returning players is 6-foot-5 sophomore Omari Peek, who made ECC second team as a freshman. 6-foot-3 senior Adam Goines made honorable mention.
New faces (and wingspans) include 6-foot-11 freshman center Muhammad Lawal and 6-foot-6 sophomore forward DiShon Daniels. Others expected to contribute from last year’s squad are 6-foot-3 junior Michael Davenport, 6-foot-3 sophomore Kameron Gibson and 6-foot-2 senior D.J. Benson.
“We love out youth and athleticism,” Hill said. “We have 12 guys currently battling for playing time. Once this team establishes great chemistry, we believe the sky will be the limit for this group.”
Hill calls sophomore Daniels from Columbus, the most athletic player he’s ever had at Walnut.
The Eagles start with the Third Annual Kick-Off Classic at Walnut Nov. 27-28 and then get right into the ECC schedule with Turpin on the road Dec. 4.
“I think Turpin should be pretty decent and Kings and Milford,” Hill said of the league competition. “I also think Anderson will be tough.”
Clark Montessori won the Miami Valley Conference-Scarlet Division last winter in coach Darnell Parker’s first season with the Cougars. They were 17-7 (10-3 MVC-Scarlet) for their fifth consecutive winning season and Parker was named league Coach of the Year.
Micah Blythe and Mosi Daniel return as starters, with Blythe making MVC second team and Dainiel honorable mention. Guards Bryce Butler and Jacob McElfresh and forward Noah Mason are others to watch.
Blythe was the team’s second-leading scorer at 11.4 points per game.
“I really love the toughness of this year’s team,” Parker said. “We have some guys that I would call downright nasty, in a good way. They love to get after it on both ends of the court.”
Clark opens at home Nov. 24 against future MVC opponent, Miami Valley Christian Academy. The Cougars are back home Nov.28 against Madeira.
“Dating back to this summer, this team has done a great job of challenging each other in hopes that it makes the team better,” Parker said. “I’m really going to enjoy coaching this team.”
In his first season at Purcell Marian, Scott Kerr led the Cavaliers to a record of 18-8 (6-4 Greater Catholic League-Central). It should be another successful year as Kerr returns five starters in seniors Jordan Gaines, Jamel Howard, Rashaad Ali-Shakir, Payton Smith and Josh Mahan.
Gaines led the team in scoring and was fourth in the GCL-Coed at 14.1 points per game. He also shared the lead in steals (2.1 per game). Howard is a four-year starter and leading rebounder (7.4 game) Ali-Shakir and Smith are four-year starters and 6-foot-7 Kameron Moore is in his fourth year of varsity basketball.
“The core group from last season’s team returns along with several additions from the JV team and two transfer students,” Kerr said. “They’re a very motivated group, eager to add to last year’s success and capture a league championship.”
Howard is 140 rebounds away from the all-time GCL-Coed record and Ali-Shakir needs 29 three-pointers to tie the all-time league record. He’s also in the top 10 in career points scored in the GCL Co-Ed.
“We should be able to rotate nine or 10 players without seeing a significant drop-off in defensive pressure,” Kerr said.
Purcell Marian starts off in a tournament at Walnut Hills Nov. 27-28, with their first game against Meadowdale. Their home opener is against Reading Dec. 1. The league opener is against Alter Dec. 4 at home.
For the three seasons prior to last year, Summit Country Day dominated the Miami Valley Conference, going 39-0. Last season, the Silver Knights managed a 7-5 record inside the conference.
Summit would like to reclaim its place back at the top this year.
“We have almost everybody back from last season,” coach Patrick Cosgrove said. “We took our lumps … and learned the value of possessions. Sometimes that can be hard to get the kids to understand unless they see it firsthand.”
The Silver Knights lost numerous games by three points or fewer last season.
Alex Dahling, TJ Walker and Xavier Johnson, among others, will guide Summit through the season. The Silver Knights also get Sam Martin, a transfer from St. Xavier.
Johnson grabbed attention for what he did on the football field, and Cosgrove is expecting similar results when he laces up on the hardwood.
“His name is one people remember and he’s still not 100 percent healthy,” the coach said. “Once he gets healthy, he is going to be really good. He could be one of the best (players) in the state.”
Seven Hills finished last season 14-8 overall and 9-3 in the MVC. The Stingers were the runner-up behind Clark Montessori in the Scarlet division.
Brian Goertemoeller, Tucker Robinson, Jack Sizer, Stefan Antonsson and Jared Nelson were all-MVC performers last year.
Willie Hill coaches the Stingers.
Jim Leon takes over Mariemont, which finished 5–18 and 2–12 in the Cincinnati Hills League.
The Warriors will have four returning starters and a combination of talented underclassmen. Leon is looking for a quick turnaround after last year’s seventh-place finish.
“(This group) provides us with the depth needed to compete for the CHL title,” he said.
The four returning starters Mariemont is counting on are Joey Kromer, Brennan Crowley, Jacob Trester and Connor Dougherty. Brad Westmeyer and Charlie Tripp could also contribute.
Leon called Kromer and Crowley “two of the best athletes in school history”. He also believes the sophomore Westmeyer is a Division I prospect.
Shaun O’Connell is the new head coach at Withrow, moving south from Ponitz Career Tech in Dayton. His job is to revive a team that struggled to a 2-21 mark last season (1-13 ECC).
With a new staff and system, starters have yet to be determined, but the Tigers to return ECC first team junior guard Elijah Willis and second team junior guard Davon Jorden. Willis was second in the league in scoring behind MaCio Teague of Walnut Hills at 17.9 points per game. Jorden averaged 13.8 per game.
Helping underneath will be 6-foot-4 junior Brandon Powell who averaged five rebounds per game and 6-foot-5 junior Albert Kalala whose great vertical leaping ability makes him one of the state’s best high jumpers in the spring. Junior guard Frank Robinson also returns with some experience.
“The kids have done a good job starting this past summer with buying into the new program,” O’Connell said. “They play very hard. If we continue to improve defensively, on the glass and share the ball we have a chance to have a very good year.”
Withrow begins the regular season with a pair of ECC home games. The Tigers host Loveland Dec. 4 and Milford Dec. 8. They will also play in the Motor City Roundball Classic in Detroit Dec. 26-28.
With several experienced players returning from a team that shared the Greater Catholic League-South championship with Elder and La Salle, Moeller High School returns a deep basketball roster for 2015-16.
Playing without injured center Nate Fowler (now at Butler), the Crusaders were 18-9 (4-2 GCL-South) in their 15th straight winning season under Carl Kremer.
Moeller returns senior guards Trey McBride and Nate Georgeton and junior 6-foot-5 guard Riley Voss as starters. McBride averaged 11.1 points and 6.5 rebounds and was first team GCL, second team all-district and honorable mention in Southwest Ohio.
Georgeton was second team GCL, averaging 7 points per game while dishing out 5.6 assists. Voss as a sophomore was second team GCL averaging 6 points and 5.7 rebounds.
Adding depth are 6-foot-7 senior forward Sam McCracken, senior shooting guard Kenny Wead and 6-foot-5 junior guard Keegan McDowell.
“We have a team with considerable experience and great leadership,” Kremer said. “If we continue to grow collectively, we can be a very good team.”
Moeller starts the season Nov. 27 at Taft and then hosts Kings in their home opener Dec. 1. Dec. 26-31 they will participate in the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The Crusaders feature several college prospects.
“Nate Georgeton is signed with Division II Northwood,” Kremer said. “Trey McBride and Sam McCracken are still involved in the recruiting process, primarily with DII and NAIA schools. Underclassmen Keegan McDowell, Riley Voss and Isaiah Payton (sophomore) all have offers from DI or DII programs.”
Players to watch
Omari Peek, Walnut Hills – freshman starter last season and ECC second team.
Adam Goines, Walnut Hills – 6-foot-3 guard was ECC honorable mention last season.
DiShon Daniels, Walnut Hills – Coach Ricardo Hill calls him the most athletic player the Eagles have had since he’s been there. Transfer from Columbus area.
Elijah Willis, Withrow – averaged 17.9 points per game for second in the ECC and was first team all-league.
Jordan Gaines, Purcell Marian – fourth in GCL-Coed in scoring at 14.1 per game and tied for lead in steals.
Jamel Howard, Purcell Marian – four-year starter and leading rebounder for the Cavaliers.
Rashaad Ali-Shakir, Purcell Marian – four-year starter and top 10 in the league in career points scored.
Xavier Johnson, Summit Country Day – coach Patrick Cosgrove said that when he gets healthy, he is going to be really good. He could be one of the best (players) in the state.
Joey Kromer and Brennan Crowley, Mariemont – coach Jim Leon called them two of the best athletes in school history.
Trey McBride, Moeller – first team GCL, second team all-district and honorable mention Southwest Ohio for the Crusaders.
Nate Georgeton, Moeller-second team GCL and committed to Division II Northwood.
Riley Voss, Moeller-second team GCL 6-foot-5 junior evaluating DI and DII offers.
Micah Blythe, Clark Montessori – second-leading scorer at 11.4 points per game last season and second team MVC.
Bryce Butler, Clark Montessori – transfer from Finneytown who led the CHL in scoring last season.