High school hoops are back in Southwest Ohio! The official preview came out hot off the press in yesterday’s edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer. There appears to be another great year of basketball in store for Cincinnati. High school basketball in Cincinnati is not quite as strong as the football generally, but it is always good, with our fair share of talent signing with D1 institutions each and every year.
So lets take a look at this year:
The cream of the crop appears to once again be those pesky boys off of Chester Road, the Princeton Vikings. Princeton is the defending state runner-up, coming within seconds of a state title last season. The Vikings are led by senior shooting guard Jordan Sibert. Hands down, Sibert is known as the most talented player in Southwest Ohio this year and will be expected to be the all out leader for the Vikings this year. Sibert’s ability to score in every way possible, play lockdown defense, and just his overall smoothness, will be easily seen all season as he shows why Thad Matta and the Buckeye’s signed him. Sibert is coming off a broken leg though and it will be interesting to see if he still has the explosiveness he once had going to the rim. All rumors that I have heard is that he is the same old Sibert, but better. Princeton also will be relying heavily on their returning point guard Marcus Davis. Davis, better known for his phenomenal baseball abilities is the floor general for the Vikings. He is not expected to score much, but has always done a wonderful job in distributing the ball for the Vikings in his time and this year should be no different. Princeton also returns key reserve player from last year Darrian Wilkins. Darrian was very important to the Vikings in their state run last year and should have a much more expanded role this season. Finally, with the addition of a couple of great athletes from the always strong Princeton Junior Varsity basketball squad, and some key transfers, this team is filling out very nicely for a return to Columbus. The Vikings lost 3 division 1 players off of last year’s squad, but this team should do great if they gel right. This squad does not have the talent or size on paper of last year’s squad, but they have arguably the best player Southwest Ohio has seen in years, and an outstanding coach in Josh Andrews.
So with Princeton being the head of the class, there are still plenty of other teams in contention. This year seems to be much more wide open than last year’s two team race between Princeton and Middletown for supremacy in Southwest Ohio. Moeller looks ready to make a lot of noise this season with their senior star Griffin McKenzie. McKenzie recently signed with the Muskies and spent most of last season injured. Coach Kremer is no stranger to winning state titles at Moeller and is very excited to have the full services of his star senior this year. Do not be surprised if the Crusaders ride the coat tails of another very strong post player (McKenzie), which has been a common theme over the years for Moeller, and sneak into Columbus. Then of course, there are the Lasalle Lancers. This team, though they lost many key players from last season, came within 1 minute of pulling off a major upset in the Regional Finals last season. Many expect Lasalle to be tough once again this year, and Coach Fleming has a knack for having his players gel beautifully in the postseason. Then finally, though I cringe at saying this, you always have to watch out for the Bombers from St. Xavier. Last season the Bombers were really down. Yet they still knocked off a Middletown team that many expected to go to state. So do not sleep on the Bombers regardless if many think that they are lacking in the talent department this year. Smart, disciplined basketball will always take a team far in postseason play.
Finally, the best of the rest has to be Middletown. Though Middletown lost a ton of star power, they had a great Junior Varsity team last year and return center Kirby Wright. Their duals with Princeton should once again be an awesome environment this year.
So there you have it. My pick is the Princeton Vikings to once again represent Cincinnati in Columbus. The Vikings have a tough national schedule just as this did last season featuring a showdown with Kentucky State Champ, Holmes High School, on January 6th. This game will be televised on Fox. They also are playing in some showcases that are full of nationally ranked teams, not to mention the always great showdowns with their rival, the Middletown Middies.
Please make sure you check out the Vikings play live if you get a chance at some point this season. You will not want to miss the Sibert Show before it heads to Columbus..
So what are your thoughts and predictions for the season?
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.