Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Boys basketball preview

Western Hills, McNick tops

By Dave Schutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Many coaches look at the No.1 ranking in The Enquirer's preseason boys basketball poll as the kiss of death.

        Western Hills has to bear not only the local pressure but also the statewide spotlight, having received the No.1 state ranking in several publications.

        Coach Lannis Timmons' Mustangs received 20 of the 28 first-place votes in The Enquirer's Division I poll. Moeller was second, followed by defending state champion St.Xavier.

[photo] Danny Horace (left) does a light workout with Western Hills coach Lannis Timmons during practice.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
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        McNicholas edged 1999-2000 Division II state runnerup Purcell Marian for No.1 in the Divisions II-IV poll, followed by Madeira and Roger Bacon. The top four teams all received first-place votes.

        Western Hills returns 11 letter-winners, including three major-college prospects.

        Danny Horace, a 6-foot-9, 225-pound center, has committed to Miami; senior guard Darryl Peterson is headed for Akron, and point guard Malcolm Andrews has signed with Wright State.

Division I
        1. Western Hills: In addition to the three Division I signees, Phil Smith, a 6-6 senior guard, will be watched closely by recruiters.

        The Mustangs' only weakness last season was inconsistent outside shooting. If Peterson and Smith hit from long range, West Hi should have few problems against most local teams.

        2. Moeller: The Crusaders' roster is loaded with familar names, including some with famous ties.

        Ohio State-bound Matt Sylvester, the son of former pro Steve, heads the list, along with Tyler Tabler, the son of former major-league baseball player Pat.

        Jeff Silber, a 6-6 senior who committed to UCLA for volleyball, will play basketball for Moeller, as will Nicholas Monserez, the brother of Butler point guard Mike.

        The Crusaders should win the Greater Catholic League South title.

        3. St. Xavier: Although coach Scott Martin's team was hit hard by graduation, the Bombers will be competitive, led by Jordan Cornette (Notre Dame) and Steve Callahan (Dartmouth).

        4. Withrow: A 15-7 record last season wasn't good enough for coach George Jackson, and improvement is on the way.

        Blessed with a veteran team, Jackson will build around inside players Pierre Darden (6-9) and Raymond Garth (6-6) and outside shooters Chris Washington and Will Jeffries.

        On paper, the Tigers appear to have enough talent to climb to the top of the polls.

        5. Elder: The Panthers could contend for the No.1 ranking, or quickly could drop out of the running.

        Coach Joe Schoenfeld will field an experienced team, including Scott Benken, Mike Mahon, Jake Baseley, Tim Schenke and Phil Bengel.

        “The team must not rely on one or two guys to score,” Schoenfeld said. “We have a lot of returning players who gained valuable experience and had productive summers. We have no major weaknesses.”

        6. Winton Woods: Most coaches weren't aware when voting that DeForrest Riley, a 6-5, 190-pound guard from Louisiana, had transfered to Winton.

        Riley, who averaged 22 points and 10 assists, will join highly touted junior Robert Hite (15.9 points), P.J. Mills (15 points, 7 rebounds) and Byron Fields.

        If Riley plays up to expectations, look for Winton Woods to make a run at No.1. 7. Colerain: The Cardinals will challenge for the Greater Miami Conference title.

        Coach Jim Walther will field an experienced team that includes Mike Ferris (18 points, 7 rebounds) and Doug Monaghan (11 points, 6 rebounds).

        If the supporting cast of David Finney, Michael Davis, Jon Daft, Joe Bertram, Brian Skel and David Lies comes through as expected, the Cardinals will flourish.

        8. Oak Hills: Although Tim Oliverio and Mike Lee are the only returning starters, coach Mike Price's team should challenge Colerain in the GMC.

        Look for part-time starters Ross Wiant, Tom Price and Chris Lipps to step up.

        9. Hamilton: The Big Blue have returning letter winners Josh Andrews, Robbie Ballinger, Nate Busbosin and Jon Smith. 10. Princeton: Coach Paul Andrews disagress with the ranking, saying the Vikings “lack height and depth and have very few experienced players.”

Divisions II-IV

        1. McNicholas: The pressure that goes with the No.1 ranking is hard on a first-year coach, and that's what Pat Striker faces.

        It appears the Rockets have the talent to live up to their ranking with Paul Sheehy (12 points), Geoff Hensley (5 points), Brian Chin (8 points) and Jarrod Lawhon (5.5 points) the top players.

        2. Purcell Marian: Keith Jackson, a 6-5 senior forward/center who committed to Xavier, must shoulder the scoring burden for a Cavaliers team that lost four starters to graduation.

        3. Madeira: Coach Jim Reynolds is two victories away from 200.

        Bret Underwood (14.6 points, 6.8 rebounds) and Robb Hern (13.8 points, 7.4 rebounds) are Madeira's mainstays.

        4. Roger Bacon: Josh Hausfeld, a 6-3 senior forward who averaged 19 points, will be the foundation for a Spartans team that also returns Dan Huerkamp, Mike Meridy, Casey Land and Andy Holt.

        5. North College Hill: Rebouding from a 6-15 season will be easy for a Trojans team that returns Duron Moore (10 points), Jermel Turnage (7 rebounds) and Alex Kemphaus (3 assists).

        6. Reading: The addition of transfers DeShawn Wynn and Derrick Aden adds strength and depth to the Blue Devils. 7. CHCA: Sophomore center Luke Trenz holds the key for CHCA, which returns Jay Morelock (12 points, 3 assists), Jason Hunter and Sam Shaw.

        8. Cincinnati Country Day: The Indians' strength will be at guard, with seniors Noah Allen (19 points) and Matt Cohen (10 points).

        9. Wyoming: Jeff Davis and Geoff Tollett are the only returning players from a Cowboys team that was 16-8 last season. 10. Badin: Coming off a 3-18 season, second-year coach Fred Hesse predicts improvement although the Rams return only Bret Noonan and Bret Fiehrer and are without seniors.


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