This year’s 9th region All “A” tournament has the tools to be the most competitive in recent years. With arguably five of the best 10 teams in the area represented in this year’s tournament, it seems to be anyone’s championship for the taking. Of the 11 schools participating, at least six schools have a legitimate shot to be the 9th region representative in Richmond.
The early season favorite is Holy Cross. The Indians are led by sharpshooter Jimmy Ryan and underrated Nick Steenken. A huge opening season win over perennial state power Lexington Catholic got the small Covington, Ky. school off to a great start. With another big win over 10th region power Bishop Brossart and an overtime thriller over Dixie Heights, these boys are riding high going into the All “A.” A tough loss to Covington Holmes in January was tough to overcome, but the Indians followed that up with a victory over fellow All “A” participant Lloyd Memorial to get back on track.
The surprise school not only in Northern Kentucky, but the entire state could very well be Beechwood. With stars Michael Romes and Chas Moore leading the way, the tigers are currently 10-2 going into Newport High School for the regional. The Ft. Mitchell, Ky. school has suffered their only defeats this season to traditional power Covington Catholic and South Laurel, which was #1 in Kentucky. Romes has established himself as one of the best players in the area with his stellar play this season. Huge wins this season include Ryle and Central Hardin, which are both 4A schools. Dominating wins over Ludlow, Bellevue, and Newport have thrown the Tigers into the mix as a favorite for the class “A” regional title.
Despite their deceiving 5-8 record, the two-time defending champion Newport Central Catholic returns as a serious contender for the region crown. Coach Rob Detzel knows what it takes to win a 9th region crown, and some of his more experienced players have had a hand in the last two championships. With Zack Kiernan, Kevin Beuter, and sharpshooter Luke Heil the ‘Breds have a legitimate shot at an unprecedented three-peat.
Saint Henry coach Dave Faust leads a solid Crusader club into this year’s tournament. They are the last 9th region club to win an All “A” state championship in 2003, and Faust will have his club ready to go. With a very balanced attack any Crusader player can step up at any time to lead the club, which makes this team very dangerous.
The host school is the Newport Wildcats, who arguably have the most athletic group in the 9th region tournament this year. If this club plays with the confidence a host school should play with, the Wildcats will be a tough team to beat. They have proven that they can compete and this tournament is their opportunity to showcase their talents.
A huge sleeper in the regional is the Ludlow Panthers, who have shown signs of promise as of late. The injury bug has got to Panthers most of the season, but if they remain healthy they can definitely make a run. With inside/outside combination of Dan Penick and Chase King, the Panthers could turn some heads.
Any team on any given night can come out victorious in sports. This year’s 9th region All “A” Classic will hold true to the claim. Parity is a word that defines the week, and the team who comes together and plays the best will come out with the title and a shot at State.