Sunday, October 10, 1999

NORTHERN KY. INSIDER


Basketball practice begins without hoopla

BY NEIL SCHMIDT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        College basketball celebrates itself this week with Midnight Madness, the ceremonial first practice early Saturday. So how about high school Madness?

        Kentucky teams can actually start practice Friday, but don't expect anyone on the court at 12:01 a.m. Many won't even practice Friday afternoon.

        “We've only got three kids ready that played last year,” Holmes boys coach David Henley said. “The rest are playing football. We'll just wait until Monday (the 18th).”

        So will CovCath's boys, and Highlands' girls. Bishop Bros sart's girls — which, as a non-football school, could start Oct. 1 — waited until last Monday.

        Those aforementioned teams are expected to be Northern Kentucky's best this winter. In the spring, local coaches compiled preseason polls for the coming season.

        Boys: 1. Covington Catholic, 2. Holmes, 3. Newport Central Catholic, 4. Scott, 5. Dixie Heights, 6. Highlands, 7. Campbell County, 8. Lloyd, 9. Conner, 10. Ryle.

        Girls: 1. Highlands, 2. Bishop Brossart, 3. Boone County, 4. Holmes, 5. Notre Dame, 6. Holy Cross, 7. Newport, 8. Conner, 9. NewCath, 10. Campbell.

        Boys coaches also voted on the top 10 players: 1. Ronny Dawn, G, NewCath; 2. Steve Purdon, G, CovCath; 3. Al Huff, G, Holmes; 4. Ryan Wil son, C, Lloyd; 5. Bert Capel, G/F, Heritage Academy; 6. Chris Thompson, G, Scott; 7. Justin Seiter, F, Bishop Brossart; 8. Mike Setters, G, Ryle; 9. Robby Turner, F, Campbell; 10. Jordan Stowers, G, Simon Kenton.

        Girls coaches didn't vote, but here are some top returnees: Katie Schwegmann, G, Brossart; Erica Hallman, G, Holmes; Emily Farrell, G, Notre Dame; Ciara Henderson, F, Boone; Amanda Donohoo, C, Conner; Ashley Mills, F, Newport; Tara Boothe, F, Highlands; Ste phanie Ripberger, C, Highlands; Katie Holtzapfel, G/F, Ryle.

        The only team likely to make an extended run downstate would be Highlands' girls, which returns a balanced core of interchangeable parts.

        The Bluebirds are blue bloods, having reached the Ninth Region title game six consecutive seasons. Boothe, Ripberger, Joanna Imhoff and Christian Stefanopoulos are four strong starters.

        “If teams shut down one of them, we have three or four others who can do the job,” coach Luci Cecil said.

        Highlands has extra motivation remembering its last-second, regional title-game loss to Holmes. Brossart will have similar sentiment after losing in the 10th Region finals the last two years to Montgomery County.

        After going 27-7 and 30-2 the past two seasons, a less impressive mark might net the Lady 'Stangs their first state tourney berth.

        “The region will be wide open this year,” Brossart coach Ray Kues said, “and we've got as good a shot as anyone.”

        Schwegmann, first team all- state last year, could get help from a freshman class Kues calls “the most talented group I've coached in 16 years.”

        The Highlands boys' three-year Ninth Region title streak is expected to end, but no one should dominate locally.

        CovCath, the top pick, returns just two starters. But it won the JV and freshman regional tourneys last year.

        Neil Schmidt is the Enquirer's Northern Kentucky sports reporter. Call him at 578-5582 or send e-mail to nschmidt@enquirer.com.

       



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