Friday, December 03, 1999

Western Hills knows perils of being No. 1




BY CAREY HOFFMAN
Enquirer contributor

        Being ranked No.1 can be giddy stuff, but sometimes there's more to it. Western Hills learned some lessons about that last year that it hopes carry into this basketball season.

PRESEASON POLLS
  DIVISION I
  1. Western Hills (5) ....... 121
  2. Oak Hills (3) ....... 102
  3. Princeton (3) ....... 99
  4. St. Xavier (2) ....... 98
  5. Winton Woods ....... 89
  6. Withrow ....... 78
  7. Elder ....... 66
  8. Moeller ....... 54
  9. La Salle ....... 41
  10. Hughes ....... 21
  Others: Lakota West 27; Fairfield 14; Mason, Milford 7; Sycamore, Walnut Hills 3; Aiken, Middletown 2; Anderson, Colerain 1.

  DIVISION II-III-IV
  1. McNicholas (1) ....... 132
  2. Purcell Marian (10) ....... 130
  3. Finneytown (1) ....... 72
  4. Roger Bacon ....... 58
  5. Seven Hills (1) ....... 53
  6. Madeira ....... 51
  7. Woodward ....... 49
  8. Kings (1) ....... 44
  9. Loveland ....... 39
  10. Wyoming (1) ....... 37
  Others: Batavia (1) 36, Badin (1) 30, Clermont NE 29, CCD 25, Indian Hill 25, North College Hill 20, Springboro 19, Lebanon 17, Ross 10, Summit 9, St. Bernard 8, Reading 8, CHCA 6, New Richmond 6, Mason 5, Bethel-Tate 5, Wilmington 4, Taft 4, Hillsboro 3, Goshen 2.

        With three of the best juniors in town in its lineup, Western Hills starts the 1999-2000 season as the No. 1 team in The Enquirer's Division I coaches poll. The ranking is not a surprise, but it also puts the focus back on the end of last season.

        West Hi knocked off No. 1 Oak Hills at the end of January, opening the door for the Mustangs to climb to the top of the coaches poll for the first time in 20 years. Three weeks later, West Hi sat on the verge of the coaches poll championship, only to lose to St. Xavier on the last night of the regular season. Making matters worse, the Mustangs had to face St. again in the first round of tournament play. They lost again.

        “A lot of people were saying we were overrated, so when we lost, it was hard,” said 6-foot-6 junior forward Darryl Peterson, who led the team with 18.7 points a game last year. “That is what is making us work so much harder this year.”

        Western Hills coach Lannis Timmons agrees that the end-of-season washout cost his team some credibility. And with five seniors to replace, he's concerned..

        “What I'd like to see us adjust to is the reality of this preseason ranking,” Timmons said. “We need to prepare ourselves to win.”

        On paper, Western Hills deserves the preseason No.1. Besides Peterson, juniors Danny Horace and Malcolm Andrews return from a team that posted a 16-5 record. Horace is a handful as a 6-8, 225-pound post player who averaged 14.9 points and 11.8 rebounds a game, while Andrews, a 5-10 dynamo at point guard, produced 7.6 assists and 3.7 steals.

        The Mustangs haven't been as sharp in the preseason as Timmons would like. In a two-quarter matchup with Walnut Hills, Western Hills edged the Eagles by only one point.

        “We have got to stay more focused and work harder,” Peterson said. “Last year, we would practice and leave right away. Now, we're staying late, working as individuals and lifting weights.”

       



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