Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Western Hills tops Division I poll

Mustangs boast 11 returnees

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.

  1. Western Hills (20) 235
  2. Moeller (5) 183
  3. St. Xavier (3) 178
  4. Withrow 165
  5. Elder 129
  6. Winton Woods 120
  7. Colerain 55
  8. Oak Hills 56
  9. Hamilton 51
  10. Princeton 45
  Others: Woodward, Loveland 43, Anderson 30, Milford 27, La Salle 25, Lakota West 20, Middletown, Mason, Hughes 5, Amelia 4, Harrison, Northwest, Fairfield 1.
        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.

        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. In addition, 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 European pro basketball player Mike, 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.”