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Posted On: 02/28/18 11:00 AM
We are only 2 and a half weeks from the start of the KHSAA Sweet 16 at Rupp Arena. Half the schools in Kentucky have been eliminated from the postseason and by Thursday night, that number will dip to 64 teams remaining. The games get started on Tuesday night in the 6th and 7th regions before the rest of the state starts regional play on Wednesday night. We’re going to take a look at the 8 top players remaining in each region and take a shot at power ranking the remaining teams. The 9th region starts play on Wednesday night. All regional games take place at Northern Kentucky University’s BB&T Arena. Here’s a breakdown of the 9th region tournament and the top individual players still playing.
Elite 8 Players (in no order):
CJ Fredrick, Covington Catholic – One of the favorites for Mr. Basketball and signed to Iowa, CJ will be a driving force to get Cov Cath to Rupp.
Aiden Ruthsatz, Covington Catholic – The most valuable player for the Colonels, Ruthsatz is a great point guard who make everyone around him better.
MeKell Burries, Newport – Signed to UPike, Burries is a big time scorer and the senior leader for Newport. They are set up to make a run to the title game and Burries can help get them there.
Brennan Hall, Newport Central Catholic – It feels like Brennan has been playing in the regional since the 90s. He’s battle tested and capable of helping NCC pull an upset over Cooper.
Adam Kunkel, Cooper – A finalist for Mr. Basketball, Kunkel is averaging 20 points and 8 rebounds for the Jags and will need to be the best player in the region for Cooper to win it all.
Braydon Runion, Cooper – Averaging 10 points and 9 rebounds per game, the undersized post will do the dirty work for the Jaguars.
Vince Rankin, Ryle – Averaging 19 points and 8 rebounds per game, the junior gives Ryle a post presence as he shoots 52% from the field and can stretch the floor a bit with his 3 point shooting.
Tahj Harding, Newport – A double-double machine who averages 15 points and 11 rebounds, Harding is the glue guy for a Newport team that can surprise everyone and win the 9th region.
1. Covington Catholic – The Colonels have been rolling for the last 6 weeks and look like a legitimate threat to win the state championship again.
2. Cooper – Last year’s state runner up, they will need to play lockdown defense for 3 games to get back to Rupp Arena
3. Newport – Deep and talented, Newport got the best draw they could have hoped for and should be favored to get to the regional title game.
4. Newport Central Catholic – An annual contender for the regional crown, this NCC team was hurt by drawing Cooper in their opener.
5. Dixie Heights – A solid team with quality pieces, Dixie is capable of getting all the way to the regional title game.
6. Ryle – Only 11-19 on the season, Ryle has been up and down but has a chance to upset Dixie Heights and get to the semifinals.
7. Holy Cross (Covington) – Holy Cross already defeated Newport this season and may very well pull off upset again.
8. St. Henry – Cov Cath is a worst case scenario match-up for St. Henry. They will struggle to keep up offensively.