A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Cooper boys, Campbell County girls begin new year as top-ranked teams in basketball coaches polls

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

The two teams with the best records in Northern Kentucky boys’ and girls’ high school basketball were voted No. 1 by local coaches in a poll conducted by the NKyTribune this week.

Cooper (13-2) received all 11 first-place votes in the boys’ basketball coaches poll to move into first place ahead of Covington Catholic (10-3), the top-ranked team in the preseason poll.

In the girls’ coaches voting, Campbell County (15-1) was the No. 1 choice on all 12 ballots and remained in the top spot where it started the season. Ryle (12-4) jumped to No. 2 in this week’s poll, four places higher than its preseason ranking.

Cooper, the defending 9th Region champion in boys’ basketball, won seven of eight games in two downstate tournaments during the holiday break. In the third-place game at the King of the Bluegrass, Cooper edged CovCath, 62-59, and that undoubtedly swayed local coaches to put the Jaguars on top.

The two teams will meet again in the feature game of the Bluegrass-Buckeye Charity Classic at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12 at BB&T Arena. Last season, Cooper upset CovCath, 51-38, in the 9th Region championship game that was played on that same court.

Senior guard Adam Kunkel played a major role in Cooper’s impressive start this season. In the first 14 games, he averaged 22.6 points and 7.7 rebounds while shooting 51 percent from the field. During one four-game stretch, the Belmont University recruit scored 32, 22, 35 and 32 points on the road against good in-state teams.

Defense has also been a factor in the Jaguars’ success. They’ve held nine opponents to less than 50 points and have a 48.7 defensive average overall.

The Campbell County girls’ basketball team’s only loss during December was to defending state champion Mercer County, 74-71, in the Queen of the Bluegrass. The Camels reeled off five straight wins after that and the closest margin in those games was 16 points.

In the first month of the season, Campbell County averaged 72.8 points per game while allowing 47.1 with its fast-paced style of play.

Senior point guard Taylor Clos has a team-high 22.3 scoring average, followed by senior forward Mackenzie Schwarber (17.4) and senior guard Lexie Stapleton (14.3). That trio of seniors has a combined average of 20 field goals made per game and their cumulative shooting percentage is 51.7 (313 of 605). Schwarber and Clos also have the team’s top rebounding averages.

The Camels played only three local teams during their 15-1 start. One of their victories came against Ryle, which is ranked No. 2 by local coaches. They have games against No. 3 Conner and No. 6 Highlands on Jan 17 and 20.

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