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Prep Sports Notebook: Basketball teams enjoying remarkable turnarounds face off Tuesday night

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Two boys basketball teams that have made remarkable turnarounds at the halfway point of the 2021-22 regular season will face each other Tuesday when Lloyd visits Cooper in a game scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

With six weeks down and six more to go before the playoffs begin, Lloyd has an 11-1 record and Cooper stands at 12-3. Both teams are enjoying more success than last season when their final records were 7-11 for Lloyd and 5-13 for Cooper after losing their first games in the district playoffs.

Lloyd junior Jeremiah Israel

Defense has played a major role in the upswing for both teams. Lloyd has limited opponents to 48 points per game, which ranks sixth in the statewide statistics on the khsaa.org website. Cooper isn’t far behind with a 50.7 average that ranks 16th.

Lloyd is averaging 60.9 points per game and shooting 47 percent from the field. The Juggernauts’ only loss came to McCracken County, 48-28, in the third game of a tournament when they made just 32 percent of their shots.

The team’s leading scorer is junior guard Jeremiah Israel with a 14.3 average. He’s shooting a team-high 58.9 percent (66 of 112) from the field and 73.3 percent (33 of 45) at the line. He has been a double-figure scorer in 11 games and shot 50 percent or better from the field in 10 of them.

The other Lloyd players with double-figure scoring averages are senior guard Ryan Davis (11.9) and 6-foot-5 senior forward Garrett Vogelpohl (11.7).  E.J. Walker is a 6-foot-7 freshman averaging 9.2 points and 6.7 rebounds in his second season of varsity competition.

Cooper junior Caleb Brooks

Cooper’s three losses were by a combined total of 16 points while most of its wins have been by double-digit margins. The Jaguars also have three players with double-figure scoring averages and they’re all shooting 50 percent or better from the field.

The team leader is 6-foot-6 junior forward Caleb Brooks with a 14.1 average that’s much higher than last season when he had 4.8 points per game. He also has the team’s highest rebounding average (7.4) and free throw percentage (75.3) at the halfway point in the regular season.

Junior forward Gavin Lutz and senior guard Blake Berry are averaging 11.7 and 10.4 points for the Jaguars. Last season, they had a combined average of just 6.9 points per game.

Berry is shooting 53 percent from the field overall and 48.9 percent from behind the 3-point line going into Tuesday’s home game against Lloyd. Last year’s game between the two teams was cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols. Two years ago, Cooper pulled out a 58-56 win at Lloyd.

Football coaches name finalists for “That’s My Boy” Award

Ryle senior linebacker Gabe Savage, the leading tackler in Northern Kentucky high school football this season, is one of four finalists for the Brian Williams “That’s My Boy” Award that goes to the top student-athlete among local players.

Savage made 154 tackles (69 solo, 85 assisted) in 13 games for an 11.8 average that ranked among the state’s top 20. He also played running back for the Raiders, rushing for 364 yards and scoring 26 points.

Gabe Savage

The other finalists for this season’s award are Newport Central Catholic linebacker and wide receiver Dom Morgan and two-way linemen Sam Epplen of Covington Catholic and Thomas Sayers of Brossart.

Morgan made 98 tackles (54 solo, 44 assisted) for NewCath. He was also the team’s third leading scorer with 52 points, including a fumble return for a touchdown on defense. Epplen and Sayers received awards for being the best offensive linemen on their teams.

A rating system that awards points for achievements in football, academics and extra curricular activities is used to decide the winner of the award that’s named in honor of former CovCath football player Brian Williams, who lost his life in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on New York City.

This year’s winner will be announced at the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the National Football Federation banquet on Feb. 24 at the original Montgomery Inn on Montgomery Road in Cincinnati.

CovCath graduate is starting guard on nationally ranked team

Covington Catholic graduate Cole VonHandorf is averaging 14.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists as a senior guard on the Fairmont State University men’s basketball team that’s ranked No. 23 in NCAA Division II by the National Association of  Basketball Coaches.

VonHandorf was named Mountain East Conference Player of the Week after scoring a season-high 27 points in his team’s 85-83 win over Notre Dame College on Saturday. Earlier in the week, he netted 23 points in a 93-88 overtime win against Alderson Broaddus.

On the season, VonHandorf is shooting 50 percent (68 of 136) from the field and 80 percent (40 of 50) from the free throw line for the 11-2 Falcons. His career scoring total is 1,189 points.


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