Prep boys basketball: CCS rebuilding, but excited about potential

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Prep boys basketball: CCS rebuilding, but excited about potential

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Cincinnati Christian coach Carl Woods cheers on his team during their 57-44 loss to Lima Perry in a Division IV regional final March 17, 2017 at Fairmont’s Trent Arena. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Nobody needs more than a glance at the Cincinnati Christian School boys basketball roster to see that it screams “rebuilding.”

The Cougars lost to graduation six members of the Miami Valley Conference Gray Division all-conference team from last season, including two-time Player of the Year Dylan Woods and fellow first-team pick Christian Keese.

They all helped Cincinnati Christian win a second consecutive Gray Division championship with a 9-4 record and reach a Division IV regional championship game before finishing 22-6 overall.

BOYS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEW

Cougars coach Carl Woods understands that assessment, but he isn’t totally buying it.

“Actually, we’re pretty excited,” said Woods, whose fifth full season as Cincinnati Christian’s coach and sixth overall is scheduled to get under way on Dec. 1 at Badin. “We’ve definitely had a great run. We had a pretty big senior class last year, but we have a lot of upcoming talent and a lot of youngsters who got a lot of minutes of varsity experience last season. We have three guys coming back with varsity experience.”

The top three returning scorers are 6-foot-2 sophomore forward Cameron Rogers, 6-foot senior guard Johnny Nimmo and 6-6 junior forward Riley Reutener. All three saw action in at least 20 games, but none averaged more than 3.0 points per game.

“All three have focused on what we call getting into the lab,” Woods said. “They’ve bulked up a little and worked on their games.”

GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS

This season’s roster has been fortified by a pair of transfers — senior guard Alex Mitchell from Fairfield and junior guard Cole Martin from Lakota West — and the arrival of freshman Devin McKinnon.

“He’s very athletic, a talented kid,” said Woods, the MVC Gray Coach of the Year each of the last two seasons. “The good news and what’s exciting is our (junior varsity) team went 17-5 and 18-4 over the last two seasons. They know about the success of the program, and they know how to win.”

Woods likes how his younger players have transformed his team.

“I like their energy and competitiveness,” he said. “This group here is a lot quicker and faster than our teams of the past. They really want to get after it on the defensive end. That’s hard to teach and train because everybody on the high school level usually wants to score. This group does not mind getting down in the trenches.”

GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS

Youth also can have a downside, Woods pointed out.

“How are they going to react?” he said. “It’s great to see the energy, but you wonder how they’re going to respond and react. How soon will they grow up?”

Cincinnati Christian’s roster isn’t the only new-look aspect of the team. The MVC Gray has grown by a team with Seven Hills being shifted from the Scarlet to make room for newcomers Norwood and Miami Valley Christian Academy.

“The most challenging teams in our division are (Cincinnati Country Day) and Seven Hills,” Woods said.

After the season opener against the Rams, the Cougars have three more road games — at Lockland on Dec. 5, at CCD on Dec. 8 and at St. Bernard on Dec. 12 — before they play their home opener against New Miami on Dec. 15.

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