CCS boys romp through sectional, eye first district championship

Cincinnati Christian coach Carl Woods (standing) watches CCS guard Brady Roberts (20) being covered by Georgetown’s Cameron Brookbank (15) on Saturday night during a Division IV sectional final at Taylor. RICK CASSANO/STAFF
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Cincinnati Christian coach Carl Woods (standing) watches CCS guard Brady Roberts (20) being covered by Georgetown’s Cameron Brookbank (15) on Saturday night during a Division IV sectional final at Taylor. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

The Division IV Cincinnati sectional was one big preliminary round for Cincinnati Christian School’s boys basketball team. Now it gets real.

The Cougars are headed back to the district finals after claiming their second straight sectional championship Saturday night, overwhelming Georgetown 91-50 at Taylor.

In three sectional wins, the average margin of victory for top-seeded CCS (20-5) was 50.3 points.

“This is definitely one of our biggest goals coming into this year, getting back to the district finals,” Cincinnati Christian senior guard Dylan Woods said. “We’re pretty proud and excited about it. We’re hoping to make school history.”

Woods scored 17 points and Christian Keese tallied 15 in the destruction of No. 8 seed Georgetown (7-18), which could only stay close for about half of the opening quarter.

The Cougars will travel to the University of Dayton Arena to face South Charleston Southeastern (24-1) for a district crown Friday at 9:30 p.m. CCS has been to the district finals twice before, losing to Jackson Center in 2013 and 2016.

“This is just another step, another goal,” said Keese, a senior forward. “It’s something everybody has in their mind as kind of a grudge to get back there and break through this time. Everyone on our bench can play. We’re confident in everyone on our team.”

Cincinnati Christian coach Carl Woods feels strongly that it’s time for his squad to win a district championship.

Cincinnati Christian’s Christian Keese (14) puts up a shot over Georgetown’s Noah Pack on Saturday night during a Division IV sectional final at Taylor. That’s Josh Oates (2) of CCS and Tanner Ellis (32) of the G-Men watching the shot. RICK CASSANO/STAFF
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Cincinnati Christian’s Christian Keese (14) puts up a shot over Georgetown’s Noah Pack on Saturday night during a Division IV sectional final at Taylor. That’s Josh Oates (2) of CCS and Tanner Ellis (32) of the G-Men watching the shot. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

“Hopefully three times is a charm,” Woods said. “We have done some research on Southeastern, and we’re going to do some more. It’s going to be interesting. Given that a lot of our guys have been there before, I feel very good about it. We came out a little slow against Jackson Center last year and then picked it up. This time, we want to get it going right away.”

Woods said Saturday’s performance was far from perfect, citing a high foul total and a few too many turnovers. But it didn’t take long for the G-Men to get buried.

The Cougars finished the opening quarter with an 18-4 surge and led 27-11 at the first stop. By halftime, the score was 53-27.

The CCS defensive pressure came in waves. Georgetown responded with 19 turnovers in the first half and 13 after the break.

“We were thinking that we had to limit turnovers and try to slow down a little bit what they were trying to do … and we didn’t do that,” first-year GHS coach Doug Williams said. “Their length really bothered us. I think our big kid (6-foot-6 sophomore Noah Pack) was bigger than any kid they had tall-wise, but they were bigger than us at every other position. When they would trap us, it was hard for our guys to get through and see through.

“When you have a new system, a lot of times you struggle with it at the beginning, and we’ve been turnover-prone all season. We’ve gone kind of how that’s gone. We’ve been in games and or won games when we’ve really limited turnovers, and we lost a lot of games because of them.”

Cameron Brookbank and Jonny Strickland scored 10 points apiece for the G-Men. Pack was limited to two points and five rebounds.

For Cincinnati Christian, Elijah Taylor and Nick Hesselgesser each collected nine points, and Riley Reutener and Xavier Brown both chipped in eight. Reutener grabbed eight boards, Cameron Rogers had seven, and Hesselgesser, Keese and Sam Wells all added five.

Keese took off for a pair of breakaway dunks in the first half.

“I just saw open lanes and had to go for it,” he said with a smile. “We were expecting a close game, but we stuck to the game plan and executed it. We want to keep that intensity up.”

“We wanted to come in and make sure we did what we needed to do in order to play our game,” Dylan Woods said. “We definitely wanted to come with the defensive pressure and the mind-set that if we could speed them up, it was going to help us out in the long run.”

Said Carl Woods, “That’s our style of play. Play fast, attack, get up and down … that’s what we like to do. We have a lot of depth.”

The Cougars have already started looking ahead to Southeastern. Can CCS end its district drought?

“I think if we come out and work hard,” Dylan Woods said, “the sky’s the limit.”

Cincinnati Christian’s Sam Wells (11) stays close to Georgetown’s Alex Bolington (55) during Saturday night’s Division IV sectional final at Taylor. RICK CASSANO/STAFF
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Cincinnati Christian’s Sam Wells (11) stays close to Georgetown’s Alex Bolington (55) during Saturday night’s Division IV sectional final at Taylor. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

Georgetown, a member of the Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference National Division, won just three games last season. Williams is a former head coach at Western Brown who also coached in Pennsylvania for several years, but he was out of basketball last season while working at Portsmouth West.

Williams was happy to see his squad win a pair of tournament games. The G-Men only play a couple D-IV schools during the regular season.

“We knew going into the tournament that some people weren’t going to really know who we were because of our record, but playing bigger schools does help us get better,” Williams said. “People knew this was going to be a rebuilding year. I don’t really like that word, but I guess there’s no better word to use for it.

“As a coach going into the year, my biggest thought was, ‘Let’s just better at the end of the year than we were at the beginning,’ and we were. I think we were a lot better. I started three sophomores and two juniors tonight. I think this little run will help us moving forward.”

Georgetown 11-16-5-18—50

Cincinnati Christian 27-26-18-20—91

GEORGETOWN (7-18): Solomon Underwood 0 4 4, Christian Linville 2 1 6, Luke Gast 2 3 7, Cameron Brookbank 1 8 10, Logan Doss 0 4 4, Jonny Strickland 4 0 10, Noah Pack 1 0 2, Jackson Gregory 1 0 3, Kyle Cornette 0 3 3, Morgan Fleming 0 1 1. Totals: 11-24-50

CINCINNATI CHRISTIAN (20-5): Riley Reutener 3 1 8, Josh Oates 2 2 6, Stephen Lunt 2 2 7, Dylan Woods 6 2 17, Elijah Taylor 3 0 9, Nick Hesselgesser 3 3 9, Sam Wells 0 2 2, Christian Keese 6 3 15, Brady Roberts 1 0 2, Cameron Rogers 3 0 6, Xavier Brown 2 4 8, Miguel Ringer 1 0 2. Totals: 32-19-91

3-pointers: G 4 (Strickland 2, Gregory, Linville), C 8 (Woods 3, Taylor 3, Lunt, Reutener)