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“Competitive balance doesn’t help small schools like us,” said Woods, whose squad didn’t make it past the first round last season. “Now that we’re back in Division IV, I feel we can make a strong run again. If all things go well, we’ll be back in the regionals, and anything goes when you get there.
“It takes talent to get there, but also some luck. I don’t want to put pressure on the guys, but I definitely have high hopes and big expectations. They’re very unselfish, their IQ is off the charts, and they have a very strong brotherhood.”
The Cougars return three starters: 6-foot-3 junior forward Cameron Rogers, 6-6 senior wing Riley Reutener and 6-2 senior guard Miguel Ringer.
Rogers averaged 8.4 points, 5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.9 steals per game last year. Reutener averaged 9.4 points and 6.8 boards while shooting 57 percent from the floor, while Ringer averaged 7.7 points, 3 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 2.1 assists.
“Riley will have a strong presence inside and outside,” Woods said. “He can bang down low, and when we stretch it, he can go outside and really stroke it. Cameron takes very good leadership responsibility for this team. He’s very vocal. I think a lot of heart, a lot of our talking, comes from his soul.”
Other returnees with measurable varsity experience are 6-5 senior forward Jalon Percy, 6-1 junior guard Winston Spencer, 6-1 senior guard Cole Martin and 6-2 sophomore guard Bryson Teague.
Among the newcomers is 5-11 sophomore K.J. Swain, a transfer from Hamilton expected to start at point guard. The other starting guard position figures to go to either 6-1 sophomore Devin McKinnon or 6-2 freshman Logan Woods — McKinnon missed the entire 2017-18 season because of a knee injury.
“Devin is a lockdown defender,” Carl Woods said. “He’s not as tall as Logan, but he’s a lot stronger and more physical.”
Adding depth for CCS will be 6-1 junior forward Tyler Harmon, 6-2 sophomore guard Alex Bertram and 6-3 sophomore forward Cody Anderson.
“We’re definitely quick and athletic,” Woods said. “This team gives me the same excitement we had a couple years ago. We have a lot of great pieces with bigs, with guards, with great defense. I feel this is a lot better defending team than a couple years ago. I also feel this team is quicker and stronger.
“This is a pressing kind of team. We want to speed you up and see who’s going to run out of gas first. I think we could legitimately go nine or 10 deep.”
With the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s new transfer rules, Swain is eligible for the first 11 games and is waiting to hear if he’ll be able to play the rest of the season.
Cincinnati Christian is hosting Madison’s Brian Cook Classic in December. The Mohawks will be playing at the King of the Smokies tournament in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., so CCS agreed to be the host and keep the BCC going this year.
The Classic will begin Dec. 28 with the Cougars facing Miami Valley at 6 p.m. and Stivers meeting Clinton-Massie at 7:30 p.m. The consolation and championship will be at 6 and 7:30, respectively, the next night.
Cincinnati Christian Cougars
Coach: Carl Woods (sixth season)
2017-18 Record: 14-9 overall, 11-5 MVC Gray (first place)
OHSAA Classification: Division IV
Schedule: Nov. 30 — Badin, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 4 — Lockland, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 7 — Cincinnati Country Day, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 11 — St. Bernard, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 14 — at New Miami, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 15 — at Aiken, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 21 — at Gamble Montessori, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 28-29 — Brian Cook Classic; Jan. 4 — at Seven Hills, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 8 — at North College Hill, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 11 — Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 15 — at Clark Montessori, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 18 — at Norwood, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 22 — Miami Valley Christian Academy, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 25 — Summit Country Day, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 29 — at Cincinnati Country Day, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 1 — at Lockland, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 5 — New Miami, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 8 — at St. Bernard, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 12 — at Shroder, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 15 — Seven Hills, 7:30 p.m.