FAIRFIELD TWP. — While the mood was dampened, the smile on Cincinnati Christian School coach Carl Woods’ face was broad Friday night.
The Cougars suffered a 45-40 boys basketball setback to visiting Seven Hills on Senior Night in front of a packed house, but CCS still retains a share of the Miami Valley Conference Gray Division championship, its fifth consecutive title.
“We are still champs,” Woods said. “We have won five in row and I don’t think anyone in the MVC, Scarlet or Gray, has done that. It was a good game. We came up a little short, but that team there is no different than a team we will play in districts or regionals if we advance. Now we know what we are up against.”
FRIDAY NIGHT BASKETBALL COVERAGE
CCS took the first round of this pairing 55-39 in January, but the Stingers played without 6-foot-7 Curtis Harrison. The roles reversed for the rematch with Harrison back and CCS still missing K.J. Swain.
Harrison led all scorers with 15 points, and his huge dunk over three Cougars in the third quarter gave the Stingers a 28-18 lead.
“Having Harrison back is a huge addition,” Woods said. “When you talk about returning one of their star players and we are without one of our star players, that is the difference maker.”
Harrison also pulled down six rebounds and blocked three shots, while Brice Hill added 14 as the Stingers earned a MVC title for the first time since 2010.
“We have a dual threat with (Hill) and (Harrison),” said Seven Hills coach Willie Hill, brandishing a huge smile. “To come here and win, on Senior Night, is just huge for us. To win the league is just huge.”
Operating in a zone, the Stingers held CCS to only 13 first-half points and forced seven turnovers.
The Cougars fought back late by cutting the lead to 41-38, but Hill nailed four free throws in the final 25 seconds to seal the win.
“These seniors were thrown into the fire as freshmen and took their lumps,” Willie Hill said. “But it paid off. I am so happy for them. We played good defense and made plays on the offensive end.”
CCS cut its turnovers down in the second half, but 16-of-43 shooting and only 3-of-10 from the charity stripe hurt.
“They played a good game, but we just couldn’t make shots,” Woods said. “Tip your hat to them. At the end of the day I thought we played well, but give them credit. (Hill) had them ready to go and having Harrison back was just a huge addition.”
CCS did return Miguel Ringer, who had six points and four assists. Riley Reutener had seven points, while Cameron Rogers and Bryson Teague each chipped in six, as the Cougars fell to 17-5 overall and 13-3 in the MVC.
Seven Hills (15-7, 13-3) is off until Feb. 26 and will play Bethel-Tate at 7:30 p.m. in a Division III sectional opener at Princeton.
Cincinnati Christian faces the School for the Creative & Performing Arts in a first-round Division IV contest at 3 p.m. next Saturday at Taylor.
Seven Hills 9-8-14-14—45
Cincinnati Christian 7-6-13-14—40
SEVEN HILLS (15-7, 13-3 MVC Gray): D.J. Ross 0 4 4; Brice Hill 4 4 14; Curtis Harrison 7 1 15; Nolan Loring 1 0 2; David Labrie 1 0 3; Andrew Brown 3 0 7. Totals: 16-9-45
CINCINNATI CHRISTIAN (17-5, 13-3 MVC Gray): Riley Reutener 3 0 7; Miguel Ringer 2 3 7; Cole Martin 2 0 5; Logan Woods 1 0 3; Devin McKinnon 1 0 2; Bryson Teague 2 0 6; Jalon Percy 2 0 4; Cameron Rogers 3 0 6. Totals: 16-3-40
3-pointers: S 4 (Hill 2, Labrie, Brown), C 5 (Teague 2, Reutener, Martin, Woods)