One Half Down, One To Go

01/19/2018

It's January 18 and we're exactly half way through CMAC inter-conference play. So far, we've seen an abundance of talent from top to bottom as some teams have found their stride, while other schools have hung tough and are learning to play as a team in a very tough CMAC.

Currently, we see three teams in the Enquirer's top 10 in Cincinnati for Division II - all sitting at 4-1 in conference play. The Hughes Big Red come in at #2, led by senior point guard Giovanni Santiago. Santiago runs as a smooth point guard, with a focus on getting his teammates involved. He stuffs the stat sheet in every category as he's averaged 17.5/6.5/7.8 to this point. Senior and 1st Team All-CMAC selection from a year ago, AJ Smith contributes to their success as well. When he scores 10+ points this season, the Big Red win by an average of 17 points per game. Finally, everybody needs to watch out for transfer & SR guard, Dominic Brewton to make a huge impact down the stretch. 

The Taft Senators started the season losing three straight on the road to top teams in the state, but since have rebounded to win eight of their last nine games. Coach Demarco Bradley Sr has stressed the importance of being battle tested before a run at state, and it looks like Taft is starting to find themselves as senior, DeShawn Lawrence leads the Senators with 14 PPG and 6 AST/gm. In addition, JR, Demarco Bradley Jr is a huge X-factor. He averages 16 PPG & 6 AST/gm while leading the CMAC with 3.1 STL/gm. Chris'seon "Grown Man" Stringer has also played a significant role in the Senators recent success after returning from a knee injury that kept him from playing for nearly a year. When these three are in rhythm, it's tough for anybody to stop Taft.

Woodward wraps up the top of the CMAC, as they come in #5 in the city. The Bulldogs have arguably the best athlete in Cincinnati, as SR Terry Durham controls the interior on both ends. He currently averages 25 PPG & 13 REB/gm. On defense, he leads the CMAC in blocks with 2/gm and in addition, picks 3 steals/gm. The key for the Bulldogs however, is SR guard, Demontez Cooper. Coach Redden has emphatically expressed that when he goes, his team thrives. He leads the CMAC in AST/gm with 7.6 and when he shoots above 50% from the floor, Woodward is undefeated. They're the only team in Cincinnati that has beat Hughes and they have potential to make noise when tournament time comes around. 

Not to be lost in the mix, Aiken, Western Hills & Shroder have all been playing tough basketball. When you play the best teams in the city on a nightly basis, you find out a lot about yourself. All three of these teams are noticeably better now, in comparison to the beginning of the year and are led by a variety of under & upperclassmen that play great team basketball. Guys like Blake Smith (SR - Aiken), Brandon Doss (SR- Shroder) & Leslie Sanders (SR - Western Hills) have all played significant minutes and are leaders on and off the court. All three of these teams have been in competitive games into the fourth quarter with Hughes, Woodward and Taft each, which speaks to the overall strength and balance of the CMAC. It's not too late to make a run at the conference title and to prepare their teams for a state tournament run. If the second half of the season is as entertaining and competitive as the first, we're in for a terrific finish!