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Prep Sports Report: Ludlow earns top seed in boys basketball tournament for NKAC Division III teams

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Ludlow finished first in the Northern Kentucky Athletic Conference Division III boys basketball conference standings to earn the top seed in the annual NKAC Classic tournament for six teams from local high schools with the lowest enrollments.

Each team schedules 10 games against division opponents during the regular season. Ludlow topped the standings for the second consecutive year with a 9-1 record. Bellevue has one game remaining, but it has already clinched second place with a 7-2 record.

Senior guard Ethan Powell is one of Ludlow’s scoring leaders. (File photo by Bob Jackson)

Both of those teams get a first-round bye in the NKAC Classic hosted by Ludlow that begins Tuesday when the matchups will be Villa Madonna vs. Calvary Christian at 6 p.m. and Dayton vs. Heritage at 7:30 p.m.

The semifinal games on Friday will be Ludlow vs. Dayton-Heritage winner at 6 p.m. and Bellevue vs. Villa Madonna-Calvary Christian winner at 7:30 p.m. The championship game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

It promises to be a competitive tournament. Ludlow’s only loss in conference play was to Villa Madonna, 49-44, on Dec. 14 and the Panthers won five of their other nine conference games by five points or less.

In January, Ludlow got past Calvary Christian, 58-55, and posted close victories over Bellevue, 57-52, and Villa Madonna, 66-61. Senior guard Ethan Powell scored a team-high 21 points for the Panthers against Villa Madonna. Junior guard Spencer Brandenberg had 19 points in both of the other games.

Villa Madonna senior forward Henry Thole

Dayton senior guard Mason Johnson has been a consistent double-figure scorer who pushed his average to 22.4 last week. The other scoring leaders in Division III are Bellevue senior guard Noah Frommeyer (18.5) and Villa Madonna senior forward Henry Thole (18.1).

Thole is among the state’s leading rebounders with a 15.0 average. The 6-foot-6 post player has recorded a double-double in points and rebounds in 14 of his team’s 19 games.

In Villa Madonna’s last six conference games, Thole totaled 131 points and 128 rebounds for averages of 21.8 and 21.3.  The Vikings won four of those six games and finished third in the conference standings with a 6-4 record.

Thole set what’s believed to be a 9th Region record for most points and rebounds in a single game on Jan. 18 when he had 31 points and 31 rebounds in a 69-58 win over Heritage.

There are only four teams in the NKAC Classic girls basketball tournament that’s scheduled to start on Thursday. The outcome of the final Division III conference game between Bellevue and Ludlow on Wednesday will determine the opponents for Villa Madonna and Dayton. The championship game will be at 6 p.m. Saturday at Ludlow.

Local wrestlers win seven weight classes in girls region tournament

Wrestlers from five Northern Kentucky high schools won Region 3 weight class titles on Saturday in the first girls wrestling championships sanctioned by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.

Local girls took gold medals in seven of the 13 weight class finals. Walton-Verona and Highlands had two region champions. Simon Kenton, Ryle and Conner each had one.

Gabriella Ocasio

The three seniors who were weight class champs included Emily Heilman of Highlands (114), Gabriella Ocasio of Simon Kenton (145) and Viktorya Emelianova of Ryle (185). Ocasio extended her perfect record to 39-0 with a pair of wins.

The other region winners were Walton-Verona sophomore Emma Moore (100), Conner junior Rose Thomas (132), Walton-Verona junior Sophie Anderson (138) and Highlands freshman Emma Hood (152).

Harrison County won the Region 3 girls team title with 217 total points. Highlands placed third with 97 points and Simon Kenton placed fourth with 87 in the 20-team standings.

The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to the first KHSAA girls state wrestling tournament Feb. 17 at Kentucky Horse Park. There were 17 state qualifiers from Northern Kentucky teams posted on the khsaa.org website.

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