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Cincinnati Enquirer Coaches' Poll

BOYS

DIVISION 2

1) Taft

2) Hughes

4) Woodward

10) Aiken

Click here to see the city coaches' polls!

Aiken High School hosted the Shroder Jaguars this past Friday in an early season CMAC contest. After a remarkable first-half for the Falcons, Shroder emerged victorious by a score of 72-68 with an improbable fourth-quarter comeback. 

When asked about how he felt about his team's performance so far this season, Shroder Coach Will Johnson said, "I think we've underachieved. There have been times where we could have played better and we have to finish games." It's worth noting that in their first CMAC inter-conference game, the Jags were tied with Western Hills going into the fourth quarter and ended up losing by 15.

Coach Johnson did not want to take Aiken lightly. "We have to match their passion and determination. If we can win on the glass and make our free throws, we can win this game."

On the other side of things, Aiken came into the game with a 1-1 record but had not yet played a CMAC game. After talking to the Falcon's coaching staff, their goal was to "Compete for four quarters and get better." The Falcons ultimately look to their seniors, Hajsani Estes and Blake Smith to ignite their intensity, but the Aiken coaching staff made sure we knew to watch out for their Freshman starting point guard, Jakada Stone as well.

Aiken jumped out to a 26-17 lead in the first quarter, highlighted by several transition buckets for both teams. The Falcons came out firing on all cylinders and one of their go-to seniors (Estes) had a powerful two-handed dunk to get the home crowd into the game. Aiken continued to dominate the pace of the game, as Stone and Smith both had 12 points at half time when Aiken held a 43-28 lead. 

Shroder never let the Falcons get too far ahead, but still struggled to close the gap until they came out with full-court pressure on the Freshman guard. At the end of the third quarter, the Jags still trailed by 14 points but you could feel the momentum shifting. All of a sudden, the Jags started the final quarter on a 17-0 run and took their first lead of the night. 

Before the game, Coach Johnson told us the Senior guard, Brandon Doss was the "glue" of the team. Behind a few clutch free throws and threes, Doss ended with a game-high 24 points and was clearly a leader on the court, never losing faith in his team as they pulled away with a win. 

Not to be overlooked, Blake Smith and Jakada Stone played terrific games for Falcons as they both nailed a handful of threes that kept the Falcons in it. The bench may have proved to be the difference in the game however, as the Jags back-ups outscored Aiken 20-7. Doss mentioned in his post-game interview, "We never quit. We have a good group of guys that trust each other."

Doss and Johnson also gave a big shout out to Dartanion Battle. "When we were in the locker room, he got everybody together and on the same page." Doss also explained that Battle wanted to take on the responsibility of guarding the point for the rest of the game and the switch in defensive personnel proved to be impactful. 

Shroder split with Aiken last season in two very close games. There seems to be a trend when these two schools get together and this past Friday lived up to the hype. They'll play again January 26, 2018 when there may be high stakes in CMAC play. 

In the meantime, Shroder looks to keep its momentum going against Woodward on Friday at Shroder High School at 7:30 pm. 

Aiken looks to get going against Western Hills next Friday at home at 7:30 pm. 

On Tuesday, December 5, the Taft Sisterhood came up with their first win of the season by outlasting the Woodward Lady Bulldogs by a score of 34-31! 

Despite shooting just 5-25 from the foul line, Taft ended up grabbing 43 rebounds as a team to hold off the Blue and White. Newcomer, Karmarrie Lee knocked down a free throw with just 3 seconds remaining to put the game out of reach. Freshman guard Ainjul Harper led the Sisterhood with 13 points and 8 steals while senior Lynese Brown added 10 rebounds of her own. 

Woodward held tough throughout the entire night, trailing by just 2 at the half-time break. This game brought both teams CMAC record to 1-1 as they both look to continue improving!

Both teams jump back into action on December 9 as the Taft Sisterhood takes on Williamsburg High School at home at 12:30 pm while Woodward will resume play against Thurgood Marshall at home at 2:30 pm!

The Woodward Bulldogs upset Hughes High School on Friday night winning by a score of 71-64 in their season opener. Going into the game, Hughes was ranked second in the city poll, while Woodward was ranked sixth. 

Heading into the contest, Woodward coach Jarelle Redden wanted his guys to "play with energy and as a team". He then referenced his college days and explained, "That's how I played. I want my team to play the same way". 

"(Senior) Terry Durham is going to be big time this year. He's improved a lot this off-season and I think he's in for a big year." Redden continued when asked who to watch. "Demontez Cooper, my point guard, he's going to surprise some people. Dionte McBride should have a big year as well."

On the other side, Huges coach Bryan Wyant said Hughes will have its own star. "Giovanni Santiago is a leader. of the five seniors, he has the most experience. He's the point guard, so he;s capable of leading this team. He's in for a special season."

Santiago has a Division I scholarship offer in addition to six Division II offers. 

Wyant also noted things may be difficult with trying to overcome the loss of last year's star and CMAC Player of the Year Cory Long, who now plays for Stony Brook University. "Cory was a great player for us. A guy like him is irreplaceable" That being said, I think we have a number of guys who can step up and try to dill the role he did. There's five seniors who will all step up like a committee system."

As for his team's chances against Woodward, Wyant said, "If we rely on our team staples, defense, sharing the ball, we'll have a chance to win regardless."

At the start of the game, Hughes looked like the better team, led by Santiago posting a 9/4/4 split in just 8 minutes of game time. They were able to get out in transition and get whatever they wanted on offense, scoring 27 points in the first quarter as a team. Woodward managed to score 18 of their own, however allowing them to stay within striking distance.

In the second quarter, Woodward managed to keep Hughes out of transition and slowed the pace of the game, holding the Big Red to just nine points in the entire quarter. The Bulldogs scored 16 points to trim the deficit to two points at the break. 

Noticeable adjustments were made to the Bulldogs' defensive strategy, as they came out in the second half controlling the game's tempo. In all, they outscored Hughes by nine to take home the seven point victory in front of a sold-out home crowd and jam-packed student section. 

Hughes kept the game close deep into the fourth quarter, even leading with less than four minutes to go. But Terry Durham and the Bulldogs were too much to handle when it was all said and done.

Durham, who earned player of the game honors, along with Cooper, who also played an incredible game, score 54 for the team's 71 points. Durham tallied 33 points, tying Giovanni Santiago for the most by any player. He also grabber 15 rebounds, had two steals, two blocks, and made 13 free throws, all punctuated by two powerful slam dunks on the fast break. 

Cooper scored 21 points while also handing out five assists and grabbing 5 rebounds. He showed tremendous maturity and poise in controlling the ball and putting his guys in position to score. 

Santiago had a sensational game for Hughes, as he scored 33 of the team's 64 points and went 16-16 from the foul line. His 11 rebounds were impressive for a point guard, and he had eight assists and two steals on top of that. 

After the game, Redden noted his team's resiliency."We were down in the first quarter, but we didn't let it get us down. We won the second, third and fourth quarters. I'm proud of my team and the way they stood tall."

When asked about what he thought contributed the most to the win, Durham said, "Our mindset. We knew we needed to get the win and get it done, and we played like it."

"It felt great to get this win, especially being the underdog," Cooper said. "This is one of the bigger games on the schedule, so to get a win was nice."

Woodward returns to action on Tuesday, December 5th, facing Little Miami on the road. 

Hughes plays Western Hills in a CMAC match-up this Friday, December 8th on the road. 

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