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Top Boys Basketball Talent on Same Court in Big Night of Basketball

Some of the top high school boys basketball teams in the area are set to square off on Friday as part of the 14th annual Bluegrass-Buckeye Charity Classic presented by Mercedes-Benz of Fort Mitchell at The Bank of Kentucky Center, including top-ranked Newport Central Catholic going up against second-ranked Covington Catholic (as ranked in the RCN/NKYsports.com poll).

The first game features the Scott Eagles and their exciting sophomore scoring machine Jake Ohmer who dropped 51 points in a game last month, against the No. 4 Campbell County Camels with the high/low combination of guard Deandre Jackson and big man Matt Wilson. Tip-off for that game is at 5:30 p.m.

The next game is between Cooper and third-ranked Holmes. The Bulldogs have won eight games in a row—including two over Scott—and look to have improved mightily already from earlier this season. Senior guard James “Beetle” Bolden who will play at West Virginia next season has helped better define the team chemistry of the group and looks to have found his scoring rhythm, capped off by a 40-point effort against Scott last week. Junior guard Markel McClendon has also emerged as a legitimate scoring threat and nice-fitting running mate to Bolden. That tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The showdown between New Cath and Cov Cath features two of the more polished programs in the state. New Cath has enjoyed the potent combination of senior Drew McDonald and junior Ben Weyer in the front court as the pair has put up big totals to help topple some high-end competition already this season. Weyer has been especially dangerous with his outside shooting, his aggressive offensive rebounding and his instinctive shot-blocking. The pair is nicely complimented by terrific senior point guard Zach Pangallo who keeps the offense in line.

Cov Cath has also redefined their identity since winning the state championship a year ago. Senior forward Bo Schuh has been asked to play the parameter more this season as a small-forward in order to create mismatches for the Colonels. Schuh can do many things on the court well and often stuffs the stat sheet in nearly every category. He is not asked to score as much thanks to the prolific duo of sophomore Cole VonHandorf and senior Cooper Theobald who have relieved Schuh of needed to put up big point totals. These two teams played last year in the semifinals of the Ninth Region Tournament—also played at TBOKC—when Cov Cath pulled off the 51-43 victory that helped propel them to go all the way.

The last game is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.

Advance tickets at each of the participating schools are $7 for adults and $5 for students with proceeds going to charities in Kentucky and Ohio. All tickets at the doors will be $10.

Since it started in 2001, the Bluegrass-Buckeye Charity Classic has raised and donated more than $134,000 to local charities. This year's money raised at the event will go to Ruth Lyons Children's Fund, Neediest Kids- of All and Chicks & Chucks, a breast-cancer awareness group.

Bryan Burke, associate editor

Photo: Scott in action (RCN file)