By Ozie Davis III MS, JD
In the Boys’ OHSAA Division II High School Basketball Sectional at Mason High School, Cincinnati Metropolitan Athletic Conference (CMAC), basketball is dominant. Taft, Hughes and Aiken all won big in their opening round contests setting up what could be the biggest Saturday showdown in recent history.
The Senators held Batavia to just 26 points and must beat Goshen to get to face Hughes on Saturday.
The Big Red only allowed Norwood to score 18 points before disposing of them and must defeat Indian Hills. Both should win handily, creating a Saturday night (8:30 p.m. at Mason High School) showdown of epic proportions.
Hughes and Taft split their regular season games, both winning at home, and tied as tri-champs of the CMAC along with Aiken. “The Taft and Hughes rivalry has grown to be one of the biggest in the city over the last few years,” said Josh Hardin, Cincinnati Public Schools Athletics director.
Taft was our pre-season favorite to win the league and has an impressive array of talent, led by seniors DeMarco Bradley Jr, Cleveland Farmer, Elijah Housley, and Chris Seon Stringer. Hughes is young, but very talented and has the CMAC player of the year in freshman Paul McMillan IV to go along with junior, AB Harouna, and sophomore Camron McKenzie, leading the way.
It’s not often that one can say this, but it’s such a heated and contested rivalry, that it is definitely a toss-up. If I were forced to give the nod to one team over the other, I would go with the Senators because of their depth and reliance on seniors. Both teams are very well coached and either would be my favorite to represent the city in Columbus.
Aiken, which started slow against Wilmington, found the Falcon fuel in the fourth quarter and ran away with their first round game. They have to win, and should, a tough game against McNick to advance to a potential Saturday night rumble with the third seed, Wyoming Cowboys (Saturday 7 p.m. at Mason) for the right to head to Dayton. This will be a tough game for the Falcons, but led by senior D’Arris Dean, sophomore Jakada Stone, and freshman Robbie Cass, coach Ty Cass has Falcon Nation believing that anything is possible. There weren’t many, me included, that expected the Falcon’s to tie for the league championship. And now, not many, including me, would count them out.
Over in D4 action, the Gamble Gators led by CMAC Blue Coach of the Year Berdo Allen and Player of the Year Kaden Warner destroyed Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy and have another game they should win before facing New Miami in a tough sectional final at Taylor High School (Saturday at 7:30 p.m.). Gator Nation should be preparing to go to Dayton. Junior’s Mike McCants, Jeremi Cauley, and Lewis Brown, along with sophomore Xavier Smith, give the Gators as good a starting line up as any in the city. Chomp. Chomp.
Whether it’s Aiken, Hughes, Taft, or Gamble, CPS Athletic Director, Josh Hardin says it best,
“The CMAC and CPS Athletics are very proud of our student athletes and coaches that have built solid programs. We all expect a long tournament run from those CMAC teams that advance after this Saturday.”
This article originally appeared in the Cincinnati Herald.