Boys basketball: Kenton Ridge hoping to break CBC title drought

SPRINGFIELD — The Kenton Ridge High School boys basketball team is off to a 3-2 start for the second straight season.

With six returning seniors and a strong group of underclassmen, the Cougars hope to make a run at their first Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division in 15 seasons.

They know it won’t be easy — the Kenton Trail is as strong as ever.

“It’s going to be very difficult,” said Cougars coach Brian Smith. “Every night, any league game, anybody can beat anybody. There’s no easy games in the division at all.”

After four straight road games, Kenton Ridge (3-2, 1-1) returns home to face London (2-2, 1-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Cougars also host Southeastern (4-2) in a nonconference game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Kenton Ridge is seeking its first Kenton Trail Division championship since 2009 — the longest title drought for any boys basketball team in the conference. The Cougars tied with Shawnee for second place in the division last season, finishing two games back of Jonathan Alder.

The CBC big school division got even stronger this season. Urbana, last year’s CBC Mad River Division co-champion, moved up this year, swapping spots with Shawnee.

The Cougars knew they would start the season with two of their toughest road games back-to-back — at Jonathan Alder and at Urbana.

Kenton Ridge earned a huge 46-41 win at Jonathan Alder on Dec. 8, but fell to the Hillclimbers 53-44 last Friday night in Urbana.

“We knew it would set us up very well,” Smith said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get the Urbana game. We had a couple nice leads there, but we just weren’t able to hang on. (Urbana) is a really good team. They’re coached well and they defend so well. You just can’t make mistakes against them.”

Over the past 10 seasons, only one team has won the division with an undefeated record (Jonathan Alder in 2020-21). While the Cougars dropped a game against Urbana, they know they have to hold serve and hope to get some help from other programs along the way.

“Everybody has to run the same gauntlet,” Smith said.

The Cougars are led by senior twin brothers Ckai Rogan (13.2 points, 5.0 rebounds per game) and Canye Rogan (12.4 ppg). KR sophomore Xavier White also ranks second in the CBC at 4.4 assists per game.

Kenton Ridge’s depth will be key as the season progresses, Smith said.

“We can go 7, 8, 9 deep and I have some freshmen I’m comfortable putting in the game,” Smith said. “We can go a lot deeper than some other teams can. We have to get to the point where we’re utilizing that. We’ve got to get other teams tired and take advantage of the fact that we have that depth, making sure we’re pushing it and playing our game.”

They must improve their defense, especially on the road, Smith said.

“We’ve got to be able to hold teams under 50, especially when it’s a tough environment,” Smith said.

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