High School basketball: Demanding schedule not slowing top-ranked Centerville

Defending state champion Elks have won 28 straight games

Centerville High School boys basketball coach Brook Cupps presents his team with challenge after challenge. The Elks play a nonleague schedule of only private academies that recruit top talent and two of the Ohio’s most prominent Catholic school programs.

So far the Elks have beaten them all, including highly regarded SoCal Academy on Sunday at the Premier Health Flyin’ To The Hoop and Spire Academy of northeast Ohio on Tuesday at home.

After playing at Miamisburg on Friday, the Elks travel on Saturday to Akron to play St. Vincent-St. Mary, the state’s reigning Division II champion that just won again at Flyin’ To The Hoop is ranked No. 1 in Division II. Still on the schedule are Cincinnati Moeller, Vertical Academy from North Carolina and Huntington Prep, another Flyin’ regular, in the season finale.

Through it all the Elks (12-0) have extended their winning streak to 28, continue to be the unanimous No. 1 in the Associated Press Division I state poll and are rated 15th nationally by MaxPreps.

After Sunday’s 62-52 victory over a SoCal team full of high-major prospects, junior point guard Gabe Cupps summed up why the Elks win against a high-level schedule.

“It goes back to how hard we work, how hard we prepare and how much we care about each other,” he said. “Just the trust to do what we do against that talented of a team just goes with how close we are.”

The core of the team remains from last year’s state championship won at UD Arena. Cupps’ point guard play and leadership are key in the Elks’ success.

“Gabe’s leadership is one of a kind,” said senior forward Rich Rolf, who scored a career-high 29 points against SoCal. “He makes everyone around him better. He made me better, my teammates better and he just kept us on the right path. He was poised and made all the right reads and it made other guys be wide open.”

Brook Cupps said it wasn’t his son’s best offensive game against SoCal with an off shooting night, 10 points and four assists, which is below is GWOC-leading average of 7.3. But that doesn’t mean the player who committed to Indiana in November didn’t play well.

“He managed the game pretty well for the length and the athleticism and facing that for the whole game,” Brook Cupps said. “We ask a lot out of him, and I thought he did a really good job of managing the game. His biggest role was bringing an edge and running our team.”

Kidd tributes: Chaminade Julienne and others are honoring Eagles assistant coach Rich Kidd who died last week after a brief illness. CJ is putting a coach’s shirt over an empty chair on the bench. A tweet with a photo of the shirt read: This seat’s saved …

Kidd’s influence was felt among basketball programs all over the Dayton area. Springboro wore T-shirts for warmups last Friday that honored Kidd. The Panthers host Fairmont on Friday and both teams will wear shirts honoring Kidd.

CJ coach Charlie Szabo said he has been hearing from people all over the Dayton basketball community. A walk-through visitation will be held for Kidd from 10 a.m. to noon Friday at the Dayton Steam Plant on 3rd Street followed by the funeral service.

1,000-point trio: The Arcanum girls team now holds the distinction of three 1,000-point scorers in the lineup. Seniors Madelyn Fearon and Taylor Gray joined Hailey Unger in the club during the past week.

Fearon scored 16 points Saturday in a victory over Versailles to surpass 1,000. Gray entered Tuesday’s game against Eaton needing 30 points to reach 1,000 and scored 31.

Arcanum is 15-1 and ranked in a tie for third in this week’s Division III state poll.

Key games ahead: Conference contenders have separated themselves from the field as the schedule nears February.

Boys:

· Fairmont (13-1, 7-1) hosts Centerville (12-0, 8-0) on Feb. 4 in a GWOC game sure to bring a big crowd to Trent Arena. The Elks beat Fairmont 48-36 on Dec. 21. The Firebirds rallied to trail the Elks 37-36 with four minutes left, but the Elks closed with an 11-0 run.

· Alter (12-2, 6-0) has outscored its GCL-Coed opponents by an average of 25.2 points. CJ (9-4, 4-1) lost at Alter 61-44 on Dec. 19. But rivalry games being what they are, the Eagles will be ready when Alter visits next Friday.

· Dunbar (9-5, 4-1) is asserting itself in the city league, but they do have a rematch with Ponitz (7-5, 2-1) on Feb. 4. Ponitz won 51-50 at home on Jan. 7.

· Tippecanoe (7-2, 6-1) and Sidney (11-3, 9-2) appear to be on their way to division titles in the MVL. But they meet again Feb. 8 at Sidney. Tipp won the first meeting 67-60 on Jan. 4.

· If a dent can be put in Troy Christian’s 12-1, 8-0 mark in the Three Rivers Conference, it would likely be Friday night at Milton-Union (11-3, 6-2).

Girls:

· Centerville (12-4, 8-1) lost at home to Springboro (11-4, 6-2) 49-48 on Dec. 18. The Elks get a second chance at Springboro on Feb. 2.

· Sidney (12-4, 11-1) is trying to hold onto the MVL Valley Division. Two big games remain against Miami Division leader Troy (11-5, 11-1) next Wednesday and West Carrollton (10-2, 7-2) in their own division a week from Saturday. Sidney lost by one at Troy and won by one at WC in consecutive games in December.

· The Three Rivers race is between Miami East (12-4, 9-1), Covington (13-4, 8-2) and Bethel (14-2, 7-2). The remaining games between the three are Bethel at Miami East (Jan. 27) and Miami East at Covington (Feb. 3).

· In the Metro Buckeye, Yellow Springs (10-4, 5-0) will attempt to hold off four-time defending champion Legacy Christian (6-6, 4-1) in the season finale at home. YS won the first meeting 45-38.

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