By Chris Chaney
As the calendar turns, local boys’ basketball teams are realigning themselves in their respective conference standings and licking any wounds that they may have accrued through the first half of the season.
While weather has been much more of a factor than many anticipated, preseason favorites have played up to their billing while otherprograms have had a difficult time adjusting to new coaches taking over the regins.
In the Southern Buckeye Conference, the top of the standings in both the American and National Divisions are littered with names that were expected to be there.
The New Richmond Lions are off to a 9-2 start overall and went a perfect 5-0 in the first time through the American to find themselves in the driver’s seat and poised to win the conference for the first time this millenium.
Head coach Brian McMonigle has the Lions playing a balanced inside-out offense that features returning First Team All-Conference selections Josh Heiden and John Ernst. Not only are the Lions undefeated in the league, they haven’t found themselves in a game closer than 10 points.
A 10-point victory over the second-place Amelia Barons was the Lions most stringent test in the SBC. The defending champion Barons are one game back of New Richmond and will have to take care of their own business in addition to knocking off the Lions at New Richmond on Jan. 31 if they want to claim a share of the conference title for the second consecutive year.
Goshen, Norwood, Western Brown and Bethel-Tate round out the remainder of the American Division. The Warriors seem to be the most consistent threat to the top two teams in the league and are the only other team in the conference with a winning record.
However, New Richmond and Amelia’s size down low has been the key factor as to what has kept them atop the league table.
On the other side of the SBC, defending champions Georgetown are the team to beat through the first month of the season. The G-Men are 6-3 overall and unblemished through four games in the conference.
Sitting in second place, the 6-4 Williamsburg Wildcats have proven to be the G-Men’s biggest threat for supremacy although both Batavia and Clermont Northeastern have shown flashes of potential.
The Wildcats are 3-1 in the National Division, notching wins over the previously mentioned CNE Rockets as well as Blanchester and Felicity-Franklin.
CNE and Batavia both sit a game and a half behind league-leading Georgetown and half a game behind second-place Williamsburg.
The Rockets are the only team who has played all five of their National Division opponents at least once. Every team besides Batavia has played four divisional games; the Bulldogs have only suited up in conference three times and own a 2-1 mark with their lone league loss coming to CNE. Batavia will double-dip with both Burg and Georgetown down the stretch of the season.
Blanchester and Felicity are tied in the basement of the National, both winless through four games in conference and notching just one win between them all season.
In the Eastern Cincinnati Conference, Milford and Glen Este are both competitive, but looking up at Kings and Walnut Hills as tops in the league.
The Eagles are a game up on the Trojans at 3-2 in the ECC, but a game back of league-leading Kings and half a game behind second-place Walnut. Milford lost a close game to Kings, 45-41, on Dec. 20 and faceoff with Walnut on Jan. 10.
The Trojans are 4-3 overall and 2-3 in the league seven games into the season. Only a third of the way through their schedule, Dave Caldwell’s squad has shown promise and the potential to challenge for a league title.
As always, keep your Twitter feed locked in on @ClerSunSports for game times, results, cancellations and make-up dates.