Last updated: November 14. 2013 11:04AM - 4887 Views
Cris Ritchie - Editor

Cordia guard A.J. Tagaloa is pictured above being defended by Knott Central's Corey Short during a regular season matchup on Jan. 5, 2013. Tagaloa, a senior, will be one of several returning players for Coach Rodrick Rhodes as the Lions look to make a run in the 14th Region. (photo by Cris Ritchie | Hazard Herald)
Cordia guard A.J. Tagaloa is pictured above being defended by Knott Central's Corey Short during a regular season matchup on Jan. 5, 2013. Tagaloa, a senior, will be one of several returning players for Coach Rodrick Rhodes as the Lions look to make a run in the 14th Region. (photo by Cris Ritchie | Hazard Herald)
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Cordia High School’s boys’ basketball program has seen marked improvement since Coach Rodrick Rhodes’ first season two years ago ended with an 11-18 record and a first round loss in the 53rd District tournament. This year, with the addition of some transfers, Rhodes will be looking for his Lions to make a serious run at not only a district title, but a region championship as well.

“I think it would be a huge accomplishment considering where we came from my first year,” Rhodes said on the possibility of a region title.

Cordia improved to 19-10 last season and just missed out on a district title, falling to Knott Central in the championship game by a mere six points. Rhodes said he thinks his team is on the right track and he will be looking for some big things during the upcoming season, slated to begin on Dec. 5.

“When I first got here that was the model that what we wanted to do,” he said. “We wanted to become better every year, and we’re going in that direction. I believe this is a year where if everything falls into place and no injuries, I think we’ll accomplish that goal.”

Barring any issues with eligibility, Cordia should have the talent to cause several teams some trouble. Senior Malik Hines, a transfer from Mississippi, has received interest from top tier college programs over the past few months, including the University of Kentucky and Ohio State, with both schools sending coaches down to Lotts Creek. Though at present Hines is not eligible, Rhodes said he hopes to hear word from the Kentucky High School Athletic Association soon.

“We just have to be patient and wait and see what the KHSAA has to say,” he said, adding he is also awaiting a decision on transfers Josh Ortiz and Richard Chapman.

Rhodes already has some talent returning to the court from last season, including guards A.J. Tagaloa, Austin Combs, and Ajenee Chisolm. And there will also be some new faces on the roster. Canadian transfers Fritz Lucien and Felix Frimpong, who both sat out the entirety of last season, will be eligible to play later this month.

Additionally, Rhodes found out last week that point guard Christen Cunningham will be eligible for the upcoming season. Cunningham, a point guard who transferred from Henry Clay High School, is also garnering interest from Division I schools and is expected to make an official visit this week to the University of Pennsylvania and next week to Harvard.

Guard J.J. Catchings, another transfer from Mississippi, will also be available to play for the Lions this season, Rhodes noted.

“We’ll have a lot bigger team, and have a lot of really good guards as well,” Rhodes said. “We should have a really balanced team.”

Cordia will play a much more difficult season than Lions fans may be used to. They will kick off the season on Dec. 5 at home against Buckhorn, a team Rhodes has yet to defeat in two attempts. They will then play host to Lexington Catholic, marking the first time the Knights will have traveled to Lotts Creek. Cordia lost a match-up at Lexington Catholic last year 80-45.

Cordia will then play the first of two regular season games against district foe Knott Central on Dec. 10, another team Rhodes has yet to defeat. The Patriots have won the 14th Region title the past two seasons and will be returning the majority of their players.

The Lions will also participate in a tournament at Lexington Catholic next month, along with the Kentucky Farm Bureau Classic at the Expo Center in Pikeville. They will end their regular season by hosting Perry County Central, last year’s 54th District champs who will boast a bevy of returning talent on this year’s roster.

The first half of the season especially will present a tough series of match-ups for the Lions, Rhodes admits, but he expects the experience of playing against some of the state’s better teams will prepare his players for the postseason in the 14th Region and a shot at a trip to the Sweet 16 in Rupp Arena. Cordia has never won a region championship, and has only one district title to its credit, which the school won in 1993.

“We think this team can have a lot of success,” Rhodes said. “We thought playing a strong schedule would help us out with that. We purposefully set the schedule up like that, so we would be ready, hopefully by late February, early March.”

Cordia High School 2013-14 boys’ basketball schedule

Dec 5: Buckhorn, 7:30 p.m.

Dec 7: Lexington Catholic, 6:30 p.m.

Dec 10: Knott County Central 7:30 p.m.

Dec 14: TBA at Pikeville Expo Center Kentucky (Farm Bureau Classic)

Dec 14: Holmes at Pikeville Expo Center, 6 p.m. (Kentucky Farm Bureau Classic)

Dec 26: Warren Central @ Lexington Catholic, 3 p.m. (Republic Bank Classic)

Dec 27: TBA at Lexington Catholic (Republic Bank Classic)

Dec 28: TBA at Lexington Catholic (Republic Bank Classic)

Dec 29: TBA at Lexington Catholic (Republic Bank Classic)

Dec 30: TBA at Lexington Catholic (Republic Bank Classic)

Jan 4: June Buchanan 7:30 p.m.

Jan 6: TBA at Knott County Central

Jan 13: TBA 14th Region All “A” Classic

Jan 18: Powell County 7:30 p.m.

Jan 21: @ Letcher County Central, 7:30 p.m.

Jan 28: @ Jenkins 7:30 p.m.

Jan 30: @ Knott County Central, 7:30 p.m.

Feb 1: TBA @ Various Sites (Appalachian Wireless Kentucky Prep Showcase)

Feb 3: Allen Central 7:30 p.m.

Feb 7: Letcher County Central 7:30 p.m.

Feb 10: @ June Buchanan 7:30 p.m.

Feb 13: Jenkins, 7:30 p.m.

Feb 21: Perry County Central, 7:30 p.m.

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