2014 OHSAA Boys Basketball
By Kurt Stubbs II, JJHuddle.com
Three teams return from last year’s state tournament in Columbus Bishop
Watterson, Akron SVSM and Cleveland VASJ. Watterson will try and repeat
in Division II, while VASJ, which won the Division IV title last year
and is now in Division III, has the opportunity to become the first
school to win a championship in each division.
This is the first time an East or Southeast District team will not be a
part of the boy’s state tournament since the four-division inception
beginning in 1988.
Norwalk is the only team making its first final four appearance.
The Associated Press (AP) had 12 of the 16 state tournament participants
ranked in its final poll, and Akron SVSM was rated No. 12. Lakewood St.
Edward (3), Trotwood-Madison (5), Norwalk (2), Bishop Watterson (4),
Thurgood Marshall (6), Cleveland VASJ (2), Roger Bacon (5), Bishop Ready
(6), Lima CC (7), Convoy Crestview (1), Tri-Village (2) and Harvest Prep
Tri-Village will try to become the first Cross County Conference team to
win a state championship since Tipp City Bethel defeated Delphos St.
John’s in 2001. CCC member Casstown Miami East finished runner-up in
2001 losing to Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s.
Tri-Village junior Damion Cook’s father, Scoob Cook, played on the 1991
state runner-up Tri-Village squad.
Convoy Crestview will try to join Dayton Dunbar (‘12), New Knoxville
(‘08), Georgetown (‘07), Upper Sandusky (‘05) and Akron SVSM (‘00) as
teams to finish the season undefeated in this century.
Crestview will try to become the first Northwest Conference team to win
a state title since Lima Central Catholic in 2010, which has since
departed the league. Crestview finished as state runner-up in 2003,
falling to Maria Stein Marion Local. Crestview’s star player was
Washington Redskins’ offensive lineman Kory Lichtensteiger.
Crestview’s Damian Helm, who will play baseball at IPFW, helped lead the
Knights to the state baseball final four a year ago. The lefty was
joined by Cam Etzler, who started in centerfield and Isaiah Simerman
(3B) and Brock Rolsten (2B).
Harvest Prep head coach David Dennis Sr. won two state championships as
the girl’s coach for the Warriors in 2010 and 2011.
Louisville St. Thomas and Cleveland VASJ are looking to win the North
Coast League a pair of state championships. The Greater Catholic League
was the last conference to win a pair of titles (1999, Cincinnati
Moeller and Kettering Alter).
Trotwood-Madison senior Patwaun Hudson sat out his entire junior season
after transferring from Sidney where he averaged 21.3 points per game as
Trotwood-Madison will try to become the first Dayton-area team to win a
Division I state championship since Dayton Dunbar won the AAA title in
Trotwood-Madison senior Chris Mack knocked down a game winning
three-pointer in its regional championship game against Cincinnati
Moeller. Ironically, the game was played at Xavier University’s Cintas
Center, where the Musketeers head coach is a different Chris Mack.
Jack Nicklaus, who is arguably the greatest golfer to ever live,
graduated from Upper Arlington in 1957.
Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens is a Cleveland East Tech graduate, as
is former WNBA and Connecticut star Barbara Turner, who won two national
championships with the Huskies. East Tech becomes the first Cleveland
public school to reach the state tournament since Cleveland East in
Lakewood St. Edward head coach Eric Flannery won the state championship
in his second season as the Eagles headman back in 1998 defeating its
biggest rival, Cleveland St. Ignatius, in the final.
Lakewood St. Edward defeated two state tournament participants in Akron
SVSM and Cleveland VASJ. Upper Arlington defeated one in Bishop
Watterson. Akron SVSM defeated two in Thurgood Marshall and Cleveland
VASJ. Bishop Watterson won three games against tournament teams in
Bishop Ready (x2) and Cleveland VASJ. Convoy Crestview defeated Lima
Central. Cleveland VASJ defeated Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas (x2).
Akron SVSM defeated Thurgood Marshall in Dayton, 72-61, which happens to
be the only two state tournament participants in the same division that
played during the regular season.
Akron SVSM has four kids on the roster committed to play Division I
football in Dante Booker Jr. (Ohio State), Paris Campbell Jr. (Ohio
State), Travonte Junius (Akron), and Newman Williams (Akron). Aaron
Bushner has committed to play at Div. II Lake Erie.
Norwalk’s Jeff Thomas and Ben Haraway are both 1,000-point scorers, as
are teammates Carlas Jackson and Austin Frentsos of Roger Bacon.
Columbus Bishop Watterson will attempt to become just the fourth school
in Division II history to win back-to-back state titles joining
Cleveland VASJ (‘94 & ‘95), Cleveland Benedictine (‘97 & ‘98), and
Dayton Dunbar (‘06 & ‘07).
Cleveland VASJ head coach Babe Kwasniak is looking for his second state
championship, which would tie him with his father (Tedd Kwasniak).
Kwasniak’s father is an assistant coach for the Vikings and won state
titles at VASJ in 1994 & 1995.
Lima Central Catholic head coach Frank Kill won a state championship as
a player in 1997 for Van Wert Lincolnview and a runner-up in 1996. He
also was part of the gold trophy in 2010 as an assistant coach for LCC.
Cincinnati Roger Bacon is trying to become the first Greater Catholic
School to win a state championship since Cincinnati LaSalle in 2011.
will be making its second state tournament showing and first since a
runner-up finish in 2006. Trotwood found its way to Columbus on the back of
two of the best finishes this year’s tournament has witnessed. Trailing
top-ranked Cincinnati Moeller (46-30) in the 4th quarter, it’s safe to say
most people were penciling the Crusaders into the final four. However, the
Rams staged a dramatic comeback that ended with senior Chris Mack drilling a
three-pointer from the top of the circle to give Trotwood its only lead of
the game at (62-61), which ended up being the game-winner. Mack finished
with 13 points, while talented senior guard Dazhontae Bennett (1st Team
All-Southwest District), who is arguably the best leaper in Ohio, paced the
winners with 22. Bennett sent the Rams into the regional final thanks to a
right wing jumper in the closing seconds of overtime against Huber Heights
Wayne. With no player taller than 6-3, Trotwood was out rebounded, 103-50,
in its two regional games, which included a lopsided, 58-21, deficit to
Wayne. However, the quickness and athleticism of the Rams forced 56
turnovers in the pair of games. What is more, the Rams had to come stage a
comeback against another GCL South squad in the district championship game
to defeat Cincinnati LaSalle (51-50). Head coach Rocky Rockhold’s team is
used to scoring in bunches, but has proved during this tournament run that
it can dance to all the tunes. Seniors Patwaun Hudson and Kendric Mallory
(16 ppg.) along with junior Andre Foster give Bennett his top support. The
Rams only setbacks on the year came to nationally-ranked Prime Prep (TX) at
the Flyin to the Hoop and regional semifinalist Dayton Dunbar. Trotwood
averaged a smidge over 99 points per game in eight games (all wins) during
the month of February, which included four games with 100 or more points
with 130 being its season-high. Trotwood will arrive at the Schottenstein
Center carrying a 12-game winning streak and averaging a tournament-best 87
points per game.
Upper Arlington (26-1)
last reached the state tournament in 1939, which was the final year of a
three-year run for Upper Arlington from 1937-1939, and 77 years later the
Black and Gold will return to the final four. UA has won 25 consecutive
games since losing to Olentangy Liberty (34-31) back on December 13th. The
Golden Bears tourney trail hasn’t been an easy one with the likes of Grove
City, Gahanna Lincoln, Pickerington Central and Columbus Northland. Seniors
Kevin Vannatta (1st Team All-District) and Danny Hummer have been lights out
for the Golden Bears. Vannatta, a UNC Asheville signee and a member of the
1,000-point club, is coming off a sensational 27-point and 18-rebound effort
against Columbus Northland, which followed games of 27 and 26 points against
Pickerington Central and Gahanna Lincoln. In all, the lefty is averaging
nearly 24 points per game in six tournament contests and is having one of
the best individual tournaments in recent memory. Hummer has been his top
support with 10.5 points per game during the tournament and owns the
school-record for career assists. Seniors Wes Davis and Logan Richter round
out UA’s core quartet. UA has given up 50 or more points just twice this
season with Olentangy and Pickerington Central each earning 53.
Lakewood St. Edward (24-2)
will be making its eighth state tournament appearance since 1996, and
seventh under head coach Eric Flannery. St. Ed’s was rolling through the
regular season and looked like a predominant favorite to capture the gold
trophy when 6-8 sophomore Derek Funderburk went down with an injury. This is
something all too familiar to Ed’s fans referring to the 2007-08 season when
former Michigan State standout Delvon Roe and guard Alex Sterba were lost
for the season with injuries. The Eagles still managed to finish this season
as state runner-up. This year wasn’t as cruel as Funderburk has returned to
a stacked Ed’s line up. The Eagles got 19 points from senior Tony Vuyancih
and 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists from classmate Marsalis
Hamilton to help a dominating performance against Mansfield Senior in the
regional final. The Eagles got a combined 43 points from seniors Malcom
Walter (16) and Will Meyer (14) and junior Kipper Nichols (13) in the win
over rival Cleveland St. Ignatius, which completed a three-game sweep of the
Wildcats. St. Ed’s received 24 points and six rebounds from junior Kipper
Nichols in a 74-62 district championship victory over Brunswick. Nichols and
Hamilton earned 1st Team All-Northeast Lakes District honors. Vuyancih is a
tough guard with a gamer mentality, and he along with Hamilton were key
members of the 2012 state semifinalist team that lost to Toledo Whitmer.
Cleveland East Tech (23-4)
is one of the hottest teams in the Buckeye state and will be making their
11th state tournament showing, but first since 1972. East Tech dominated the
state of Ohio in the 1950’s through the early part of the 1970s, winning
three state championships. The Scarabs will arrive in Columbus thanks to
freshman Markell Johnson, who knocked down a pull-up jumper with 3.1 seconds
remaining in overtime to secure the regional title by besting Uniontown
Lake. Johnson scored 27 points in the game. East Tech has knocked off some
of the state’s heavyweights en route to the Value City Arena. The Senate
League’s Scarabs took out the defending state titleholder, Mentor, before
dropping two very good teams in Shaker Heights and Uniontown Lake. It’s safe
to say East Tech was an underdog in all three, but refused to believe so.
Senior K.T. Taylor (1st Team All-District), classmate Johnell Free, junior
Anthony Carmon, and freshman Markell Johnson make up the core of the high
octane Scarabs. The four combined for 58 of East Tech’s 62 points in the
triumph of Lake and 55 in the victory over Shaker Heights. Carmon dropped 25
points against Shaker Heights. East Tech caused 25 turnovers against Shaker
Heights and scored 25 points off turnovers against Lake.
endured two games during regional play that would make many crumble. The
Truckers, who are making their first state tournament appearance, slipped
past Vermillion in overtime, 87-81, thanks in part to 32 points and 13
rebounds from senior Jeff Thomas (Georgia State), 25 points from senior Ben
Haraway (Malone) and 16 points by senior Jordan Johnson. Norwalk followed
that up with a 54-53 slugfest with Lima Bath where Haraway scored 20 points,
which included 18 in the first half. Thomas added 14 points and seven
rebounds. Senior Grant Hull is another key member for the Truckers, who make
a living off creating turnovers. Norwalk is stingy on defense, giving up
just 48 points per game. Haraway (2nd Team All-Northwest District) and
Thomas (1st Team All-Northwest District) are both four-year mainstays.
Norwalk is (74-3) over the past three seasons, which included a 57-game
regular season winning streak that was snapped by an overtime loss to
Ontario this year. The Truckers currently have won 13 consecutive games.
Dayton Thurgood Marshall (22-5)
is making its fourth trip to Columbus after three previous runner-up
finishes, one of which was under the name Dayton Colonel White. Thurgood
will be making its third trip to Value City Arena in six seasons. The
Cougars had to get past rival Dayton Dunbar in the regional semis, a team
they lost to in both regular season meetings. Thurgood got 18 points from
senior sharpshooter Dwayne Chastain, 15 from classmate Davion Ashe and 11 by
talented sophomore Derrick Daniels in the triumph of Dunbar. Thurgood also
avenged a regular season loss to Cincinnati Taft in the regional final
behind 20 points from Daniels and 14 by senior Tremayne Hawkins. The Cougars
have possessed some talented teams over the past six years, but this team
appears to have the chemistry, guards and shooting to get the job done.
Senior RaChaun Martin (1st Team All-Southwest District), sophomore D.J.
Hoskins, Ashe, Hawkins and Chastain make up a stellar backcourt that is
capable of controlling a contest. Thurgood is playing as well as it ever has
entering the state tournament. Thurgood’s starting five has great balance
averaging between nine and 13 points a game. The Cougars also defeated the
Franklin Wildcats and Cincinnati Wyoming along the tourney trail, who
featured the Southwest District POY in Luke Kennard and 1st Team
All-District performer Ahmad Frost.
Akron SVSM (19-9),
which has become a state tournament staple since the days of LeBron James in
the early 2000s, will once again try to tie Middletown with a seventh state
championship. SVSM was denied in the title game a year ago by the same team
it will meet in Thursday’s state semifinal contest, Columbus Bishop
Watterson. The Irish missed a game-tying triple as time expired. Senior
Jalen Hudson, a Virginia Tech signee, scored 17 points in that contest.
Hudson (1st Team All-District) scored nine points in a hard-fought regional
championship game win over Poland Seminary and tallied a game-high 21 points
in a regional semis triumph of Mentor Lake Catholic. Sophomore V.J. King,
who is regarded as one of the top sophomores in the country, led the Irish
in scoring with 14 points against Poland. King (1st Team All-District)
totaled 16 points against Lake Catholic. The 6-7 sophomore was just 1-of-6
from the field against Watterson in last year’s title tilt and 4-of-10
against Vincent Warren in the semis. Junior guard Josh Williams (2nd Team
All-District), an Akron commitment, evenly split 22 points in the two
regional encounters. Junior Jabri Blount notched eight points, six steals
and five boards in SVSM’s last game. Also, keep an eye on explosive
sophomore Henry Baddley, who is one of the state’s top high-fliers. Senior
guard Jarel Woolridge is another key contributor to the Irish success. The
Irish played one of the state’s top schedules and come to Columbus riding a
season-best nine-game winning streak. SVSM’s last three setbacks are by a
combined seven points. Head coach Dru Joyce’s squad played nine teams during
the regular season that made the regional tournament.
Columbus Bishop Watterson (25-),
which is the defending state champion, returns to the final four
looking to win back-to-back state championships. The Eagles made a dramatic
run a season ago, which ended in defeating the team they will meet on
Thursday, Akron SVSM. Watterson scored 108 points in its two wins at last
season’s final four, and all but 16 of those points return. Seniors Matt
Hughes and Cody Calhoun evenly split 28 counters against the Irish a season
ago. Classmates Matt Lehmann and Andy Grieser added eight and six points
respectively. Hughes (21 points), Lehmann (14 points) and Calhoun (9 points)
combined for 44 points in a state semis victory over a previously red-hot
Kettering Alter team. The Eagles took a different route this season going
through the Athens Regional. The Columbus-based school trailed early in its
regional semifinal game against Logan Elm, but ended up winning by 17 points
thanks to a signature Watterson run. Matt Hughes led the Eagles with 26
points and Grieser added 11. Lehmann chipped in nine points and classmate
Joey Diorio helped out with seven. Watterson used another late-game run to
pull away from John Glenn in its regional final game as Lehmann led the way
with 24 points, Diorio and Calhoun combined for 22, and Grieser totaled
eight. Watterson beefed up the out-of-conference schedule this season, which
resulted in a cherished win over Cleveland VASJ at the Play4Cancer Shootout.
Watterson defeated the Columbus City League winner, Columbus Brookhaven,
twice. The Eagles suffered through the latter half of the season with
nagging injuries to Lehmann (3rd Team All-Central District) and Hughes (1st
Team All-Central District), which played a part in losses to Middletown and
Upper Arlington. The Eagles are (53-3) over the past two seasons. Head coach
Vince Lombardo and his Eagles are giving up just 46 points per game, which
are the fewest points allowed of the four Div. II teams.
Cleveland VASJ (21-7)
is embarking on its 13th state tournament and is looking to tie Akron SVSM
by winning a sixth state championship. VASJ will try and become the second
team to win back-to-back championships on three different occasions, joining
Middletown. The Vikings won the Division IV state championship a season ago
in dominant fashion, but the new enrollment figures bumped the Cleveland
school up to Division III. St. Joe’s endured one of the toughest schedules
in state history, and still managed to win 15 regular season games. The
Vikings played five nationally ranked teams including Lakewood St. Edward,
which doesn’t include Ohio powers Bishop Watterson, Akron SVSM, Mentor and
Cleveland St. Ignatius. VASJ also played state semifinalist St. Thomas
Aquinas (x2) and regional semifinalist Richmond Heights during its 22-game
slate. Most basketball pundits figured the Vikings would run through the
tournament, but their last three games against Warrensville Heights, Canton
Central Catholic and Youngstown Ursuline have been nothing close to easy.
Junior Carlton Bragg, a consensus Top 10 player nationally, scored 21
points, grabbed nine rebounds, and blocked four shots helping VASJ overcome
a game Ursuline squad. Junior Brian Parker, one of the state’s most
underrated players, finished with 15 points. Parker is the reigning
Northeast Lakes District Player of the Year. Junior Simon Texidor (3rd Team
All-District) also chipped in 15 and 6-8 junior Derek Pardon totaled eight
points, 14 rebounds, and an impressive nine blocks. Parker, Bragg, and
Pardon were all 1st Team All-District performers. In the win over Canton CC,
Bragg led the way with 22 points and 12 rebounds, Parker added 21 points,
Pardon chipped in 14 points and eight boards, and Texidor tallied 13 points.
Though, perhaps Joe’s toughest game came in the district final against
Warrensville Heights where it trailed by four points at halftime before
using a 21-4 advantage in the 3rd quarter helping it to a (75-62) triumph.
Bragg had 29 points and 14 rebounds, which included a 15-of-16 showing at
the free-throw line in the 2nd half. Bragg missed five games this season due
to injury and the Vikings went 4-1. VASJ comes into the final four as the
highest scoring team (74.3 ppg.) in Division III, but will face the team
giving up the fewest in Bishop Ready (44.5 ppg.).
Columbus Bishop Ready (21-5)
enters its fifth state tournament in hopes of capturing its third state
championship and first since winning back-to-back titles in 1972 and 1973.
It’s no secret; Ready gets it done on defense, giving up just 44.5 points
per game. The Silver Knights held a Lucasville Valley team that scored 80
points or more on five different occasions to just five points at halftime.
Ready had to hold on for a 38-33 win, giving head coach Don Worstell an
incredible 50th birthday present. Shane Lee paced Ready with 11 points
followed by Jimmy Hanley’s nine points. Josh Gantz (UMASS Lowell) added six
points, five rebounds, and three blocks. Gantz and Lee evenly split 24
counters in a regional semis triumph of Wheelersburg, and Hanley chipped in
nine. Ready held the Pirates to just 35 points. The Silver Knights are
giving up a shade over 38 points per game throughout their five tournament
games, which included a win over Bishop Hartley, a team that beat Ready two
times during the regular season. The Silver Knights are a very experienced
team, which includes two four-year lettermen in point guard Kelly Culbertson
and Matt Yoho, who quarterbacked the football team. Hanley (1st Team
All-District) and Gantz (2nd Team All-District) were all-district
Cincinnati Roger Bacon (22-4)
has a senior class that has played in three prior regionals, coming up short
each time, but the fourth time proved good for the Spartans. The
Cincinnati-based school finally got over the hump by defeating Summit
Country Day, 49-46, to advance to its fifth state tournament and first since
shocking the state in 2002 by defeating nationally-ranked Akron SVSM. A
season ago, the Spartans knocked off the 2012 defending state champions,
Summit Country Day, in the regional semis and then came up short against
Versailles two days later. Roger Bacon, which is 88-22 the past four
seasons, will face a team that felt its pain in Lima CC. The Spartans’ road
to Columbus included regional wins over Dayton Stivers and Summit CD. Senior
Austin Frentsos scored 15 points in the win over Stivers, which included his
1,000th point. Classmate Carlas Jackson (1st Team All-Southwest District)
paced Bacon with 21 points and senior Fred Moore added 17. Junior Dahmere
Epperson and sophomore Trey McBride evenly divided 18 counters. It was
fitting that the GCL Central Player of the Year, Carlas Jackson, led the way
with 26 points in the win over Summit CD. Seniors Reggie Williams and Cody
Niesen are other viable options for Roger Bacon. Head coach Brian Neal’s
club is giving up just under 40 points per game in its six tournament wins.
The Spartans’ four losses on the year came to three Division I GCL South
teams in Moeller, LaSalle and Elder and the other was to a red-hot Kettering
Lima Central Catholic (23-4)
frustrations come to an end last Saturday when the Thunderbirds finally
overcame Ottawa-Glandorf in the tournament. LCC had lost in the tournament
to O-G in each of head coach Frank Kill’s first three seasons as headman.
Three years ago it was a district final (56-54), two years ago it was a
regional final (44-38) and last year it was a regional semifinal (60-52).
Ottawa-Glandorf went on to win the Div. III championship last season.
Following LCC’s 2010 state championship, legendary head coach Bob Seggerson
retired and Kill took over. Kill has gone (87-14) in his first four seasons.
Central Catholic is making its seventh trip to the state tournament. The
Thunderbirds, who are playing their first season as an independent, lost
three games by a total of six points. Their other loss was to Div. IV state
semifinalist and undefeated Convoy Crestview. LCC scored repeat wins over
Findlay Liberty-Benton in the district finals and Ottawa-Glandorf in the
regional finals along with a regional semis victory over Worthington
Christian. The Thunderbirds got 18 points from senior Martyce Kimbrough
(Indianapolis), who scored his 1,000th point in the contest. Sophomore point
guard Xavier Simpson (2nd Team All-Northwest District), who many consider
the best lead guard in Ohio for his class, contributed 14 points, seven
assists and four steals. Sophomore Tre Cobbs added 13 points and classmate
Dantez Walton chipped in six. Kimbrough (1st Team All-Northwest District)
scored 19 points in the regional clincher. The T-Birds have eight
underclassmen in their 10-man rotation, including three sophomores (Simpson,
Cobbs, and Walton) who are 2nd-4th in scoring. LCC is giving up just over 48
points per game on the year and a notch below 42 points an outing in the
is making its first state tournament appearance since 1991 after finishing
that season as runner-up to a phenomenal St. Henry team led by Bobby Hoying.
Tri-Village finished that season (27-1) under former head coach Lee Falknor.
The 2014 version of the Patriots are led by its three-headed monster of
senior Tyler Cook (1st Team All-Southwest District) and juniors Colton
Linkous (2nd Team All-Southwest District) and Damion Cook (3rd Team
All-Southwest District), all 1st Team All-Cross County Conference
performers. Tri-Village has just one loss on the season (Franklin Monroe),
while compiling a (72-5) mark over the past three seasons. The Patriots ran
off 26-straight wins a year ago before losing to Troy Christian (overtime)
in the regional semis. T-V avenged that loss in this year’s regional semis
before handling Maria Stein Marion Local to punch its ticket to Columbus.
The Patriots fell to eventual state runner-up, Jackson Center (overtime), in
2012 (district finals). Damion Cook, who averages a double-double in points
and rebounds, scored 24 points and Linkous added 19 in the win over Marion
Local to help send the Patriots to the final four. Linkous, who is the
school’s all-time leader in three-pointers made, paced the Patriots with 20
points in a regional semis victory over Troy Christian and Damion Cook
chipped in 14. Sophomore Taylor Vanwinkle runs the point guard for the
Patriots and averages 7.5 assists per game, which includes a school-mark of
202 this season. Tyler Cook has 1,165-career points. The Patriots trek to
Columbus riding an 11-game winning streak, and will likely bring the entire
town of New Madison with them. Tri-Village is defeating its opponents by an
average margin of 30 points per game.
Convoy Crestview (27-0)
is making its third state tournament appearance as Convoy Crestview coupled
with a fourth showing in 1927 as just Convoy. Head coach Jeremy Best led the
Knights to the Final Four in 2003, falling just short to Maria Stein Marion
Local. The Knights saw two things change this year; they moved from the
Kettering Regional to the Bowling Green Regional and they didn’t lose to St.
Henry in the district semis. Crestview dropped decisions to St. Henry the
past two seasons in tourney play. The Knights were the only team to finish
the regular season undefeated led by their terrific trio of seniors in point
guard Cam Etzler (Anderson University), forward Damian Helm (1st Team
All-Northwest District) and forward Tyson Bolenbaugh. Sophomore Connor
Lautzenheiser complements the seniors’ very well averaging just over nine
points per game. Crestview held a previously once-beaten Ottawa Hills squad
to just 26 points on 6-of-26 shooting in the regional semis, and defeated
Haviland Wayne Trace for the third time this season in the regional final
holding the Raiders to just 34 points. Wayne Trace scored 80 points in its
regional semis encounter. Helm, who was the Northwest Conference Player of
the Year, and Bolenbaugh, combined for 29 points and 14 rebounds in the win
over Wayne Trace. The Knights are giving up just a shade over 32 points per
game in five tournament contests, which has been their calling card all
season allowing only 50 points or more on three occasions and giving up just
under 41 points a night on the season.
Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas (17-11)
is making its second state tournament appearance and first since losing to
Dayton Stivers in 1975. The Knights came into the tournament at just (11-11)
up against a very challenging slate with the likes of Cleveland VASJ,
Cleveland CC, Holy Name, Malvern, Canton CC, Youngstown Ursuline and
Youngstown Cardinal Mooney. That schedule has prepared STA for a very
impressive tournament run. The Knights averaged 87 points per game in their
first four tournament games before scoring 58 and 52 points in regional wins
over Cornerstone Christian and Richmond Heights. The Louisville-based school
is coming off a regional appearance in Division III a season ago. Senior
Austin Hill (1st Team All-Northeast Inland District) and junior Anthony
Moeglin spearhead a dangerous perimeter shooting game. The Knights connected
on 17 three-point goals in their district championship game with McDonald.
Also, keep an eye on junior Dan Piero, senior Sam Pusateri, junior Pete
Ruthe and sophomore Jacob Paul. The Knights aren’t just about offense as
head coach Matt Hackenberg’s team set a school-record for fewest points
allowed at 53.1 points per game. St. Thomas Aquinas trailed 46-43 to
Richmond Heights in the 4th quarter before ripping off six consecutive
points. The Knights used two Hill freebies to give the winners the lead for
good at, 51-49. Paul came up big for the Knights scoring a game-high 19
points. Hill tallied 19 in the regional semis triumph of Cornerstone
Harvest Prep (26-1)
is back, led by head coach David Dennis Sr., who has done a fine job in
turning around the program after a two-year absence from the tournament due
to several rule violations. Coach Dennis didn’t have to look any further
than his own household to help aid a 19-game turnaround from a season ago.
David Dennis Jr. decided he would join his father on the East Side,
following two seasons at Hilliard Darby. The lefty sharpshooter rewarded his
father by averaging over 22 points per game, six rebounds, and nearly five
assists, while earning 1st Team All-Central District honors. Seniors Sean
Blackburn, Gideon Woodson-Levey and Keith James have seen the good-and-bad,
but this season, the trio was a big part of the good. Junior transfers Rael
Windley and Dana Coffman have also contributed heavily to Prep’s turnaround.
Windley tallied a team-high 13 points and Coffman added 12 counters in a
cherished, 43-40, victory over one of the state’s best small schools in
Columbus Africentric. Dennis Jr. was held to just six points. The Warriors
lone setback on the season was a one-point loss to Newark Catholic on
December 16th, and currently owns a 20-game winning streak. HP is defeating
its opponents by nearly 30 points per game.