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OHSAA Boys Basketball State Tournament Preview

March 18, 2024
OHSAA Boys Basketball State Tournament Preview
Division I
By Eric Frantz, MaxPreps.com
Cleveland St. Ignatius (24-3)
The Wildcats are making their third trip to the state tournament in four years (all under head coach Cam Joyce) after rallying from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win their regional final 46-43 over Brunswick at Kent State. St. Ignatius outscored Brunswick 18-6 in the fourth, with 6-foot-8 Cleveland State recruit Reece Robinson scoring nine of the decisive points. The senior finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Robinson is part of a talented rotation that runs 10 deep and also features 6-foot-10 junior Damon Friery and 6-foot-1 senior Max Woidke. Friery is a four-star recruit (247sports composite rankings) who is the No. 3 overall 2025 prospect in Ohio and holds nine offers, including Georgia, Penn State, Arizona State, Virginia Tech, Dayton and Duquesne. He had 20 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks in an 87-63 regional semifinal win over Massillon Jackson and 15 points and six rebounds against Brunswick. Woidke (15.4 ppg) holds offers from Duquense, Radford, Miami (OH), Ohio, Furman and Kent State. He was first team Northeast Lakes All-District, while Friery (10.6 ppg) and Robinson (10 ppg) were second and third team, respectively. Air Force commit Sam Springer had his season end prematurely with a foot injury. The senior did not play in the regional. St. Ignatius is making its eighth trip to state. The Wildcats were state champions in 2001 and state runner-up in 1998. They also reached state in 1953, 1952 and 1923. The Wildcats lost to Centerville (64-33) in the 2022 semifinals and fell to Westerville Central (51-42) in the 2021 semifinals. St. Ignatius averages 77 points per game (most of the D-I semifinalists) and allows 57.
Centerville (19-8)
Despite losing their last three regular season games and four of the last six, the Elks are making a fourth straight trip to the state tournament. Centerville has won six straight Greater Western Ohio Conference titles, including three in a row outright. Head coach Brook Cupps has groomed and seasoned his team against a stacked schedule that has included St. Ignatius, Lakewood St. Edward, Akron Archbishop Hoban, LaLumiere (Ind.), Isidore Newman (La.) and Cincinnati Moeller (twice). The most recent win over Moeller was an instant classic. Senior Jonathan Powell (first team OPSWA All-Ohio last year) hit a 3-pointer with eight seconds left to propel the Elks to a 70-69 double overtime win over the Crusaders in the regional final at the Cintas Center. Moeller’s only other loss this season was a 62-55 defeat at Centerville on Jan. 5. Powell, a four-star prospect and Xavier recruit, finished with 20 points on his future court. Baboucarr Njie, a 6-foot-7 senior, added 15 points and 14 rebounds in the regional final. Powell (19.8 ppg) and Njie (13.1 ppg) were first and second team All-Southwest District, respectively.  Other key performers for Centerville include juniors Eli and Ethan Greenberg and Jamar Montgomery. Eli Greenberg (11.4 ppg) was honorable mention All-Southwest District. Centerville averages 65 points per game and allows 55.
Delaware Hayes (27-1)
The Pacers have harnessed destiny and ridden it to the program’s first state tournament. Only one team at former Willis High School (built in 1883) and Hayes (built in 1963) had won a district championship (1986) prior to this season. Trailing 39-35 to Olentangy Orange at halftime of the regional final, the Pacers abandoned their man-to-man defense and employed a 2-3 zone that helped propel them to a dominating 74-56 win. Hayes went on an 11-0 run to open the third quarter and a 14-0 run to open the fourth. Orange had not allowed more than 60 points in a game prior. The Pacers, who have won 21 straight since losing 73-65 at Westerville South on Dec. 22, are averaging 68 points per game and allowing 49.5 (best among D-I semifinalists). Senior Jesse Burris, an Ohio University recruit and first team All-Central District selection, led Hayes with 17 points against Orange. A four year-starter and the program’s all-time leading scorer, Burris dropped 28 points in a 90-76 district final win over Walnut Ridge. He was second team OPSWA All-Ohio last season. Junior Landon Vanderwarker had a double-double against Orange with 16 points and 12 rebounds. The 6-foot-7 forward is a transfer from Northside Christian who was named first team OPSWA D-IV All-Ohio last year after leading the Lions to a regional final. Vanderwarker, named second team All-Central District, holds offers from Ohio and VCU. Sophomore Jeremiah Russell (14 points against Orange) and senior Jake Lowman (QB on state playoff team) are difference makers. Adam Vincenzo was named this winter’s OCC Capital Division Coach of the Year.
Toledo Whitmer (25-2)
The Panthers are returning to the state tournament for the first time since finishing runner-up in 2012. Whitmer also reached state in 2008, 1987 and 1931. The Panthers punched their ticket by surprising Garfield Heights at the buzzer on a putback by Napoleon Jemison for a 49-47 victory at Savage Arena in Toledo. Whitmer beat Toledo St. John’s in the regional semifinals (55-48). Both of Whitmer’s losses are to Findlay, which won the Northern Lakes League Buckeye Division. The Panthers were second. Junior phenom Antione West headlines the roster. A 6-foot-3 three-star shooting guard prospect, West is a finalist for this season’s OPSWA Mr. Basketball award. He is the fifth overall 2025 recruit in Ohio and a two-time Three Rivers Athletic Conference, Northwest District and District 7 Coaches Association player of the year. A 2023 All-Ohio first teamer, West (19.7 ppg) holds 11 offers, including Ohio State, Penn State, Nebraska, Arizona State, Georgia, Dayton, Xavier, Creighton and Duquesne. He surpassed 1,000-career points in January. Makhi Leach, a 6-foot-2 junior guard, was first team All-Northwest District along with West, while Elijah McLeod, a 6-foot-1 senior guard, was honorable mention. Inside the Panthers feature 6-foot-5 four-star offensive tackle prospect Carter Lowe (290 pounds) who committed to Ohio State in January. Lowe is a 2025 Top 100 football prospect nationally and holds 22 offers. Head coach Anthony Stacey’s team averages 69.4 points and allows 51.4.
Division II
By Eric Frantz, MaxPreps.com
Kettering Archbishop Alter (21-7)
The Knights drilled 14 3-pointers and played brilliantly in a 63-36 win over Wyoming in the regional final at Butler. In the regional semifinals, Alter hit nine 3s in its 63-42 win over Plain City Jonathan Alder. The Knights, who are making their second trip to state in three years under head coach Eric Coulter, lost in the regional final last season. Overall, Alter is appearing in the state tournament for the 11th time and looking for its fourth title (2001, 1999 and 1978). The Knights were state runner-up in 2003. The program’s first nine state tournament berths came under legendary head coach Joe Petrocelli. Alter has hit 222 3-pointers this season with junior RJ Greer (52 makes) and seniors Joe Brand (49) and Gavin Leen (55) leading the charge. Greer is a 6-foot-4 four-star prospect that is the No. 4 prospect in Ohio’s 2025 class. He holds nine offers, including Michigan, Florida, North Carolina State, Penn State and Cincinnati. Greer (15.6 ppg) was first team All-Southwest District, while Leen (10.2) and Brand (10.7) were second team and honorable mention, respectively. The Knights have size with a trio of towering juniors – Charlie Uhl (6-foot-8), Brady Conner (6-foot-6) and Matt Lunne (6-foot-7). Four of the team members – juniors Connor Watkins and John Keighley and seniors Collin Wehner and Carter Sheets – were starters on Alter’s D-IV state runner-up football team. Alter averages 55 points and allows 46 (best among D-II semifinalists).
Shelby (25-2)
The Whippets used a 22-6 game-ending run to rally from a 40-33 deficit with 6:21 to play in their first regional final since 1957 to beat Lutheran West 55-46 at Bowling Green. The state tournament appearance and regional title are the program’s first. Head coach Greg Gallaway’s club, which has set a school record for wins in s season, is led by eight seniors (Alex Bruskotter, Issaiah Ramsey, Casey Lantz, Bryson Baker, Tanner Hartz, Brennan Lewis, Eli Schwemley and Amareon Russell). Bruskotter, a 6-foot-8 guard, is a Wright State commit and an OPSWA Mr. Basketball finalist this season. He is the Northwest District, District 6 Coaches Association and Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference player of the year. Bruskotter (23.8 ppg) scored 53 points and hit 12-of-19 3s in an 84-61 win over Ashland on Jan. 6. The three-time OPSWA All-Ohioan is second in career scoring at Shelby behind the legendary Larry Siegfried. Bruskotter had 27 points and seven rebounds against Lutheran West and 17 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two steals in a 59-50 regional semifinal win over Lima Shawnee. Lantz (12.9 ppg) was second team All-Northwest District, while Ramsey (10.7 ppg) was third team. Sophomore Brayden DeVito was honorable mention. The Whippets have won 19 in a row and haven’t lost since a 61-57 setback at Lexington on Dec. 30. They also lost 67-63 at D-III state semifinalist Ottawa-Glandorf on Dec. 16. Shelby averages 71 points (most among D-II semifinalists) and allows 51.
Youngstown Ursuline (24-3)
The Irish are making their second appearance in the state tournament and first since winning the 1994 state title (in Division III). Ursuline dominated Canfield 60-35 in a regional final at Canton Memorial Fieldhouse for its 12th straight victory. Jaylen Gunther, a 5-foot-11 freshman, scored a team-high 16 points against Canfield (hit four first quarter 3s), while 6-foot-7 senior Jayden Payne added 15. Payne (16 ppg) was first team Northeast Inland District, while Gunther (11.3 ppg) was second team. The Irish have dominated postseason opponents, winning their six tournament games by a 36-point average margin of victory. They won their regional games, which included an 85-44 dismantling of Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph, by 66 points. Head coach Keith Gunther’s club averages 69 points and allows 49. Ursuline is the first Mahoning Valley boys team to make the state final four since LaBrae in 2013.
Maysville (25-3)
Trailing 32-17 at halftime of its regional final against Vincent Warren, Maysville erupted for 55 second half points to rally for a stunning 72-64 victory at Ohio University. Eight second half 3s helped spur the comeback and secure the program’s second state tournament berth and first since 1971. The Panthers hit 15-of-20 free throws in the final 4:16. Maysville’s motor is 6-foot-1 senior Alex Bobb, who scored 20 points against Warren and 22 against Columbus Bishop Hartley in a dramatic 50-49 regional semifinal win. Bobb’s 3-pointer at the buzzer was the difference against the Hawks. Bobb (26.3 ppg) has been named East District, District 12 Coaches Association and Muskingum Valley League player of the year. Sophomore Jodryn Watson (11.4 ppg) scored 18 points (all in the second half) against Hartley as the Panthers rallied from a 14-point first half deficit. Sophomore Gator Nichols (15.1 ppg) scored 15 points (13 in the second half) in the regional final. Bobb was first team All-East District, while Nichols and Watson were second and third team, respectively. Senior Wesley Armstead and sophomore Kane Roehrig were honorable mention. Head coach Dave Brown was the East District Coach of the Year. Maysville averages 69 points and allows 47.5.  
Division III
By Kurt Stubbs, OhioHSHoops.com
Harvest Prep (23-4), who has earned 16-straights victories, arrives in the 937 as one of the hottest teams in the state. In all, this will be the Warriors 8th trip to the state tournament since 2007. Their lone championship came in 2019 defeating Lutheran East. The road to Dayton was bumpy as the Warriors went 2-4 in late December/early January, but rebounded to defeat three Division I squads down the stretch along with a road win at Akron Buchtel. Coach David Dennis and his team carried that momentum into the tournament handling five of their opponents by 20 points or more. In the regional final, against the only unbeaten team in the state (Malvern), the Canal Winchester-based school erased an early 10-point deficit then turned a one point lead heading into the 4th quarter into a 64-44 triumph. Junior guard Brandon Roddy led the way with 16 points and senior Adonus Abrams tallied 13. The regional semifinal was much worse as Harvest Prep dispatched of a really good North Adams team by 30 points (78-48) behind 20 points from freshman Antwon Pollard. Interesting to note, Coach Dennis is (11-0) in regional games at Ohio University. The regionals weren’t nearly as difficult as the Warriors district final against rival Columbus Africentric. The Nubians, who made the state semifinals in 2022 and 2023, gave Harvest Prep all it wanted at Ohio Dominican University. Harvest Prep led most of the night, but Africentric rallied to take a two-point lead with 49 seconds to play. Roddy would split a pair of freebies then Khalil Daniels scored with 10 seconds to play, and the Warriors escaped three last second attempts by the Nubians. Harvest Prep placed five players in double figures led by Abrams with 15 points.
Ottawa-Glandorf (24-3) returns to the Final Four for the fourth straight year in hopes of winning its first title since 2013 and fourth overall. It’s been a historic run for the Titans winning three consecutive Western Buckeye League titles (27-0) and compiling a (94-15) mark over the past four seasons. Senior Colin White, an Ohio State signee and one of the state’s premier players, is one of only two players in state history to start in four-straight state tournaments joining LeBron James according to Martin RPI. OG brings another strong resume to Dayton with its only setbacks being a pair of two-point road losses at Lima Central Catholic and Findlay, and a rare home loss to regional finalist Troy Christian the night after playing for the de facto WBL championship. The tournament has presented some challenges, but none more so than the Titans district final against Spencerville. Coach Tyson McGlaughlin’s squad trailed much of the afternoon against the 20-win Bearcats, but thanks to an Alex Wagner three-point goal (his only points in the game) with 13 seconds to play in regulation the Titans were able to force overtime. White and senior Caden Erford would seal the 56-52 win in the extra session. Putnam County’s all-time leading scorer, White, finished with 35 points and seven rebounds. White has been on top of his game in the tournament averaging a shade over 28 points per game including a 36-point outing (12-of-15 shooting & 11-of-11 free-throws) in a regional win over Emmanuel Christian and 26 points and 11 boards in OG’s state tournament sealing victory over Castalia Margaretta.  
Preble Shawnee (24-3) will make its first state tournament appearance after a 53-32 triumph over Versailles. The Arrows, who played for a regional championship a year ago, started the season as many pundits expected winning their first 12 games, but went just 4-3 over their next seven games dropping games to Lloyd Memorial (KY) at the Flyin’ to the Hoop, and to a pair of GCL CO-ED squads in Bishop Fenwick and Hamilton Badin. Preble Shawnee would find its footing and closed the regular season with three-straight wins including a coveted 49-35 victory over Tri-Village to win the Western Ohio Athletic Conference. Colin White isn’t the only superman in this tournament as Shawnee’s Mason Shrout would love to have a word. The Purdue Fort Wayne signee has been efficient in averaging 23.4 points per game along with 11 rebounds and 5.4 assists in his five tournament games. He has been great in big games as well, totaling 28 points and 10 rebounds in a regional final win over Versailles and 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists in the game prior which was a repeat win over rival Tri-Village. Coach Jake Turner’s team has received quality support from classmate Logan Hawley, sophomore Brody Morton, and junior Brayden Robinette. The team's second leading scorer, junior Isaac Blankenship, missed both regional games due to injury.
Lutheran East (21-5) has been the gold standard in Division III over the better part of the past decade. The Falcons, the defending state champions, are playing in their seventh state tournament in a row. Coach Sam Liggins and The ‘Lue are seeking state championship number five and its fourth since 2017. The Falcons schedule was brutal per usual, which shows itself in a big way come tournament time. Before holding off a very good Youngstown Cardinal Mooney team in the regional final, the Cleveland Heights-based school dismantled its four prior tournament opponents by an average of 57 points per game. The Falcons are yet to allow 50 points in a quintet of contests. Senior Jesse McCulloch has been the most dominant big man in the state. The Michigan State signee is averaging a double-double (23 ppg. & 14 rpg.) and has shown out in the biggest games. Seniors Anthony Bruce, Chauncey Brashers, and Ronald Taylor were all a key part of last year’s title run, and have been stellar in more prominent roles this winter. Freshmen Chris Hill and DJ Jenkins have a chance to be the next big time duo for the Falcons. Taylor scored 35 points and McCullough tallied 30 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 blocks in a regional semifinal rout of Fairview Park Fairview. In the regional final, Lutheran East led by 17 points heading into the final frame before Mooney cut the margin to just seven. However, the Falcons closed the game on a 13-7 run to secure the victory. Taylor was the only Falcon in double figures with 10 points followed by McCullough and Hill with nine each, and Bruce and senior Alan Mallory evenly split 16 counters.
Division IV
By Kurt Stubbs, OhioHSHoops.com
Berlin HIland (22-6) will be flying to Dayton for the third time in as many seasons. The Hawks have reached the Final Four in five of the last six state tournaments, and were playing in the regional final in 2020 before the event was canceled. Coach Mark Schlabach’s school has owned the Division IV Athens Regional since arriving in 2018 winning it every year except 2021, which was a 5-point loss to Glenwood New Boston. Prior to 2018, the Hawks spent two seasons in Division III making the regional final in 2017. Hiland, nestled in the heart of Amish country, is going for its fourth state championship in its 14th trip. The Hawks were playing as well as any team in the state before 6-foot-8 Alex Yoder and defensive stopper Connor Beachy were lost for the season with injuries. However, Hiland, as it so often does, recovered and found a way to arrive in Dayton yet again. It helps to have a player like Sammy Detweiler to lean on, who will be starting in his third state tournament. The Holmes County school really beefed up its schedule playing the likes of Dover, University School, Lutheran East, Wayne Trace, and Linsly (WV) in addition to its rigorous slate in the Inter Valley Conference. This type of schedule allowed the Hawks to never flinch in a contest such as their regional final against South Webster. Hiland trailed (23-7) at one point, but found a way to eventually force overtime and win the game in the extra session. Detweiler paced the Hawks with 16 points and Nick Wigton contributed 13. Sam Wengerd (9 points) and Alex Miller (8 points) were also key in allowing the Hawks to erase a 10-point deficit heading into the 4th quarter. This wasn’t the only close call as Hiland was forced to escape a hot-shooting (53 percent from behind the arc) Shadyside in a district semifinal, 57-54. Detweiler (22 points) and Wigton (20 points) helped bail them out in victory, while Miller added 12.
Lima Central Catholic (26-2), who is riding a 15-game winning streak, is making its 10th trip to the state tournament in hopes of winning its fourth state championship since 2010. Ironically, head coach Sean Powell would be the third coach at LCC to do so. This would be the second time this century that three different head coaches won state titles at the same school joining Ottawa-Glandorf’s trio of Dave Sweet, Josh Leslie, and Tyson McGlaughlin. Powell is seeking his second state championship in four years as the first-year Thunderbirds boss helped guide Botkins to the 2021 Division IV state gold, which was the last time Richmond Heights lost a state tournament game (semifinals). LCC made its way to Dayton by ending Toledo Christian’s 22-game winning streak in the Bowling Green Regional Final. The Lima-based school received incredible balance from its starting five led by senior Carson Parker’s team-high 19 points along with 13 from sophomore Jordan Priddy, 11 by senior Billy Bourk, and 10 apiece from Willie and Demarr Foster. Defensively, the T-Birds held 1,000-point scorer Karter Koester to just three points and Toledo Christian as a team to just 38 percent shooting. In a 65-44 regional semis triumph of Old Fort, LCC held the Stockaders to just 37 percent shooting and 4-of-16 from three-point range. It was another balanced effort with Priddy pacing the winners with 20 points, while Parker and Willie Foster each chipped in 13 and Bourk added 12. The T-Birds lost two games by a combined seven points in a 6-day span, otherwise, Powell’s squad has been spotless. The 26 wins are 15 more than last year’s (11-13) record.
Richmond Heights (17-9) is attempting to become just the fifth school since 1922 to win three consecutive state championships joining Dayton Stivers (1928-1990), Columbus Wehrle (1988-1990), Cincinnati North College (2005-2007), and Cincinnati Moeller (2017-2019). The Spartans are participating in their fifth straight state tournament dating back to 2019. Richmond Heights has demolished the competition in tournament play winning its five tournament games by an average of 44 points per game including a 50 and 34-point beatdown of its regional opponents. In 2023, the Spartans won their tournament games by a margin of 39.14 ppg. and 31.14 in 2022. Coach Quentin Rogers’ team played 11 Ohio opponents this year, seven of those contests came against high-level Division I outfits. The Spartans were (5-2) in those encounters. The only loss to an Ohio team outside of Division I was credited to Division III state semifinalist Lutheran East. It should be noted, the Spartans were without starting point guard D’Erick Barber for a good portion of their schedule then lost Lutheran East transfer TJ Crumble on February 1st due to an eligibility issue. Crumble, who helped lead the Falcons to a state title as a freshman, is a borderline Top 25 prospect nationally in the Class of 2026. Regardless, the Cuyahoga County-based school returned its starting five from last winter’s title team. Junior Dorian Jones, a consensus Top 50 player nationally, is being courted by at least one school in every major conference. Classmates, Barber and Demaris Winters, also own a plethora of D1 offers. Seniors Hosea Steele and Jeremy Wilson round out an uber-talented starting five.
Russia (27-1) has been utterly dominant this winter other than a slight hiccup in February losing by four points at Anna. The Raiders, who own 11-straight victories, have played in only 6 games where the game was determined by less than 20 points and just four where the outcome was settled by less than 10. The tournament hasn’t been much different and maybe even worse as the Raiders are beating teams by an average of 40 points per game while allowing just 28.3 points per outing. This is not surprising from a team that is used to winning big in multiple sports. A large portion of the Raiders roster were also members for the 2022 state baseball championship and last year’s runner-up. Much of the core is returning to Dayton from a team that led mighty Richmond Heights with 44 ticks left in the 3rd quarter in last March’s state semifinal. The Raiders will attempt to bring home the school’s first state championship in boy’s basketball in their third try (runner-up in 2002). Coach Spencer Condonnier’s team will do so with veterans Hayden Quinter, Brayden Monnin, Felix Francis, and Braylon Cordonnier along with emerging junior Benjamin York and classmate Vince Borchers. York (19 points) and Borchers (11 points) were key in Russia’s 56-35 triumph of Troy Christian in the regional final, a game the Raiders led 32-11 at half and held the 25-win Eagles to just 3-of-12 shooting. The Shelby County-based school defeated the AP No. 4 Eagles in the regular season as well.

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