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2014 OHSAA
Boys Basketball
State Tournament

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2014 OHSAA Boys Basketball Tournament Preview

By Kurt Stubbs II,  

Fun Facts:

  • 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 (4).

  • 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 a sophomore.

  • 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 1987.

  • 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 1985.

  • 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.


Division I

Trotwood-Madison (25-2) 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.


Division II
Norwalk (27-1) 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.

Division III
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 performers.


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 Alter team.


Lima Central Catholic (23-4) saw its 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 tournament.

Division IV
Tri-Village (26-1) 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 Christian.

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.