Today we begin our week long look at the boys basketball season which starts
this Friday. JJHuddle.com will be running divisional overviews (with
players and teams to watch) each of the next four days (D-IV today,
D-III on Wednesday, D-II on Thursday and D-I on Friday) leading up to
tip-off. We will also be running individual team previews throughout the week.
The countdown to Columbus starts now.
There are probably quite a few Division IV teams across Ohio with March 15, 2008, circled on their calendars. And for good reason.
Many teams have a legitimate shot of playing in the state championship that day at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
Ohio’s smallest division is deep.
A repeat by defending state champion Georgetown is unlikely since the G-Men were depleted by graduation. But don’t be surprised to see 2007 state tournament participants Berlin Hiland or Canal Winchester Harvest Prep return. The additions of Hamler Patrick Henry, Bedford St. Peter Chanel, Haviland Wayne Trace and Columbus Africentric, which were all previously in D-III, strengthen an already solid statewide field.
It’s highly likely the eventual state champion could come from whoever survives the Northwest District, which is by far the state’s toughest with Ada, Toledo Christian, Wayne Trace, Van Buren, New Knoxville, Patrick Henry and Plymouth.
* Tyler Tucci, 6-1, Jr., W, Malvern – First-team All-Ohio last season after averaging 20.3 points per game. Averaged 14.3 points as a freshman.
* Tim Mapp, 6-2, Sr., Columbus Africentric – Special mention All-Ohio after averaging 16.1 points.
* Lamar McKnight, 6-5, Jr., F, Bedford St. Peter Chanel – Talented post player averaged 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocks last season playing against bigger division competition.
* Matt Phillips, 6-4, Sr., P, Van Buren – First-team All-Northwest District and special mention All-Ohio last season after averaging 18.3 points per game.
* Paul McQueen, 6-4, Sr., P, Cleveland Heights Lutheran East – Posted 17.4 points per game en route to third-team All-Ohio honors.
* Brian Hecker, 6-4, Jr., P, Worthington Christian – Earned third-team All-Ohio honors last season as a sophomore after averaging 18.1 points per game.
* Zac Dysert, 6-3, Sr., P/W, Ada – One of state’s top quarterbacks, Dysert earned second-team All-Ohio honors in basketball last season after averaging 20.1 points per game. Has committed to Miami (Ohio) for football.
* Adrian Payne, 6-8, So., C, Dayton Jefferson – Young talent already has scholarship offers from Xavier and Dayton.
TEAMS TO WATCH
* Malvern – Tucci (first-team All-Ohio) and seniors Zak Kapron (special mention All-Ohio; 16.7 ppg) and Trevor Halter (17.2 ppg) create a formidable trio. The Hornets made a district final last season before falling to Berlin Hiland (66-63). Malvern is no doubt looking for an extended tournament run this season.
* Berlin Hiland – One of Ohio’s top small school programs year-in and year-out, the Hawks are coming off the school’s seventh state tournament appearance. Hiland lost to Georgetown in state semis (42-41). Although the Hawks return just one starter in senior Casey Kaufman (5-8, G), they do have a deep and talented senior class (seven). Third-year head coach Mark Schlabach has tourney experience having led two teams to Columbus (Hiland in 2007; Loudonville in 2005).
* Ada – The Bulldogs have the talent to make the school’s first state tournament appearance since 1923. Dysert is arguably the best player in the Northwest District and will get plenty of support from Andrew Cross, Kyle Baker and Nate Vermillion.
* Worthington Christian – The Qarriors are a threat to make first state tournament since 2000 and win first state title since 1999. In addition to Hecker, WC returns talented brother duo of Tyler and Zack Joseph. Tyler, a senior, averaged 15 ppg last year, while Zack, a sophomore, averaged 12.8 ppg.
* Canal Winchester World Harvest Prep – The Warriors were state runner-up last season and finished 24-1 in head coach Mike Thornton’s first season at the school. Thornton previously had success at Columbus Africentric. World Harvest returns one starter in senior Dane Givner (6-0, G). Givner reached double-figures in both state games last season, while senior Quintin Aden (6-1, G) and junior Nehemiah Trotter (6-0, G) logged significant minutes. The Warriors were hurt with the transfer of leading scorer Remon Nelson to Canal Winchester.
* Columbus Africentric – The Nubians drop down to D-IV again where they won and had a state title stripped in 2005. Seniors Mapp and Jay Meadows are one of Columbus’ top 1-2 punches.
* Bedford Chanel – After dropping down from D-III, many believe the Firebirds are a threat for a state title. Besides McKnight, Chanel also returns juniors JoVaughn Brown (5-10, G) and Arthur Jordan (6-4, P). Brown averaged seven points, six assists and two steals last season, while Jordan averaged six points and six boards. Chanel has reached six straight district finals.
* Hamler Patrick Henry – The Patriots haven’t been to state tournament since winning D-III state title in 1997 but could end drought. Patrick Henry’s drop down to D-IV makes the Northwest District that much more difficult.
OTHER TEAMS TO WATCH
* Plymouth – Sleeper pick who has talented sophomore in Blake Turson (18.5 ppg). Mansfield St. Peters transfer Brandon McCauley will boost line-up.
* New Knoxville – The Rangers went undefeated in regular season last year and were No. 1 in final state poll before losing to Georgetown in regional finals. Most of last year’s team graduated, but senior Josh Niemeyer returns (13 ppg). Never count out the defending Midwest Athletic Conference champion.
* Shadyside – Bill Merryman led Shadyside to a state football final last year and this season would love to duplicate the feat in basketball. Merryman averaged 17 ppg last season. The Tigers have the pieces to put together a memorable run.
* Toledo Christian – Standout junior Ethan Michael (6-4, Jr. P) returns after scoring 12.6 points per game.
* Windham – Windham wrapped a 20-4 record last season with a regional semifinal loss to Berlin Hiland. Senior Phil Workman is back after earning honorable mention All-Ohio honors. Workman averaged 17.6 points per game last year and 13.6 as a sophomore. Junior Cody Apthorpe is back as well (14 ppg).
* McDonald – The Blue Devils were ranked No. 4 in final state poll last year and took 24-0 record into regionals before losing semifinal to Rittman.
* Lancaster Fisher Catholic – The Irish return four of five starters including standout junior Luke Roesch (16 ppg).
* Cleveland Heights Lutheran East – The 2005 state champion returns senior Paul McQueen (17.4 ppg) and junior Marques Wiggins (14.3 ppg).
* Van Buren – The Black Knights finished last season 22-3, ranked No. 6 in final state poll and regional runner-up after succumbing to Holgate. Phillips is a reliable centerpiece.
* Holgate – The Tigers are coming off their second state tournament appearance in four years and always seem to be in thick of postseason chase regardless of record thanks to deliberate style of play. Points are at a premium against Holgate, which held opponents to under 20 points four times last season. The Tigers return one starter in senior Jared Clady (5-9, G). Clady had 11 points and seven rebounds in last season’s state semi loss to World Harvest.
* Georgetown – Before last season’s state title and undefeated season (27-0), the G-Men were known best for producing former Xavier and NBA star Brian Grant. Georgetown graduated three starters but returns two in senior Marc Gray 5-7, G) and super sophomore Jess Chadwell (6-3, G). Chadwell had a double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds) in state semifinal win over Berlin Hiland and scored 11 points in state final.
* Haviland Wayne Trace – The Raiders return Aaron Hockenberry (15.8 ppg)
* Dayton Jefferson Twp. – After a brief stint in D-III, the Broncos drop back down to D-IV where they won a state title in 1998. Jefferson has five state tournament appearances total. Payne is nice building block for team that made sectional final a year ago before losing 43-41 to Middletown Fenwick. Jefferson was a D-III district finalist in 2006.
* Waterford – The Wildcats return junior D.J. Cunningham (6-8, 12 ppg) and seniors Gary Tornes (6-3, 13.2 ppg) and Derek Hoge (6-4).
* Oak Hill – In his first season, head coach Norm Persin led the Oaks to a D-III regional. Now in D-IV, what’s in store in Year 2? Keep an eye on 6-5 junior Casey Love.