Cincinnati Withrow-Canal Winchester among highlights at Nationwide City Classic event

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National City Classic: Canal Winchester’s BJ Mullens (left) and Cincinnati Withrow’s Yancy Gates (right) will appear

Cincinnati Withrow coach Walt McBride knows how much his squad is looking forward to playing Canal Winchester Saturday night at Ohio State. The game is billed not only as one of the premier games of the
sixth annual National City Classic at Value City Arena, but it will
be shown live to the ESPNU audience at 9 p.m. “The guys are excited,” McBride said. “We are excited to be at Ohio State.”


Withrow coach Walt McBride knows how much his squad is looking forward to playing Canal Winchester Saturday night at Ohio State.

The game is billed not only as one of the premier games of the sixth annual National City Classic at Value City Arena, but it will be shown live to the ESPNU audience at 9 p.m.

“The guys are excited; they are hoping people come out and support us,” McBride said. “…We are excited to be at Ohio State.”

The most significant matchup on the floor will certainly pit two of the teams’ greatest stars in Withrow 6-9 center Yancy Gates (Cincinnati) and Canal Winchester 7-footer B.J. Mullens (Ohio State).

Canal Winchester (9-1 as of Tuesday afternoon) is ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press Division II state poll.

Withrow (8-2 as of Tuesday) received votes in the Division I poll. The season’s first weekly poll was released this week.

Withrow is ranked No. 3 in the Cincinnati Enquirer Division I area coaches’ poll. Withrow plays at Cincinnati Woodward Friday night.

The Tigers have played a strong schedule since last season and McBride said all the experience will help with this year’s postseason. Withrow played this season in Pikesville, Ky., in Chillicothe and against American Christian Prep (Pa.) at U.S. Bank Arena. Withrow played Oak Hill (Va.) Academy last season.

Since a season-opening loss to Columbus Northland (second-ranked team in Division I) 71-67 Nov. 23, the Tigers won seven consecutive before it lost to American Christian Prep 71-66 Dec. 22 at U.S. Bank Arena. Withrow defeated Hughes 69-64 Jan. 4.

“We are well-rested,” McBride said.

Gates, one of the premier centers in the country, is averaging 19 points and 12 rebounds. Forward Troy Long averaged 13 points. Forward Chris Grimes averages 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Guard Anthony McBride averages nine points.

“Withrow is very athletic and quick,” Canal Winchester coach Kent Riggs said.
“We will need to control the tempo of the game. Rebounding will be a concern. We can not think B.J. can get all of them. Also, we will need to shoot the ball very well.”

McBride said he recently attended Canal Winchester’s game against Bloom Carroll last Saturday. He said Mullens reminded him of Boston Celtics superstar Kevin Garnett.

“(Mullens) has a nice turnaround jumper like Kevin Garnett,” McBride said. “He has excellent footwork; he can contest shots and he runs the floor.”

McBride was also impressed the shooting ability of senior transfer point guard Remon Nelson.

Both Nelson and Mullens have put up impressive numbers.

Mullens averages 24 points, 14 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. Nelson averages 16.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.8 steals.

Nelson and Mullens combined for 61 points in a 79-58 win over Teays Valley in mid-December, according to the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette.

“There’s no comparison to where (Mullens) was a year ago just knowing what we expect and what he’s capable of,” Riggs recently told the newspaper last month. “He’s just been a great leader for us.”

Canal Winchester hosts Amanda Clearcreek Friday night before going to Ohio State.

The event at Value City Arena features five games including Zanesville vs. Warren Harding (1:15 p.m.), Chillicothe vs. Newark (3 p.m.), Lakewood St. Edward vs. Libbey (5 p.m., expected ESPNU telecast according to McBride), Northland vs. DeSales (7 p.m.) and Withrow vs. Canal Winchester (9 p.m.).

Tickets range from $14 (general) to $40 (courtside). Check schottensteincenter.com for more information.

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