Among the week’s big performers from Northeast Ohio were Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s boys basketball team (and senior Daylen Harrison), Massillon Washington swimmer Kendra Colby and the wrestling teams from Wadsworth and Cuyahoga Heights. Who else had a good week? Read on.
Yes, it’s winter. Just look outside at the foot of snow.
But it’s a fall sport that took center stage last week. Though high school athletes were busy dribbling basketballs, securing takedowns on the mat and swimming the length of the pool, the spotlight fell on those who played football a few months back.
Specifically, those who were good enough to land college scholarships. National signing day has come and gone with the cream of the crop confirming their intentions to take the vast talent to premier programs.
Arguably the best of the bunch in Northeast Ohio was defensive end Melvin Fellows, who recorded more than 200 tackles and 20 sacks in his high school career. Fellows, ranked 29th among all high school seniors in the country by Sporting News, had given an oral commitment to the Illinois, but switched his allegiance to Ohio State.
He’ll be joined as a Buckeye by brilliant Painesville Harvey wideout Chris Fields, who doubles as a center fielder on the Red Raiders baseball team and is considering the possibilities of playing either sport professionally.
Also on his way to Columbus is Glenville two-way lineman Marcus Hall, a 300-pounder who is rated by Rivals.com as the sixth-best offensive tackle in the country.
Not that area athletes shortchanged Ohio State’s Big Ten opponents. Massillon cornerback Justin Turner, in fact, is headed to archrival Michigan. While fellow Stark County players Adam Steiner (Canton GlenOak) and Nate Klatt (Canal Fulton Northwest) will play at Akron and Michigan State, respectively. Turner committed early to the Wolverines.
Meanwhile, Youngstown Liberty standouts Fitzgerald Toussaint and Isaiah Bell will also be donning the Maize and Blue. The former rushed for 4,690 yards and 65 touchdowns in his three-year career while the latter showed his versatility by thriving as a wideout, defensive back, punt returner and kickoff returner.
Down the road in Warren, Howland linebacker Tyler Scott signed with Northwestern. He will be moving to defensive end. And Harding cornerback Aunre Davis will be taking his skills to Bowling Green, as will prolific Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy running back John Pettigrew.
Any list of college recruits would be shortchanged if the slew of players from Division I state champion St. Ignatius aren’t mentioned. Quarterback Andrew Holland (Penn), wideouts Connor Ryan (Ball State) and Joey Parris (Air Force) and safeties Dustin Fox (Notre Dame) and Pat Hinkel (Miami of Ohio) are all headed to Division I schools.
OK, not that that’s over with, let’s get back to basketball, wrestling and swimming.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Daylen Harrison , Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, Boys Basketball: Anyone who is by far the top player on a team that upsets the top-ranked Division I team in the state is certainly deserving of this honor. And when LeBron James’ alma mater, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, knocked off No. 1 Warren Harding last week, one player needed to be thanked the most.
That was senior forward Daylen Harrison. The fact that Harrison led all scorers in the game with 20 points was quite impressive. The fact that he hauled down 25 rebounds to go along with it was downright ridiculous.
Harrison has been solid all season. He’s averaging 17.2 points a game and has been a beast inside, as his average of seven made three throws a game attest. The 6-foot-7, 220 pound power forward was rated among the best players in Northeast Ohio heading into the season and has done nothing to dispute that claim.
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Wadsworth Wrestling: Any team that knocks off perennial Division I champion St. Edward in wrestling is the Team of the Week. Case closed. Granted, that happened in early January. But Wadsworth just continued right on dominating last week. The Grizzlies won their own 13-team tournament by tallying 363 points. How convincingly did they dominate the event? University School and Maumee tied for second place with 124 points.
And, boy, did brothers Alex and Alfredo Gray have a lot to celebrate back home that night. The sophomore Alfredo won the 103-pound class with an 8-4 decision over the Preppers’ Michael Tassone while the senior Alex snagged the 119-pound title by dominating Sandusky’s Davion Caston, 14-4.
Among the other heroes of the night was Brad Squire. The Wadsworth 140-pounder squared off in the championship match against University School’s Harrison Hightower. Both won state titles in the 130-pound class a year ago – Squire in Division I and Hightower in Division II. And in this match, Squire emerged with a 3-0 victory.
Other Grizzly champions in the meet were Kagan Squire (112), Clay Wenger (125), Dan Foore (130), Louden Gordon (135), Bart Randolph (171), Nick Tavanello (215) and Ben Buzzelli (285).
NEWS, NOTES AND NUGGETS
Shuffle: The girls basketball scene in Portage County was shuffled around a bit last week in a pair of games played by contenders. Garrettsville knocked off Rootstown, 41-39, to move into a first-place tie with Mogadore. Guard Justine Eakin led the way for the winners with 10 points. In another critical matchup, Ravenna knocked Field from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 36-35 win. Field fell to 16-1 overall while Ravenna is now 11-4.
Science of Scoring: Horizon Science Academy is not exactly a well-known school, but it will be if the boys basketball team continues playing the way it has. The Dragons (12-4) have been a force behind two prolific-scoring senior captains. Forward Eric Horton is averaging 24.1 points and 8.8 rebound a game while fellow forward Shaquoi Duncan is tallying 23.6 points a game. Duncan is the school’s all-time scoring leader with 1,163 points.
Revenge: The Cuyahoga Heights wrestling team certainly had something to be proud of last week. Six days after losing to Troy Christian in the Division III Ohio Duals, the Redskins turned the tables and beat that same team in the title match of the Sandusky St. Mary Duals, 37-32. Among the heroes were 130-pounder Jimmy Dankle and 171-pounder Alec Torgeson, both of whom defeated wrestlers they had lost to the previous week.
Dropping Down: Wrestlers are accustomed to changing weight classes. Wadsworth’s Brad Squire is no exception. He won the state crown at 130 pounds last year and had been wrestling at 145 this season. But he has moved to 140 pounds and will stay there the rest of this year. Though it was speculated that the shift was made so he could prevent St. Edward senior Collin Palmer from winning a fourth consecutive state title, Squire explained that it was done so teammate Nate Bell could continue at 145.
Undefeated: It’s no wonder that Cuyahoga Falls is enjoying another strong year on the wrestling mat. In a 36-26 victory over Nordonia, 171-pounder Ethan Taylor raised his record to 27-0.
Tough Breaks: The Euclid boys basketball team can’t seem to catch a break this year. The usually tough Panthers have fallen to 5-7 and now must play the rest of the year without leading scorer and rebounder Darnelle Rushton. Rushton, who was averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds a game, has been declared academically ineligible.
Upset Special: The Columbus Northland boys basketball players could barely remember their last defeat. Now they can remember it quite well, thanks to Canton Timkin, which ended their 58-game winning streak with a 67-61 overtime victory. Northland had been ranked atop the Division I Associated Press poll. The Trojans (11-1) committed just two turnovers after the third quarter and were led by Jared Porrini, who scored 19 of his game-high 23 points after halftime.
Running out of state: Rhodes sprinter Mahahony Jones, a three-time Division I All-Ohioan, is headed to Penn State. She chose the Nittany Lions over Ohio State, Michigan, Akron and Youngstown State. Jones placed third in the 200-meters and fourth in the 100-meters at state a year ago.
Big Splash: Kendra Colby was deemed the best of the best at the Northeast Aquatics Conference Championship last week. The Massillon swimmer won both the 100-yard breaststroke at 1:08.05 and the 100 butterfly at 1:02.19. She ranks among the top 10 in Stark County in seven of eight individual swimming events and is a two-time state qualifier.
ON TAP (What’s happening this week)
Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph at Cleveland Central Catholic, Boys Basketball, Friday (tonight): Parochial powers clash in this North Coast League White Division meeting. CCC won the first meeting 57-55 back on Dec. 12. Junior guard Chall Montgomery’s two free throws with 14 seconds left were the difference.
Massillon Jackson at Canton GlenOak, Boys Basketball, Friday (Tonight): The top seed in the Federal League postseason tournament is on the line. Jackson (5-1 in the FL) gets the top spot with a win, while GlenOak (5-1) gets the No. 1 seed with a win and a North Canton Hoover (5-1) loss at Uniontown Lake. Got it? Good. Big game.
South Euclid Regina at Pickerington Central, Girls Basketball, Saturday: The Royals are the team to beat for the Division III state title. This weekend they step it up a notch and tackle D-I Pickerington Central.
Federal League Bowling Tournament, Saturday, Park Centre Lanes: If you like good bowling check this meet out. North Canton Hoover’s Justin Barth, Canton GlenOak’s Ben Gourley and Youngstown Boardman’s Andrew Watterson each own a 300 game this season. Hoover’s Nick Harrison has bowled a 297, while Massillon Jackson’s Justin McQuaid has rolled a 289. On the girls side, GlenOak’s Cyndi White has this season’s best score at 279.