Few basketball programs in Ohio can claim one scorer with 2,000 career points. Upper Sandusky now has two. Senior Alex Falk reached that milestone recently in a 95-74 win over Mohawk. Falk, who is averaging 31.5 points per game, scored 49 in the contest. Wow…is right. Who else had a big week? Read on.
Well, the second season begins this week for all the girls’ basketball teams in Northwest Ohio. For the first time since late November all teams are equal and all have a chance to grab that brass ring. Who will ultimately take the floor at the Schottenstein is anyone’s guess but there are some Northwest Ohio teams that have the potential to be there.
In Division I the followers of the Perrysburg Lady Yellow Jackets, the Toledo Start Lady Spartans and Toledo Waite Lady Indians are all busy claiming the relative merits of their team. The Lady Jackets sport the best record, a perfect 20-0, but have not played the type of schedule that both Start and Waite have. Nevertheless, they are undefeated and staying perfect is never easy no matter how difficult the schedule might be.
Start and Waite are both members of the Toledo City League and the Lady Spartans have defeated the Lady Indians twice already this season and would seem to have the strongest argument for a possible state semifinal spot, but Waite is a talented squad and capable of upsetting nearly anyone on any given night. Start, however, has done what they needed to do to establish themselves as Northwest Ohio’s top squad and until someone steps up and proves otherwise they are the most likely D-I team in northwest Ohio to be in Columbus the weekend of March 19-21.
The two strongest D-II choices are Tiffin Columbian (20-0) and Lima Bath (19-1). Columbian’s undefeated season is a bit of a surprise while Lima Bath, a state semifinalist last season, was predicted to be among the state’s best from the beginning of the season. Surprisingly, they have no common opponents so predicting how they might match-up is tough to do.
D-III is loaded. No fewer than seven teams immediately come to mind (Tinora, Wayne Trace, Lake, Liberty-Benton, Genoa, Margaretta and Riverdale). Millbury Lake must be considered the favorite due to their undefeated status but those 20 victories do not guarantee success in the tournament and being the favorite can be a burden.
D-IV might be the deepest of all the divisions but the Blue Jackets of New Riegel and the Knights of Convoy Crestview have been the talk all season long. There are a number of other quality teams (e.g. Leipsic, Carey,Fostoria St. Wendelin, Ottawa Hills, Stryker and Pettisville) that are poised to make claim to a state berth but the Blue Jackets and Knights are likely the strongest of a strong group.
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Toledo Start Girls Basketball: This time of year there are a plethora of candidates for this honor. With league titles being decided and sectional tournaments beginning it is difficult to pick just one team for this honor but the Toledo Start Lady Spartans beg to be recognized.
The Lady Spartans’ 58-51 victory over the Toledo Waite Lady Indians was Start’s first ever City League title in girls’ basketball but it could be the first of several as the Lady Spartans start only one senior, University of Toledo-bound Yolanda Richardson.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Alex Falk, Upper Sandusky: Another tough choice but Falk, who scored his 2,000th career point this past week against non-league rival, Mohawk, must be considered an excellent choice. Falk, needed 37 points to join former teammate, Jon Diebler, now playing at Ohio State, as only the second player in Upper Sandusky high school history to score 2,000 career points but instead scored 49 in Upper Sandusky’s 95-74 victory.
“He’s like a son like all of them are and it’s really special and brings back memories,” Upper Sandusky coach Keith Diebler told the Daily Chief-Union. “But it’s one of those nights – this was much like that night when Jon (Diebler) broke the record. We really thought it was going to be next week and he just came out and was on fire.
“The great thing about him with the other ones we’ve had is he understands it’s a team award and it’s a community award and our community has been blessed to have some of the great players that are up there on the walls and the great teammates they’ve had.”
NEWS, NOTES & NUGGETS
Girls Basketball Champions: Congratulations to the following teams that garnered league championships over the past week: Stryker and Wauseon, of the Buckeye Border and Northwest Ohio Athletic League respectively won their titles outright while Tinora and Wayne Trace will share the Green Meadows Conference crown and Kalida and Leipsic stand together in the Putnam County League. Leipsic will share another title with Liberty-Benton in the Blanchard Valley Conference. Carey went undefeated in the Midland Athletic League as did Lake in the Suburban Lakes League, Convoy Crestview in the Northwest Conference, Marion Harding in the Greater Buckeye Conference, Riverdale in the North Central Conference, Tiffin Columbian in the Northern Ohio League, Lima Bath in the Western Buckeye League and Perrysburg in the Northern Lakes League.
Youthful Swimming Prowess: Port Clinton high school freshman Mackenzie Stewart shocked the swimming world by not only winning the 200 individual medley district championship but by knocking more than five seconds off her qualifying time. Stewart earned her way into the finals with a qualifying time of 2:14:58 but won the championship and a spot in the state championships with a time of 2:09:54. Stewart also earned the number one seed in the D-II 100 breaststroke with a winning time of 1:05:21.
Clay Icers Advance: The Oregon Clay Eagles’ ice hockey team has endured an emotionally difficult season. Just after Thanksgiving one of their team members, freshmen Kyle Cannon, was injured in a game at the Kettering Recreation Complex. Cannon’s injuries resulted in his suffering partial paralysis, which required surgical intervention. Cannon is improving but requires additional treatment and his prognosis remains guarded. Against this background, the Eagles have been forced to go forward and they have done so successfully. After posting a 6-3 league record, the Eagles began play in the state playoffs and upset the Sylvania Southview Cougars, 6-2.
Cougars Sweep Season Series: Basketball games between the Sylvania Southview Cougars and the Perrysburg Yellow Jackets have become a must attend event. The games have been hotly contested for the past several years and, like last year, the second meeting of the season between the two teams has been to determine who would win the Northern Lakes League title. Unlike last year when the two teams split their season series and shared the title, the Southview Cougars won both meetings and, therefore, can lay claim to an undisputed title. With their win the Cougars improve their overall record to 18-1 with their only loss occurring in their season opener against Columbus Brookhaven, 82-81.
Allen East Prevails in Wrestling Sectional: Allen East had never won a sectional title in wrestling but when they finally did they did so in convincing style by having 10 of 13 wrestlers advance to participate in this weekend’s district tournament at Kettering Fairmont High School. The Mustangs easily outpaced Coldwater, who finished as runner-up, by the score of 231.5 to 165. Two Allen East wrestlers won individual championships; Garrett Freeman won at 130 and Matt Dues won at 189.
Toledo City League Finals Set: Early in the year the talk around Toledo was that there was a strong possibility of an all-public school final in the City League playoffs. The preseason favorite St. John’s was struggling with an overall 5-5 record, Central Catholic was still an unknown and no one was considering St. Francis a serious threat. Meanwhile, Rogers, Waite and Start were all winning and doing so convincingly. Turn the clock forward to the present and there is not a public school to be found as it will be St. John’s and Central Catholic meeting for the TCL championship on Thursday, February 25 at the University of Toledo’s Savage Arena. In the semifinals, Central Catholic defeated top seeded Waite, 58-47, while St. John’s, winning its ninth straight game, defeated Start, 62-46.
Girls’ Sectional Finals: This weekend the district match-ups will be decided throughout the area as the sectional finals will be held in various locales. Some of the key contests to keep an eye on are: Anthony Wayne and Lima Senior who will be playing at Bowling Green High School. The Lady Generals have renewed life with the return of Allison Papenfus and will be looking toward avenging two regular season losses to an undefeated Perrysburg team that is playing in the evening’s earlier game against Findlay.
Up north at Clay High School Toledo Central Catholic and Sylvania Southview will square off. Southview and Centr al met during the regular season in a game that both teams would like to forget. Central won the contest but neither team played well. The winner of this contest, unfortunately, must face top seeded Toledo Start in the district semis; not an enviable task.
In D-II, the Clyde/ Bucyrus match-up is an intriguing won between two quality teams. Whoever wins will provide top seeded Tiffin Columbian with a true test in the district tournament assuming that Columbian can get by a resurgent Upper Sandusky team.
Although on paper, the 20-0 Lake Lady Flyers would seem to be heavy favorites against a Rossford Lady Bulldog team that entered the tournament with only 2 wins, the Lady Bulldogs are always tough at tournament time and provide Lake with an early test. Otherwise, in Division III, the higher seeded teams should prevail.
In D-IV, a match-up between Midland Athletic League members, Carey and St. Wendelin, is one that deserves to occur much later in the tournament but does not so one very good team will be making an early exit. The two teams just met last week with Carey coming out on top by the narrowest of margins, 38-37, and the rematch should provide more of the same.
District Wrestling: The state’s wrestlers are gathering this weekend to continue their quest for the right to capture a state championship. In Division III, the gathering spot will be at Owens College. Wrestlers to watch include Monroeville’s four returning state champions – Logan Steiber (125); Hunter Steiber (119); Cam Tessari (130) and Chris Phillips (171); and two wrestlers in the 112 weight class, Delta’s Jonny Tolson and Edison’s Tim Majoy, who both placed in last year’s state tournament. Three other wrestlers from this district who have returned this year and are looking to improve their position are South Central’s Payton Oney (135), Tiffin Calvert’s Kyle Kwiat (160) and Patrick Henry’s (125). Two wrestler’s who have not enjoyed placement in the state tournament but enter the districts undefeated are Edgerton’s Nick Goebel in the 103 weight class and Crestview’s Justin Cheesman (189).
In the Division I district at Mentor, the teams to watch will be Oregon Clay, Mentor and Lakewood St. Edward. Look for one of these three teams to emerge as district champion. In D-II, Toledo Central Catholic, Parma Padua, Oak Harbor and Lexington are the powers.
Hockey District Tournament: The precise pairings remain in question as this article is being published but on Saturday night the district champion picture will become much clearer. Two teams, Toledo St. John’s and Sylvania Northview are strong candidates to be in the Saturday semifinals. The other two spots will result from the match-ups between Perrysburg/ St.Francis and Bowling Green/ Findlay. In both of these games, a winner is too difficult to predict.