In this week’s girls’ basketball state semifinals, four Northwest Ohio teams, Toledo Start, Wapakoneta, Liberty-Benton and Carey will be making their first appearance at that level. In boys basketball, there are still several teams playing in the postseason. One is Elida – thanks to a buzzer-beater.
In December, Toledo St. John’s was left for dead. The Titans were 5-5 and had already lost to three of the schools that figured to be the strongest contenders for a district title: Toledo Rogers, Toledo Waite and Sylvania Southview. Everyone was asking, “what is wrong with St. John’s?”
Well, apparently nothing.
For the 12th time in Ed Heintschel’s 30-year tenure as head coach, the Titans won the Division I district championship.
St. John’s struggles occurred at the beginning of the season but their opponent in the regional semifinals, Lima Senior, has struggled at the end of the season. The Spartans won their first eleven games before dropping four of their last nine. They have been hot since the postseason began, though, and were impressive in disposing of a good Mansfield Madison team, 74-46.
In Division II, Elida was no better than third in the Western Buckeye League, but the tournament is a new season and the Bulldogs have quickly become the cardiac kids as they have pulled out one victory after another to survive. The next game on their schedule is against state-ranked Columbus DeSales and Elida is considered again to be an underdog. Do not expect the Bulldogs to be intimidated.
Northwest Ohio’s D-I representative at the state tournament is a new one. The Start Lady Spartans prior to this year had never won a Toledo City League title. They had never won a district title, and they had never won a regional title. Now they have won all three and are looking to add still another – the state championship – to their treasure trove.
In the D-II girls state tournament, the Wapakoneta Lady Redskins will be the first team in school history to play for a state title. The Lady Redskins beat league rival, Lima Bath, and Walsh Jesuit, in overtime, on their way to the big show and are not looking to just show up. They are looking to win.
Back to the boys’ side…Toledo Christian finally broke the Van Buren jinx and did so on Friday the 13th. For the past two years Van Buren has ended Toledo Christian’s season and when the Eagle’s talented post player, Ethan Michael, went down to injury in Toledo Christian’s hard earned, 55-45, victory over Carey in the district semifinals it looked like the Black Knights might do it again. Michael, however, recovered quickly and led his team to its first district title ever, 46-31.
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Wapakoneta Girls Basketball: The Lady Redskins have lived in the shadow of the Lima Bath Ladycats for the past two years. Bath was considered the favorite all year to win the Western Buckeye League, which they did, and to represent Northwest Ohio in the state playoffs. The Lady Redskins believed otherwise. Although Wapakoneta dropped an early season game to Lima Bath, 53-48, that decided the WBL title, the Lady Redskins got the last laugh as they, and not Bath, are still alive and in contention for a state championship.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Reggie McAdams, Elida, Boys Basketball: The player of the week scored only one field goal in his team’s 50-47 overtime victory over Toledo Libbey in the DII district finals, yet, it was the shot that counted the most. With time expiring, Elida freshman, Reggie McAdams, scored the winning three-point goal, hitting nothing but net and ignited a celebration that they will likely be talked about for years in Elida. Prior to his winning shot, McAdams had scored only two other points, both from the free throw line, and had missed five other attempts. All that will be forgotten as the years progress, however, and all that will be remembered is that high archer from the corner.
NEWS, NOTES & NUGGETS
First Timers: In this week’s girls’ state basketball semifinals, four Northwest Ohio teams, Toledo Start, Wapakoneta, Liberty-Benton and Carey will be making their first appearance at that level. All our teams face uphill battles as they face teams that possess extensive playoff experience but their getting there has made history and brought well deserved recognition to their respective programs.
Players of the Year: As the season winds down, league honors are beginning to be awarded. This past week, the Blanchard Valley Conference and Putnam County League announced their all-league teams and named their players of the year.
In the Blanchard Valley Conference, it was not a great surprise that Liberty-Benton’s Aaron Craft was named the Player of the Year. A junior, Craft led the league in assists with six per game and averaged nearly six rebounds per game as well. Craft, who has verbally committed to the University of Tennessee, was also named the Player of the Year last season in the BVC.
On the girls’ side, Liberty-Benton’s Amanda Hyde, was also a repeat winner as Player of the Year. Hyde led the league this season in scoring with a 20.8 average and was among the league leaders in rebounds (6.8) and steals (2.8) as well.
In the Putnam County League, Leipsic’s Jessica Schroeder was named Player of the Year. Schroeder’s coach, Gary Kreinbrink, was named the league’s Coach of the Year.
New Football Coaches: Two northwest Ohio football programs, Upper Sandusky and Holland Springfield, announced the appointment of new football coaches. At Upper Sandusky, veteran coach Jake Moyer will take over the Rams’ program. Moyer brings 33 years of coaching experience to the job including 13 years as the head coach at nearby Mohawk High School.
At Springfield, the new coach is former University of Toledo assistant coach Vincent Marrow. Marrow, who coached the wide receivers last season for the Rockets, will take over a program that finished in the middle of the pack last season in the Northern Lakes League.
Shawnee College Signings: Three Lima Shawnee athletes, Paige Heistan, Josh Miller and Andia Shisler recently signed to continue their athletic and academic careers at the next level. Heistan signed with Notre Dame College in Cleveland to play volleyball and basketball. Miller signed to play football at the University of St. Francis and Shisler will play soccer for Urbana.
Changes in League Alignments: The Northern Ohio League is looking to replace two members in their league now that Galion and Upper Sandusky are leaving to join the North Central Conference. Letters to 10 different schools, inviting them to apply for membership to the NOL, were sent out by an NOL committee. No word has been received as to whether any of the 10 notified schools has responded.
In the Suburban Lakes League changes in league alignment are necessary due to the defection of former league member, Lakota, to the Midland Athletic League. The SLL is looking to add one team and both Fostoria and Rossford have applied. Both have been rejected by the league.
Wrestling Honors: The Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association named Oak Harbor coach George Bergman as its 2008-09 Division II Coach of the Year. Bergman’s honor came in recognition of his having built Oak Harbor into one of the state’s most successful wrestling programs.
Fremont’s Gabel Retires: After 18 years, Fremont St. Joseph’s boys’ basketball coach Mike Gabel has hung up his whistle. Gabel has been the head coach at St. Joseph since 1991 and retires as the all-time winningest coach in the school’s history. Under Gabel, the Crimson Streaks won 221 games, two Midland Athletic League titles (1993 & 2001), nine sectional championships and two district titles (1999 and 2005).
Titans Finish Runners-up: The Toledo St. John’s hockey team disposed of Centerville, 7-0, in impressive style in the state hockey semi-finals but were not so fortunate against University School as the Peppers defeated the Titans, 3-0, to capture the state hockey title. The Titans won the state title in 2007.
1,000 Point Club: Toledo Christian’s Ethan Michael entered that 1,000 career point club thanks to his 17 point performance against McComb in the D-IV regionals at Bowling Green State University. Michael will attempt to add to his 1,010 career points as his team takes on Kalida in the regional finals.
Start vs. Lakota West, Division I semifinals; Friday, 8 pm: The young Lady Spartans are talented but so is Lakota West and it will be interesting to see how the pressures of the big stage affect the Spartan ladies in their first visit.
Wapakoneta v. Warsaw River View, Division II semifnals, Friday, 1 pm: Can Wapakoneta’s magic ride continue? A senior dominated team, the Lady Warriors are in position to win the first state title for their school in any sport.
Liberty-Benton vs. South Euclid Regina, Division III semifinals, Thursday, 6 pm: The Lady Eagles finally make it to the state semi-finals and then they find themselves playing the tournament favorite. Do not expect the Liberty-Benton squad to roll over. They expect to win.
Carey v. Berlin Hiland, Division IV semifinals, Thursday, 3 pm: Two similar looking teams that will be working hard to wear the other out; could be the most exciting, evenly matched game of the day.
St. John’s v. Lima Senior regional semifinals, University of Toledo, Thursday, 7 pm: What will make the difference: The discipline and team play of St. John’s or the size and discipline of Lima Senior?
Galion v. Vermillion, regional semifinals, Bowling Green State University, Thursday, 6:15 pm: Galion has relied upon their defense throughout the tournament but face an experienced Vermillion squad that is loaded with talented athletes.
Tinora v. Cuyahoga Valley Christian, regional semifinals, Bowling Green State University, Wednesday, 6:15 pm: Cuyahoga Christian impressed Bowling Green regional fans last year and they return seeking to win it all this time. If the game is in the thirties, however, the Tinora Rams will be the likely victors.
Toledo Christian v. Kalida, regional final, Bowling Green State University, Friday, 7:30 pm: It will be the young upstart, Dave McWhinnie of Toledo Christian, facing off against the old master, Dick Kortokrax. Which coach gets his team to Columbus?