Division I Boys Basketball State Tournament Preview: Someone new will win title


Division I State Tournament

Whoever hoists the Division I state championship trophy on Saturday will be new at it. None of the four schools heading to Columbus have ever won the title before. Toledo St. John’s has been runner-up three times, while Princeton was second once. Northland’s never been to the state tourney, and Harding hasn’t been there since 1966. Something has to give.

Whoever hoists the Division I state championship trophy on Saturday will be new at it.

None of the four schools heading to Columbus have ever won the title before. Toledo St. John’s has been runner-up three times, while Princeton was second once.

Northland’s never been to the state tourney, and Harding hasn’t been there since 1966. Something has to give.

SCHEDULE (All games at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center)

Warren Harding (23-2) vs. Columbus Northland (25-1), Friday at 5:15 p.m.
Cincinnati Princeton (24-1) vs. Toledo St. John’s Jesuit (20-5), Friday at 8:30 p.m.
Championship Game: Saturday at 8:30 p.m.


Warren G. Harding (23-2)
Nickname: Raiders
Boys Enrollment: 682
Final 2009 Ranking: 8th
State Appearances: 2009, 1966
Head Coach: Steve Arnold
School Rec.: 134-29 (7 yrs.)
Probable Starters
PPG: 74.0; OPP: 58.0
F 30 Angel Gonzalez, 6-5, Jr., 17.0 ppg
F 44 Oneal Brown, 6-7, Jr., 4.0 ppg
G 23 Fred Williams, 6-0, Jr., 15.0 ppg
G 3 Desmar Jackson, 6-5, Sr., 21.0 ppg
G 34 Paris Bruner, 5-10, Sr., 6.0 ppg

Northland (25-1)
Nickname: Vikings
Boys Enrollment: 511
Final 2009 Ranking: 1st
State Appearances: 2009
Head Coach: Satch Sullinger
School Rec.: 122-76 (9 yrs.)
PPG: 69.0; OPP: 48.0
Probable Starters
F 50 Javon Cornley, 6-5, Sr., 8.9 ppg
C 34 Jared Sullinger, 6-9, Jr., 18.9 ppg
G 10 Trey Burke, 5-11, So., 9.3 ppg
G 24 JD Weatherspoon, 6-6, Jr., 14.0 ppg
G 30 Dimonde Hale, 6-4, Sr., 9.4 ppg

Princeton (24-1)
Nickname: Vikings
Boys Enrollment: 753
Final 2009 Ranking: 2nd
State Appearances: 2009, 1972
Head Coach: Josh Andrews
School Rec.: 42-7 (2 yrs.)
PPG: 67.4; OPP: 50.2
Probable Starters
F 10 Marquis Horne, 6-7, Sr., 11.1 ppg
F 5 Stefon Johnson, 6-6, Sr., 9.4 ppg
G 1 Orlando Williams, 6-5, Sr., 18.3 ppg
G 33 Jordan Sibert, 6-4, Jr., 15.1 ppg
G 15 Marcus Davis, 6-2, Jr., 2.4 ppg

St. John’s Jesuit (20-5)
Nickname: Titans
Boys Enrollment: 647
Final 2009 Ranking: Not Ranked
State Appearances: 2009, 2006, 2004, 2003, 1996, 1993
Head Coach: Ed Heintschel
School Rec.: 535-170 (30 yrs.)
PPG: 65.0; OPP: 53.0
Probable Starters
F 32 Tim Simmons, 6-7, Sr., 10.0 ppg
F 34 Tim Kynard, 6-3, Sr., 7.0 ppg
G 4 Michael Taylor, 6-1, Sr., 15.0 ppg
G 22 Jay Springs, 5-10, Jr., 10.0 ppg
G 14 Cheatham Norrils, 6-0, So., 7.0 ppg


Jared Sullinger, Cols. Northland, 6-foot-9, jr., 19.9: First team All-Ohio and the AP’s state player of the year. One of the nation’s top juniors (and ranked the No. 1 power forward), Sullinger has already committed to Ohio State (who offered his freshman year). Had 17 points, 20 rebounds and six blocks in the Vikings 54-53 overtime win over Dublin Scioto in the regional final. Sullinger’s father Satch is Northland’s head coach. He’s also the younger brother of former OSU player J.J. and Kent State senior forward Julian. A third team All-Ohio pick last year when he averaged 22 points and 14 rebounds. Said his father: “Great players have the ability to make people around them better and Jared has that ability. Good players can get theirs but they don’t necessarily make those around them better. Jared is a great player.”

Orlando Williams, Cin. Princeton, 6-5, sr., 18.3 ppg:
First team All-Ohio selection is headed to Miami (OH) University. Averaged 13.3 points per game last year. Scored 18 points in the Vikings regional final win over LaSalle.

Desmar Jackson, Warren Harding, 6-5, sr., 21 ppg:
First team All-Ohio selection is headed to the University of Wyoming. He had a huge game in the Raiders regional final win over North Ridgeville (23 points, nine rebounds, six steals and three blocks). Said head coach Steve Arnold: “Everything funnels through him. As Desmar goes this basketball team goes. You expect the crème to rise to the top and he’s done that these last two games.”

Jordan Sibert, Cin. Princeton, 6-4, jr., 15.1 ppg:
Talented guard was honorable mention All-Ohio. He will join Sullinger at Ohio State in Thad Matta’s 2010 recruiting class. Considered one of the country’s Top 50 juniors. Said Princeton head coach Josh Andrews: “He’s an explosive talent who has done whatever it’s taken this year to make us a great team.”

Marquis Horne, Cin. Princeton, 6-7, sr., 11.1 ppg:
Power forward is headed to Ohio University. He also had offers from Kent State, Bowling Green and Tennessee State. Said Andrews: “He’s a big body with a soft stroke.”

Michael Taylor, Tol. St. John’s Jesuit, 6-1, sr., 15 ppg:
First team Northwest District and special mention All-Ohio. Is a four-year letterwinner who saw action against Canton McKinley at the state tournament his freshman year.

J.D. Weatherspoon, Cols. Northland, 6-6, Jr., 14.0 ppg:
Versatile player has committed to Xavier University.

Trey Burke, Cols. Northland, 5-11, So., 9.3 ppg:
Point guard is one of Ohio’s top sophomores. Said Northland head coach Satch Sullinger: “His upside is so great.”

Fred Williams, Warren Harding, 6-0, Jr., 15.0 ppg:
Point guard is vital cog in Harding machine. Said Arnold: “He is the glue. Without Fred playing the way he has we’re not at this point right now.”

Javon Cornley, Cols. Northland, 6-5, Sr., 8.9 ppg:
Indiana football recruit and brother of former Brookhaven beast and Penn State hoops standout Jamelle Cornley.

Want More? Good, there is some. Click the #2 below to access Top Storylines, Quotes and Predictions



Northland is making its first state tournament appearance in history and the first for a Columbus City League school since Columbus Linden McKinley (D-II) and Columbus Africentric (D-IV) in 2005. The last title by a CCL school was Brookhaven’s D-I title in 2002.

Warren Harding is in the state tournament for second time and first since 1966. It also marks the first time a basketball team from Warren has reached the state tournament in any division since Warren Western Reserve reached the D-I semifinals in 1989 (and lost to Cleveland St. Joe’s 61-59).

Warren Harding’s berth in the state tournament is a welcomed reward after ending its season in a controversial regional final loss to Lakewood St. Edward last year. In that game, St. Edward guard Frankie Dobbs hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer – or did he – to force overtime. The Eagles won 77-75 in overtime.

“(The shot) wasn’t good, plain and simple,” Harding head coach Steve Arnold said at the time. “The ball was clearly still in (Dobbs’) hands (when the buzzer went off). When you have three officials, one of them has to have enough gall to make the call in a regional championship.”

Arnold is happy to have that behind him and his players.

“Last year we were within a fraction of a second – or however you want to categorize it – of being in the final four,” Arnold said. “But sometimes it’s not on your time, it’s on God’s time. Obviously last year was very frustrating.”

Warren Harding made the state tournament despite losing the services of standout senior Sheldon Brogdon earlier in the season. Brogdon, who was averaging 20 points per game, injured his knee against Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary and was lost for the year. He’s a Youngstown State recruit. According to Arnold, Brogdon “had not missed a practice or game for three years” until he was sidelined.

Princeton is the first team to go undefeated in the Greater Miami Conference (14-0) in 26 years. The Vikings have four Division I recruits in Horne, Williams, Sibert and Stefon Johnson (who head coach Josh Andrews said is undecided).

Toledo St. John’s is in the state tournament for the fourth time in seven years and sixth overall. The Titans were runner-up to Toledo Libbey (2008 D-II state runner-up) in last year’s Toledo City League and returned all five starters so there were expectations. The Titans started 4-0 and then lost five of six. They’ve won 15 straight since.


“They’ve pretty much dominated in the Columbus area. We know we will have our hands full with their size and athleticism.” – Harding head coach Steve Arnold on Columbus Northland

“I have not seen a player of his caliber that big. He’s pretty much a man-child in the paint. We’re anxious to have the opportunity to play against him and match up. I say that in a humble way, because you don’t match up with a kid like that. We haven’t faced a kid with his credentials this year.” – Arnold on facing Northland’s Sullinger

“You know at the end of this week, everyone that is a freshman will be a sophomore. And everyone who is a sophomore becomes a junior and everyone who is a junior becomes a senior. So I reminded them that they have to step it up. Freshmen have to play like sophomores, sophomores have to play like juniors and juniors have to lead like seniors.” – Northland coach Satch Sullinger on responding to expectations and emotions

“The kids know who the premier players are from the AAU circuit. The kids nowadays know each other from all around the country through AAU. These kids are no strangers to each other. They’ve battled against each other before.” – Sullinger when asked about Harding’s Desmar Jackson

“At this point I focus on what we do more than what the other team does. Everybody talks about guarding them and I’m not trying to be pretentious but you know they have to guard us as well and I have front line I would put up against anyone in the country.” – Sullinger on facing Harding

“We’re long and athletic and have seven seniors. We have a lot of experience. Last year we got to the regional semifinals and got a taste and it got the guys hungry enough.” – Princeton head coach Josh Andrews

“It’s a major accomplishment to get here (from Cincinnati). We’ve played a schedule that is second to none. We’ve played terrific teams all season long. It was purposeful. We feel we’re battled tested. Our guys have played with a passion and a refusal to lose. When the city is as tough as it is this year and Dayton as well had some big-time teams, it takes a number of guys to get it done to be where we’re at.” – Andrews on surviving the Cincinnati Regional

“A lot of what you’re speaking to is the GCL and the type of style and grind that they play and their ability to maintain composure in big games. I wouldn’t call it a carefree attitude, but just with an understanding that if they stick to what it is they practiced and focused on all year, they are going to be affective. It’s produced a lot of positive results for Cincinnati in the Final Four.” – Andrews on Cincinnati success at state

“As far as getting to Columbus, you know when we were 5-5 things didn’t look too good.” – Tol. St. John’s head coach Ed Heinstchel.

“One thing we’ve been able to do is play the way we have all year when we get down there. That will be a high-priority for us – keeping things very normal. We met with the parents regarding tickets last night and I talked to them about keeping THEIR routine the same and not do anything crazy and out of the ordinary.” – Heintschel on preparing for tourney

“I knew it would be something people would talk about. My experience in dealing with the Cincinnati teams is that they’re pretty darn good. They’re so competitive down there that the team that survives is going to be a top-notch team that will have gone through a lot of really difficult games to get there. They have a good talent pool, the coaching is very, very good and I think that the nature of the very competitive games they play put them at a high level. You keep your edge when you play competitive games. I’m envious of the depth of the Cincinnati area.” – Heintschel on playing another Cincinnati team in the state tournament


Semifinals: Northland over Warren Harding, Princeton over St. John’s

Finals: Northland over Princeton

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *