Northwest Ohio Huddle: Findlay upsets No. 1; Plymouth unbeaten for first time


Northwest Ohio Huddle

Showdown week begins. A season that began with workouts in October
finds teams meeting this weekend to determine who remains among the
living. By Saturday night, 16 teams in each division of the girls’ state tournament will be left standing but, in the meantime, some very
intriguing match-ups are on tap – on the court and in other arenas.

Showdown week begins. A season that began with workouts in October finds teams meeting this weekend to determine who remains among the living. By Saturday night, 16 teams in each division of the girls’ tournament will be left standing but, in the meantime, some very intriguing match-ups are on tap.

In Division I, three of the best teams in the state, undefeated Marion Harding, last year’s state runner-up, Toledo Start, and Toledo City League champion, Waite, are all still alive in the tournament and eyeing the big show in the “Schott.” Unfortunately, only one team from the region can qualify which only serves to intensify the excitement.

Marion Harding has the far easier road, at least on paper, and should be waiting in Norwalk, the regional site, for the winner of the Perrysburg district. Waite and Start, however, must face each other again in order to find their way to Norwalk and basketball fans in northwest Ohio are sitting by eagerly awaiting this potential match-up. Waite has won both of the earlier contests so the Start Lady Spartans have additional motivation. If this contest materializes, which is no guarantee, expect a crowd in excess of 3,000 to bear witness to the outcome. Waite and Start both have tough contests before meeting each other. Waite must face a tournament tested Sylvania Northview squad while Start faces a young, but talented, Sylvania Southview team. Assuming that both Waite and Start prevail, however, a game that may have basketball fans talking for years is in the offing.

This weekend also brings together the best grapplers in the state to determine who will be crowned the eventual state champ in each weight class. Young men and one woman from throughout the state will meet in three different divisions and 14 weight classes beginning on Thursday, March 4 and culminating on Saturday with the crowning of 42 individual state champions.

From northwest Ohio the strongest group of contenders is in Division II where Oak Harbor is a serious contender for state honors as a team. Oak Harbor advanced seven wrestlers to the state finals but has the misfortune of being in the same division as perennial state champion, St. Paris Graham, who is the heavy favorite to win another state team championship. Other teams from the area fielding strong entries are Lexington and Toledo Central Catholic.


Samantha Zuch, Napoleon, Swimming: The state championship in swimming took place last week in Canton and Zuch did Northwest Ohio proud by successfully defending her state titles in the 200 and 500-yard freestyle in Division II. The senior won in impressive style in both events as she easily out-distanced the field by winning the 200 in a time of 1:48.38 and the 500 in a time of 4:53:50. Overall, the Napoleon team finished third behind champion Gates Mills Hawkens and runner-up Sandusky Perkins.


Plymouth Boys Basketball: Undefeated seasons are a rarity and no one knows that better than this week’s team of the week, the Big Red. Plymouth has never enjoyed such status in its long athletic history but this past weekend the Big Red capped the regular season at 20-0. As exciting as the perfect record is, Plymouth enters postseason play where it will face the winner of the Bucyrus/Crestview winner which will be determined Friday night.


Shot Heard ‘Round the State: The Toledo St. Francis Knights have been the talk of the state all season long in ice hockey. Considered the favorite for the state title since the season began the weekend before Thanksgiving many thought that the number one ranked Knights were invincible; everyone but the Findlay Trojans. This past Monday night the Findlay Trojans pulled a stunning upset by downing St. Francis, 3-2, in overtime. The loss eliminates the Knights from the state tournament and allows the Trojans to advance to the district finals against Sylvania Northview. The winner of that contest advances to represent northwest Ohio in the state finals next weekend at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus.

Sandusky Bay Basketball Honors: This is the time of the year that post-season awards come floating out and the Sandusky Bay Conference became one of the first to announce their version. Topping the list by being named the league’s top players were Ryan Hicks of undefeated Port Clinton in the boys division and Sandusky St. Mary’s Kathleen Phillips in the girls division. Hicks averaged a double-double for the season (16.3 ppg.; 10.4 rebounds) and led his team to an undefeated regular season. Phillips, meanwhile, was her team’s leading scorer and the first female to reach 1,000 career points for Sandusky St. Mary’s.

Surprise, Surprise: Monroeville continues its remarkable run in Division III wrestling by capturing another district title. Doing so sets up another attempt by the Eagles to capture a state title. Last year Monroeville fell just one point short of the title and they are hoping that they can bring back the big trophy this year. Monroeville takes four defending state champions to Columbus this weekend, Logan Stieber, seeking his fourth state individual title, and juniors Hunter Stieber, Cam Tessari and Chris Phillips, each seeking their third state individual titles. As nice as the individual titles might be, the team is hopeful that they can over the hump this year and bring back the team title as well.

More Sandusky Bay Honors: Not since 1980 has a Sandusky Bay Conference team accomplished a perfect regular season. That year Sandusky St. Mary’s captured a state championship and recorded a perfect season. Now the Port Clinton Redskins have finally broken through and recorded a perfect regular season mark of 20-0 and begin their quest to match St. Mary’s state championship as their begin state playoff action next week.


Liberty-Benton (20-0) v. Ottawa Hills (18-3), girls basketball, Thurs, March 4, 6:15 pm: Liberty-Benton puts its perfect record on the line against an experienced and scrappy Ottawa Hills squad. The Eagles have enjoyed an amazing regular season but it can all come to a crushing end if they are not careful and the Green Bears have the ingredients for getting it done.

Toledo Waite (17-2) v. Sylvania Northview (19-2), girls basketball, Thurs., Mar. 4, 6:15 pm: Waite must avoid looking forward. A potential third meeting with Toledo Start is in the offing but if the Lady Indians do not take care of business against a very talented Northview team the meeting with Start will never develop. Northview is led by Eastern Michigan signee Oliva Fouty and coach by the legendary Jerry Sigler and they are no strangers to Columbus.

Toledo Waite v. Toledo Start, girls basketball, Sat. Mar. 6, 7:00 pm: This is the big one. It might not develop but, if it does, the excitement will be unbelievable. An overflow crowd will undoubtedly fill the Perrysburg High School site.

Marion Harding (21-0) v. Perrysburg (15-6) girls basketball, Sat. Mar. 6, 2:00 pm: This one might not happen either as both must win Thursday to advance but in the likely event that it does it will be a re-match of last year’s district final. Perrysburg came in last year as the undefeated team and defeated Marion Harding to advance to the regionals. This year it is Marion Harding’s turn as the undefeated team.  Can the Lady President’s keep it going and end the Yellow Jackets season?

Wauseon (18-3) v. Lima Bath (14-7), girls basketball, Thurs., Mar. 4, 6:15 pm:  A number one seed versus a number two seed is never a bad thing but when you have two teams from strong conferences meeting in the state playoffs it is extra special. Bath is tournament tested but Wauseon is looking to prove that the NWOAL can play good basketball as well.

Lake (21-0) v. Liberty-Benton (21-0), girls basketball, Sat. Mar. 6, 7:00 pm: Barring a major upset on Thursday this a game that fans have been pointing toward since October. Both teams come in undefeated and both teams have had eyes on Columbus all season. This should be a great one and a tough ticket to get.


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