This was to be the year that a team from Northwest Ohio won
the state hockey title but, alas, it was not meant to be. Basketball however could be a different story.
This was to be the year that a team from Northwest Ohio won the state hockey title but, alas, it was not meant to be. All season long Toledo St. Francis was being touted as the likely state champion but when the Knights were upset in the district semifinals by the Findlay Trojans a new scenario suddenly developed and it ultimately fell upon the Sylvania Northview Wildcats to carry the mantle for northwest Ohio. Historically, the Wildcats have fallen just short in their prior appearances, and this year was no exception. For the fourth time, Northview found themselves finishing as second best in the state playoffs as they fell to Cleveland St. Ignatius, 4-1.
Similarly, the prospects are not real good this weekend for northwest Ohio in the girls’ state basketball playoffs. The playoffs began for the region with great promise as five teams entered the action with undefeated records but, now that the final weekend is upon us, only one of those five teams, Liberty-Benton, remains alive. Add Toledo Waite to the mix and you have the only two northwest Ohio teams with a chance of bringing home a state championship.
The boys’ playoff scene has seen a number of surprises. Lima Central Catholic’s defeat of Libery-Benton was a shock and ended the high school career of Ohio State- bound Aaron Craft. Lima CC proved their win was no fluke by capturing the district title on the next night of action against tournament tough Ottawa-Glandorf, 48-40.
Year after year you can pencil in Toledo St. John’s for the DI Toledo title and this year is no exception. The Titans, who returned only two starters from last year’s state semifinal team, defeated fellow league member, Toledo Central Catholic, 49-41, and are now just two wins away from a return trip to Columbus. First, however, St. John’s has a rematch with Lima Senior. The same two teams met last season in the regional semifinals with St. John’s coming out on top. Lima Senior advanced by upsetting Mansfield Senior. The winner faces the survivor of the Massillon Jackson/ Akron East contest.
In DII, the classic number one versus number two seed will take place when undefeated Port Clinton takes on Defiance. Port Clinton finished the regular season ranked number four in the AP poll while Defiance finished ranked number seven. On the other side of the DII bracket, Celina upset number one seed and league rival, Elida, 54-53, to advance to the regional semis against Lorain Clearview.
The DIII tournament was created anew with the 52-39 upset of previously undefeated Liberty-Benton by Lima Central Catholic. Liberty-Benton had been the favorite to represent the region in Columbus and now the field has been given new life. The three remaining northwest Ohio teams, Plymouth, Lima Central Catholic and Archbold will square off in Bowling Green this week with Centerburg to determine who will represent the region.
Finally, there is DIV. Only three teams remain alive and two of those, Kalida and Ottawa Hills, face off this Friday. The other DIV team remaining is Fort Recovery. They face Jefferson Township on Friday as well. A Fort Recovery victory would provide two northwest Ohio representatives in Columbus next weekend in DIV.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Natasha Howard, Toledo Waite, Girls Basketball: The naming of Waite High School’s Natasha Howard as the Division I Player of the Year made her the logical choice for this honor in this column as well. Howard, who will be leading her team this Friday night against Kettering Fairmont in the state semi-finals, averaged 24.7 points, 11 rebounds and 2.6 assists this past season. She led her team to a Toledo City League title and their first ever regional championship. Howard has committed to play for Florida State next season.
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Port Clinton Boys Basketball: It has been 67 years since a boys’ basketball team from Port Clinton High School has taken the floor in the regional tournament. This year, however, that streak will be broken when the Redskins play Thursday against Defiance at Bowling Green State University. Port Clinton will be looking to not only advance to the regional finals but also keep their undefeated record intact.
NEWS, NOTES & NUGGETS
May and Noftz Share Division I Coach of the Year Honors: Waite High School head coach, Manny May, and Marion Harding head coach, Greg Noftz, have the distinction of sharing DI coach of the year honors as announced by the Associated Press this past week. May’s Lady Indians take on Kettering Fairmont this weekend in the state semifinals while Noftz’s Lady Presidents enjoyed an undefeated regular season and advanced to the regional semifinals before losing to Perrysburg.:
Runner-up Blues: The Sylvania Northview Wildcats have been considered a state power in hockey since the inception of their program but a state title has somehow eluded the Wildcats. This year Northview was a surprise finalist in the state tournament but, like they have on four prior occasions, the Wildcats came up one victory short and finished as state runners-up. Cleveland St. Ignatius defeated Northview, 4-1.
Gucciardo Resigns: Start High School head football coach, Pat Gucciardo, announced his resignation after seven years at the helm. Gucciardo, who amassed a career record of 39-45, cited personal reasons as the cause of his resignation.
Sports Illustrated Honors: Perrysburg High School hockey player, Matt White, was recently featured in a small article in Sport Illustrated magazine. White was recognized for breaking the state record for points in a season by finishing this past season with 135 points including a single-season record 78 goals.
Dual Liberty-Benton Awards: Two Liberty-Benton seniors, Aaron Craft and Amanda Hyde, have been named Division III Players of the Year. Craft, who will play for Ohio State next season, averaged 26.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 6.5 assists. Hyde, who will play next season for Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne, averaged 21.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
Ohio State Commitment: Rogers High School junior DerJuan “Peewee” Gambrell has verbally committed to play football for Ohio State following his graduation. Gambrell will join fellow Toledoen, Kenny Hayes, of Whitmer High School who announced his commitment to Ohio State late last summer. Gambrell is expected to play cornerback for the Buckeyes.