It’s no secret small school basketball in Northwest Ohio has reigned
supreme over the last 10-plus years, and this year there’s an abundance
of talent too. Question is can McComb be that team that makes the run to Columbus? The D-IV school in Hancock County is off to an unbeaten start and
is ranked 4th in the latest OHSH/JJHuddle
It’s no secret small school basketball in Northwest Ohio has reigned supreme over the last 10-plus years, and this year there’s an abundance of talent too.
After dominating much of the early 2000s, the titles have been limited in recent years with only Lima Central Catholic and New Knoxville hoisting gold trophies in the past five seasons.
What has changed in recent years? There seems to be so much parity in NW Ohio with a plethora of good teams making it nearly impossible to get out of district play. Even if a team is able to advance, by the time they reach regional or state play, they seem to be gassed. Running into the likes of South Webster (2006), Harvest Prep (2007), North College Hill (2007), Oak Hill (2009), and Newark Catholic (2010) hasn’t helped either.
One team making serious this year is McComb. The D4 school tucked away in Hancock County is off to a (14-0) start and is currently ranked 4th in the latest Ohio High School Hoops/JJHuddle Power Poll. It isn’t surprising considering four of McComb’s top players are three or four-year letter winners.
The Panthers finished (20-4) in 2009 with a regional semifinal appearance and (17-4) a season ago. Seniors Mason Roth, Andrew Dee, Taylor Hanes and Matt Newcomer were all a big part of those teams.
McComb, who is a member of the Blanchard Valley Conference, is no stranger to competition playing the likes of Findlay Liberty-Benton, Leipsic, Pandora-Gilboa, Van Buren, and Vanlue in conference play.
A strong percentage of the state may know very little about the Panthers outside of the Northwest’s fan contingent, but as head coach Aaron Roth told us; his players are use to winning.
“We are a very athletic team for a Division Four team,” Roth believes. “We have very good athletes who can run and jump well. We play a very good man-to-man defense and like to push the ball when we have a chance.
We went 12-1 in football losing in the regional finals to Delphos St. John’s, the eventual state champions. My top seven were all football players. We are not a very tall team, but we have a lot of experience.”
The experience Roth speaks of come from Mason Roth and Dee, who are four-year letterme. Hanes and Newcomer have each earned three letters, and T.J. Griffith and Austan Westenbarger are two-year winners.
The Panthers have stormed out of the gates in 2010-2011 winning its first 13 games by an average margin of nearly 27 points per game (67 to 40). Roth is certainly not unhappy.
“I’m very happy with our performance thus far,” stated Roth.
The team is yet to give up 60 points in any one game; the opponent has scored over 50 just twice and six times this season the Panthers held their opponent under 40.
Roth isn’t surprised by anything to this point, but one player has astounded him a tad.
“There have been no big surprises as of yet,” Roth mentioned. “Though, I’m very happy with sophomore Jerry Brown. In his first year as a varsity player, he leads us in rebounding with 71 and is fourth in scoring at ten points per game.”
Brown’s actions and contributions may be shocking, but for the mainstays it has been business as usual.
Mason Roth leads the Findlay-area in scoring at 18 points per game and chips in with four assists and a like amount of rebounds. The senior currently has 1,057 career-points, which includes a 32-point outburst in a win over Hopewell-Loudon back on December 27th.
Dee is netting 12.1 counters a contest with rebounds and four dimes. He has a season-high of 20 against Elmwood.
Hanes has been solid as well tallying 12.3 points an encounter and five caroms. He scored 25 against Fort Jennings on the 22nd of January.
The Panthers possess plenty of talent, but if there were a concern it would be their size.
“We have no concerns as of yet, but we only have two players over six-foot,” Roth relayed. “They are both six-foot-one. We have been able to hold our own on the rebounding end.”
As a team, McComb shoots 51 percent from the field including 35 percent from distance and 69 percent from the free throw line.
Four different players have led the team in scoring and on one occasion five individuals ended with double figures in the point’s column.
The Panthers still face challenges from Miller City, Van Buren, and Bluffton.
A spotless regular season is within reach, but sectional, district, and regional play will be cutthroat like always in the NW part of the Buckeye state.
McComb’s sectional consists of Holgate (7-8), Leipsic (9-5), North Baltimore (7-9), Miller City (8-8), and Pandora Gilboa (3-11). The Ottawa-Glandorf District will include Arcadia (4-9), Hopewell-Loudon (6-8), New Riegel (9-4), St. Wendelin (4-9), Vanlue (12-2), and Van Buren (8-6).
The Panthers will be the favorite to advance from their district having already defeated the second best team, Vanlue (52-45), earlier in the year.
The Hancock County-based squad’s regional, at Bowling Green, could entertain the likes of Columbus Grove, Continental, Kalida, Edgerton, Ottawa Hills, Maumee Valley Country Day, or Toledo Christian.
Regardless, it will be a tough road to hoe, but one McComb’s talent and experience should be able to handle.