No genders. No separation. Just simple competition. And the best at their crafts. The voting for the first annual JJHuddle/Bucknuts Ohio HS Winter Sports Athlete of the Year award is over and it was a runaway. Not many people can cover Luke Kennard on a basketball court and not many can match the following he generates. Kennard’s no stranger to huge numbers and he generated some more in the Player of the Year voting…Of the 15,000-plus votes generated, over 9,000 were for the Duke-bound phenom.
Bucknuts/JJHuddle Ohio HS Winter Team of the Year
Massillon Perry Wrestling (Votes)
After finishing second nine times in the last 11 years, the Panthers broke through for their first D-I state title and they did it convincingly. Perry sent a school-record 11 wrestlers to the state meet. They went 10-1 in the first round. A 7-0 showing in the semifinals helped fuel a 185-90.5 win over Perrysburg in the team race. Perry also won the state dual team tournament in February.
Beavercreek Girls Bowling (Votes)
The Beavers became the first D-I program to win two state titles in the sport. Creek won the inaugural state title in 2007 and eight years later won its second. The Beavers have appeared in all eight state tournaments. Creek rallied from a 0-2 deficit in the state final against Akron Coventry to win 3-2. The Beavers won their first round (Bowling Green) and state semifinal (Austintown-Fitch) matches 3-2 as well. Creek was the No. 3 seed entering the tournament.
2014 Third Place
Convoy Crestview Boys Basketball (Votes)
The Knights completed the state’s lone undefeated season (29-0) by a boys basketball team and captured the school’s first state title in three trips to state with a 71-44 win over St. Thomas Aquinas in the D-IV final. Crestview opened the third quarter with an 18-0 run. The Knights were ranked No. 1 in the final National Guard JJH D-IV Power Poll and AP D-IV State Poll. Crestview is the the first D-IV team to finish unbeaten since 2008 (New Knoxville). Said JJHuddle basketball senior writer Kurt Stubbs: “Convoy Crestview is a great team. The Knights rank among the best DIV teams we’ve ever covered. A true team in every sense of the word.”
2014 Additional Nominees
West Holmes Girls Basketball (Votes)
The Knights, No. 1 in both the final AP D-II state poll and OGBR D-II National Guard JJH Power Poll, won the program’s fourth state title and first since 1986 with a convincing 62-45 win over undefeated Kettering Alter in the D-II final. West Holmes was the only girls team in Ohio in any division to finish unbeaten (29-0). The Knights were the ONG JJH Team of the Week in Week 7.
Gates Mills Hawken Girls Swimming (Votes)
The Hawks won their 16th straight D-II state title and 18th in the last 19 years. Hawken’s 24 overall titles trails only St. Xavier Boys Swimming (35) and St. Edward Wrestling (27) for most by any program (regardless of gender) in state history.
Brecksville-Broadview Heights Gymnastics (Votes)
The Bees won their 11th straight state championship by finishing first in all four disciplines: vault, uneven bars, beam and floor exercise. Complete dominance. Again.
Sylvania Northview Ice Hockey (Votes)
The Wildcats claimed their second state championship (a co-title) with a 1-1 tie against St. Ignatius in the state championship. The game, the longest in state final history and second longest overall, was called after the seventh overtime period. The state final appearance was Northview’s third straight and fourth in five years. Wildcats goaltender David Marsh set a state tournament record with 77 saves in the final.
Norwalk Boys Basketball (Votes)
Ranked No. 3 in the final National Guard JJH D-II Power Poll, Norwalk capped a historic season by winning its first boys basketball state title with a 65-58 victory over defending state champion Columbus Watterson. In addition to the state title, the Truckers put together the eighth longest regular season win streak in state history (57 games) before Ontario snapped it with a 63-61 win on Jan. 29. Norwalk, however, extracted revenge in the season finale, beating Ontario 69-47 to win a share of its fourth straight Northern Ohio League title. Before this current NOL title run, the Truckers last basketball league championship had come in 1962. Senior first cousins Jeff Thomas (Georgia State) and Ben Haraway (Malone) have been instrumental in the win streak and recent program success. Said JJHuddle basketball senior writer Kurt Stubbs, after watching the D-II final: “Rarely does Watterson play a team that plays as hard as it does, and today it ran into a team that happened to, while having the two most talented kids on the floor in Haraway and Thomas.”
St. Xavier Boys Swimming (Votes)
The Bombers finished first in the meet’s final event (the 400-yard freestyle relay) to win their sixth straight and 35th overall D-I state title. St. X edged Toledo St. Francis 255-238. The Bombers 35 titles are the most by any program in any sport regardless of gender in state history.
Graham Wrestling (Votes)
The Falcons won a record 14th straight state wrestling championship, breaking the previous record of 13 consecutive set by St. Edward (from 1997-2009). Graham had four individual champions and five finalists. It’s the Falcons 16th title overall. Graham also won the D-II Dual Team State Championship.
Reedsville Eastern Girls Basketball (Votes)
The Eagles finished the season undefeated against Ohio competition and with the first state title in school history. Eastern beat Zanesville Rosecrans 49-38 in the D-IV final. The Eagles also finished the season ranked No. 1 in the final OGBR D-I National Guard JJH Power Poll and AP State Poll. Eastern’s lone loss? 70-68 in OT to West Virginia small school No. 1 St. Joseph Central (Huntington, WV).
Cleveland St. Ignatius Ice Hockey (Votes)
The Wildcats claimed their third state championship (a co-title) and first since 2010 with a 1-1 tie against Sylvania Northview in the state championship. The game, the longest in state final history and second longest overall, was called after the seventh overtime period.
Delta Wrestling (Votes)
The Panthers won the Division III wrestling state title (their first since 1999) despite not having a single individual champion. Delta qualified a school-record 12 wrestlers to state. The Panthers also defended their D-III Dual Team State Championship.
Cincinnati Ursuline Girls Swimming (Votes)
Dominance? The Lions won eight of 11 events to defend their D-I state title. It was their seventh title overall.