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Posted On: 02/13/18 5:00 AM
Prep Hoops is your spot for balanced coverage across all levels of basketball talent. Usually that principle applies to providing content on all levels of college prospects, high-major to D-III. But, it’s tournament time in Ohio and we’re going to pivot our fundamental goal towards teams, giving you brief district previews from Division I to Division IV.
We’re getting on the turnpike to head east towards Cleveland after yesterday’s full Northwest Ohio preview.
Northeast Ohio, arguably the most talented region of the state, is home to several of the toughest district tournaments. Last season, we saw all four State Championship trophies won by NEO teams and it’s not out of the question for a repeat, although it looks less than likely in Division III. But, it’s time to get more specific.
Hoban over Stow
We’re starting with one of the tougher predictions to make. The final pits a premiere Hoban backcourt against Stow’s pair of versatile 6’8” forwards. Both teams will reach this matchup rather easily but we sided with Hoban because guards have more access to playmaking and they’ve been better than Stow over the last month.
St. Edward over St. Ignatius
While Ignatius’ coaching and senior leadership should be enough escape games against Brecksville-Broadview Heights and the winner of Brunswick versus Medina, Ed’s is a safe bet to advance.
Massillon Jackson over Uniontown Lake
Lorain over Olmsted Falls
The District Final will be on the high-end entertainment wise. Two teams that will get after it and fight for loose balls. End of the day, Lorain’s talent wins out.
Solon over Mentor
The no. 1 team in this week’s AP Poll is placed in one of the state’s toughest divisions. They’ll play the winner of the best second round game in the area, as Benedictine takes on Cleveland Heights. The winner of Mentor and Brush will follow, and we think it will be a more consistent Mentor team. The Cardinals can adapt to Solon’s pace much better than most teams, but Solon will likely end up beating them for a third time if they meet.
Garfield Heights over Cleveland Central Catholic
Top to bottom, the aforementioned Euclid District is tops. However, the top three of Garfield Heights, CCC, and Shaker Heights is quite the gauntlet. A semifinal between CCC and Shaker is guaranteed to be an all-out war. However, the Ironmen pressure and mental toughness is suited for March. Meanwhile, Garfield’s February turn-around was highlighted by a 10-point win at CCC last week, so we won’t pick against them in a neutral court rematch.
Poland Seminary over Howland
St. Vincent-St. Mary over Buchtel
Villa Angela-St. Joseph over Lake Catholic
The reigning Division III State Champions at St. Joe’s beat this very team by five points on their home court just last week. Just as important, VASJ has a proven senior leader at point guard in Jerry “Gene” Higgins while Lake Catholic’s dynamic duo won’t graduate until 2020.
North Ridgeville District
Bay over Holy Name
Familiar opponents are likely to face-off, as it would be the third game between the two. Bay won the latest iteration of this matchup at home, while Holy Name bested them in December. We’re picking a slight upset in this game simply because we like Bay’s size advantage and balanced roster.
Gilmour Academy over Revere
Yet another District Final that we went back-and-forth on. It should definitely be a matter of controlling the pace. If it’s a halfcourt game, the 6’10” Pete Nance can dominate on both ends of the floor and Revere will win. However, Gilmour’s speedy junior CJ Charleston should be the difference with his insistence on getting into the open floor.
Garfield Heights District
Lutheran East over Elyria Catholic
Although Lutheran East has lost four in a row, we remain believers. The reigning Division IV State Champions are four games below .500 but are still integrating their roster with a pair of transfers. Elyria Catholic and Beachwood are capable of coming out of this district.
South Range over Mogadore
Labrae over Champion
Looking ahead, the winner of the Garfield Heights District will be the popular pick to represent this region in Columbus. However, don’t overlook Labrae. This team is 18-0 with a +34.7 point differential and they’ll get a healthy postseason prep game against Poland Seminary in the final game of the season.
Wellington over Triway
Rittman over Cuyahoga Heights
Cornerstone Christian over Bristol
Richmond Heights, at 16-3, is the no. 4 seed in this district. How’s that for a head-scratcher? They’ll likely play Warren JFK in what could be the best game in NEO’s Division IV district round. Meanwhile, we’re very high on CCA because of their balance, Mike Bothwell, and the fact that they’ve only lost to Solon and Brush since the start of January.
McDonald over Lowellville