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Posted On: 03/19/18 3:57 PM
This isn’t exactly who we expected to be here at this point in the season. Many of the State Championship favorites were eliminated last week. And if you’re like us, you’re wondering, “What the heck just happened?”
To try and make sense of all the madness, we decided to go division by division and highlight the important happenings from last week with a little look ahead too.
Toughest road: Moeller played in a State Championship caliber game on Friday night against Wayne. That 65-53 victory came just two nights after beating a 21-3 Springfield team also.
Most unlikely road: Lorain is here after being marked as underdogs in the past two games. They took down #8 St. Edward and #5 St. John’s during the Regional round.
Most valuable player: Devon Grant, Lorain’s 6’0” junior point guard, sent Northeast Ohio into shock with a 34-point performance against Eds in the Regional Semis. Then, he scored 29 of Lorain’s 47 points against St. John’s to propel his squad to Columbus. The nasty ball-handler is improving as a shooter and looks primed to draw his first offer in the coming months.
Rising prospect: Casual fans may walk into the Schott on Friday night excited to see North Carolina commit Jeremiah Francis lead Pickerington Central. Surprise surprise. Francis hasn’t played all season and the Tigers are being led by a different junior point guard, Javohn Garcia. The 6’3” combo guard has a mature feel, scores from all three levels, and is showing incredible maturity on Central’s resilient run.
Interesting storyline: All Cleveland final? Lorain and Solon could meet in the State Championship with wins over Moeller and Pick Central respectively.
State Champion winner: Moeller. Their frontcourt of Jeremiah Davenport, Jaxson Hayes, and Alec Pfriem is collegiate. Moeller also has a veteran point guard and a strong identity. Add all that talent together and put a chip on their shoulder from losing last season in the State Championship and you have a champion.
Toughest road: Trotwood’s pair of wins over Columbus South and Hughes are unmatched, even though they won by a stunning 29 total points.
Most unlikely road: We mentally penciled Fairland into the State Final Four in November. Meadowbrook did not. They took down Fairland and John Glenn this past week and enter the Final Four as a dangerous sleeper.
Most valuable player: Cade Stover totaled 41 points and 23 rebounds over the course of Lexington’s Regional Playoff run. They sleighed Wauseon and slid past Bay along the way as the 6’5” hybrid dominated both contests, including a personal 11-0 run in the fourth quarter against Wauseon to pull Lexington ahead. Known nationally as a Power Five outside linebacker recruit, the 6’5” 225-pound athlete has quickness, speed, and toughness that translates to the hardwood.
Rising prospect: Seth Wilson came into this season pegged as a top five prospect in the 2021 class. STVM is still dancing and he’ll have an opportunity to make his mark on the biggest stage. Wilson has a bit of momentum after scoring a team-high 17 points in their win over VASJ in the Regional Final.
Interesting storyline: A rematch of last season’s D-II Regional Semifinal between STVM and Trotwood looks imminent. Last season, Jayvon Graves (now at Buffalo) converted a runner at the buzzer on a hectic possession to lead the Irish past the Rams. It was easily one of the most memorable games from last season.
State Champion winner: We will pick another Southwest Ohio team in Trotwood. They’re on fire right now and might be the most talented team regardless of momentum.
Toughest road: Africentric played the single toughest opponent this weekend. It took a Manning “Tre” Baumgardner III triple at the buzzer to lead the Nubians past Archbold in the Regional Final.
Most unlikely road: There really isn’t a team we can give this to. These are the teams most expected to be here.
Most valuable player: We’ll have to go with Baumgardner. The Minnesota State commit’s game has gone to another level during his senior year and he’s the reason the Nubians are still alive after that buzzer beater.
Rising prospect: Deer Park sophomore Mark Wise earned his first Division I scholarship on March 5 from Kent State. The athletic lead guard averaged 16.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 2.8 steals this season.
Interesting storyline: The all-Columbus game on Thursday night is sure to pack the Schott, as locals will fill the arena to watch two of the city’s finest battle it out. Harvest Prep may be undefeated, but the Columbus City League team could have the crowd on their side for this one.
State Champion winner: Deer Park’s pace, plethora of scorers, and pressure defense is hard to bet against.
Toughest road: Any time you have to go through the no. 1 ranked team, your road is likely the toughest. Cornerstone Christian overcame their pseudo-underdog status against Mansfield St. Peter’s, beating the undefeated Spartans by 16 at the Canton Fieldhouse on Friday night.
Most unlikely road: Most expected Fort Loramie to be here, yet Marion Local avenged a regular season loss to win the Kettering Region. The Flyers defense is as formidable as ever heading into their Thursday afternoon showdown with Pandora-Gilboa.
Most valuable player: Furman signee Mike Bothwell has the basketball in his hands often for Cornerstone Christian. The trusted senior made sure that ball found its way into the basket often this weekend, scoring 43 total points in the Regionals.
Interesting storyline: All the teams are absolutely cooking! Now, in every division, sure you could say that. But, none of these teams won a Regional game by less than 12 points last week. Complete domination across the board. We’re expecting three quality games from this group this weekend.
State Champion winner: We’re not going to come off Cornerstone Christian now. They’ve been our pick since the start and have shown nothing to suggest otherwise.