Posted On: 03/13/18 9:31 PM
Photo Credit: Jeff Kelly
Four talented teams will take the floor at the Cintas Center this week to determine which team from Southwest Ohio will advance to Columbus for the State Semifinals. Princeton will take on Wayne while Moeller faces Springfield in semifinal action. Today we look at these 4 teams and break down their strengths as well as areas of concern.
Princeton- The Vikings made it to the regionals with a hard fought victory over GMC rival Lakota East 53-51. Darweshi Hunter (2018) led all scorers with 25 points. The Vikings are an interesting team to watch, as they boast multiple sophomores that are considered some of the top players in the state.
Pros: Athleticism is an area where Princeton excels. Hunter is one of the better athletes in the state and uses this ability on both ends of the floor. Aaron Ward (2020) is a nice hybrid player able to play the 2 or 3 while on the floor. Another area where Princeton excels is at the free throw line. In a tight game that came down to the wire, Princeton stepped up and hit 23-24 free throws which definitely helped them hold off Lakota East in the district title game.
Cons: Princeton will be missing star Darius Bazley (2018) and Dominic Pierce (2018) in their Regional semifinal game against Wayne. This is huge as Bazley does almost everything for the Vikings. Offensively he was missed as Princeton struggled to get going on the offensive end at times. This is a concern as it makes one wonder if Darweshi Hunter can make up for the lack of scoring. The other area for concern is the bench play. Between the 3 players that came off the bench, 0 points were scored and 5 rebounds were recorded. When a team gets this deep into the tournament it is crucial that bench play helps when the starters get tired.
Wayne- The Warriors cruised to a 68-54 victory over Oak Hills in the district title game. L’Christian Smith (2018) scored 23 points to lead all scorers.
Pros: Defense is a huge key to the Warriors success. Running a 1-2-2 full court trap allows the Warriors to use their speed and athleticism to create turnovers and overwhelm their opponents. Between Smith, Ronnie Hampton (2019), and Darius Quisenberry (2018), the Warriors have plenty of guys capable of leading the trap. Wayne also boasts an incredibly tough backcourt. Quisenberry and Deshon Parker (2018) form a very tough duo that is considered one of the top backcourts in the state.
Cons: Height is an issue for Wayne as Blue Smith is the tallest player who received minutes in the district title game. Matt Palma (2018) is the usual center, however he did not check in on Saturday. If he plays against Princeton, he will offer much needed help, however he cannot do it alone. Another concern of mine is the Warriors ability to finish late in the game. After dominating for most of the game, the Warriors gave up 26 points in the 4th quarter alone to Oak Hills. Wayne will need to show better control late in the game or a Regional exit is possible.
Moeller- Moeller took a half to wake up, but took care of business against Fairmont 65-50. Jeremiah Davenport (2018) led scorers with 20.
Pros: The Crusaders have one of the top defensive weapons in Southwest Ohio in Texas commit Jaxson Hayes (2018). Hayes blocked 7 shots in the win and his presence in the lane definitely intimidated the Fairmont guards. Overall athleticism is another area Moeller excels in. Hayes and Davenport put on a clinic with dunks in the win and Isaiah Payton (2018) also showed glimpses of athletic play on the defensive end.
Cons: Moeller definitely did not come out as a team playing their best basketball. The Crusaders averaged almost 70 points per game all season, yet were held to 23 points in the first half. Although the second half was vast improvement, playing a full 32 minute game is crucial to winning a regional title. I also have concerns with how Hayes plays. At 6’10”, he is by far the tallest player still playing in Region 4, yet he was held to 4 rebounds in the district title, even though he had a 6 inch size advantage. Credit Fairmont’s defense for keeping him in check, but Hayes still needs to show much more aggressiveness if Moeller wants to continue dominating.
Springfield- The Wildcats held on to defeat Elder 51-45 in the district final. Michael Wallace (2018) led scorers with 13.
Pros: The Wildcats certainly share the wealth on the offensive end as 8 different players scored in the district title game. Ra’heim Moss (2019) and Sam Towns (2019) are two juniors that can score on the perimeter as well as in the paint. Leonard Taylor (2018) is one of the leading seniors and offensively is a great weapon due to his size and athleticism. Another area where the Wildcats excel is their bench play. Jordan Howard (2020) and Larry Stephens (2020) are two great role players that can come in and relieve the Springfield starters.
Cons- Springfield likes to play up-tempo and when a team slows the game down, it affects the Wildcats. Elder did a fantastic job focusing in the half-court offense and thus took Springfield out of their comfort zone. In addition, this Springfield team settles for shots on the offensive end at times. Specifically, the 3 point shot is where they settle the most. With several taller players, they will need to look to attack the paint more in Regional play.