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Posted On: 07/9/18 5:45 AM
Three of Ohio’s top teams in their respective divisions will prime each other for tournament runs in next year’s Lake Erie League. Those three — Lorain, Lutheran East, Warrensville Heights — are the focus of much of our article here as we take a quick look ahead at one of Northeast Ohio’s most talented conferences.
As if we’re not looking ahead enough as it is, let’s start forecasting the OHSAA postseason a little bit now that we’ve passed the July Fourth mark!
Lutheran East has solidified themselves as a perennial State Championship contender the past few seasons. They return three starters from last year’s Regional Championship team, who made States despite the challenge of integrating transfers all season and bringing a 9-13 record into the tourney. New head coach Sam Liggins has a new personnel challenge ahead for 2018-19 as former star Jordan Burge is off to Ashland. Yet they may be more talented than a year ago with EJ Farmer, Nehemiah Benson, and Jay Billingsley (2021 who played JV last year) leading the way as a trio of D-I prospects. Also expect TJ Blevins, Sirr Hughes (Beachwood transfer), and Dayvon Adams to play major roles.
The LUE’s two regular season games against Warrensville Heights are going to be hot ticket items. But that potential third one in the Regional Tournament is what we’re focused on here. Warrensville has moved down from Division II for competitive balance. The move comes right on time for the Tigers as Brandon Rush enters his senior season and Ramelle Arnold is ready to be a consistent second scorer. With those two dynamic shot creators in control of the offense, they’ll present a formidable challenge to Lutheran East in the playoffs.
For reasons just mentioned, either Lutheran East or Warrensville are most likely to fulfill this promise. Also, nobody is sleeping on Lorain after their relatively surprising run to the Schott in 2017-18.
The States appearance was allegedly a year early as Devon Grant and Taevon Pierre-Louis were both juniors. They combined for 36.7 points per game and can regarded for their shot creation ability — Grant does it with his handle and TPL with his power. In order to return, senior Kameron Davis and junior Jordan Jackson need to keep the defense honest by spreading the floor and doing the little things for their dynamic duo.
The two D-III statewide contenders won a total of 21 regular season games last season, so let’s count them out.
You start looking at the other Division I programs in the conference and most are retooling in 2018-19. Cleveland Heights and Maple Heights both just lost awesome senior classes. Bedford won zero games last season and they’ll be better but not anywhere near the top of the conference.
Meanwhile, Lorain returns four real contributors from a 22-6 Final Four team. It’s pretty simple.
There’s not many conferences in Ohio who can boast a starting five of Division I collegiate talent. And there’s more who barely missed the cut also. Be on the look for guys like Ramelle Arnold, Jordan Jackson, and Nigel Martin, who transferred to Cleveland Heights from John Hay.
The scoring point guard from Lorain can toy with defenders all day during a high school setting. He has the ball on a string and can change directions with the best of them. He had no issues scoring over 20 points per game last season while tacking on 4.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists per contest. The junior also made Third Team All State last season. His confidence should be at an all-time high and Lorain will want the ball in his hands once again as a senior.