Posted On: 11/8/18 11:11 AM
If you’ve haven’t been paying attention this week, we’ll catch you up! We’ve taken a small detour from player-focused articles to look at the upcoming high school season’s Favorites and Sleepers in each division. Today, we’re wrapping up with Division IV. Here’s what you’ve missed.
We were actually pretty on point last season with the D-IV preseason picks, but this division takes the most research to get it right. There’s a lot of turnover and less media coverage of the small schools. Despite all of that, we feel pretty darn good about our condensed group of Division IV favorites as Convoy Crestview, Minster, Marion Local, and Richmond Heights appear to be clear front-runners.
#1 Convoy Crestview
Last season’s result: District Champions, eliminated Pandora-Gilboa in the Regional Finals
Key departures: Derek Stout
Key players: Javin Etzler, Kalen Etzler, Drew Kline, Wade Sheets
They were almost a year ahead of schedule, being stopped a game short from last season’s State Tournament. This season, however, Crestview comes in with championship expectations. The Etzler brothers are going to be mismatch problems at the college level, let alone both of them on the same team in Division IV hoops. Standing 6’7” and 6’8” respectively, Javin and Kalen will stretch out the other team’s forwards with their shooting. Both can also score it off the dribble, rebound, and have high IQs.
Also, don’t sleep on Kline and Sheets. Kline especially plays with a ton of confidence and is a reliable point guard. He will need to consistently be a factor on the perimeter with the loss of Stout. But, the emergence and newfound health of Kalen, Ohio’s no. 3 sophomore, should be enough to put them over the edge.
#2 Richmond Heights
Last season’s result: Eliminated by John F. Kennedy in the second round
Key departures: Malik Tucker, Darius Dudley
Key players: Curtis Houston, Gbolahan Adio, Anthony Maxie (transfer from Benedictine), BJ Carter, Emmanuel Sims, Jamar Talbert
Hate it or love it, the underdog’s on top. A season after being pigeonholed into a very tough tournament draw, Richmond Heights enters 2018-19 as the clear favorite to represent the Canton Region in Columbus. So, let’s get to know them: Houston and Adio are a pair of perimeter scorers with side-to-side off the dribble games. Their size (6’3” Houston, 6’4” Adio), athleticism, and ability to score in the pick-and-roll provides a tough matchup for opponents.
They also picked up an athletic shot-blocker and rebounder in Maxie, whose interior presence will be crucial as they advance further into the playoffs. Carter and Sims, who combined for 15 rebounds per game last year according to Cleveland.com, will need to play a factor on the boards if they run into the other favorites.
With Lorain, Lutheran East, Whitmer, Benedictine, and Gahanna on the schedule, we also really like that Richmond Heights is challenging themselves in the regular season.
Last season’s result: Eliminated by St. Henry in the District Semifinals
Key departures: Isaac Schmiesing, Jared Huelsman, Adam Knapke, Max Prenger
Key players: Jarod Schulze, Mike Ketner, Cody Frericks
We are months away from any of this coming into fruition and it already feels like we’re on crash course for Minster to battle Marion Local for the Midwest Athletic Conference and regional trophy.
Although the Wildcats graduated considerable contributors in the 2018 class, their top three impact players return. Schulze, 6’9”, and Frericks, 6’6”, are two of the best rebounders in the area. They should control the paint and would give Minster a real chance to limit the Etzlers should they face Crestview. Also, the sharp-shooting Ketner is the best returning point guard in the MAC this season. Their conference schedule gauntlet will prepare them for postseason basketball, also.
#4 Marion Local
Last season’s result: Division IV State Champions
Key departures: Tyler Mescher, Tyler Prenger, Justin Albers, Ryan Koenig, Collin Everman, Jack Buening
Key players: Nathan Bruns, Matt Rethman, Nick Tangeman
Five of their top eight scorers are gone from last season’s surprise Division IV State Championship team. In a word, their upset over Cornerstone Christian last season was magical, keyed by two-game totals of 33 points, 21 rebounds, and six assists from Findlay commit Nathan Bruns. They’ll need more of the same from the heroic Bruns and then some. The versatile wing’s return gives them a fighting chance to repeat. While a lot of their offense ran through Mescher last season, we expect the ball to be in Bruns’s hands all game this year. He has improved as a ball-handler and shot-creator over the summer in preparation for this expanded role.