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Area hoopers earn NCAA Tournament bids

Northwest Ohio has long been blessed with an immense amount of talent from the boys basketball ranks and that was never more evident than this season as a host of prep stars earned bids to compete for their collegiate squads in the upcoming NCAA Men’s Division 1 and Division 2 Basketball Tournaments.

University of Dayton Sophomore Ryan Mikesell of St. Henry will take the short trip to Indianapolis this weekend as his Flyers (24-7) begin their march to the finals in the South Regional where they will battle the Wichita State Shockers (30-4) starting at 6:10pm on Friday night.

Joining Mikesell at Bankers Life Fieldhouse are the Lima Central Catholic duo of Tre Cobbs and Dantez Walton who are both Freshmen at Northern Kentucky University (24-10) and just a year removed from a trip to the OHSAA State Tournament where they helped the T-Birds capture a Division 3 championship. NKU will begin their trek on Friday night around 9pm as they take on Southeastern Conference Champion Kentucky (29-5) in the first round.

Also in action in Indianapolis will be the Big Ten Tournament Champion Michigan Wolverines (24-11) and last seasons OHSAA Division 1 Player of the Year and Mr. Basketball in the state of Ohio Xavier Simpson (Lima Senior) as he and his team make the four hour trip for a Friday morning 11:15am matchup with Oklahoma State (20-12).

8th seeded Wisconsin (25-9) who begins their play Thursday night at approx 8:45pm against ninth seeded Virginia Tech (22-10) in Buffalo, NY is well represented by young talent from Ohio as they feature a foursome of talented players from the Buckeye state. Representing close to the area are the duo of Seniors Nigel Hayes (Toledo Whitmer), and Bowling Green Bobcat standout Vitto Brown.

The Midwest Regional will feature the Purdue Boilermakers (25-7) and Elida product Dakota Mathis as they take on a 29-5 Vermont squad in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Thursday at 6:27pm.

19-14 Michigan State takes a trek to the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma as they look to advance past the Miami Hurricanes (21-11) and advance to the second round with Versailles Tiger and current Sophomore guard Kyle Ahrens on Friday at 8:20pm.

Ivy League Champion Princeton (23-6) will have Ottawa Glandorf big man Noah Bramlage with them as they head east to Buffalo on Friday night for an early morning 11:15am start against ACC Tournament finalist Notre Dame (25-9) at the Key Bank Center.

Already in full swing with their team deep in the Division 2 bracket and with a Wednesday night date in Louisville, KY against Bellarmine University at 7pm, the Findlay Oilers are well represented by local products as they feature Bath’s Taren Sullivan, Defiance’s Katwan Singleton, Martyce Kimbrough of Lima Central Catholic, Elijah Kahlig of Fort Recovery, Ricardo Smith from Toledo Whitmer, and Toledo Central Catholic’s Trey Buford among their ranks.

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Four schools earn state titles

COLUMBUS, OH – Hundreds of schools began the 2015-16 OHSAA boys basketball season with hopes of hoisting the State Championship trophy but only four were successful in their quest that ended inside the Value City Arena on Saturday.

The opening contest saw the Lima Central Catholic Thunderbirds (28-1) capture their 3rd state title in school history as they were victorious in the Division 3 Finals against Cleveland Villa Angela St Joseph 66-44.

In earning the crown this season the T-Birds avenged a loss to VASJ in last seasons final game and gave Head Coach Frank Kill his second championship as the teams mentor.

LCC Senior Tre Cobbs who finished just 2/9 and with 5 points in the loss to the Vikings last season accounted for 24 of his teams points this time around on 9/14 shooting (4/5 from 3), in addition to snagging 6 rebounds. Dantez Walton, a Senior headed to play at Northern Kentucky University pumped in 20 points and pulled down a game high 11 rebounds. Ethan O’Connor’s 11 points helped to pace the Thunderbirds against the VASJ attacking defense.

Gene Higgins was the lone scorer in double figures for Villa Angela (23-6) on the afternoon as he finished with 15 points on 5/14 shooting.

Complete box score: LCC vs VASJ

Game two of the afternoon session featured the Akron St. Vincent St. Mary Fighting Irish, ranked #3 in the final Associated Press poll of the season taking on the top ranked school New Concord John Glenn for the Division 2 title.

While SVSM was struggling to connect from the field in the first half, John Glenn continued to light up the Ohio State University scoreboard as they built a 15-7 lead after the opening stanza.

Things didn’t get much better for the Irish in the second quarter either as they finished the period 6/27 and limped into the lockerroom trailing 34-23 and with one of their leading scorers in Jayvon Graves 0-11 with just a pair of markers from the free throw line.

In the second half Graves would connect on 7/13 opportunities from the field and finish with 18 points on the night but it was not enough to counteract the John Glenn second half scoring output and the Irish would be defeated 76-72 despite making it a close game in the waning moments of the fourth quarter.

John Glenn, who was honored by the presence of their namesake before the contest finishes the season at 28-1 while SVSM ends at 26-4. The Muskies were led in scoring by Drew Rackley who finished with 25 points in the game.

Northwest Conference Champion Lincolnview, making their first State Finals appearance since 1997 took on Cornerstone Christian in the third game of the night and fell to the Patriots 74-52.

The Lancers fell behind early to the running game of Cornerstone Christian and trailed 19-12 at the end of the opening eight minutes of play. Lincolnview mustered just six points in the second quarter against a tenacious Patriots defense led by Michael Bothwell who finished with a team high 14 points.

Trailing by as much as 26 late in the 3rd quarter, the Lancers were able to cut their opponents lead down to 18 but not any further despite outscoring the Patriots 19-11 in the games final quarter.

Cornerstone Christan finished the year at 17-12 and with a title in their first trip to Columbus while the Lancers season came to an end at 27-2. Both Lincolnview losses on the season came to teams who finished as State Champions as their only other loss came to the Division 3 Champion LCC Thunderbirds.

Trevor Neate led all scorers in the game with 16 points for the Lancers while Bothwell and Jeremy Owens tallied 14 apiece for Cornerstone in the victory.

In one of the most anticipated matchups of the tournament the Lima Senior Spartans, making their 5th appearance in Columbus took on the Wildcats of Westerville South.

South jumped out to a 19-12 advantage after the first quarter as the Wildcats connected on a trio of triples. Lake Erie signee Jordan Humphrey gave his team a 22-12 lead in the opening moments of the second period with the fourth three point goal of the half.

Lima Senior would respond however in the second quarter behind Xavier Simpson, Rico Stafford and Ruben Flowers to cut the halftime lead to 31-28 with Flowers connecting on a putback as the buzzer sounded and the clock ran out.

With future OSU Buckeye Kaleb Wesson on the bench after committing his third foul of the game early in the third he was sent to the bench for South. In the time the 6’9 Junior was on the pine the Spartans took over behind Flowers and used a 15-14 scoring output to climb within two of the lead 45-43 heading to the final stanza of the season.

Through the first three quarter Ruben Flowers had connected on all seven of his shot attempts (5 field goals and 2/2 free throws).

Wesson picked up foul 4 early on in the fourth quarter and was again sent to the bench to not end his penultimate season by fouling out, but it was then his brother Andre who gave his team a 53-51 lead by connecting on a deep three pointer and forcing a Senior high timeout with 2:30 remaining.

Rico Stafford’s layup with :28 seconds remaining tied the game at 55-55, but Jordan Humphrey put Westerville South on top for good with a runner in the lane to procure a 57-55 victory and the State Championship in Division 1.

Lima Senior (29-1) was led in scoring by Mr. Basketball Xavier Simpson who finished with 17 points while Flowers (12) and Stafford (10) joined him in double figures.

Westerville South (26-5) was led in scoring by Humphrey who led all scorers with 19. Andre Wesson was the only other player in double figures for his team as he finished with 14 on 5/10 shooting.

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LCC/OG advance to meet for 5th straight year

Ottawa Glandorf and Lima Central Catholic both picked up wins last night at the ONU Sports Center and will now meet on Saturday night in the D3 Regional Finals in Bowling Green for the 5th straight postseason.

Lima Central Catholic advanced with a win in the first game at ONU 64-37 over Worthington Christian. LCC jumped out to an early lead and used a couple of quick 1st quarter runs to lead 15-8 after the first stanza.

The second quarter did not get any easier for the Warriors as LCC torched them for 23 points to lead 38-14 at the halftime break.

A cool moment in the second half came when Martyce Kimbrough scored his 1,000th point, much to the delight of the LCC student section who in unison began to chant “That’s 1000” to show their appreciation in the stands.

LCC would continue to shoot a high percentage in the second half as they outscored the Warriors 26-23 to advance to the Regional Finals for the second straight season in Bowling Green and pick up win number 22 on the season against just 4 losses. Worthington Christian finishes their season at 19-7.

Lima Central Catholic was led in scoring by Kimbrough with 18 and followed in double figures by Xavier Simpson with 14, and Tre Cobbs with 13. Worthington Christian was led by 13 from Johnny Wordlaw.

In the nightcap the defending Division 3 State Champion Ottawa Glandorf Titans took the floor in front of 1367 fans for the first time against the Huron Tigers with the winner knowing they’d advance to play LCC on Saturday night.

Despite slow starts in both District games last week, the Titans were able to jump out to a fast one against Huron as they led 16-8 after the first stanza behind 7-14 shooting while holding the Tigers to just 3-9 from the field.

Noah Bramlage who had 6 of the Titans first quarter points continued to torment the smaller defenders as he added three more before the half, but it was teammate Zach Kuhlman who did the most damage before the break as he accounted for 8 points in the quarter and 11 total to give his team a 35-23 advantage at the half.

For the first half the Titans shot 15-28 from the field while holding the Tigers to 9-22 from the field and just 3-10 from deep. Cody Thompson had a good first half for his team leading the way with 9 points on 4-9 shooting for Huron.

Bramlage, the 1st Team All-WBL selection this season started off the 3rd quarter for OG with a bang as he ignited a quick 4-0 run for his team with a jumper off an assist by Matias Trampe-Kindt to put OG up 36-27 just 26 seconds into the stanza.

Huron would close the gap to 45-37 at the end of the 3rd quarter as they outscored Ottawa Glandord 14-10 but couldn’t get any closer in the 4th.

As they have done the past couple of games, OG shot almost flawlessly from the charity stripe in the 4th quarter to finish 14-18 on free throws to ice the game to secure the 63-45 win.

OG finished 23-45 from the field but just 3-10 from 3 in the win with two of those coming from Bramlage. Huron was outscored 18-8 in the 4th quarter and finished 15-43 from the field, 8-14 from the free throw line, but were able to stay in the game by making 7-22 3 pointers on the night.

Huron was led in scoring by Junior Adam Storer who poured in 18 points on 5-10 shooting and 4-9 from 3 to go along with his perfect night from the free throw line (4-4). Ottawa Glandorf was led by 19 from Bramlage, 14 from Zach Kuhlman and 12 from Tyler Zender in the win.

The Tigers and coach Bobby Jones finish their season at 18-7 and fall in the Regional Semifinals for the 2nd straight season in the Bowling Green Regional. Ottawa Glandorf ups their record to 16-10 and into a Regional Finals rematch from a year ago where they defeated the Thunderbirds en route to the D3 State Championship.

Hear the matchup Saturday night on www.zsportslive.com at 7pm from Bowling Green State University’s Stroh Center with myself, Chris Kuhlman and Steve Wiener as the T-Birds look for retribution against a Titans team who has ended their last two seasons at the Regional level.

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Titans ground T-Birds

BOWLING GREEN – Remember the Titans.

You can be sure that LCC will as Wednesday night it was the Titans from Ottawa Glandorf who avenged an early season 51-48 home loss to the same Lima Central Catholic Thunderbirds 60-52 in front of a sell-out crowd of 4,700 in Bowling Green at the Stroh Center.

Sell out crowd

OG improved their all-time OHSAA tournament record to 24-4 in games played in the city of Bowling Green with one of the best 2-3 zone defenses they have played all season. “We went with the 2-3 zone because we thought it would alter some of the things they like to do. (But) did I think it would get us a 15-point cushion at the half … I did not,” Titan coach Tyson McGlaughlin said after his defense stifled every LCC shooter not named Tre’on Johnson who finished his brilliant T-Bird career with a 26 points output. Johnson was especially on fire in the fourth quarter as he dazzled the crowd with fantastic dribbling and deep shots while connecting on 6 of 9 shots from beyond the arc.

After jumping on the athletic T-Birds early the Titans poured it on in the first quarter to lead 17-7 as the clock hit zero. The second stanza was just as cold and unforgiving as the Titans opened the quarter on an 11-0 run and led at the break by a 31-16 score. One of the big keys going into the game was that it would need to be the inside play of OG that would have to have a big night against the undersized T-Bird defenders. Michael Rosebrock and Noah Bramlage responded for the Titans as they led paint points by a 10-0 margin as the two squads headed to their locker rooms for a breather and some words of encouragement from their coaches.

With OG able to key on Johnson they could continue to sit back in their 2-3 zone and wait for the shooters to come to them in the second half as they held every other shooter for LCC to 7 points or less in the game. As fouls began to mount in the second half they began to take their toll on the LCC starting lineup as Martyce Kimbrough picked up his fourth foul early in the fourth and was relatively ineffective for the rest of the game as he finished with only 4 points, well under his almost 14 points per game average on the season.

Following a third quarter in which both teams scored 11 points the fans who didn’t head for the exits early were treated to a fantastic back and forth quarter that saw the veteran Thunderbirds take on the personality of their Coach Frank Kill when he played and won a state title with Lincolnview in the 90’s by never giving up and cutting it to as low as 3 before the Titans pulled away for good. TJ Metzger who finished with a team high 23 points iced the game late as he knifed through the lane, hit a spinning reverse layup and the ensuing free throw to give his team a 57-50 lead with just 50 seconds remaining. “TJ is the Northwest District Player of the Year for a reason. He’s a baller,” Kill said.

In addition to the 23 from Metzger, his teammate Caleb Siefker finished with 21 to go along with his 10 rebounds. OG outrebounded LCC 37-30 in the game, but got the big rebounds when it counted too.

With the win the Titans improve to 23-3 on the season while ending LCC’s 2012-2013 campaign at 23-3.

Titans Advance

Saturday night Ottawa Glandorf will look to sell out the Stroh Center once again as they head north to BG to take on the 26-1 Bloom Carroll Bulldogs at 7:30pm for a chance to play next weekend in Columbus for a State Championship. Bloom Carroll defeated Huron 62-54 to win their first Regional Semi-Finals game since 2005. The Bulldogs will be led by Joey Schmitz who scored 26 in the win.

 

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