Hefflinger column: WBL, MAC matchup set

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COLUMBUS — The Western Buckeye League or the Midwest Athletic Conference?

No matter the sport, the discussion which league is better is often a topic of discussion on the western side of Ohio.

Bragging rights will be on the line Saturday when Ottawa-Glandorf and Versailles meet in the Division III state championship after the two squads were winners in semifinal games on Thursday.

The two leagues hooked up on 34 occasions this season with the MAC prevailing 20 times.

Ironically, O-G does not have a team from the MAC on its schedule while Versailles only played against WBL teams once, beating Celina in the season opener.

It should be as interesting as was the opening day of the 91st annual tournament. Here is a sampling of notes, quotes and more from day one games featuring Division III and II action.

DIVISION III

• Versailles coach Roger McEldowney on getting to the state finals after an 8-5 finish to the regular season: "That was our goal and they all bought into it. No, we didn't expect it but we knew we were capable of it. (But) I wouldn't have put a lot of money on it."

• McEldowney on O-G: "Thanks to WOSN we were able to watch them a few times. They play hard and they're physical overall. It'll definitely be a tough game. It'll be a great challenge. I have a lot of respect for that program."

• McEldowney on if LaBrae's Peyton Aldridge is the best player he's seen this season as far as size and athleticism: "We have some really good athletes in our league ... but he's pretty good. I don't know if there has been any better, but some are close."

• Among the college coaches in attendance were Bob Huggins of West Virginia and Louis Orr of Bowling Green. Huggins reportedly has a high interest in Versailles' 6-5 sophomore Kyle Ahrens

• Ironton has had a taste of northwest Ohio in all three trips to the state tournament. The Fighting Tigers lost to Wauseon in the 1994 state semis, beat Archbold in the 2005 semis and now fell to O-G in the 2013 semis.

• Early looks for underclassmen: O-G sophomore Noah Bramlage has offers from Wright State and Miami Ohio and LaBrae junior Aldridge has offers from a large group of schools including Boston College, Davidson, Ohio, Akron, Kent State, Cleveland State, Stanford, Cornell, William & Mary and Miami Ohio.

• More on college: The Ironton senior duo of Zac Carter and Trey Fletcher are getting high Division II and low Division I college looks. "Both decided to play the season out then decide afterward where they would go to school,' Ironton coach Mark LaFon said. "Both are very capable of playing at the Division I level."

• O-G coach Tyson McGlaughlin on how big basketball is at Ottawa-Glandorf: "We have 5,000 people in the community and a 400-person waiting list to get season tickets. Kids go to games at a young age. It's not about sectional championships, but that's a credit to the type of kids we have here."

• O-G's Matt Kaufman on the Titan fans: "These people travel two hours for a 10:45 game to watch a 17-year-old turn the ball over."

• LaBrae went 20-0 in the regular a season a year ago.

DIVISION II

• Akron SVSM, which has won five state basketball titles in the last 13 years, has eight players on their basketball team that were members of this year's Division III state championship football team. Among them are Parris Campbell who scored three touchdowns in the state finals, Newman Williams who scored twice and Fransohn Bickley who had one TD. Bickley and Campbell were also members of the state championship 400 relay team a year ago.

• Jalen Hudson, a 6-6 junior, transferred in to SVSM from Virginia before this school year and is second on the team in minutes played and scoring (14.0).

• Eleven different players have started at least one game this season for SVSM. None have started all 28.

• SVSM coach Dru Joyce on comparing VJ King, a 6-7 freshman, consider the best ninth grader in Ohio and one of the best in the nation, with SVSM alum LeBron James when he was that age: "There's no comparison. They're two totally different type of players. VJ is a perimeter guy. Everyone wants to say LeBron was just a perimeter guy but he played in the post. VJ hasn't grown to that. Also, LeBron was a much better passer. VJ is a more skilled shooter at this point in his career. But it's not a fair comparison."

• Kettering Alter 6-2 senior Jaaron Simmons is the first four-year starter ever for 49-year coaching legend Joe Petrocelli. Simmons is the all-time leading scorer at the school and also has the highest single-game average (24.4) ever, beating out former Alter standout John Paxson (23 ppg), who was at Alter's game Thursday night.

• Simmons has offers from Houston, Tulane, Fairfield, Liberty and Miami Ohio but had a phone call this week from Napoleon's Jordan Lauf, encouraging his AAU teammate to consider Toledo, which had a scholarship become available this week.

• Vincent Warren coach Blane Maddox on his team's schedule: "We want to get out of southeast Ohio. We know if we step out and go different places the athleticism is different."

• Despite getting out of the arena after 10:30 Thursday night and playing in the state title game on Saturday early afternoon, Watterson still had school on Friday. "We wanted to keep our normal routine going," explained Watterson coach Vince Lombardo.

• Alter's Joe Petrocelli on his final game ending with a loss in the state semis: "If only I could go out like Bob Saggerson (a friend of Petrocelli)." That was in reference to the former Lima CC coach who stepped down after winning a state crown in 2010.

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