Boys state basketball notebook: Lima Central Catholic, Crestview return to Final Four

By BRUCE HEFFLINGER @cnbhefflinger Published:

For the second time in five years the six-county area has been shut out when it comes to a trip to the boys state basketball tournament.

Since a dreaded two-year drought when nobody from the area reached state in 1989-90, this little corner of Ohio has been well represented in Columbus. Only in years 1993, 1995, 1998, 2003 and 2010 has the six counties in northwest Ohio failed to have a team make it to the Final Four.

Ironically, in 2010 Lima Central Catholic was in the state field while in 2003 Crestview was part of the group of teams playing for a state title.

Those two teams are back this year and while there are no teams at state from this immediate area, both of these squads have a local connection. LCC, which eliminated Ottawa-Glandorf in the Division III regional finals, is led by Defiance College graduate Frank Kill while Edon grad Jeremy Best is head coach of Crestview, which beat Wayne Trace in the D-IV regional title game last Friday.

"Seventeen years ago I was a young lad playing in the state tournament," Kill said on Saturday after beating O-G, in reference to his high school playing days when Kill helped Lincolnview to the state championship. "That's something you want all of your kids to have an opportunity to do. I was fortunate enough to be around in 2010."

That year Kill was an assistant coach under Bob Seggerson during LCC's state title run.

Best was the head coach during Crestview's last state appearance in 2003.

Now on to a few tidbits about each of the first-round games.

Division II
Thursday, 10:45 a.m.
Norwalk (27-1) vs Dayton Thurgood-Marshall (22-5)

Norwalk leading scorers Jeff Thomas and Ben Haraway are cousins. Both will be playing in the Ohio-Kentucky All-Star Game … Jordan Johnson, a standout on the Norwalk football team that made the playoffs for the first time in 38 years, won the Northern Ohio League 100 meters in track last spring.

Thurgood-Marshall lost to Dayton Dunbar twice and Cincinnati Taft once during the regular season, but beat both at the regionals … Juwan Staten, the leading scorer in the Big 12 this year at West Virginia, is a graduate of Thurgood-Marshall … Derrick Daniels, a 6-8 sophomore, averages a double-double 10 points and 10 rebounds per game.

Thursday, 2 p.m.
Columbus Watterson (25-2) vs Akron SVSM (19-9)

Watterson was a 55-52 winner over SVSM in last year's D-II state championship … Only six players saw action for Watterson in the 2013 title game and five are back this season. Tommy Geraghty, a 5-9 senior, was a starter a year ago but comes off the bench this season in an all-senior starting lineup.

SVSM has three returning starters back from a year ago … The Fighting Irish started the season 1-5 with top player VJ King out with an injury … SVSM has a 2-1 record against teams in the state field, with wins over Thurgood-Marshall and VASJ and a loss to St. Ed's … SVSM has been in the state semis nine of the past 15 years.

Division IV
Thursday, 5:15 p.m.

St. Thomas Aquinas (17-11) vs Harvest Prep (26-1)

Aquinas' only other state appearance was 1975 ... The Knights averaged 87 points per game in winning their first four tourney games while giving up 39 ... There is nobody taller than 6-3 on the roster of Aquinas … The Knights made 17 3-pointers in one game this season.

Harvest Prep is the smallest school in the state field with just 59 boys … Junior guard David Dennis Jr, son of the head coach, averages six steals a contest. He had a season-high 41 points and scores 22.3 ppg.

Thursday, 8:30 p.m.
New Madison Tri-Village (26-1) vs Crestview (27-0)

The Patriots have a two-year record of 52-2 … Tyler Cook, a 6-6 senior, is second in school history in rebounds (670) and third in scoring (1,165) … Damion Cook, a 6-5 junior, set a school mark for rebounds in a season with 321 (11.9 per game) this year.

Leading scorer Damian Helm was the starting pitcher in the D-IV state semifinal game last June … The last time the Knights played at state Kory Lichtensteiger was a starter. Lichtensteiger is currently a starting offensive lineman for the Washington Redskins … Only four opponents scored 50 or more points against Crestview.

Division III
Friday, 10:45 a.m.

Cleveland VASJ (21-7) vs Columbus Ready (21-5)

If VASJ wins state it would become the first school in OHSAA history to win a state title in all four divisions … The Vikings beat Leipsic for the D-IV state title a year ago … This year's starters combined to score 58 points in last year's game with Leipsic … VASJ has an enrollment of just six more boys than D-IV Crestview. Two fewer boys and VASJ would be D-IV.

Of Ready's five losses, two came to Watterson and two to Hartley. The Silver Knights avenged the losses to Hartley with a 51-41 win in the district finals … In four previous state appearances, Ready has won state twice and finished second once.

Friday, 2 p.m.
Roger Bacon (21-4) vs Lima CC (23-4)

The last time Roger Bacon was at state, the Spartans beat LeBron James' SVSM squad en route to the 2002 state championship … Austin Frentsos, a 6-3 senior, is the second-leading scorer and a career 1,000-point scorer but does not start.

Three sophomores start for LCC including second-leading scorer Xavier Simpson (18.4 ppg) … The Thunderbirds are just 13 boys away from being Division IV … LCC lost to Crestview 66-54 during the regular season.

Friday, 5:15 p.m.
Lakewood St. Ed's (24-2) vs Cleveland East Tech (24-3)

St. Ed's has beaten teams from five different states this season … Head coach Eric Flannery has the most wins of any coach at state this year with a record of 338-105 in 18 years with the Eagles.

East Tech lost to Findlay 70-49 early in the season … The Scarabs do own a 70-54 regional win over Shaker Heights, one of two teams to beat St. Ed's this year … Between 1956 and 1972 East Tech was at state 10 times, finishing first three times and second three times. This is the first time at state since winning a state title in 1972 … KT Taylor, a 6-2 senior, is the leading scorer of any player at state this year at 25.2 ppg.

Friday, 8:30 p.m.
Upper Arlington (26-1) vs Trotwood-Madison (25-2)

Upper Arlington had not been to regionals since 1942 before this year … The last three wins by the Golden Bears were over Gahanna Lincoln (Javon Bess, Michigan State signee), Pickerington Central (Jae'Sean Tate, Ohio State signee) and Columbus Northland (state finals two of the last five years) … Jack Nicklaus is a graduate of Upper Arlington.

Trotwood-Madison shocked number-two ranked Cincinnati Moeller 62-61 in the regional finals … T-M is just six boys away from being Division II … At only 6-2, Dazhonetaie Bennett averages 5.3 blocked shots per game. Bennett, a first team all-state selection, also averages 24.3 points and 10.8 rebounds.

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