With a grueling regular-season slate complete and the postseason just around the corner in a fortnight’s time, the area’s boys basketball teams were handed their tournament marching orders Sunday afternoon, with a handful of local squads earning stellar seeding.
In Division II, Defiance was rewarded for its play over the past month-plus as the 13-5 Bulldogs earned a No. 3 seed in the meatgrinder known as the Ohio Northern District thanks to eight wins in their last nine games.
“I’m really proud of our guys getting the three seed and a chance to play for a sectional title,” said Defiance coach Kirk Lehman, whose squad will get a Western Buckeye League rematch with either Van Wert or Wapakoneta at Paulding High School on Friday, Feb. 28’s sectional final doubleheader at 6:15 p.m. “But like always, the tournament is a whole new season each and every night.”
Defiance won at Van Wert 51-41 on Dec. 13 and will travel to 6-12 Wapakoneta on Friday. The Bulldogs’ sectional final matchup will be followed by two-seed St. Marys taking on Bryan at 8 p.m.
Napoleon and Wauseon both elected to play in the Lima Senior District, with 10th-seeded Napoleon playing 11-seed Celina for the right to face Division II co-No. 1 Lima Shawnee in the sectional finals. Meanwhile, Wauseon took a first-round bye in the bracket, as the fourth-seeded Indians will face either Kenton or Elida in the sectional finals Friday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m.
In Division III, the state’s third-ranked team in Ottawa-Glandorf was rewarded for an excellent 17-1 regular season with the No. 1 seed in the Lima Senior District. The Titans will face either Lima Bath or Allen East in a sectional final on Feb. 28 at Miller City while 11-9 Tinora. a seven-seed, will face 14-6 Mount Blanchard Riverdale on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 8 p.m. at Miller City. That victor will take on either Liberty-Benton (12-7) or Coldwater (9-10) in the sectional finals.
The other sectional in the D-III area district will tip off at the Elida Fieldhouse in the last week of February. Fairview was awarded the No. 9 seed in the district and will face Delphos Jefferson (8-10) in the sectional semifinals on Feb. 26 at 6:15 p.m. with a matchup of former Northwest Conference compatriots in Paulding (11-seed, 6-12) and 10-8 Lima Central Catholic at 8 p.m.
Fairview defeated Delphos Jefferson 46-45 in overtime on Dec. 6. Wayne Trace, which earned the No. 3 seed after a 15-5 season so far, will face the winner of Fairview and Delphos Jefferson on Friday, Feb. 28 at 6:15 p.m. at Elida while 16-4 Bluffton awaits the Paulding-LCC victor.
After one season of traveling south to the Lima Senior District last season and seeing an unbeaten season fall short in the district semifinals, Archbold will return north to the Toledo Central Catholic District, where it earned a No. 2 seed behind top seed Evergreen. The two NWOAL unbeatens will ironically face off this Friday in Metamora.
While Evergreen elected to travel to the Holland Springfield District and will await Feb. 25’s Van Buren-Otsego winner on Friday, Feb. 28, Archbold will play its sectional games at Wauseon High School against either ninth-seeded Swanton in a rematch of a regular season game played on Feb. 21 or a contest against former NWOAL squad Montpelier in the sectional finals.
Liberty Center will get its shot in the sectional semifinals at Wauseon on Tuesday, Feb. 25 against 9-11 Genoa, with the winner advancing to face four-seed Ottawa Hills.
Finally, a historic season in Antwerp became that much more notable with the No. 1 seed in the Division IV Defiance High School District.
A longtime fixture at Napoleon’s “Grand Canyon,” the “Dawg Pound” will make the switch with Napoleon from the sectional to district hosts. The unbeaten and third-ranked Archers (18-0) took a first-round bye in the Napoleon Sectional and will face either Stryker (3-14) or Hilltop (2-17) in a sectional final on Friday, Feb. 28 at 6:15 p.m.
The Archers did not face Stryker during the regular season but will face Hilltop on Saturday at home.
“Our kids were super excited to be awarded that top seed,” said fourth-year Antwerp head coach Doug Billman. “I think it does provide a testament to what we’ve been able to accomplish. It’s exciting for our fans and for our community but everybody’s going to be gunning for us and trying to knock off the No. 1 seed.”
Edgerton will take on Maumee Valley Country Day in a 6:15 p.m. sectional semifinal at Napoleon on Wednesday, Feb. 26, with the winner facing either Edon or Pettisville in the sectional finals. Pettisville beat Edon by nine points on Jan. 4 with the BBC rematch slated for Friday.
At Bryan High School, a Green Meadows Conference rematch between third-seeded Hicksville (14-6) and 10th-seeded Ayersville (7-12) highlights the matchups to be played. The Aces claimed the regular-season conference clash by a 46-32 margin on Jan. 2. That winner on Feb. 26 will take on either Fayette (11-9) or North Central (10-10) in the sectional finals on Feb. 28, following a clash between either Toledo Emmanuel Christian or Holgate and the No. 2 seed and Division IV’s ninth-ranked squad in the Eagles of Toledo Christian.
Rounding out the Division IV competitors are the members of the Elida District, headlined by the No. 1 team in the state in Division IV, the Columbus Grove Bulldogs.
The 19-0 squad elected to take a first-round bye and will battle either NWC foe Ada (7-12) or PCL rival Fort Jennings (2-18) in the sectional finals on Friday, Feb. 28 at Bluffton University.
At Van Wert High School, Kalida will matchup with Patrick Henry in a 6:15 p.m. sectional semifinal on Wednesday, Feb. 26, with the winner taking on either fifth-seeded Lincolnview or No. 6 seed Miller City in the sectional finals. Pandora-Gilboa and Continental will get a rematch from their regular-season PCL matchup with the prize being a date with second-seeded Ottoville (16-3) in the sectional finals.