Sunday, March 29, 2015

Wayne captures first ever State Championship; Dunbar falls in final seconds; C-J loses in semis

With three teams up in Columbus battling for High School State Hoop supremacy, here's the results of all three teams and how they fared.

Wayne Train seizes first ever state title, defeats Westerville South

When speaking with Wayne coach Travis Trice before the trip, he seemed at peace with what his team had accomplished.

But he knew he had the team to win it all.

And they did just that with a 65-57 win over Westerville South as they sprinted out early, controlled the game and hit timely free throws late to grab the biggest win in the school history in front of over 10,600 people.

D'Mitrik Trice led the Warriors with 19 as four Warriors hit double figures. Xeryius Williams, Trey Landers, and Robert Caldwell all balled out as Wayne came out much different than in the classic Semifinal game vs Lakewood St Edward.
In the semifinals Wayne was tested to the max.

Lakewood came out firing, grabbed a early lead, and set the tone. Wayne responded in second half, pushed it to OT, then dominated Overtime to get to the final.
Remember, St. Edward was the team who beat the Wayne Train to win the OHSAA D-1 football championship, so the extra motivation was there.
This time the Warriors would get the job done.

Coach Trice felt like the players believed in each other, was prepared mentally, physically, and spiritually & the "play for the one to the left and right of you" mentality is what helped the Warriors win its first ever State Championship.

And with what the Warriors have coming back?

Could be a couple more "Wayne Train" stops in the Schottenstein Center in the near future.

All Aboard the Wayne Championship Train.
Salute the champs.

Dunbar loses in final seconds to Defiance in Semis

The Wolverines had a golden opportunity to get to the State Championship, but couldn't take advantage of a lead and a couple of missed chances cost Dunbar as they lost 46-45.

Defiance came out stong early and established the tone, but Dunbar quickly reversed those fortunes and grabbed the lead late in the first quarter.
The Wolverines were ahead for most part of the second quarter and although the game was tight, Dunbar seemed to have a slight edge, as Ohio State bound Amos "A.J." Harris led the team at half with 10 points & Terrance Landers had 6.

In the 2nd half Dunbar grabbed a lead and held it for most of the half until the final moments. Dunbar was ahead 44-39 midway through the 4th quarter and it looked as if they would pull away.
But Defiance kept battling, and eventually tied it up in the last minute. Terrance Landers was fouled and made 1 of the 2 free throws, which left the door open for Defiance.
Defiance then was fouled after missing two shots and grabbing two offensive rebounds.
They hit both free throws to take the final lead. Dunbar came down and tried to get a shot up, but was unable to get one off as Defiance stole the ball underneath and was fouled with 3 seconds.

They would miss the front end of 1 & 1 but Harris half court desperation heave was short, and Defiance was on to their first ever State Finals.
Dunbar was outscored 9-4 in the 4th quarter, which sealed their fate.
A.J. Harris led the Wolverines with 19, & was the only player in double figures.
Harris did say that "he loves playing in the Schottenstein Center" & that he feels that Dunbar "should get back to State" next year.

After the game, Head Coach Peter Pullen was very dissapointed with the outcome, but was proud of his team and knows they will be back.

Note: Defiance did go on to win State, in OT.

C-J falls in fourth, loses to Lima Central Catholic

C-J fell behind early and although they came back strong late, fell to Lima Central Catholic 55-50 in the D-3 OHSAA Semifinals.
Lima jumped out early, and the Eagles responded. Central Catholic held a lead at half which ballooned to 15 before a 15-2 run by the Eagles cut it to 3, 45-42.
The Eagles would get it to 2, but Catholic knocked down some key free throws to send the Eagles home.
Coach Staley felt like his boys played hard, but Jus didn't execute quite well enough against a top notch opponent.
This was the Eagles 7th trip to the State.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Dunbar, Wayne look to get to State Finals today

  Dunbar, Wayne will look to win their State High School semifinal matchups tonight as they take on Ohio's best at Ohio State's  Schottenstein Center today.

Wolverines pep rallyin' it up
Dunbar, who's in D-2, plays at 2 pm today & will take on Defiance. They scrimmaged Defiance this summer, but wasn't at full strength as Doriane Dawson didn't play, as well as others.
The Dunbar coaching staff knows that the squad will be tested, as Defiance will not beat themselves and have had a great season.

Yesterday they had a hyped up pep rally and send off for their Wolverines.

But the Wolverines feel like this is their year, especially since they started the season #1 in state poll and after the great run they have had this season. Hasn't been as pretty as other teams, but the heart, soul and grit has been in full effect, which could be a problem for Defiance.

On the flip side, the Wayne Train has entered unfamiliar, but familiar territory.
What does that mean?

This is the first time the Warriors have been to state, so in that respect, they are in unfamiliar territory.

Wayne Train headed to state
The team they will be playing?  Cleveland St Edward, the team they lost to in the State Football Championship.
After talking with Coach Travis Trice, he feels like there will be a little "Added Motivation" for the Warriors, as some players play football and hoop, and most of the hoop players are cool with the football players as well.

The feedback has been overwhelming, and its been a landmark season so far already.
But make no mistake.
The Wayne Train is not just looking to get here. They want it all. They've been ranked in the top 10 in the country, and has used that to fuel them to this point.

Can the Wayne Train get to the State Championship destination?
All aboard.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Wayne Train outlasts Springfield, makes 1st ever State Appearance; Dunbar snatches state berth from Franklin; C-J headed back to state led by Vest

Going into the weekend, 5 schools from Southwest Ohio had a chance to get to state.
4 of the teams would have to play each other to get there.
After this epic weekend of hoops?

Dunbar, Wayne, and C-J all will head to Columbus as they clinched berths to Ohio HS State semifinals on Saturday.  Here's the recap:

A.J. Harris goes up over Austin Doliboa and Matt Thompson

Dunbar pulls off comeback, defeats Franklin in OT

 In the words of  Dunbar Coach Powell,  "Pressure bursts pipes."
And that was no more evident in this prime time matchup, which featured superstar players, great coaching, a almost sold out Arena, ruckus fans, and more twists and turns than your favorite roller coaster at Kings Island.
   In what may be billed in the future as the High School game of the Decade, Franklin dictated the first half, took control in the 3rd, only to have Dunbar come back from a 10- point deficit in the final quarter. Sophomore wing Chris Jackson  then hit one of his 2 huge 3's to send the game into OT. Dunbar used a late miss by Kennard and a free throw by A.J. Harris to take the final lead (77-76) and a missed 30-ft shot by Kennard to get back to state since 2012 - Harris freshman year.

Franklin had every chance to win the game, but could not shut the door on the Wolverines.

Luke Kennard passes Jay Burleson on All-Time Scoring List

    They led by 13 in the 3rd, led by 10 midway through the 4th and by 6 with less than 2 minutes remaining in the game. Kennard was dominant (41 pts, 9 reb), and it seemed that the Wildcats would claw their way to the first EVER State appearance.
   But A.J. Harris woke up in the final quarter (23 pts, 9 dimes) and it was no doubt that he would not let the Wolverines die. After a airball early in the 4th, Dunbar coach Pullen grabbed his senior captain and told him to "calm down" and to "play his game." And indeed he did, as he showed all 12,000+  people why he will be attending Ohio State next year. 

When the game was over? Stunned faces on the Franklin faithful. Anger on the players faces.
When I spoke with Franklin coach Brian Bales after the game, he didn't have many words. Just in shock. Felt like his squad had it. As he looked over the empty arena, one could only imagine what was going on in his and his teams mind. It was a great season, but was almost magical. And now its over.
That "Damn AJ Harris" he said.

As for Dunbar?  Jubilation. Exhalation. Celebration. And preparation. For the moment.
For these moments.
Chris Jackson cuts down the nets after Huge 3's

They'll be heading to state and solidifying themselves as The marquee high school in Dayton.
                                No pressure on the Wolverines. No pressure at all.

Wayne Train rolls through Wildcats late to get to first ever State Semifinals

Wayne Train gets to first ever State for HS Hoops
 (courtesy of Image Jock)

With all that happened with these two teams there was no doubt that Wayne and Springfield would be fired up Saturday. A state berth on the line, two talented programs, a altercation earlier in the season, and with everything on the line?
  It was all that and then some.

   Springfield jumped out early, and seemed to set the tone of the game, along with the officials, with lots of fouls calls early as they didn't want any physical problems like in the earlier game.
And yes, the game was chippy.

  But Springfield seemed to play with more moxie and coolness, and looked to be the more experienced squad in the first half, as they held a small lead.

Despite early foul trouble, Wayne was able to stay in the game. Danny Davis and Darius Harper provided the bulk of the work for the "Field" to gain that momentum.
Brawl between the "Field" and "WayneTrain"

   However, in the second half the Wayne Train got going and with their State title hopes on the line, a early National Ranking to boot, D-1 players all over the roster, a top notch coaching staff, and all the expectations and disappointment that might follow? Could they rise up?
The Wayne Train got rolling and outscored the Wildcats by 12 in the fourth to capture its first ever State berth. Coach Travis Trice, while super excited, celebrated with the squad, then had to hit the road to watch Travis Trice Jr. (Michigan St) as they take on Virginia in the NCAA tourney.

Dayton bound hoopers Trey Landers, Xeyrius Williams, and  junior sensation Roderick Caldwell led the Wayne Train to the W.

Ironically, the Wayne Train will take on the same team it did in the State Football semifinals.
 Friday 8:30  vs  Cleveland St Edwards

Congrats to Wayne and its organization. They deserve it. And salute a young Springfield team who will be back next season.

C-J pulls away from Cin. Schroder, gets to another state

Eagles back to State in D-3

C-J  moves to another state after defeating Cin. Schroder 68-53. The Eagles (22-6) pulled away late in the game as Alan Vest hit some huge baskets to get them over the hump.
 Last season Cin. Schroder lost to the Eagles, and were ready for the battle. But C-J kept its composure, and once again  reached the State. Coach Staley knows his team will be tested, but was extremely proud of the team. 
The Eagles only want state appearances and titles, and will have another legit chance to bring one back to the Miami Valley.
Salute the Eagles, as they once again show that they can produce in pressure packed situations, in front of a packed house at Trent Arena.
Can they win the D-3 Title?

With that being said, Dayton has a team in  the D-1, D-2 and D-3 State semifinals.
Don't get much better than that for the Miami Valley.
Can we go 3 for 3? Very possible.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Dream Matchup arrives as Franklin wallops Bellfontaine and Dunbar cruises by Col South; WayneTrain and Springfield collide for State; C-J one win away

  When the high school basketball season started in Southwest Ohio there were three teams that were "teams to watch" and two players who were the "players to watch".

2 of those three teams (Wayne, Dunbar, Thurgood) have a chance to get to state...
 and those two players to watch? 

A.J. Harris and Terrance Landers ball out vs Col South

Luke Kennard (Franklin) and A.J. Harris (Dunbar). Oh yeah, and they will play each other.

   The AAU teammates who have been as coveted as it can get in the High School ranks here in Southwest Ohio will face off against each other on Saturday (3pm UD Arena) as perennial contender Dunbar 22-5 will welcome upstart Franklin (25-1) as the stakes couldn't be any higher.

 In the first game, Dunbar defeated Columbus South as South jumped out to a early lead (7-3). Dunbar took a step back and unleashed a fury on South as they dominated the rest of the half to hold a 11-point lead at half 41-30. Terrance Landers and A.J. Harris led the charge.
  In the second Dunbar held serve, moved the lead up to as many as 20, before cruising the finish. Landers (13), Harris (20) and Dawson (11) scored double figures and Evan Clayborne led the defense with 7 boards, 3 blocks and a steal. And freshman phenom Devon Baker was solid, with 8pts, 4 boards, 3 assists & a steal.

Col. South was led by Marquez Hargrove (16 pts) and Tamal Watkins (11 & 6 reb) and although their coach was disappointed with the result, he was proud about the season and optimistic about next year.

As for the Franklin - Bellfontaine game?

Franklin, jumped out 17-0 and never looked back. Bellfontaine looked rattled from the start, and by the time their top scorer took his first shot?
It was 3 min left in quarter and down 17.
 No chance.

Evan Crowe, Matt Thompson and Kennard outscored Bellfontaine in the first half themselves. They hit 10 3's and 11 overall - in the 1st half alone.

It was 45-15 in the second, the Wildcats rode that hot shooting, Kennard hot start and deadly playmaking to a rout which had the Wildcats fans in a frenzy.

Now while it was always thought that Dunbar would be here, it was a wonder if Franklin could get here. Well they're here and the matchup is here, so bring it on.
This game could be a Dayton High School classic.

Wayne Train, Springfield to meet up for State Title hopes

When Wayne played in Springfield earlier this year, it turned ugly. Real ugly. Suspension ugly. And since then, there has been some chippiness between the schools. Well, on Saturday night in Cincy, a state berth is on the line.
      The Warriors and Cats both had multiple players suspended, and both programs have since  focused on the game, and have both been on great runs late in the season.
    Which team will be able to play the game, and not get caught up in the hype, the desire to pummel its opponent and execute the game plan?
   It has been a amazing run for the Wildcats. I salute them.

But the Wayne Train this year hasn't lost in a regional game yet.
Don't think I'd bet on it either.

C-J defeated Northridge and will move to another regional final. Northridge had a great season, and should be in the regional running for next season.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Dunbar, Franklin, Centerville, C-J, Northridge, Springfield, and Wayne Train remain in State Title Hunt; Dayton teams smack Cincy teams

With so many teams still in the tourney, its no wonder why Dayton is the epicenter for hoops in March. Entering this week, there are 6 teams from Dayton area vying for a spot at state, & there could be as many as 3 teams in the Ohio High School State Championships.
Here's the recap on what went down last weekend:

Dunbar rolls through Cin. McNicholas

Dynamic Backcourt Duo A.J. Harris and Doriane Dawson
Dunbar was much more offensive in this game and AJ Harris and Doriane Dawson led a balanced charge as they defeated Cin McNicholas 69-57. The Wolverines never really seemed in trouble, even with the score under double digits late in the game. Hughes, coming into the game on a hot streak, quite frankly, didn't have enough muscle and only one player who was consistently hitting shots. Assistant Coach Darran Powell felt like the Wolverines were much more offensively in tune, as opposed to the clash with Alter last week.
The Wolverines will take on Col. South (19-6) on Thursday.

Franklin survives with Kennard in foul trouble, defeats Shawnee

Franklin came in with a swagger and a confidence that was brimming from their dismantling of Ponitz last week. But Shawnee provided a valuable lesson to the Wildcats:
Don't sleep on anyone this late in the tourney.

  Shawnee went toe to toe with Kennard and Franklin, grabbing the lead early in the second quarter, and seemingly having momentum. Then the Kennard Show began, and Franklin grabbed the lead back - a lead they would expand to 10 until late in the third, when Kennard picked up his 4th foul.
The entire city of Franklin took a gasp. Could Shawnee take advantage?
Senior Forward Austin Doliboa kept the ship steady with a couple of big buckets and Franklin was able to play even with Shawnee for half of the fourth quarter, which was enough time to get Kennard back in the game.
Shawnee got it to 5, but Franklin hit free throws, executed late and will move on to its first Regional in decades winning 62-55.
They will face Bellfontaine (16-9) Thursday night (8pm)

The Wayne Train continues to roll

This season at Wayne has to rank among the best in their sports history, as the Warriors throttled Cin. Milford 63-39. The Warriors had a balanced attack, and have been downright scary in the tourney, winning by a average of 50+ points. The Warriors will be tested in the Regionals, as they face one of the only teams to defeat them - Centerville - next. I'm sure the Warriors will be fired up for the matchup, as they look to avenge the late season loss to the Elks.

Northridge magic ride continues, faces C-J in Regionals
  The Polar Bears (21-2) great ride continues as Northridge defeated Cin Roger Bacon 74-61.  Before the game, there were still some skeptics, as the Polar Bears have reached heights that haven't been attained in decades. When they defeated Stivers last week, it was, "Oh but they will lose to Cincy Schools"
Not so fast my peeps.
Northridge controlled the game, and showed its next opponent (C-J)  that, if you underestimate, you will lose.
Speaking of C-J, the Eagles continued its late season surge with a 61-56 victory over Cin Hills Christian Academy; And now will face Northridge at Trent Arena (Wed) for a chance at another Regional Final.

The "Field" back in the Regionals
Springfield (19-7) is back in the Regionals after a strong showing at UD Arena with a 54-41 thumping of Cin. LaSalle. Danny Davis led the Wildcats and after a average regular season, they haved turned up in the last month or so, and the results are a Regional berth. This, along with a rejuvenated football program, could start a sports rebirth in the "Field" which has been on the downslope in recent years. Up Next: Cin Moeller (18-8)

Dayton Teams punish Cincy schools this year.

Every year the talk of the Districts is: Who wins the battle? In the more recent years, it has been back and forth, but this year? Dayton area schools dominated the matchups, winning all of them.
There is only one Cincy team left in D-1 or D-2 (Moeller) and  2 teams left in D-3 (Purcell Marian & Schroeder).

Heres the final results from the matchups of  Dayton vs Cincy  2015

Dunbar            defeats   McNicholas
Wayne             defeats   Milford
Centerville      defeats   Elder
Northridge      defeats   Roger Bacon
C-J                  defeats   Hills Christian Academy
Springfield     defeats    LaSalle

Bellfontaine  defeated Taft
Moeller          defeated  Wilmington

So while every year is different, but for this season?
Dayton won this round of HS hoops

Monday, March 9, 2015

Wayne smashes Tecumseh by 50; Dunbar squeaks out win vs Alter; Stivers, Ponitz, Xenia fall; Luke Kennard shows why he's going to Duke

With the Hoop Tourney sectionals pitting the best against the best in the city, its usually one of the biggest and most hyped times in the Dayton area. Last weekend was no different as we recap the biggest storylines and games this weekend - and how they played out.

Dunbar defeats Alter in final seconds
 In the game of the day, a rivalry that is as big as it gets in the Miami Valley, the game was equally as close as no team was able to muster a double digit lead the entire game. Dunbar held a lead - albeit slight - for most of the game, but could not deliver a knock out punch, which kept the game tight - and low scoring - which fell right into the Knights hands.
After Dunbar held a 4-point lead with 2 minutes to go, they seemingly were rattled, missing 3 one and ones and a 2-shot free throw to keep Alter afloat. After a made basket to tie the game with 35 seconds, Coach Pullen called timeout to call the final play.
After running the time down, A.J. Harris kicked it to Dorianne Dawson who slid by a defender, drove baseline, and shot a double pump 10-footer that banked cleanly off the glass and swished into the basket, with little time left.
Alter actually had 1.5 left on the clock, and got a Christian Laettner like look, but the shot was short, and a huge sigh of relief and jubilation occurred for the Wolverines, who will battle the Cincy sectional winner this week in the District Finals. After the game the coaching staff knew they had stolen one from Alter.
Coach Pullen was quoted as saying, "Win and advance," which is all that matters.
March Madness is upon us, no doubt.

Wayne smacks Tecumseh
The Warriors had no problem taking out the Indians as they won by almost 50, dispelling any rumors about a upset. The Warriors were dominant from the start and UD signee Xeyrius Williams and D'Mitrik Trice led the squad.

Northridge defeats Stivers
The Polar Bears continued to show why there no fluke in defeating Stivers to win the Sectionals. Stivers, who were thought to be the team to beat in the division, were stunned by the Bears D who froze out the Tigers offense in holding them to 38 points total for the game. Northridge will move on to District Final as they enjoy their most successful season yet (20-2).

Kennard, Franklin shows out vs  Ponitz
After three straight years of being eliminated by city league schools, this game would be the tell tale game of Luke Kennard's legacy. Can he beat a City League champion in a game that matters? Last season I watched as Kennard was hounded into a average game against a tough Thurgood team. It was a one-man show and Thurgood was too talented to let that happen.
With a sold out crowd in attendance - a first for a high school game - since LeBron James high school game, this would be the, "Defining moment" of his career.
Luke Kennard drops 42 in Sectional Final
This time Franklin would not get behind as they dropped 5  3-balls in the first quarter (4 by Matt Thompson), and they were off to the races. Ponitz, playing in its first Sectional final ever, seemed a little uneasy in the first, and the Wildcats took full advantage jumping out to a 10-point lead in the first. Every time Ponitz would make a move, Franklin would respond.
And then there was Kennard.
Despite double teamed half of the game, the Duke signee still managed to score 42 - and hit ALL 23 of his free throws.
Ponitz couldn't seem to get away from the deficit, and the 11- point halftime lead grew exponentially after Franklin withstood Ponitz's hot shooting in early 3rd quarter, then got Ponitz in foul trouble, reaching the bonus midway in 3rd, which sent Kennard to the line. All night. He made all the right decisions, never looked rattled, and battled through a super physical game, (being poked in the eye, pushed, shoved, etc.). And he led his troops in the thickest of physical altercations, showing that he will not be punked.

Even ESPN TV analyst and former Centerville Elk Kirk Herbstreit was at the game, tweeting about how incredible the Kennard following is.
Like I said before, the only other High School hooper to EVER sell out UD Arena in our era?
LeBron James.
Next game is Friday Night at UD Arena.
How far can the "Luke Kennard" show go?

March Madness is in full effect here in Dayton.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Dunbar wins by 70; Kennard drops 33; all City League teams into 2nd round

With the Regular Season over in High School, its all about the State, and here are the top Headlines for week 1 in HS Hoops in Southwest #Ohio:

(1) #Dunbar wins by 70, destroys Eaton
Earlier last week after speaking with the Dunbar coaches, they all were eager to see how their kids would respond after another City League Title, A top-10 State Ranking, and a great record to boot; however, the coaches weren't as happy with some late season performances and wanted the Wolverines to show more of a "dominant" mentality.

Well if the first round is any indication, I see why nobody wanted to play them, as Franklin, Ponitz, & Thurgood elected to head to the other side of the district bracket.
In a completely overwhelming performance, the #Wolverines won 101-30.

Key stat?

Eaton never scored in double digits - in any quarter. 9 was all they could muster.

#OhioSt signee #AJHarris dropped 20, and it was a rout from the tip.
#Dunbar will play #Belmont next.

(2) #Kennard drops 33, as Franklin defeats Monroe;
#Franklin held serve vs Monroe as smooth lefty Luke Kennard was hot early and often, and moved the #1 seeded Wildcats to the next round. Kennard, (headed to #Duke next season) who recently moved to #3 on the All-Time scoring list, will look to get Franklin out of the Districts for the first time in his tenure.

(3) #Wayne dominates
Nationally ranked #Wayne dismantled Butler 103-46; With multiple players in double figures, this was merely a warm up. Up next:

(4) All City-League teams still alive after 1st round:
Its always interesting to see which city league teams will last the longest. With Ponitz being on par with Dunbar this season and Thurgood and Stivers slipping a little, its a wonder:

How many City League squads can legitimately get to regionals?
Last year there were three:
 (Thurgood, Dunbar, Stivers)
  • #Ponitz has all the talent to go to state, but can they win in the bright lights with the pressure turned up?
  • Can #Stivers shake off a tough season and show their playoff mettle? Last year they got to regionals. Can their leaders step up and repeat the performance?
  • Can #Meadowdale make a run in D-3 this season?
  • Can #Thurgood show their savvy and ride their key players (Daniels & Hoskins) back to the regionals?
Note: Thurgood and Ponitz plays next round.