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Weekday Mornings doing Sports on the Mike Miller Show.
Local Football & Basketball Play By Play on WIMA.
First Pitch show leading up to Reds Baseball on WIMA.
As the play-by-play voice of Bowling Green Football and Mens Basketball on the Falcon Sports Radio Network.
Formerly served as the play-by-play voice of the Columbus Destroyers of the Arena Football League.
After decompressing for a few days it's time for my reflections on the 91st Boys State Basketball Tournaments.
I'll do by Divisions, starting with D1:
It was a great tournament for the Mentor Cardinals. They played their fast paced style despite taking on teams that were more athletic in Columbus Northland and Toledo Rogers.
In the semifinals Mentor defeated #1, 28-0 Northland by dominating the fourth quarter and closing out the game on a 19-8 run after the game was tied at 61. They were simply a better coached team. They never panicked or went away from the gameplan and they made free throws (13/16 in the 4th and 26/31 overall).
In the Championship Game the Cardinals survived a 21 point first half from Devonte Pratt to pull away for a 76-67 win. They again were the smarter and better coached team as they continued to pay special attention to Tony Kynard (8 points, 3/13 FG) and Clemmye Owens (12 points, 5/20 FG) and let Pratt keep shooting. Predictably, in the second half he missed almost every shot he took (1-for-6 after going 9-for-11 in the first half) and siphoned opportunities from Rogers' two best players.
It was a program defining win for Mentor and was the school's first team championship.
Rogers had more quickness than any team in the tournament and became the first Toledo Public School to make the Division I finals since 1990. However, their "roll out the ball and play" strategy, while good enough to beat Walnut Hills in the semis, wasn't sufficient to bring home the title.
My Division I All-Tournament Team:
Jeff Foreman, Mentor--39 points (6-of-13 on threes) in the two games and he never came off the floor.
Caleb Potter, Mentor--didn't do much in the semis (2 points) but he was big in the title game with 24 points on 4-of-8 from deep.
Tony Kynard, Rogers--Huge semifinal (25 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists) and was the quickest player in the entire tournament.
Ty Hairston, Northland--He came off the bench and kept the Vikings in the game with Mentor by scoring 19 points.
D.J. Wingfield, Walnut Hills--Ohio is getting a good one. He scored 20 with 9 rebounds in the loss to Rogers.
Even though they eliminated Bath in the Regional Final, I don't think I enjoyed watching any team work more than the Watterson Eagles.
In the semis they contained Atler's Jaaron Simmons (averaging 26 in the tournament), holding him to 17 points. Coach Vince Lombardo and his staff had an amazing gameplan and their team executed it to perfection, as they did in all four game I saw them in the Regional and State Tournaments.
Then in the title game, they used every bit of grit and smarts they had to hold off Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary and deny them a record-tying seventh championship.
They had just enough athleticism to go along with perfect execution, fundatmental basketball and toughness (physical and mental) to finish with the best record in Ohio (28-1).
They had five players average between 8 and 13 points per game and with that balance they were very hard to defend. All of their guys could handle the ball as well which kept their turnover numbers down (9 vs. Alter and 8 vs. ASVSM).
***As an aside, for proof of how good Bath's pressure could be, Watterson had 21 turnovers in the win over the Wildcats.***
Cody Calhoun came to personify Watterson to me when he missed only one possession of the final game after getting drilled in the face and bleeding all over the place. He came back in the game and proceeded to take it to the basket and get an "and-one" in a tight game.
And one of the Watterson assistant coaches owns the Varsity Club. That means they probably had the best postgame celebration!
And they only had one senior starter. Look out again next year.
My Division II All-Tournament Team:
Cody Calhoun, Watterson--Played all but one minute, scored 23 points and had only 1 turnover. Team leader.
Matt Hughes, Watterson--21 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks in semis then put up 14/5/2 despite foul trouble in the final game.
Matt Lehman, Watterson--Smooth operator that just quietly puts up good numbers. He scored 22 points while pulling down 12 rebounds in the two games. He also had 3 assists and 3 blocks.
Nick Wells, ASVSM--Unsung leader of the Irish. Scored 32 points in his two games.
Jaaron Simmons, Alter--Despite tough night vs. Watterson, his overall play is outstanding and he's a factor even if he's having an off night shooting.
What can you say about O-G's T.J. Metzger. His nine three-pointer, 36 point game in the title matchup with Versailles is now part of State Tournament lore.
His three pointer total of nine in a game and 13 in the tournament are both records (the former tied him with Demond Lyles of Lima Senior who also had nine in the 1992 Divsion I Championship Game) and the 36 points in the 14th most (11 players) ever in a State Tournament game.
Metzger had a big semifinal game as well with 25 points but the Championship Game performance was transcendent.
Click here to listen to all nine of his triples from my broadcast of the game: http://soundcloud.com/toddwalker-1/tj-metzger-9-threes-in-title
For O-G it was their third title, one of only 26 schools to win that many.
And, it's the third different Head Coach as former Titan star Tyson McGlaughlin followed in the footsteps of Josh Leslie and his coach, Dave Sweet. I'm thrilled for Tyson who was truly one of the greatest Titan players but his teams never made a tournament run. Now he has.
While all of Titan nation is happy, I'll bet you still can't remove the smile from Kevin McGlaughlin's face to this day. The proud pop and assistant coach looked like a kid about to go outside and play in the snow after school's been cancelled.
Also I need to talk about Matt "Chewy" Kaufman. He doubled his scoring average by netting 18 points in the two games, he also had 11 assists and three steals. His 11 points in the overtime semifinal win over Ironton were pivotal.
It's his defense, however, that sets him apart.
There are no stats to quantify what he does for the Titans in that way. Sure he had three steals but that doesn't begin to explain what he brings to the table.
To me, "Chewy" will always be as big a State Tournament legend as Metzger.
My Division III All-Tournament Team:
Kyle Ahrens, Versailles--His dunk in the semifinal win over LaBrae was good enough for SportsCenter and was the single most impressive dunk of the tournament. He's only a sophomore and he's going to be great. Big and strong yet quick and athletic and he can shoot.
Damien Richard, Versailles--He was great in the semis with 21 points. An injury slowed him in the title game but he will also be back for the Tigers as he is only a junior.
Trey Fletcher, Ironton--The Titans simply couldn't handle this big guy. He scored 27 points and hauled in 13 rebounds as he almost single-handedly carried the Tigers to the final game.
Unfortunately, the Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph Vikings were able to participate in the small school division, thus polluting the proceedings.
To clarify, I don't mean that they were disruptive or disrespectful or anything of the sort. I'm not villifying the kids. In fact I thought they were great in that regard.
I'm simply saying that a team with four future Division I players cannot be in the small school division. I'm sure they'll be bumped up at least one division whenever a new system to classify teams is divised and approved.
Be that as it may, they probably could have beaten any team in any division.
Leipsic earned my ever lasting respect by battling them thier way and not backing down. They went out swinging, and went out as champions in my book.
You can't help but love Aric Schroeder, the Leipsic point guard.
As my broadcast partner Tom Von Sossan said, Schroeder is like a dog that's latched on to your pant leg. You simply can't shake his defense. He won't allow it.
In addition to Schroeder I fell in love with the play of many other Vikings. There's Austin Brown, the undersized post man who excels versus bigger players with athleticism, smarts and hard work.
There's Caleb Barerra, with his perfect ACT score, fitting into his role perfectly and seemingly always in the right place at the right time. He also made up for a lack of size with great athleticism in the painted area.
And Zach Schroeder. The Leipsic "microwave". When he comes in, scoring will follow. He had four threes in the Regional Final and the State Semifinal as well, making eight threes in fifteen attempts.
Of course the ring leader was the PCL Player of the Year, Devin Mangas. His fearlessness and breakneck play personified this team. As did his clutch play when games were on the line.
The fast pace they play makes them fun to watch but it was their grit and toughness (much like I was saying about Watterson earlier) that has endeared this group to me.
Congratulations to Coach Scott Maag and his team for a great run. Like Frank Sinatra, they did it their way, with no apologies and no regrets.
As their dream for a State Championship slipped away, you could really see the love this team had for each other. When the starters came off the floor for a final time, the embraces were very telling.
Thank you Leipsic for taking me along for the ride.
My Division IV All-Tournament Team
Aric Schroder, Leipsic--Like Matt Kaufman, numbers don't explain what he does.
Zach Kuhlman, Leipsic--Without his huge semfinal performance (24 points, 4-of-8 from three), Leipsic wouldn't have advanced to their first-ever Championship Game appearance.
Demonte Flanigan, VASJ--He'll do well at Cleveland State. He totalled 41 points and 17 rebounds in the two wins.
"Boo" Gibson, VASJ--A big (6'3") guard that can do it all. He'll play at Evansville next year. His two game totals: 36 points, 14 rebounds, 17 assists, and 8 steals. Not bad.
Steven Carpenter, Fairfield Christian--The 2nd team All-Ohioan lived up to the billing vs. Leipsic with 26 points and 6 assits. He's just a junior as well.
1. The total attendance for the Tournament came in at 128,507 or an average of 10,709.
Many bemoan the drop in attendance at the tournament over the last 5-6 years but to put in context how well attended our tournment is, let's compare it to "hoops crazed" Indiana.
Their State Tournament Championship Games aren't even separate sessions. For four games/two sessions their total attendance was 24,945 or an average of 6,236. Ohio's attendance is 72% higher.
It will probably never return to 15,000 plus but it's still the best tournament in the nation.
The highest attendance was for the OG-Versailles game (first game on Saturday) at 13,851 while the worst was for the VASJ-Troy Christian game (first game on Friday) at 8,986.
2. A salute to Mercer County native Ben Kramer as he officiated a State Tournament game for the first time in his career (OG-Versailles title game no less).
3. There were no "Poll Champions" able to duplicate that with an on the court title but all four Champs were ranked in the top 8 in their divisions: Mentor #8 in D1; Watterson #2 in D2; O-G #6 in D3; VASJ #2 in D4.
4. Alter's loss in the D2 semifinals was the final game for Coach Joe Petrocelli who retires with 831 wins, second only to Kalida's Dick Kortokrax's 850. For Petro it was his ninth trip to state. He won 25 District, 9 Regional and 3 State Championships in his 49 years at Alter. He's the only coach the school has ever had.
5. Northland, as did Twinsburg on the girls side, entered the State Tournament at 28-0 thus giving them a chance to become Ohio's first-ever 30-0 team. Northland lost in the semis to Mentor while the Twinsburg girls lost in the title game to Kettering Fairmont.
6. VASJ, claimed its fifth state tite overall and became the first school to reach the State Tournament in all four classifications. Previously they had claimed titles in Division I (1991) and Divsion II (1992, 1994 and 1995). They were State Runners-Up in Division III in 1996 and 2006.
7. Also, VASJ has joined Columbus East (5), Dayton Dunbar (5), Akron SVSM (6) and Middletown (7) as the only schools with at least five titles. By the way, the local leader is St. Henry with four titles. OG has three as does Delphos St. Johns and Ft. Loramie.
8. Speaking of Ft. Loramie, the man who coached them to titles in 1987 and 1993 (Dan Hegemier) now has company in an exclusive club. Hegemier also won a title with New Knoxville in 2008. Entering this year's tournament he was one of only eight men to win a Championship with two different schools. There is now a ninth name on that list: Bob Krizancic of Mentor. He had previously coached Girard to a D2 title in 1992. He now has 530 career wins as well. In addition to Hegemier and Krizancic, here is the list of other coaches to win a title at two schools:
Bob Walsh: Lorain, 1974; Oberlin 1986.
Vince Chickerella: Cols. Linden McKinley, 1967; Cols. DeSales, 1987.
Michael Haley: Dayton Roth, 1976, 81, 82; Dayton Dunbar, 1987.
Dave Hoover: Westerville North, 1994; Canton McKinley, 2005, 06.
Joe Suboticki: Akron SVSM, 1984; Portsmouth, 1988.
Charlie Huggins: Strasburg, 1967; Indian Valley South, 1972, 76.
Columbus Hines: New Lebanon, 1962; New Lebanon Dixie, 1966.
9. Metzger's 36 points was the third most EVER in a title game WIN. Jerry Lucas scored 44 in a win over Canton McKinley in Class A in 1956 and Mike Phillips had 38 in Akron Manchester's Class AA win over Columbus Bishop Hartley in 1974.
Jon Liggins had 42 points in a win for Lutheran East over Africentric in the D4 game in 2005. However, that game was later forfeited.
10. T.J. Metzger and Boo Gibson were the only 1st team All-State players to make it to a title game.