Doesn’t get any better than Alter girls, Trotwood vs. Dunbar boys

Published: Friday, March 17, 2017 @ 10:03 PM
Updated: Friday, March 17, 2017 @ 10:03 PM

Dunbar’s Devon Baker (left) battles Jared Laski for a loose ball. Dunbar defeated Carroll Bloom-Carroll 71-37 in a boys high school basketball D-II regional final at Fairmont’s Trent Arena on Thursday, March 16, 2017. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

There are many contenders for area supremacy every high school basketball season. Sometimes an unforeseen wildcard makes a memorable breakthrough. More often than not, it’s the best of the best that makes a final statement.

That’s what will rapidly play out today. The Alter girls basketball team is looking for one last gem in its unprecedented four-year run, playing in yet another Division II state title game at Columbus.

The boys are up next, and it’s a dandy: Trotwood-Madison vs. Dunbar at Fairmont’s Trent Arena.

All three of those programs have kept area basketball at the highest level over the years, both locally and state-wide.

Alter is a two-time defending D-II state champ. All that stands in Alter’s way is former nemesis Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown (18-10) in a 10:45 a.m. title matchup at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center. Brown set a state record with 37 straight postseason wins and five consecutive titles from 2009-14, which included championship defeats of Alter in 2010 and ’14.

Alter beat Brown in the 2008 title game for its first state championship. This will be Alter’s fourth straight state title appearance. Of the 16 participating girls teams at state, just five are private schools, which includes Alter and Brown.

Think Alter (27-2) is on cruise control? Not a chance.

“There’s a lot of emotions that play into it,” Alter senior standout Braxtin Miller said with a nod to teammate Libby Bazelak following a 50-43 overtime defeat of Ottawa-Glandorf in Thursday’s state semifinal. “Obviously, we’re seniors and we have a lot at stake. There’s a lot of pressure to do your best and be your best because this is our last go at it. We definitely have some pressure to deal with.”

Joining Alter in playing for a state title is Versailles (26-3), which is matched against Gates Mills Gilmour Academy (23-5) for the D-III state title at 5:15 p.m. also at the Schott.

This is a rematch for Trotwood (25-2) and Dunbar (24-3) and the one that counts most, because the winner will advance to next week’s state final four. Trotwood outlasted visiting Dunbar 98-89 on Feb. 4. The countdown to a rematch started before the teams left the court that night.

“Both (Dunbar coach Pete Pullen) and I hoped it would be this,” Trotwood coach Rocky Rockhold said after being pushed by Taft in Thursday’s regional semi, 61-56. “We went on the bracket early on and we said if we’re going to have to play each other, let’s make it mean something. And it does.”

The high-end star quality that has defined previous great Trotwood and Dunbar teams is lacking, but both are loaded with next-level talent. It’s fitting that one will represent Dayton-area basketball at state next week. They are the last area boys teams remaining in the postseason in any division.

“We’ve watched them a million times and they’ve watched us a million times,” Rockhold said. “There won’t be any secrets or surprises. They’re going to do what they do and we’re going to do what we do and see who gets that trip to Columbus.”

WATCH: Our special report on the Dayton Flyers … Who’s Got Next?

Published: Thursday, March 30, 2017 @ 8:52 AM

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Flyer Nation … Who’s Got Next?

Join us tonight at 7:30 on WHIO-TV Ch. 7 for our special on Dayton Flyers basketball.

ARCHDEACON: One prime candidate could be ‘natural fit’ for Flyers

  • We’ll take you to Bloomington to hear what Archie Miller had to say about his former team and his plans for moving on to Hoosier Nation.
  • We will introduce you to Anthony Grant the next head coach of the Flyers
  • The Voice of the Flyers, Larry Hansgen, has been through every Flyers coaching change in the last 30-plus years. He sits down with someone who helped the program through the transition six years ago and what we can expect.
  • It’s a been a trying week for the Dayton players. Find out how they are dealing with the uncertainty.

The show is live tonight on WHIO-TV, AM 1290 and News 95.7 WHIO, whio.comdaytondailynews.com and Facebook Live. We will be sharing comments from viewers on Facebook throughout the broadcast.

Dayton Flyers announce hiring of Anthony Grant

Published: Thursday, March 30, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

The University of Dayton announced the hiring of Anthony Grant as the next head men’s basketball coach Thursday. Grant has spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Grant succeeds Archie Miller, who was the head coach for six seasons before leaving for Indiana on Saturday. Grant is the 19th head coach in UD history and the seventh in the last 70 years. He is the second UD grad to coach the Flyers. The first was his former coach, Don Donoher.

"I am honored and humbled to be the head coach at the University of Dayton," Grant said in a press release. "It's a great responsibility to take over at an institution that is so well-respected. Anyone you talk to in college basketball would say our program is a successful one, but the potential is here for so much more."

Grant, 50, was a head coach at Virginia Commonwealth (2006-09, 76-25) and Alabama (2009-15, 117-85) earlier in his career. He was an assistant coach under current Thunder head coach Billy Donovan at Florida from 1996-2006. Grant played for the Flyers from 1983-87, scoring 902 points.

RELATED: Tom Archdeacon on Anthony Grant

“Anthony Grant is a proven winner with the highest integrity,” Sullivan said. “He has successful experience in coaching, recruiting and playing basketball at an elite level. I welcome Anthony to our staff and look forward to partnering with him as we continue to aggressively pursue graduating student-athletes, winning conference championships and advancing in the NCAA Tournament. He is absolutely the right coach.”  

What Reds fans need to know about Opening Day

Published: Thursday, March 30, 2017 @ 10:38 AM

CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 4: General view during the National Anthem as teams line up before the opening day game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on April 4, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The 141st Opening Day game for the Cincinnati Reds is Monday, when the team will take on the Philadelphia Phillies at 4 p.m. at Great American Ball Park.

Here is what you need to know about all the festivities:

• The sixth annual Reds Community Fund Charity Block Party kicks off at 11 a.m. on Joe Nuxhall Way, Freedom Way and Walnut Street. It features food, beverage and live music from the Naked Karate Girls. Admission is free.

›› RELATED: Top 10 Reds positon prospects to play in Futures Game in Dayton

• The 98th Findlay Market Opening Day Parade begins at noon with Reds Hall of Famer Sean Casey serving as Grand Marshal. A select group of current Reds also will make an appearance along the route.

• A military appreciation ceremony will take place on the field, where five local veterans will be honored during pregame ceremonies.

›› MORE: Rookie Reds lead the pitching staff

• Prior to the singing of the National Anthem, the Reds will pause to remember the lives of several members of the Reds family who passed away during the offseason, including Rick Steiner, a longtime Cincinnati resident and member of Reds ownership.

• The National Anthem will be performed by Marlana VanHoose from Denver, Ky. This will be the third Opening Day in a row to feature VanHoose, who has performed the anthem at more than 100 events, including the NFL, NBA and NHL games, NASCAR races and the Republican National Convention.

• The pregame flyover will be performed by two F-16 Fighting Falcons of the 112th Fighter Squadron “Stingers” from the 180th Fighter Wing Ohio Air National Guard Base in Toledo.

• The ceremonial first pitch will be delivered by David Joyce, President & CEO of GE Aviation. Catching the pitch will be Joe Allen, GM of GE Global Operations - North America.

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• The Toyota Tundra Sweepstakes Ceremony will feature eight finalists who entered the contest appearing on the field at the end of the first inning. After a spin of the prize wheel, one of the finalists will win a 2017 Toyota Tundra Double Cab 4x4 truck.

• God Bless America will be performed by vocalist Staff Sergeant Kelly Perry of the United States Air Force Band of Flight, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, during the 7th inning stretch.

Sports Today: More on Dayton’s coaching search, Mike Brown and Adam Jones, whither Robert Stephenson?

Published: Thursday, March 30, 2017 @ 10:15 AM

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 25:  Robert Stephenson #55 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the Chicago Cubs during their exhibition game at Cashman Field on March 25, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Cubs won 11-7.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Another day, another story about Anthony Grant and the Dayton Flyers basketball coaching vacancy. 

Tom Archdeacon writes the university has reached out to the former Flyer, who is an assistant for the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Grant is interested in the job. 

He also provides lots of great background on Grant here

Earlier in the day, Thunder coach Billy Donovan told reporters there was “nothing necessarily to report” about Grant and Dayton, but he also did not do much to shoot down the possibility he could lose perhaps his most trusted lieutenant. 

“I think for him right now it’s really more than anything else just trying to evaluate situations,” Donovan said. “I know he’s very, very happy here. I’ve enjoyed being back with him (after) being with him for so long.”

He also said he wouldn’t be surprised if Dayton wanted to talk to Grant. 

“He’s a good coach, and there’s gonna be people that are gonna want to inquire about him, Dayton is his alma mater. He went to school there, he’s got connections and ties there.” 

It stands to reason no matter the interest in any particular candidate, school officials will cast a wide net and consider multiple options, including the current staff… 

The Cincinnati Bengals made news yesterday with owner Mike Brown telling the team website he is not looking to cut loose embattled cornerback Adam Jones. 

This tells me more about Brown than it does Jones.

What do you think?… 

While Dayton is still in search mode, Miami University found its new coach in Jack Owens. 

The former Purdue assistant is being touted as a great recruiter with strong ties to the fertile Indiana recruiting grounds, where he found reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Caleb Swanigan. 

Also worth nothing: Last time Miami hired a coach with no previous experience as the head guy, it was Herb Sendek. That worked out pretty well… 

The Associated Press released its top 100 college basketball programs of all time, rankings Ohio State 12th and Dayton 76th. 

Of course, since this is based on the completely meaningless AP in-season polls, this really means next to nothing… 

Rookie Davis has become the headliner from the young pitchers set to break camp as members of the Cincinnati Reds (thanks in no small part to Charlie Sheen), but what about Robert Stephenson? 

The former No. 1 prospect is going to be on the Opening Day roster, but he won’t be in the starting rotation. 

RELATED: The top 10 prospects set to face the Reds in Dayton on Saturday

Davis and Amir Garrett have passed him up over the past year, though he might be happy to be guaranteed big-league meal money rather than having to go back to bus duty in the minors

“I just want any opportunity to be in the big leagues,” Stephenson said. “I want to go up there and get myself better for years to come. I’m confidant that I will be back in the starting rotation. I think this is good for me for now.”

After struggling with his curveball this spring, he worked on a slider late in camp. 

How he’s able to work on a new pitch in the majors (and with potentially inconsistent opportunities to pitch out of the bullpen) remains to be seen, but Bryan Price had good things to say about him. 

“He’s done more than probably anybody else in the last two or three weeks to show signs of turning a corner to look like a big leaguer.” Price said. “I feel strongly that he can help us in this role and develop as a pitcher.”

Time will tell… 

That’s all for today because of Ohio State spring football interviews. 

Check me out on Twitter and Facebook to see what comes from those!