Area D-I district madness claims Centerville, Wayne

Published: Saturday, March 09, 2013 @ 7:47 PM
Updated: Saturday, March 09, 2013 @ 7:47 PM

            Wayne's Ronnie Ortiz fouls La Salle's Connor Speed while fighting for a loose ball during their Div. I district championship game at UD Arena in Dayton Saturday, Mar. 9, 2013. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD
            E.L. Hubbard
Wayne's Ronnie Ortiz fouls La Salle's Connor Speed while fighting for a loose ball during their Div. I district championship game at UD Arena in Dayton Saturday, Mar. 9, 2013. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD(E.L. Hubbard)

March Madness has a different meaning for our best Division I area high school boys basketball teams. Might as well rechristen their postseason Black Saturday.

Springboro was the last in line to do what no area D-I team has done since 2009: win a district championship. The Panthers played the last of four games late Saturday night at UD Arena. They faced a daunting task: Mighty Cincinnati Moeller.

Earlier Centerville, then Wayne fell. The Elks (15-11) were game for a half, then wilted to far superior Cincinnati Walnut Hills, 68-54. Wayne (21-5) left its game in Huber Heights and was dismantled 59-43 by Cincinnati La Salle.

District D-I finals, traditionally played on Saturday, have not been kind to area teams. Last year Troy, Beavercreek and Springboro all were leveled. In 2011 it was Troy, Wayne, Trotwood-Madison and Meadowdale going down. In 2010, Fairmont, Trotwood, Wayne and Northmont fizzled.

No area team has advanced to a D-I regional since Matt Kavanaugh’s free throw with less than one second left was the difference in Centerville’s 52-51 shading of Trotwood-Madison in a 2009 district final.

Since then, Trotwood was been reclassified as D-II and Centerville has rebooted under first-year coach Brook Cupps.

One or two seasons of area D-I teams not advancing past this level are lean years. Four years is a trend. How has this happened?

“It’s a different mentality at La Salle and St. X and Moeller, the (Greater Catholic League) schools,” Wayne coach Travis Trice said. “They have things set in place. They’re holding those guys more accountable. It’s more like a military standing. We gotta be tougher on our kids. That’s the bottom line to it.”

Trice is old-school that way. So are many of his area peers. That’s a tough sell. I could never write some of the best stories I’ve been told by various coaches about that subject through the years.

The GCL style of D-I hoop hasn’t changed. Best to gird yourself with a neck roll when playing these often-undersized over- achievers. It’s usually ugly, physical and effective.

Five times since 2003 GCL teams have played for state titles, winning twice. To do that, dismantling an area team in a district final is a given.

It’s the system that works so well for the GCL, not the style. Trice conceded as much.

“Here in the Dayton area or coaching at Wayne, guys think that they’re entitled to something and they don’t necessarily have to work as hard,” he said. “In the GCL, the bottom line is they come with more of a hard-hat mentality. They’re used to doing what they’re told to do. Here, it’s really tough for us. A lot of cases we’re dealing with kids who have to work to be mentally tough and just aren’t.”

Cupps is the new guy in the D-I metro coaching fraternity. In many ways, he groomed a small-school GCL way of doing things at Graham. The Falcons bought in. So have the Elks.

It wasn’t long ago that Centerville was a district final regular. That 2009 team won its fourth district championship in eight years.

It took half a season for Cupps to win over the Elks with his new style of commitment. The rest could be Centerville program history in the making.

“It’s interesting. It’s been a fun part of it for me, just seeing the change,” Cupps said.

“One of my biggest concerns of leaving Graham and coming here was the kids. I didn’t know the kids. I knew that the kids at Graham were great kids and would do anything that I asked them to do and were fully invested. I told these guys that they’ve given us the exact same thing. They’re as bought-in and committed to what we want to try to do.”

None of what Trice and Cupps reflected on are guaranteed difference-makers at the district level. But at this point, they sure are good building blocks.

Coach suspended after 161-2 rout

Published: Friday, January 16, 2015 @ 6:50 AM
Updated: Friday, January 16, 2015 @ 6:50 AM

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You may expect a coach to be suspended for losing too many games. But what about when his team wins one?

That's exactly what happened to the head coach of a high school girls basketball team in California after they beat the other team 161-2.  

That is not a typo.  The Arroyo Valley High School girl's basketball team beat Bloomington High School  by nearly 160 points the Sporting News reported.

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But despite putting the bench in, they still scored and handily beat their opponents. 

That's where the suspension comes in.  According to the local newspaper, Arroyo Valley's school board suspended Michael Anderson for two games .

The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported Anderson played the starters for the first half and they scored an average of 13 points a minute, or 104 points in the first 16-minute half.

Some say putting the bench in the second half was too little too late.  The Daily Bulletin said Anderson should have slowed the game once it became obvious that the other team was no match.  They did report that Anderson imposed a 23-second wait on shots for his team. 

Another coach suggested in a Daily Bulletin story, that Anderson should have followed his lead when a score is one-sided and let the other side score and change the way the team played further, going so far as to not block a shot or steal the ball.  

As for the team, they handily beat their opponents in the first game of Anderson's suspension.  Arroyo Valley beat Indian Springs 80-19 Wednesday night.  Anderson will return courtside on Monday.

Combs’ 30 leads Greeneview over Miami Valley

Published: Monday, January 04, 2016 @ 10:43 PM
Updated: Monday, January 04, 2016 @ 11:46 PM


View photos from this game at

With four starters back from last year’s Division III regional semifinal team, there’s no chance Greeneview will sneak up on anyone this season. But with a lineup that tops out at 5 foot 8, there’s still much to prove for the Rams.

“We’re all kind of short, so everybody short-sights us anyway,” shrugged Kristen Combs after an as-yet season defining 71-45 dismantling of host Miami Valley in Monday night’s non-league girls high school basketball. “There’s a little bit of we’re trying to surprise people and show we can play physical. We can play tough.”

There was an abundance of that from Greeneview and especially from Combs. The senior drained five 3s and converted 11 of 12 fourth-quarter free throws to tally a season-high 30 points. Junior Sydnie Sonneman added 12 points for Greeneview (10-2).

It was only the second loss for Miami Valley (10-2), but the Rams might have benefitted in another way. Miami Valley has lost just three games in four of the last five season, but each time failed to win a D-IV district final.

That’s why coach Randy Duff loaded his non-league schedule with Versailles, Carroll, Greeneview, Thurgood Marshall and Fenwick. The payoff won’t be revealed until early March.

“That’s what we’re doing,” said Duff, whose team was led by Taylor Middleton’s 13 points. “The program’s been at a pretty high level for a while now. We just can’t seem to get over the hump. That’s why we put these teams on the schedule.”

Greeneview has lost only to Ohio Heritage Conference rival West Liberty-Salem (9-2) and Miami Trace in its previous game on Dec. 23. Cedarville (9-2) also is an OHC contender.

“Our style is a lot different than it was a year ago,” Greeneview coach Tim Hoelle said. “Hopefully, you have a game like this, that new style starts to click for the rest of the season.”

Miami Valley’s other loss was by five points at Versailles. There’s no letup in the schedule, with Metro Buckeye Conference rival Xenia Christian (10-1) visiting on Thursday.

“I like where we’re at,” Duff said. “My staff and I get out and we’ll see 200 games. We’ve seen the Division IV teams. We know where we’re at and we know what we have to do.”

Tia Karras added 10 points for Miami Valley and Alyssa Clements nine.

Stebbins 88, Xenia 27: Mackenzie Lingg hit a half-dozen 3s and tallied 24 points and Alyssa Bowman added 19 points as the host Indians improved to 13-2 in a non-league game.

Tecumseh 77, Northmont 53: Lindsey Nartker and Corinne Thomas each had 23 points and Presley Griffitts added 18 to lead the visiting Arrows (11-2) in another non-league game. Erin Mangen led Northmont (6-6) with 12 points.

Bellbrook 38, Vandalia Butler 34: Cassidy Hofacker scored 16 points as unbeaten Bellbrook (11-0) dodged a road scare. Shelby Moses led Butler (6-5) with 11 points.

Urbana 47, Piqua 32: Katy Curnutte unloaded 30 points for host Urbana (4-8).

Milton-Union 51, Covington 45: Jordan Price had 11 points and five steals and Taylor Jacobs was good for 10 points and as many rebounds and the host Bulldogs used an 18-10 fourth-quarter run to improve to 10-3.

Boys results

Yellow Springs 68, Miami Valley 58: Isaiah Taylor tallied 22 points and Kaner Butler 18 for the host Bulldogs (8-3). Casey Gossett had 28 points for Miami Valley (1-9).

Bethel 59, Troy Christian 30: Caleb South scored 16 points and Ian Anderson added 14, including 4 three-pointers for the host Bees.

It’s Duke for Luke

Published: Monday, March 24, 2014 @ 8:07 PM
Updated: Monday, March 24, 2014 @ 10:14 PM

Watch the moment the crowd found out his decision

Luke Kennard went from being the most beloved figure in the history of Franklin High School basketball on Monday to someone that much of America will love to hate.

And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It happens,” said Kennard, who verbally committed to national power Duke University on Monday night. “I’m pretty sure it happens to every recruit who goes somewhere. My family and this community is going to support me and that’s what it’s all about. That’s all I care about.”

Landing Kennard was all Duke and a half-dozen other national powers cared about once Kennard revealed that he would commit this spring. Although he made up his mind about a week ago, he didn’t publicly announce the long-anticipated decision until Monday night before about 1,000 fans, teammates, community well-wishers and family at a packed Darrell Hedric Gymnasium at the school.

The event included the Franklin icon whom the fieldhouse is named after. The occasion also served as a celebration for Kennard being named Ohio’s Mr. Basketball last week, among many other player of the year honors.

Duke won out over Ohio State and Kentucky. A natural homebody, Kennard was linked to OSU because of its relative close proximity to Franklin. UK seemed to be in the running because he grew up a Wildcats fan and his father Mark Kennard played at nearby Georgetown College.

Michigan, Michigan State, Louisville and North Carolina also initially were in his final choices. He cannot sign until the early signing period in November.

Kennard informed all the schools that were in the running for his services that he wouldn’t be committing to those schools on Sunday.

Kennard insisted on speaking to Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski about the decision. Like so many other coaches to recruit Kennard, Krzyzewski and top recruiting assistant Steve “Wojo” Wojciechowski flew into Springboro’s Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport on Monday afternoon, made the short trip to Franklin and learned of the good news from the celebrated 6-foot-6 junior.

Kennard said he mentally committed after visiting the Durham, N.C., campus earlier this month.

“Just being around Coach K and the players and how the program was run, you could tell it was a really special place,” Kennard said. “I could see myself fitting in there. Coach K talked to me about that. I really appreciate what he’s done for me. I felt at peace with my decision and it was the best fit for me.

Kennard averaged a state-best 40.0 points this season. He also was good for 10.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.9 steals for the Wildcats (20-4).

He had a breakout offensive season, surpassing 50 points three times. He set most significant single-season and career offensive records, including a 59-point outburst in the final home game against Monroe.

Kennard anticipates playing early at Duke and not necessarily in any one position.

“Coach K said putting me at a certain position wouldn’t be doing me a favor,” he said. “He said I’m a playmaker; I’ll be playing everywhere.”

Kennard is easily the most heavily recruited area basketball player in recent hoop history. No other area boys player is believed to ever have suited up for the Blue Devils.

Alison Bales of Beavercreek played for Duke’s women’s basketball team as did Alexis Rogers of Lakota West before transferring to Bowling Green State University.

Kennard owns a 4.25 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society. Also a football standout, he shared the state’s Division III offensive player of the year honors last fall. He intends to play football as a senior, but also may not.

Kennard likened Durham to Franklin.

“We had a plan to get it over with this spring,” he said. “It was hard keeping it in from all my friends. It was a struggle. I just felt a peace about it. Now I can enjoy my senior year and that’s what it was all about. It’s a big stage with a small, home-town feel. That’s what I really liked about it.”

Trotwood overtaken by Upper Arlington

Published: Saturday, March 22, 2014 @ 12:22 AM
Updated: Saturday, March 22, 2014 @ 12:22 AM

It was easy to label Trotwood-Madison as living a charmed postseason life. How long that would last was the great unknown.

The Rams found out in Friday night’s boys high school basketball Division I state semifinals.

“We got caught up in the moment of being here under the lights,” reflected Rams standout senior Dazhonetae Bennett. “We just lost focus. That’s all it was. We just really lost focus.”

Upper Arlington was the reason. The Golden Bears put a thorough 74-49 pummeling on the Rams in front of 14,000 mostly Arlington fans at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center.

The other D-I semifinal on Friday was just as lopsided with Lakewood St. Edward taking out Cleveland East Tech 89-64. That puts Upper Arlington (27-1) against St. Ed (25-2) in today’s D-I state final (8:30 p.m.).

Trotwood (25-3) emerged from the regional in grand fashion, dodging Wayne by two in overtime and crushing Moeller’s state-title hopes with a late three to win by one.

There would be no similar heroics against Upper Arlington.

Arlington led by nine after the first quarter and 14 at halftime. The Golden Bears easily passed around Trotwood’s signature harassing defense and scored easily. Arlington torched Trotwood by hitting 25 of 39 field goals (64 percent).

“We came down here with high expectations,” Trotwood coach Rocky Rockhold said. “We kind of felt like we had dodged a few buzz saws along the way, but I really felt like we ran into one (against Arlington).”

Trotwood never seemed offensively in sync. Uncharacteristically, the Rams went to the 3-ball once it was obvious Arlington was in control. The only problem was Trotwood misfired on all but one of its 16 treys.

Bennett had 23 points and six rebounds for the Rams. Jemichael Blanton added 10 points and Kendric Mallory nine.

Arlington broke the game open with a 17-0 run. Kevin Vannatta paced the Bears with 25 points.

Trotwood trailed Moeller by 16 points in the last four minutes of the regional final and rallied. Not this time.

“We knew that they could come back in a hurry, so we had to keep the throttle on,” said Vannatta.

Arlington will take a 25-game win streak into the state final. The alma mater of golf great Jack Nicklaus, the Golden Bears hadn’t been to a final four since 1939. It’ll be the last of the four state title games, all of which can be seen live on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.

Trotwood’s setback finishes off the last of three area teams that all lost in the state semis. Thurgood Marshall (D-II) and Tri-Village (D-IV) were knocked out Thursday.

“Our kids are tough kids and we’ve played hard all year, but we got caught up in the moment a little bit,” Rockhold admitted. “I missed a step somewhere along the line of getting them ready and for what it was going to feel like when they took that floor.”