Wright State’s Benzinger reluctantly accepts tournament MVP award

Published: Tuesday, March 06, 2018 @ 11:14 PM

Wright State’s Benzinger reluctantly accepts tournament MVP award

Wright State senior Grant Benzinger has never turned down an interview, but it was clear he was a little uneasy stepping to the microphone and accepting the Horizon League tournament Most Outstanding Player award as his teammates cheered the announcement.

“It’s not about me, it’s about these guys,” he said with a nod toward his teammates during the midcourt ceremony after WSU had beaten Cleveland State 74-57 to earn the program’s first trip the NCAA tournament since 2007.

In three tournament games, Benzinger scored 42 points, 28 rebounds, six assists, three steals and zero turnovers

›› PHOTO GALLERY: See pictures from the Raiders’ championship win

Later in the postgame press conference, he told the assembled media he thought they got the voting wrong.

“I think Lou deserved the Most Outstanding Player,” Benzinger said. “He out-played me the first two games. I just had a great championship game. I think Lou deserved it.

›› Wright State tired of talking about tired

“We’re roommates, actually, for this trip, and I just him I wanted to empty my tank tonight and just leave it all on the floor and have no regrets,” Benzinger continued. “And he did the same.”

Love had 44 points, 41 rebounds, six assists and eight turnovers and four blocks.

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Also making the all-tournament team were Cleveland State’s Tyree Appleby and Kenny Carpenter and Green Bay’s Khalil Small.

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Marion Local rolls over Fort Loramie in D-IV regional final

Published: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 11:24 PM

            The Flyers celebrate a D-IV regional championship and trip to state final four. JEFF GILBERT / CONTRIBUTOR
The Flyers celebrate a D-IV regional championship and trip to state final four. JEFF GILBERT / CONTRIBUTOR

Marion Local is going to the Division IV boys high school state basketball tournament for the first time since 2004.

»RELATED: Wayne falls to Moeller late

The Flyers jumped out to a big early lead and held off a Fort Loramie run in the fourth quarter for a 62-47 victory at a packed Trent Arena on Friday night.

»RELATED: Wayne “finds a way”

Tyler Prenger made five 3-pointers and scored a game-high 23 points to power the Flyers (23-4). Nathan Bruns added 17 points and Matt Rethman 10.

»RELATED: Trotwood responds to South’s challenge

Dillon Braun led the Redskins (25-3) with 19 points and Evan Berning added 10.

»RELATED: Springfield coach, “we’ll be back”

»RELATED: Boys regional pairings/results

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Moeller pulls away from Wayne late in D-I regional final

Published: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 10:24 PM

Wayne boys basketball coach Nate Martindale addresses a 65-53 loss to Moeller in a D-I regional final at The Xavier University Cintas Center on Fri., March 16, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Trailing by just four midway through the final quarter, Wayne couldn’t keep pace and lost 65-53 to Cincinnati Moeller in a boys high school basketball Division I regional final at Xavier University’s Cintas Center on Friday night.

»RELATED: Wayne “finds a way”

The victory sends Moeller (25-3) back to the D-I final four for the season straight season. Last year’s state runner-up, Moeller will play the Lorain/St. John’s Jesuit winner in a state semifinal on Friday, March 23, at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center in Columbus.

»RELATED: Trotwood responds to South’s challenge

Wayne (25-2) was led by Youngstown State signee Darius Quisenberry with 21 points and three steals. Another senior, guard Deshon Parker (James Madison) hit 6 of 9 shots and added 15 points. Warriors junior Rashad McKee was good for 11 points.

»RELATED: Springfield coach, “we’ll be back”

Wayne trailed 50-44 when senior L’Christian “Blue” Smith fouled out with 4:15 left. He had six points and five rebounds.

»RELATED: Boys regional pairings/results

Wright State recruit Jeremiah Davenport hit 9 of 13 shots for 21 points and seven rebounds to lead the Crusaders. Jaxson Hayes, a 6-10 senior center who’s headed to Texas, added 20 points, seven rebounds and six blocks.

»RELATED: Girls state final four pairings/results

»TWITTER: You should like @MarcPendleton

The teams hadn’t played in more than a decade, but it won’t take that long again. Moeller coach Carl Kremer said the powers will begin a home and home regular-season series next season at Wayne.

»FACEBOOK: For more high school sports you should like Marc Pendleton

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Sports Today: The NCAA tournament still rules

Published: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 9:45 AM

BOISE, ID - MARCH 15:  Keita Bates-Diop #33 of the Ohio State Buckeyes shoots the ball against Reed Tellinghuisen #23 of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in the second half during the first round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Taco Bell Arena on March 15, 2018 in Boise, Idaho.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
BOISE, ID - MARCH 15: Keita Bates-Diop #33 of the Ohio State Buckeyes shoots the ball against Reed Tellinghuisen #23 of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in the second half during the first round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Taco Bell Arena on March 15, 2018 in Boise, Idaho. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

I’d say that was a successful first day of March Madness. 

Until the last couple of games ended without drama (thanks for nothing, again, Michigan), Thursday was about as much as a basketball fan can ask for. 

The first game of the day went into overtime, we had a mid-afternoon buzzer-beater and a pair of big upsets. 

If not for Wright State laying an egg, my bracket would have looked pretty darn good since I’m assuming pretty much everyone else picked Arizona to beat Buffalo, too. 

That was as far as I had those Wildcats going, though, so that’s a first-round upset that didn’t hurt me much in the big picture. 

As for Wright State, well, I was optimistic going in, but Tennessee was favored for a reason. 

The Raiders were bad offensively even compared to their normal game, which is obviously a recipe for disaster against a good Tennessee squad. 

I thought the Volunteers played an average game while WSU came out cold and never recovered. 

Of course, Wright State had to be at its best to win, and the Raiders were far from that. 

›› RELATED: Revitalized WSU women open WNIT play at Toledo

I would imagine some of those shots in the second half would have been more likely to drop if not for the hole the Raiders were in. 

But this could be the type of experience they can build on for the future

“I think as time goes on, they’ll be able to look back and see what a special season this was,” he added. “One thing I told them is that I haven’t enjoyed every team that I’ve coached, but I really enjoyed these guys. This team has been a joy to coach, and for as thin as we were and as young as we are, we accomplished so much.”

One of the fun parts of March Madness is seeing those teams that come back with the same group two or three times in a four-year span and get that big win after absorbing some hard lessons… 

Then there’s Ohio State. 

The Buckeyes certainly looked rejuvenated after nearly two weeks off. 

It was refreshing watching them be able to make shots again, at least until they fell in love with the 3-point line. 

That was the type of game you can really look back on fondly if your team wins. 

Sure, giving up a double-digit lead hurts, but on the bright side the Buckeyes then got to show some intestinal fortitude. 

This was also a pretty good microcosm of Chris Holtmann’s first season coaching Ohio State. 

Keita Bates-Diop showed off his all-around game while leading the team in scoring, C.J. Jackson ran the team and made shots, and Andrew Dakich had some key bridge plays to keep the team afloat. 

Then the Buckeyes were able to play their wild card, Kam Williams, at just the right time. 

Hats off to South Dakota State, too. That was a fine team.
The Jackrabbits were probably a little underseeded... 

Tyler Eifert won’t have to change his Twitter avatar for at least another year thanks to his new contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. 

This is another win-win situation in all likelihood

Given that free agents have a tendency of not working out when they change teams, the Bengals are probably Eifert’s best bet for resurrecting his career. 

Cincinnati did not have much money left to spend if it wants to extend Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins in the offseason, but this looks like a good use of it. 

So the value of staying together was probably pretty high on both sides in this case, and the Bengals have another potential weapon if Eifert can stay healthy. 

If he can’t, they already know they have some reliable options behind him. 

And if they can’t afford to keep him next year, well, that’s good for Eifert because it means he had a pretty successful comeback… 

The women’s tournament starts today with Dayton in action this afternoon and Ohio State playing tomorrow. 

The ninth-seeded Flyers face Marquette at 2:30 p.m. with the winner (most likely) taking on No. 1 seed Louisville in the second round Sunday. 

» GAME PREVIEW: Dayton gets competitive edge back in practiceEverything you need to know about Friday’s game

Ohio State is a No. 3 seed and plays host to No. 14 George Washington at St. John Arena on Saturday afternoon. 

The Buckeyes are again in the same region with No. 1 seed Notre Dame. 

The Fighting Irish knocked them out in the Sweet 16 last year. This time a rematch (pitting Fairmont grads Makayla Waterman and Kathryn Westbeld) would be in the Elite Eight. 

Ohio State women’s basketball coach Kevin McGuff talks about how the Buckeyes are playing with the NCAA tournament coming up next.

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Versailles, Minster advance to finals but Bellbrook falls

Published: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 4:09 PM
Updated: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 11:10 PM

            Bekah Vine of Bellbrook. Gilmour Academy defeated Bellbrook 47-40 in a girls high school basketball D-II state semifinal at OSU’s Schottenstein Center in Columbus on Friday, March 16, 2018. ERIC FRANTZ / CONTRIBUTOR
Bekah Vine of Bellbrook. Gilmour Academy defeated Bellbrook 47-40 in a girls high school basketball D-II state semifinal at OSU’s Schottenstein Center in Columbus on Friday, March 16, 2018. ERIC FRANTZ / CONTRIBUTOR(ERIC FRANTZ / CONTRIBUTOR)

Year 1 of the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Competitive Balance initiative yielded favorable results for public schools in girls basketball. Fourteen of the 16 teams in this week’s 43rd annual state tournament field do not require tuition fees for attendance.

Dayton sent three of the biggest throngs Thursday and Friday.

Bellbrook, which set a Division II record for most presale tickets in its last trip to state (2012), sold more presale tickets (1,226) this season for its D-II semifinal. The Eagles brought four busses of students.

»RELATED: Minster routs Waterford

Minster and Versailles provided their usual mobs.

“Just so proud of our community and the support we receive,” Bellbrook coach Jason Tincher said. “It means the world to us to have such a great backing.

“It was a tough challenge with Gilmour. They have such great talent. Watching them on tape we saw a lot of weapons.”

»RELATED: Versailles passes state semifinal test

Both parochial schools that made the state played area schools. Versailles beat Elyria Catholic, 63-47, in a D-III semifinal Thursday, while Bellbrook fell, 47-40, to Gilmour Academy on Friday. Minster beat Waterford, 46-31, in a D-IV semifinal Thursday.

Of the local tests, Bellbrook’s was the stiffest.

Playing in its third state tournament, the Eagles (20-9) couldn’t conquer the Lancers (25-3), who are ranked No. 1 in the state according to the MaxPreps commuter rankings. Glimour senior post Naz Hillmon, the co-D-III Ohio player of the year, had 11 points and tied an OHSAA all-divisions record with 19 rebounds. She’s headed to Michigan.

»RELATED: Boys regional pairings/results

Bellbrook held a 32-30 fourth quarter lead before Gilmour closed with a 17-8 run.

Senior Bekkah Vine led Bellbrook with 11 points, while senior Cassidy Hofacker chipped in 10 (and five assists). Sophomore Kayla Paul had seven points and 11 rebounds.

The Eagles, 8-7 at one point this season, lost for just the second time in their last 14 games.

All three of Bellbrook’s trips to state have ended with a loss to private schools - Columbus Hartley (1976), Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown (2012) and Gilmour.

»RELATED: Girls state final four pairings/results

“This team has come together better than any team I’ve coached,” Tincher said. “We will talk about this team for a long time.”

Versailles 63, Elyria Catholic 47: Playing in its ninth state tournament, Versailles (28-1) advanced to its fourth Division III state final in five years with a methodical win over Elyria Catholic (22-6).

State runner-up in 2014 and 2017 and state champ in 2015, the Tigers will face Columbus Africentric (26-3) in the state final at 2 p.m. Saturday. Versailles, ranked No. 1 in both the MaxPreps D-III computer rankings and AP poll, was also state champion in 2008.

Versailles out-rebounded EC 39-24. Both teams featured three girls 6-foot-1 or taller.

“Fabulous,” Versailles coach Jacki Stonebraker said. “We beat them on the boards by 15. That number is the reason we won the game.”

“We knew we were in for a tough ride,” EC head coach Eric Rothgery said. “Versailles is a very good and well seasoned team. Their experience carried them to a good extent. We allowed too many second chance points, and in the end that’s going to coast you against a really good team.”

Despite holding an 8-7 lead after the first quarter, the Panthers trailed 25-16 at half. Twice in the fourth quarter EC pulled to within seven points, but climbed no closer.

The Tigers had four players reach double figures, led by senior Kami McEldwoney’s 17 points. while sophomore Lindsey Winner and junior Elizabeth Ording scored 13 and 10, respectively. Senior Danielle Winner had a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds).

Versailles committed just six turnovers, including two in the second half.

“You have to play perfect to beat that team,” EC sophomore Ally Winner said. “Them being here (four times in five years), does give them that factor we didn’t have.”

Said McEldowney: “We were stronger, even though they were thicker.”

Versailles missed it’s first seven free throws of the game, then hit 19-of-20 to close.

The Tigers will go for their second state title of the school year Saturday. Six Versailles players also starred on the D-III state champion volleyball team in the fall.

“We want to go out state champs,” Danielle Winner said. “There’s only 32 minutes standing in our way.”

Minster 46, Waterford 31: Ranked No. 1 in the MaxPreps state computer rankings, Minster held Waterford, ranked No. 1 in the final AP poll, to its lowest output of the season. It was the first time Waterford, which had a 26-game win streak snapped and was averaging 57 points, failed to reach 45.

Minster (25-3) faces Ottoville (27-2) in Saturday’s D-IV state final at 10:45 a.m. Minster beat Ottoville 55-54 in the regular season. Waterford finishes 26-2.

“That was quite a ballgame by us defensively,” Minster coach Mike Wiss said. “We went 10 deep. Waterford’s coach said that we might lose a little on offense when we go 10 deep, but we don’t lose anything on defense. That’s a credit to the girls wearing black today.”

“We knew what we were getting into,” Waterford coach Jerry Close said. “They subbed 3-4 kids in at a time and there was no drop-off. It showed in the end.”

In the third quarter, Waterford cut the deficit to six points (29-23) before Wiss called a timeout to “regroup, focus and find the right match-ups.”

The Wildcats closed the quarter on a 7-0 run. Waterford managed one field goal the rest of the game.

“This was definitely the best defensive team we’ve played,” Waterford senior and Ohio Domincan recruit Ali Kern said. “They brought a lot of pressure and beat us up and down the floor.”

Minster out rebounded Waterford 32-17.

Xavier commit and junior Courtney Prenger led Minster with 13 points. Ohio Dominican recruit and senior Taylor Kogge added 10. Freshman point guard Ivy Wolf had eight points and five assists.

The Wildcats will go for the school’s 33rd state title overall and the program’s third (first since 2004) on Saturday. Minster has already won state titles this school year in football and girls cross country.

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