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
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.”

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5 things to know about the NFL draft

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 11:52 AM

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 27:  Members of the military march on stage prior to the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on April 27, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 27: Members of the military march on stage prior to the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on April 27, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)(Elsa/Getty Images)

The 83rd NFL draft is this week in Arlington, Texas. 

Here is what you need to know before the league’s annual talent grab kicks off: 

1. Round one is Thursday night, and fans will have more viewing options. 

For the first time, the entire draft will be available on broadcast television as Fox will simulcast the NFL Network’s coverage of rounds 1-3 on its broadcast channel. ABC will simulcast ESPN’s coverage of rounds 4-7. 

Along with the traditional broadcast on ESPN, the College GameDay crew will provide a “college-themed viewing option of round one” on ESPN2. 

The second and third rounds are scheduled for Friday night and the rest of the draft will be held Saturday. 

2. Quarterbacks will dominate the storylines even more than usual. 

Josh Allen of Wyoming, Sam Darnold of USC, Josh Rosen of UCLA, Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma and Lamar Jackson of Louisville are all in the mix to be taken in the first round. 

The last time five quarterbacks were taken in the first round was 1999, when the Browns took Tim Couch out of Kentucky with the No. 1 pick and the Bengals selected Akili Smith out of Oregon two picks later. 

The most QBs taken in one draft is six (1983). 

Ohio State quarterback JT Barrett explains what he has been doing since the NFL Scouting Combine, how his workout in Cincinnati went and more.

3. The Cleveland Browns will pick first for the second year in a row. 

Last year, they went with Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. 

This time they are expected to pick a quarterback, though they could go with Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. 

The Browns pick again at No. 4, so they could end up with the PSU star and their quarterback of the future.  

4. The Cincinnati Bengals pick 21st. 

The Bengals traded down from the 12th slot to get offensive lineman Cordy Glenn from the Bills. 

That helped address a glaring need in Cincinnati, and team officials say it makes picking addressing a need and picking the best player available easier rather than having to choose one or the other. 

RELATED: 7-round mock draft

They might go for another offensive tackle, address the overall team speed on defense or perhaps take a center. 

5. Ohio State will be heavily involved again. 

Eleven Buckeyes were invited to the NFL Scouting Combine with Denzel Ward, Billy Price and Sam Hubbard considered the best available prospects

Ward and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer are scheduled to be at the draft. 

If Ward chosen in the first round, Ohio State would become the first school in the common draft era (since 1967) to have five defensive backs selected in the first round over a three-year span. 

One of the potential storylines to watch Saturday: Will anyone take a flier on J.T. Barrett

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Sports Today: NFL draft day drama gets an early start

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2018 @ 10:02 AM

Ohio State's Nick Bosa tackles Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff
HANDOUT/David Jablonski/Staff
Ohio State's Nick Bosa tackles Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff(HANDOUT/David Jablonski/Staff)

Hey there, how’s your NFL draft day going so far? 

Good, I hope. 

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was dominating the morning news cycle as I sat down to write this, and there were two pretty good reasons: 

First, he totally nailed recreating a classic Brett Favre draft day photo. 

Second, he apparently could be the No. 1 pick in the draft by the Cleveland Browns. 

This is a fascinating development because I like Mayfield a lot, and I think he could be a really good NFL quarterback. 

He’s got that chutzpah that likely will either cause him to soar once he hits the league or crash and burn spectacularly. 

That attitude could be good for a Browns franchise that lacks swagger outside of its live-dog mascot, but taking him No. 1 kind of works against conventional draft wisdom. 

Of course, that might not be a bad thing, especially for a franchise that has drafted so poorly. 

RELATED: Can the Browns go wrong with the No. 1 pick?

Mayfield has the ability to star in the NFL, but he might be the least talented of the top five quarterbacks in this draft, too. 

That’s notable because teams typically use their high first-round picks to maximize raw talent on their roster. 

Then again, there is risk involved in taking any of the five quarterbacks, so maybe getting the guy with the best intangibles makes sense… 

As the Cincinnati Bengals season circled the drain in December, I began hoping Mayfield would be the guy their next coach would want to replace Andy Dalton. 

Of course, they somehow righted the ship late in the season, inexplicably retained Marvin Lewis as head coach and committed to keeping Jon Kitna 2.0 as the starter so all that is out the window. 

I still believe — even with Dalton the definite starter this season — Lamar Jackson would be the best pick they could make at No. 21. That would allow them to develop him slowly until he becomes either Dalton’s replacement or a very valuable backup/trade chip. 

I don’t pay a lot of attention to mock drafts, but I have seen more than one pairing Arkansas center Frank Ragnow with the Bengals at No. 21. 

That would be a very strong pick as far as need and value in that slot… 

Meanwhile, the NBA playoffs continue to provide nightly entertainment.  

LeBron James is still doing everything he can to carry the Cleveland Cavaliers into round two. 

He came up with decisive plays on both ends of the floor in the last 30 seconds last night, blocking* a Victor Oladipo layup then canning the game-winning 3-pointer. 

(*It might have been goal tending, but I am guessing LeBron shoots a 3 at the end either way so I’m not sure it matters.) 

Later in the evening, the Rockets eliminated the Timberwolves and Russell Westbrook scored 45 points to keep the Oklahoma City Thunder alive in their series against Utah. 

The Jazz blew a 25-point lead but still are on top in the series 3-2. 

Right now all four second-round matchups look pretty intriguing, assuming the Raptors and Cavs take care of business… 

College basketball also made news yesterday with the publishing of a report suggesting various reforms the NCAA should institute. 

I wrote about this yesterday from the perspective of how the model of getting from high school to the pros could change

Perhaps I should have gotten more into the things that were left out, but I knew all the writers out there who are smarter and more progressive than I am and thus hate everything about the NCAA would cover compensation and whatnot, so I didn’t feel the need. 

In an interview with The Athletic, committee chair Condoleezza Rice answered concerns about the current compensation model pretty well. 

“What we wanted to say is there is a value proposition at the heart of the collegiate model that is different from the professional model. That value proposition is, you get to play. You get to hone your sport. You get the best coaching. You get nutrition. You get all of those things and most importantly, you get a college degree, which by the way will give you earning potential a million dollars over a non-college graduate over your lifetime; will give you contacts and mentoring that will serve you well the rest of your life; and, oh by the way, you get it for free as opposed to the kid down the hall who’s taking down loans and working 20 hours a week to get what you can get.”

Defending just about any aspect of the status quo on social media is frowned upon, but that is no excuse for letting so many ignore the many good things that come with the current system (despite its flaws). 

If the whole system were nuked and turned into another minor league, I think a lot of people would be disappointed with the result and more athletes (not to mention fans and local economies) would be worse off than would see real benefits, so I applaud Rice for taking this stance and for spelling out those benefits that are often overlooked... 

Continuing to let Brandon Finnegan work through things in the major leagues continues to hurt the Reds. 

Manager Jim Riggleman might have pulled him too soon in a 5-4 loss to the Braves last night, but it’s hard to blame him for having little trust in the hittable lefty. 

After missing almost all of last year because of multiple injuries, Finnegan pitched only 5.1 inning in spring training and hasn’t been very good in any of his starts since the regular season began. 

Otherwise, his presence in the rotation makes complete sense. 

Anyway, now that the offense is putting up enough runs to provide the bullpen with leads to blow, it feels like the season has finally started for the Reds… 

If you’re wondering about starting pitching in Triple-A, Robert Stephenson is 1-2 with a 2.95 ERA in four starts. He has struck out 20 in 21.1 innings, but he has also walked 17. 

Justin Nicolino, a late-spring acquisition, is 1-1 with a 3.0 ERA while Jose Lopez and Jackson Stephens both have ERAs over 5.0… 

Finally here’s a bit of breaking news this morning: Dunbar officials have admitted they messed up in their fight to get back into the boys’ basketball tournament in March. 

All that means is the Wolverines shouldn’t have been allowed to play in a sectional final game they won over Fenwick, fellow-DPS member Thurgood Marshall got a raw deal by not being allowed to play that game and DPS wasted public money fighting the OHSAA in court. 

Oh, and Dunbar is banned from next year’s tournament, too. 

What a disgrace. 

Obviously the players who were involved in the fight that started all this in January bear some blame, but this is another example of adults letting them down. 

How long will that be allowed to continue? 

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Fenwick AD on Dunbar announcement: ‘Everyone knows that we got the bad end of the stick’

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2018 @ 1:11 PM

Dunbar’s Michael Elmore holds the ball during the Wolverines’ 27-26 win over Fenwick in a Division II sectional final March 7 at the University of Dayton Arena. MARC PENDLETON/STAFF
Dunbar’s Michael Elmore holds the ball during the Wolverines’ 27-26 win over Fenwick in a Division II sectional final March 7 at the University of Dayton Arena. MARC PENDLETON/STAFF

Fenwick High School’s boys basketball season ended with a 27-26 loss to Dunbar in a Division II sectional final March 7.

Nothing is going to change that.

»RELATED: DPS admits it was wrong in Dunbar fight

» THE GAME: Dunbar 27, Fenwick 26

»RELATED: Step-by-step look at Dunbar case

Dunbar was scheduled to play Fenwick, then the Ohio High School Athletic Association replaced the Wolverines with Thurgood Marshall in the tournament because of an ineligible player. Dayton Public Schools went to court and got Dunbar reinstated while Fenwick dealt with all the uncertainty from a distance.

On Thursday, DPS superintendent Elizabeth Lolli made a public apology to Fenwick, Thurgood Marshall and the OHSAA after new evidence showed that Dunbar did indeed use an ineligible player in a postseason game and should not have been allowed to play Fenwick.

Fenwick athletic director Michael Coleman issued the following statement in response:

“Everyone knows that we got the bad end of the stick. This was really unfair for our kids and community, especially since we can’t go back to what the scenario should have been. Everyone involved could have handled this situation better.”

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Cincinnati Reds: 5 things to know about Rosell Herrera

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2018 @ 12:41 PM

during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Target Field on July 13, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Target Field on July 13, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.(Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

The newest Cincinnati Red is Rosell Herrera. 

Here are five things to know about him after his call-up Thursday to replace veteran Cliff Pennington on the team’s bench. 

1. He is a native of the Dominican Republic. 

The Rockies signed Herrera in 2009 when he was 16, and he was named Colorado’s No. 12 prospect by Baseball America a year later. 

The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder is a switch hitter who throws right-handed. 

2. He was the South Atlantic League Most Valuable Player in 2013. 

Herrera moved up to the No. 3 spot in the organization in 2013 when he hit 16 home runs and stole 21 bases while posting a .933 OPS for the Asheville Tourists (Single-A). 

After putting up modest numbers in advanced Single-A in 2014 and ’15, he had solid seasons in Double-A and Triple-A in ’16 and ’17, respectively, but never got a call up to the major leagues. 

3. The Reds signed Herrera to a minor-league contract last November and invited him to spring training. 

He was not among MLB.com's top 30 Reds prospects in the system at the start of the year but hit .267 with an .890 OPS during spring training. 

He hit two home runs, a double and a triple in 30 at-bats in Arizona. 

4. He has been Triple-A Louisville’s best offensive player so far this season. 

Herrera has played 15 games for the Bats, batting a team-high .311 with a .980 OPS. He has paced Louisville in homers (three) and triples (two) while sharing the team lead in doubles (five) and RBIs (10). 

He’s also committed three errors. 

5. He should bring some versatility. 

Herrera began his career as an infielder but added outfielder to his resume in 2015. 

This season he has played shortstop, third base, second base and all three outfield spots for Louisville. 

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