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Hartman: OHSAA’s competitive balance initiative working as intended without going too far

Published: Friday, April 13, 2018 @ 1:27 PM

Trotwood-Madison 
 against Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in the Division II state championship game on Saturday, March 24, 2018, at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff
David Jablonski - Staff Writer
Trotwood-Madison against Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in the Division II state championship game on Saturday, March 24, 2018, at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff(David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

So far, so good. 

Those are the words I keep coming back to when evaluating the first year of the competitive balance measure enacted by the OHSAA. 

I thought so when the first divisional alignments were announced a year or so ago, during the football playoffs last fall and at the boys’ basketball state tournament last month. 

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The announcement this week of boys’ basketball divisions for next season did not change anything for me, either. 

RELATED: Carroll basketball moves up to Division I

As previous ideas failed to pass, I concluded maybe the old system was just as good as it gets without breaking up public and private schools completely, something I don’t support at all, or preventing anyone who transfers from being eligible at their new schools, which is really not feasible or fair for multiple reasons. 

So where this all ended up looks like a good compromise, a significant yet conservative change. 

OHSAA spokesman Tim Stried confirmed that was essentially the goal, but he added, “When you ask the OHSAA if competitive balance is working or not, our answer is not based on who wins the state championship, and we tried to make that clear from the beginning. 

“All this does is change how teams are placed in their division.” 

Placing teams in different divisions is inevitably going to affect who wins state championships, of course, and that was vividly on display in Columbus last month. 

With private schools such as Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary and Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph having won multiple state championships in multiple divisions, I thought boys’ basketball was the area that most needed some recalibration. 

Notably absent from this year’s Final Four was Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph while Cleveland Lutheran East, the back-to-back champion in Division IV, returned to the capital city but as a member of Division III. 

Central Ohio powers Columbus Africentric and Harvest Prep both moved up, too, though not everyone was directly affected.  

Akron SVSM remained in Division II and won a rematch with Trotwood-Madison. 

»RELATED: Boys final four state results ; High-scoring game shut down by Irish

Ironically, this season the Fighting Irish are going to Division I — and the Rams would be there too if not for the competitive balance numbers moving several teams ahead of them when enrollment figures were reconfigured. 

Is it fair smaller schools might have to play up? Since they aren’t bound by the same territorial restraints as public schools, yes. That seems like a good way to level the playing field while also affecting public schools that draw players from other districts. 

The Division III final four offered a reminder the new competitive balance measure has its limits, though. 

Cincinnati Deer Park stormed through the Southwest District to win the Division III title with a perfect 29-0 record. 

The Wildcats had nine transfers, and coach Steve Gentry made no apology for how his team was constructed. 

“If a parent moved to a new district, so be it? What do you want me to do? There’s nothing I can do,” Gentry said after his team beat Africentric in the championship game. “If a kid moves into our district, we only have one high school in our district. You’ve got to go to Deer Park, you know what I mean? So if a kid moves in, he becomes my kid regardless of where he came from, but I’ll make sure he stays humble to the community, to the school, to the little kids. 

“We’re gonna follow the rules to the ’t’. You know?”

He was adamant that Deer Park passed every test from the OHSAA, and Stried confirmed no residence or recruiting violations have been found. 

Does that mean the new rules don’t go far enough? 

I would say no. 

The popular opinion seems to be that too many transfers are bad for high school sports. 

Most, myself included, would rather root for those teams that grow up playing together than see the best players changing schools looking for the easiest path to the top. 

But this is an issue in which my position has evolved. 

Maybe the dastardliness of transfers has been overblown. 

Perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to judge. 

»RELATED: All-Area boys basketball

Sure, some players are going to change schools with visions of state championship rings in their heads, but no doubt others will find themselves in a place they don’t fit. Inevitably, some players truly need a new place to shine, and that’s OK. 

Beyond that, the Division III champions might make some folks uneasy, but the provision in the rules that allowed all those transfers to play absolutely has to be there. 

Players whose parents simply move because they changed jobs or bought a bigger house or whatever other non-athletics reason that might come about should not be punished, and if that allows transfers who are motivated solely by wanting to play for a different team to do so too? 

That’s just the way it is. 

In either case, there could be consequences from the competitive balance initiative, but everyone gets to play. 

And that’s what matters most at the end of the day. 

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Reds end 36-year home run drought in All-Star Game

Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 @ 12:08 AM

Cincinnati Reds: All-Star Game history

In his first All-Star Game at-bat, Cincinnati Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett saved the National League — for one inning.

Gennett’s two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth tied the 89th All-Star Game at 5-5, but two Houston Astros, Alex Bregman and George Springer, hit back-to-back home runs in the 10th and the American League addded one more run to win 8-6 Tuesday at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

The AL has won six straight All-Star Games. Bregman was named the game’s MVP.

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» POLL: Reds player named friendliest in baseball

Gennett’s home run was the third game-tying home run in the ninth inning or later and the first since Fred McGriff’s in 1994. The only other was hit by Ralph Kiner in 1950.

Gennett also became the first Red to hit a home run in the All-Star Game since Dave Concepcion in 1982.

With that streak over, Joey Votto hit a home run in the 10th inning to draw the National League within one run. That was Votto’s first hit in an All-Star Game. He was 0-for-12 in six games after starting this game 0-for-2.

» ALL-STAR COVERAGE: Schwarber falls in Home Run DerbyVotto praises interim manager Riggleman

An error by Votto almost cost the National League the game in the eighth inning.

Votto dropped a foul pop off the bat of the Seattle Mariners’ Jean Segura. It wasn’t the easiest play. Votto was about to run into the rail by the dugout. He still received an error.

» RELATED: Manfred says DH not coming to NL anytime soon

Segura hit the next pitch into the stands in left for a three-run home run, giving the American League a 5-2 lead.

Votto and another Reds All-Star, third baseman Eugenio Suarez, entered the game in the top of the sixth. This was the first All-Star Game for Suarez, who ranks second in the National League with 71 RBIs. In his first at-bat in the seventh inning, he was hit by a pitch. He struck out in the ninth.

           

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British Open: 5 players who could win this week in Scotland

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 3:43 PM


            CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND - JULY 16: Tommy Fleetwood of England plays a shot during previews to the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Club on July 16, 2018 in Carnoustie, Scotland. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND - JULY 16: Tommy Fleetwood of England plays a shot during previews to the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Club on July 16, 2018 in Carnoustie, Scotland. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

I’m going to change things up a bit as we tee up golf’s third major championship at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland this week.

Even though Dustin Johnson is the betting favorite to win The Open Championship, the world’s top-ranked player is not on my list.

»RELATED: Playoff chip-in sends Centerville native to U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach

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Johnson faded on the final day at Shinnecock Hills, and although his game seems to suit most courses on the PGA Tour, I’m going to look elsewhere for a winner.

Let’s start with the best player to never win a major — Rickie Fowler. Ye, he shot an 84 in the third round at the U.S. Open, but he still finished 20th and he warmed up with a top-10 finish last week in the Scottish Open.

Speaking of the last major, Tommy Fleetwood almost stole the U.S. Open with a remarkable 63 on the final day. The Englishman will be in the hunt on Sunday.

»RELATED: Wenzler fires 62, set to make PGA Tour debuit

Here’s one that might be off the radar a bit. Tony Finau owns top-10 finishes in both the Masters and the U.S. Open this year. He makes a lot of birdies and that’s never a bad thing.

Henrik Stenson won with a record 20-under par total two years ago at Royal Troon. That alone gives him a chance to do some damage at Carnoustie.

And finally, Justin Rose is going to win another major sooner than later, although his best finish the Open was the first one he played back in 1998 as an amateur — a tie for fourth.

Jordan Spieth is the defending champion and is listed at 18-1. Tiger Woods is right behind at 20-1 on the betting sheet with Phil Mickelson at 40-1.

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Michigan football sending local alumnus to Big Ten Football Media Days

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 10:15 AM

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 9: Tyree Kinnel #23 of the Michigan Wolverines intercepts the ball and scores a first quarter touchdown as Mike Boone #5 of the Cincinnati Bearcats gives chase at Michigan Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images
ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 9: Tyree Kinnel #23 of the Michigan Wolverines intercepts the ball and scores a first quarter touchdown as Mike Boone #5 of the Cincinnati Bearcats gives chase at Michigan Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)(Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Looks like Michigan football will count a player from the Miami Valley to be among its senior leaders on defense for the second year in a row. 

At least that’s one thing that can be gleaned from Tyree Kinnel being among the Wolverines’ representatives at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago next week. 

Kinnel, a fourth-year player from Wayne High School, earned All-Big Ten honorable mention last season when he had 70 tackles, including 5.5 for loss, and defended nine passes. 

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The 5-foot-11, 201-pound safety was named the team’s most improved player on defense for his efforts. 

Joining him in Chicago will be running back Karan Higdon and defensive end Chase Winovich. 

Ohio State will be represented by receiver Parris Campbell, defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones and offensive lineman Isaiah Prince. 

Last year, Mike McCray II was among the prominent faces of the Michigan defense. 

After wrapping up his career at Michigan, Trotwood-Madison grad Mike McCray II laid out his goals for pro football and beyond. Plus an update on his father’s status as an Ohio State fan. The elder McCray was a Buckeye

The senior linebacker from Trotwood-Madison was the only returning starter. 

He was eventually named captain, a distinction his father, Mike McCray Sr., held at Ohio State in the 1980s. 

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Scoochie Smith weighing his options after strong performance in NBA Summer League

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 5:08 PM

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 15:  Scoochie Smith #12 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives between Giddy Potts #20 and Rawle Alkins #1 of the Toronto Raptors during a quarterfinal game of the 2018 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 15, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Cavaliers defeated the Raptors 82-68. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 15: Scoochie Smith #12 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives between Giddy Potts #20 and Rawle Alkins #1 of the Toronto Raptors during a quarterfinal game of the 2018 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 15, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Cavaliers defeated the Raptors 82-68. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Former Dayton Flyers point guard Scoochie Smith always felt he could play in the NBA. He showed he deserves a chance with his performance in the NBA Summer League.

Smith spoke to the Dayton Daily News on the phone from Las Vegas, Nev., on Tuesday as he prepared to leave town after playing seven games in 11 days with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

While Smith had confidence about his ability to play at the next level, he said, “Sometimes you’ve got to reassure the people. That’s what happened.”

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Smith earned an invitation to training camp with the Cavaliers and said while he would probably accept it, he hasn’t made up his mind yet. He’s keeping his options open in case other teams express interest in him.

Smith averaged 8.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 16.9 minutes per game in Las Vegas. His role grew as the Cavaliers advanced past the preliminary round into the Summer League tournament.

Smith, who finished his Dayton career with 1,289 points in 2017 and ranks 28th in school history, said he learned to be more aggressive and stay in attack mode.

“I think that will help me a lot,” he said.

In a 112-109 double-overtime loss to the Lakers on Monday in the semifinals, Smith had 14 points, five rebounds and a team-high five assists in 27 minutes. He made 4 of 12 shots from the field.

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Smith’s best performance came Saturday in the second round of the tournament. He scored 15 of his 17 points in the last seven minutes in a 92-87 victory over the Houston Rockets.

“I was just waiting on my moment,” Smith said. “I was fortunate enough it came during that Houston game, not right at the end of the tournament. I still got to showcase some more.”

Smith said the Cavaliers were happy with his play, and he thought they were maybe a little surprised by how well he performed.

“I think they learned a lot about me,” he said.

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This was Smith’s second experience in the Summer League. He played with the Boston Celtics in the Summer League a year ago but saw limited playing time.

“They drafted about four guys, so it was kind of tough for me to find an opportunity,” Smith said. “Staying positive and doing what I did in my first year (in pro basketball) helped me get the opportunity this week.”

Smith started his professional career last year in Australia and played in 27 games for the Cairns Taipans, averaging 10.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

Smith then returned to Ohio to play for the Canton Charge, the Cavaliers’ affiliate in the NBA G-League. He averaged 14.3 points, 8.1 assists and 4.3 rebounds. He shot 51.9 percent from the floor and 52.3 percent from 3-point range. He had his best game — 26 points and 10 assists — in the final game March 23.

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