Dayton has always been defined by flight. And basketball. Those two passions collide at the 17th annual Premier Health Flyin to the Hoop
high school basketball spectacular.
A stones throw from where the Wright Brothers gave birth to aviation and a few miles from the venue that's hosted more NCAA Tournament games than any other (UD Arena), Flyin' to the Hoop has established its own niche as one of the country's top roundball events. It is a must-see for any hoops fan.
The lineage is impressive.
Four of the last seven No. 1 NBA Draft picks (DeAndre Ayton, Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Davis and Anthony Bennett) are Flyin' to the Hoop alumni. Overall, 50-plus former Flyin' to the Hoop participants have made a NBA roster. Of those, over 40 have come in the last eight seasons.
Stars of tomorrow? No doubt. They are here today.
Previous participants also include: DeAndre Jordan (Clippers), Miles Bridges (Clippers), J.R. Smith (Cavaliers), Brandon Knight (Suns), Rudy Gay (Spurs), Gary Harris (Nuggets), Cory Joseph (Pacers), Avery Bradley (Clippers), Tristan Thompson (Cavaliers), Luke Kennard (Pistons), Terrence Ross (Magic), Jahlil Okafor (Pelicans), Josh Jackson (Suns), Emmanuel Mudiay (Knicks) and Jabari Parker (Bucks).
Sit back, buckle up and enjoy.
37 teams. 20 games. Four days.
High school hoops heaven.
Flyin' to the Hoop Game Previews by Kurt Stubbs (@ohiohshoops)
Friday, 6:30 p.m.
The Fairmont Firebirds are off to a great start and capped 2018 by winning the Joe Machens Great 8 Classic in Jefferson City, Mo., by defeating previously-unbeaten Harvest Prep. Ryan Hall
, who has been great all year, was named tournament MVP. The four-year regular is averaging better than 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game. Teammate, Kellan Bochenek
another four-year mainstay, has been stellar as well, contributing more than 17 points per outing. Coach Blair Albright, in his sixth season at Fairmont, has the Firebirds at (9-4) with their losses at Centerville and Springfield, an overtime setback to Kettering Alter and a two-point game to Lebanon. Key win? Beating Huber Heights Wayne for the first time since January of 2007.
Crestwood Prep currently sits 15-4 and ranks seventh in Canada according to the well respected North Pole Hoops rankings. The North York, Ontario school is coached by Ro Russell and brings a plethora of talent to the Dayton-area. Wake Forest commitment Jahcobi Neath is one of the best scorers in Canada. Kobe Antwi is another smooth operator and a must have in the Class of 2020. Luis Pacheco Jr. is a quality shot blocker and one of the better unsigned seniors in Canada. Junior point guard Trevon Thomas is another kid to keep an eye on. With all the talent Crestwood possesses, the kingpin is Elijah Fisher. The 2023 prospect will battle for the top stop in his class in the coming years. Fisher, at 6-foot-5, has a chance to be special.
Friday, 8:15 p.m.
IMG Academy, one of the nation's best teams, currently sits at 20-1 following its trip to the City of Palms in Fort Myers, Fla. The Ascenders, ranked No. 3 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 Rankings, own several quality wins including victories over DeMatha (Md.) and DeSoto (Texas). IMG's starting five can match anyone in the country led by seniors Josh Green
(Arizona), Armando Bacot Jr.
(North Carolina) and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl
(Villanova). Juniors Jaden Springer
and Noah Farrakhan
round out an ultra-talented line up.
Huntington Prep heads into the new year at 11-2 following a narrow loss to Moravian Prep (N.C.) at the Big South Shootout. The trip to Kettering marks the return of Cincinnati product Greg Tribble. The senior left for the West Virginia-based school following a successful junior campaign at Winton Woods. This past week, Huntington Prep landed 7-foot-1 junior Zach Loveday, who transferred in from Gallia Academy. Loveday is heavily being tracked by Chris Mack and Louisville. In addition, Huntington Prep is comprised of a talented junior class with the likes of Jaemyn Brakefield
, Jimma Gatwech
, A.J. Hoggard
, Emmanuel Okpomo
and Gabriel Wuor
. Senior Quinn Slazinski
has signed with Louisville. The roster is littered with plenty of underclass talent including 6-9 sophomore JT Thor and 6-4 guard Josh Primo.
Saturday, 11: 30 a.m.
Dayton Carroll, ranked No. 1 in the MaxPreps D-II Computer Rankings and No. 3 overall in Ohio regardless of division, has hooped to a 14-0 start following big wins over Thornville Sheridan, Roger Bacon, Valley View, Tippecanoe and Kettering Alter. Carroll is led by the senior combo of 6-foot junior Julia Keller and senior Elisabeth Bush, both averaging around 14 points a game. Junior Allie Stefanek, and sophomores Ava Lickliter and Megan Leraas provide top support for the unbeaten Patriots.
Minster, currently ranked No. 2 in the MaxPreps D-IV Computer Rankings and No. 17 overall in Ohio regardless of division, sits at 14-1. The Wildcats are coming off a Division IV state championship and return their three leading scorers. Senior Courtney Prenger
(6-2) is signed to play at Xavier. Sophomore Ivy Wolf
was a 1st Team All-MAC performer as a freshman, and seniors Demaris Wolf
and Jessica Falk
are key pieces for the Wildcats. Coach Mike Wiss is currently (65-6) in his 3rd year as head man.
Saturday, 1:15 p.m.
First Love Christian has been playing some of the best teams the country has to offer. The Knights are coming off a trip to Wheeling, West Virginia playing in the prestigious Cancer Research Classic followed by a trip to Elyria for the Play-by-Play Classic. Junior D.J. Gordon
is soaring up the prospect boards, while senior Naim Miller, who is committed to Mount St. Mary's University, is producing at a high rate. Junior Isaiah Wilson
, who owns a handful of D1 offers, and senior Egon Ruhek
give Coach Khayree Wilson added scoring punch. Junior Jett Roesing can really shoot the basketball and already has games with multiple three-point field goals.
Xenia stands at 6-5 after finishing out 2018 with consecutive losses to Fairborn and Miamisburg. Samari Curtis
currently leads the GWOC in scoring at 31.7 points per game. The Cincinnati signee is arguably the top scorer in the state over the last two seasons averaging a shade over 30 a night as a junior. Curtis recorded another 40-point game in a recent win over Piqua. Sophomore guard Dylan Hoosier
has been able to aid Curtis in the scoring department notching nearly 11 points a game.
Saturday, 3 p.m.
Game 5 of the weekend features two of the best coaches in the state in Liberty's Greg Nossaman and Centerville's Brook Cupps. Liberty is one of the top teams in Central Ohio having just two losses to its resume, a one-point defeat in the opener to a good Cincinnati Taft team and an eight-point setback to Memphis Christian Brothers in Florida. The Patriots currently sit at (10-2) behind the scoring of senior Ben Roderick
, who leads Central Ohio in that department at 30.2 points per game, which is even more unbelievable considering he is coming off a devastating knee injury that took most of his junior season. Roderick scored a career-high and school-best 51 points to help the Patriots defeat Johns Creek (Ga.) to capture the Pensacola Beach Holiday Tournament championship. Though, Liberty is not a one trick pony as the Patriots have plenty of experience including seniors Nick Nakasian
(17.1 points per game) and Mitchell Kershner
(9.5) and sophomore Henry Hinkle
(9.8). Seniors Joe Thatcher
and Jack Metzger
, and junior Kal Jayaraman
have also been an instrumental part in Liberty's early success. The Patriots are coming off a great week with lopsided wins over Wayne, Gahanna, and rival Olentangy.
Centerville is just (5-5), but don't be fooled by the record, this is a very good team. The Elks have four losses by 10 points or less to the likes of Trinity (Ky.), Springfield, Wayne and Trotwood, and another to No. 1 Moeller. Centerville owns quality wins over Fairmont and Cincinnati La Salle, and eight out of Centerville's 10 games have been decided by 10 points or fewer, so they are accustomed to playing in tight games. Senior guards Matt Pearce
(12.8 points per game) and Ryan Marchal
make this team go for Coach Cupps. Improving big man Mo Njie
has come a long way over his career at Centerville and is now a major impact player. The 6-foot-9 junior averages 7.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks a night, which is vast improvement from the 2 points and 2 rebounds a game he totaled as a sophomore. He collected offers from Providence, Xavier, Dayton and Toledo thanks to his play on the spring/summer scene. The senior-dominated Elks get top support from Kaleb Mitchell
, Jason Sneed
, Davis Mumaw
, Ryan Ballard
, and Kebba Archimalo
along with prized freshman Rich Rolf
Saturday, 4:45 p.m.
Oak Ridge is coming off a (30-4) campaign which resulted in the Pioneers winning the Florida 9A state championship. Steve Reece's team is off to another good start at (11-3) suffering defeats to Westchester (Calif.) and No. 1 ranked La Lumiere (Ind.) in Hawaii, along with a strange 20-16 loss to local rival Boone. The Pioneers had to replace a strong and talented senior class, but they've been able to do so with recent Oregon commit C.J. Walker
. The talented 6-foot-9 senior scored 22 points in the loss to La Lumiere and 25 points and 10 rebounds against Westchester. Senior Niven Glover
, Kaleb Coleman
(Lipscomb) and Emmaunel Adedoyin
all return from last year's squad. Keep an eye on talented sophomore guard Jalen Smith
Hilliard Bradley had a great case for best team in Central Ohio, but the case lost some steam when the Jaguars found out talented sophomore Jack Pugh (9.6 points per game) would be lost for the year with a foot injury. Coach Brett Norris' team still has plenty in the tank to make a deep run in March. Not only do the Jags have talent, but they are one of the best coached teams in the state especially on the defensive end. Bradley, a regional finalist a season ago, runs off the leadership of junior point guard Matt Allocco, a kid drawing Division I interest. Allocco (14 points per game) is a three-year starter and possesses one of the better basketball IQs in the state. Junior Chris Mayfield, who is drawing FBS interest in football, and sophomores A.J. Mirgon and Keaton Norris help make up a very good backcourt. Senior Zach Hummel (Cincinnati football) gives the Jaguars a quality do-it-all type player that all winning programs possess. The Jaguars are currently (11-0), but a game with Thomas Worthington looms before their trip to Dayton.
Saturday, 6:30 p.m.
The game features two nationally respected teams with Bella Vista Prep (13-3) currently ranked No. 25 by USA Today and Huntington Prep. This will be Huntington Prep's second contest of the weekend and it will be a staunch test against Arizona-based school. Bella Vista, located near Scottsdale, recently won the Chick-Fil-A Classic in Columbia, South Carolina with Arizona signee Terry Armstrong
earning MVP honors and 5-star junior Addison Patterson
. The Bears are one of the hottest teams in the country following wins over Holy Spirit Prep, Sunrise Christian Academy and St. Frances Academy of Baltimore. Along with Armstrong and Patterson, senior guards Nicolas Elame and Eman Sertovic, and junior Brandyn Talbot have helped head coach Kyle Weaver's team gain national attention. BVP has plenty of size as well in 6-11 senior Jimmy Bell, 7-1 classmate Rick Issanza, 6-11 Emmanuel Tshimanga
and 6-foot-6 junior Dayten Holman.
Saturday, 8:15 p.m.
Saturday's nightcap features local favorite Springfield meeting national power Prolific Prep. The Crew, who roster players from four states and six countries, currently sit at 20-4 following a fifth place finish in the David West Bracket of the John Wall Holiday Invitational in Raleigh, N.C.. Billy McKnight's team lost to a good Trinity Christian (N.C.) team despite leading, 59-53, getting outscored 14-0 to end the game. Talented 6-3 junior Nimari Burnett
earned All-Tournament honors. The Crew's four losses have come by eight points or fewer. The Crew finished third place in the Tarkanian Classic as well. McKnight's team has battled through some injuries with 7-0 senior Ibrahima Diallo
and talented 6-foot-4 junior Zach Harvey
both spending some time on the sidelines. Prolific Prep, which is the alma mater of former talents Josh Jackson, Gary Trent Jr. and Jordan Brown, was greatly lifted by the return of guard Pierre Crockrell
who played at the Napa Valley school his first two seasons before transferring to Garfield (Seattle) last season and winning a 3A championship. Crockrell started this season at Federal Way before returning to the Crew in mid-December. Seniors Mitchell Dance
, Kuany Kuany
and Malik Tidwell
along with junior Coleman Hawkins
round a solid lineup for one of the nation's most well traveled teams.
Springfield is 8-3 and winners of four in a row. The three losses have come to teams (Pickerington Central, Upper Arlington and Hilliard Bradley) that are a combined 29-3 on the season. The Wildcats are getting nearly 18 points and eight rebounds a game from 6-4 senior RaHeim Moss and 13.4 points a night from classmate David Sanford. Juniors Jalan Minney (10.7), Larry Stephens (8.4), and Jeff Tolliver (5.8) along with 6-5 sophomore Ani Elliot have been major contributors for Isiah Carson's squad. Springfield, a regional participant last March, is rolling heading into its game with Prolific Prep thanks to double digit victories over Lebanon, Fairmont, and Wayne.
Sunday, 11:30 a.m.
Sunday morning opens up with a battle of Southwest Ohio as unbeaten Cincinnati Taft (9-0) meets Dayton Stivers (10-1), a team flying under the radar. Both teams have played in their share of close games showing the ability to dig deep in crunchtime. The Taft Senators, a favorite to cut down the nets come March, have plenty of good wins on their resume including a one-point victory over Olentangy Liberty along with narrows victories against Deer Park, Cincinnati Hughes, Western Hills, and Covington Catholic. Nekhi Smith is a name that is beginning to surface around the state as the 6-4 junior has cued up several good outings. Seniors Demarco Bradley Jr. and Chris'seon Stringer (Toledo football) have been around for 3-plus years and have a pedigree for winning. Juniors Muhammed Metz and Roemello Carleon along with senior Cleveland Farmer are also a key part to Taft's early success.
Former Dayton Meadowdale boss Felix Turner has Stivers playing at a high level. The Tigers have just one defeat on the year, which was a five-point loss at Cincinnati Christian. Six wins have been earned by seven points or less. Junior Trevon Ellis
has been superb for the Black and Orange totaling 12.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists per contest. Classmate Da'juan Allen
follows at 10.5 points per game and talented sophomore guard Allen Lattimore
is scoring at just over nine points a night. Juniors Doug Spear
and Ivynn Spears
along with senior Naziir Rolack
and sophomore Antonnio Aubrey
give the Tigers a formidable rotation.
Sunday, 1:15 p.m.
Sunday afternoon gets tipped with an intriguing matchup featuring Dayton Chaminade Julienne and fast-improving Akron Buchtel. CJ, a FTTH regular under head coach Joe Staley, is off to a great start at 9-1. The lone blemish for the Eagles came at a holiday tournament in Tuscarawas County to Columbus Bishop Hartley, 44-41. Senior Milt Gage paces CJ at nearly 17 points per game while pulling down five boards and handing out nearly three assists. Classmate Jack Nauseef is averaging 11.6 points a game while shooting a shade over 40 percent from behind the arc. Junior Brandon Gibson and sophomore A.J. Solomon provide more scoring for the Eagles as both underclassmen average nearly eight points an encounter. Sophomore Dan Nauseef, senior Dominic Wilcox, and juniors Sean Menker and Larry Turner help in the scoring column and the boards.
Akron Buchtel, a young basketball team, continues to make strides and show toughness against some talented and more experienced teams. Matthew Futch's team started a bit slow, which wasn't surprising, but the Griffins are starting to gel. Buchtel is (5-4), but after an opening night loss to Shaker Heights, the Akron-based school has been ultra competitive in the other setbacks. Recent games with Gilmour Academy, St. Vincent-St. Mary, and First Love Christian Academy (Pa.), all losses, have shown the Griffs can play with anybody. The centerpiece of this young team is freshman Chris Livingston
, a 6-4 bundle of talent. Livingston is often mentioned amongst the top prospects in his class across the country. Senior Jonathan King
and Anthony Hunt
, sophomores Vernon Smith
, Ronnell Perie
and Noah Peeples
and junior Addison Singletary
have been Livingston's top support. Buchtel is still looking for that signature win and a big game at the FTTH could be the time.
Sunday, 3 p.m.
The crowd at Trent Arena will be treated to a small showdown when Convoy Crestview locks up with Minster in what could be a late March preview. Crestview and Minster are two of the handful of teams that could win it all in Division IV. Both teams enjoyed long playoff runs in football, which seems to have impacted Minster a bit in the early going. The Crestview Knights, who currently rank No. 3 in the latest AP Poll, are off to an 8-1 start with the only defeat coming in a two-point loss at Bluffton. Coach Jeremy Best's team is loaded with experience and senior-laden, but the Knights also possess arguably the state's top sophomore in 6-8 Kalen Etzler. He is just joined by his brother Javin, who is signed at Miami (Ohio). Senior Wade Sheets is slated to play football at Air Force, but doubles as a pretty good hooper. Classmates Drew Kline, Derick Dealey and Brant Richardson along with sophomore Carson Kreischer round out one of the best and biggest lineups in small school basketball.
Minster (6-3) started the year with three wins, but went through a tough stretch in mid-December losing three-straight games to Delphos St. John's, Wapakoneta, and Legacy Christian. Though, the Wildcats appear to be rolling now following impressive wins over Russia, Fort Recovery, and Ottoville. The latter trio of games is more like the Minster team most people in Northwest Ohio was expecting. The Wildcats start five seniors, which is a good recipe for success no matter what, but especially in Division IV. Coach Michael McClurg's team has all the ingredients to win it all in late March led by guard Mike Ketner
and bigs Jarod Schulze
and Cody Frericks
. Senior Noah Enneking
is a defensive stopper and classmate Jack Heitbrink
provides more size and scoring ability.
Sunday, 4:45 p.m.
Game 4 on Sunday has the makings of a highly entertaining game when unbeaten Lyndhurst Brush faces off with Cincinnati's Winton Woods. It's not surprising Brush is enjoying a banner year with all it returned, but some may have been surprised with an early season win over a talented and experienced St. Edward squad. Senior guard Andre Harris is playing as well as anyone in the state. The Wright State signee has been his best in the biggest games including wins over Ed's, Warrensville Heights and Garfield Heights. Senior point guard DJ Dial and 6-9 junior John Hugley IV give the Arcs (9-0) a vaunted three-headed monster. Junior Corey Floyd Jr. and freshman Elmore James IV continue to shine as well. Coach Chet Mason, an Ohio Mr. Basketball winner in 2000, and his team will face its toughest challenge in SPIRE Institute before making the trek to Kettering.
Winton Woods (7-4), despite losing its top returning player in the fall to a transfer, is still a dangerous team that is only going to get better. Sophomore Demari Martin
and junior Aaron Ward
, a Cincinnati Princeton transfer, ooze potential, but still need to find consistency. Junior Leroy Walker Jr.
is another talent at the disposal of first-year boss Andre Tate. Seniors Raequan Prince and Rashaun Brown
, junior Kendall Phillips
, and sophomore Tony Burrell
give the Warriors a solid core. Winton Woods has meetings with Withrow, Western Hills, and Meadowdale before getting its opportunity to upset Brush.
Bella Vista College Prep vs. ISA at Andrews Osborne (Willoughby, Ohio)
Sunday, 6:30 p.m.
Bella Vista Prep will make its second appearance of the weekend when it squares off with International Sports Academy (ISA) at Andrews Osborne, a school located in Willoughby, Ohio. Dave Briski's squad is (10-3) on the season stocked with intriguing prospects. Junior Keon Ambrose and sophomore Charles Bediako headline a roster unfamiliar to most in the Buckeye state. Both players are natives of Canada and receiving major DI interest. Freshman point guard Jaden Clayton is a solid floor general and senior Ben Kelly, junior Dario Biaggi and sophomore Kordell Charles all play a significant role for the Phoenix.
Sunday @ 8:15 p.m.
Few teams in the state have enjoyed as much success as these two programs in recent years, but neither team resembles those past teams thus far this winter. Garfield Heights is just 5-6 halfway through the regular season suffering losses by 35, 34, 33, 18 and 17-point margins. However, the talent is there to turn the ship around under William "Sonny" Johnson. Despite the early season woes, cousins Meechie Johnson
and Sonny Johnson Jr. have been putting the ball in the basket at a high rate. The former is drawing plenty of interest from high-major schools, while the latter is starting to gain Division I suitors. Senior Brison Waller, juniors Brent Darby and Gilbert Davis and sophomore Tyler Jackson are also ones to watch.
Wayne (6-5) has lost three games by six points or fewer but suffered two sizable defeats at the hands of No. 1 Cincinnati Moeller and FTTH entrant Olentangy Liberty. Nathan Martindale's squad lost to Kettering Fairmont for the first time since January of 2007, which is symbolic of how this season has gone for the Warriors. Nevertheless, seniors Ronnie Hampton (15.4 points per game) and Rashad McKee (13.4) are enjoying fine seasons. Senior Tallice Landers and Bobby Cole contribute at a high rate as well and sophomore Cam Fancher has a chance to emerge moving forward. The potential is there, and if you need proof, look no further than wins over Upper Arlington, Miamisburg, Centerville and Trotwood-Madison.
Monday, 11:30 a.m.
Pace Academy will make its first trip to the FTTH, but for head coach Sharman White, he is no stranger to the mid-January hoops extravaganza. White, who led Miller Grove to Kettering on several occasions, is now the head man at Pace Academy. White left Miller Grove after winning seven state championships to be an assistant at Georgia State for two seasons. He brings the Knights to the Dayton area with a roster stocked with 11 underclassmen and just one senior. Pace is 13-5 on the season after participating in some of the best holiday tournaments in the South. Sophomore guards Reign Watkins
and Madison Durr
have been outstanding. Sophomore Cole Middleton
is a double-double guy and one of the best young rebounders in the Peach State. The Knights' five losses on the year are all by 10 points or fewer.
Thurgood Marshall, after being sub-par for the past couple seasons, looks to be trending upward once again. The Cougars were dominant under then head coach Darnell Hoskins and former assistant Shawn McCullough appears to be en route to doing the same. The Cougars are young and still maturing, but you better get them soon, because in a year or two it will be tough sledding against the boys from Hoover Avenue. Despite the youth, it's been senior Michael Elmore that has emerged as a leader for Coach McCullough's squad. The youth movement is led by sophomores Anthony McComb and Chanze Amerson along with talented freshman Mekhi Elmore. McComb and Amerson are already receiving college interest.
Monday, 1:15 p.m.
The marquee game of the weekend may be this one as Prolific Prep will play its second game in three days against the most hyped high school team in America. The California-based Crew will look to be the first team to put a blemish on SPIRE Institute's flawless resume.
The circus better known at SPIRE will be in Kettering this weekend. The school located in Geneva welcomed one of the more polarizing figures to its program this fall in LaMelo Ball
. The youngest of the Ball boys has spearheaded a 14-0 start averaging a shade over 20 points and accounting for nearly a triple-double each time out. Mark Watts
, who is committed to Michigan State, leads the team at 22 points a game and ultra-talented junior Isaiah Jackson totals 15 points and 10 boards a night. Myron Gardner, another highly sought after DI prospect, is good for 17 points an outing and Terry Lockett Jr. produces 12 tallies a game. SPIRE has just one win on the season that didn't result in a double figure victory.
Monday, 3 p.m.
Another big time small school matchup lined up for the FTTH features two teams making their first appearance. Marion Local is the reigning Division IV state champion in Ohio, while Cardinal Stritch fell in the district final to a very good Archbold team. Both teams return plenty from those teams and are off to good starts. Marion Local has struggled a bit, but that is usually the case with the Flyers in the early going as the football team played in the last game of the season yet again. Coach Kurt Goettemoeller's team is (5-3) on the young season, which includes a pair of one-point defeats (Lima Shawnee and Anna) and a five-point setback to St. Henry that it avenged a week later. The Flyers will take on Van Wert, Minster, and Jackson Center before their encounter with Stritch. Nathan Bruns
, who signed to play at the University of Findlay, reached the 1,000-point mark earlier in the season leads the way for Marion Local. Bruns was the centerpiece of last year's state championship team and one of the best players in the state that doubles as a pretty good quarterback. Seniors Nick Tangeman
, Matt Rethman
, Sam Huelsman
, and Max Albers
, all key members of the football team, give Marion Local a sizable line up and added production along with sophomore Alex Eyink
Cardinal Stritch's early success isn't surprising as the Cardinal have been on the rise for some time now. Jamie Kachmarik's team is off to a (10-2) start behind recent quality triumphs of Toledo Central in double overtime and league foe Ottawa Hills. Senior guard Jordan Burton
was terrific in those key victories totaling 44 points. Burton's backcourt mate Joey Holifield
, senior Little Anderson
, and junior Justin Wiggins
give the Cardinals one of the strongest lineups in the Toledo-area. Stritch's two defeats came on the road to a very good Toledo Christian team by a single point and by four points in the Sonic Slam Tournament to Blackman (Murfreesboro, Tenn.). The Cardinals have a huge game with league rival Maumee Valley Country Day at Bowling Green's Stroh Center before arriving in Kettering.
Monday, 4:45 p.m.
First-year Cleveland Heights head coach Michael Cruz received two big surprises in his short time with the Tigers. The first came in August when senior Jaelyn Withers
transferred in from North Carolina. The 6-9 Withers is regarded as a Top 100 player nationally and recently signed with Louisville. The next surprise came last Friday when the Tigers unleashed 6-4, 255-pound senior Anthony Johnson
, a Power 5 football recruit at defensive end. Johnson returned against Lorain, which is one of the top teams in Northeast Ohio. Cleveland Heights dropped the hard fought battle 75-71, but proved it can play with anyone. Cruz's team is 6-4 on the season but the four losses are by a total of 11 points. Withers and Johnson team with classmate Nigel Martin
to form a dynamic trio. The Tigers will entertain a good Warrensville Heights team before meeting Hughes at the FTTH.
Cincinnati Hughes continues to gain steam in Southwest Ohio has one of the better programs in the 513. The Big Red currently resides at 8-3 with losses to arguably the state's best team in unbeaten Cincinnati Moeller, undefeated Cincinnati Taft and Wesley Christian (Ky.) in the Nature Coast Invitational championship game. Freshman Paul McMillan has been as good as advertised averaging over 20 points a game including a 40-point performance in the loss to Wesley Christian. Sophomore Cameron McKenzie adds nearly 14 points and seven rebounds for Hughes and AB Harouna chips in 10 points and nearly five rebounds a game. Tyon and Kionte Thompson also play an important role for the Big Red.
Monday, 6:30 p.m.
This should be an intriguing matchup when Harvest Prep meets up with Middletown Madison. Harvest Prep (9-2), who made the Division III State semifinals a season ago, is a favorite to cut down the nets this March. The Warriors, outside of their opener against Columbus Northland, had very little trouble before holiday tournaments in Jefferson City, Mo., and Hammond, Ind., stretched the veteran group. In the course of a week, the Warriors played in four games settled by six points or less and came out even. Harvest Prep met FTTH host school, Kettering Fairmont, in Jefferson City which handed Coach David Dennis' team its first loss. Six days later Marquette Catholic gave the Warriors a one-point setback. Junior Christopher Anthony
, one of the top guards in Ohio, leads Harvest Prep at 24.5 points per game including a 34 and 38-point outing. Seniors Elijah Glenn
(12.3 points per game) and Brandon Beavers
(11.6) along with Andrew Tate
, Soul Hines
, Raymond Robertson
, and Avonti Duncan
round a line up averaging better than 80 points per game.
Middletown Madison is currently riding a nine-game winning streak leading to an (11-1) record. The trio of senior Levi McMonigle
(14.9 points, 7.5 rebounds per game), junior Grant Whisman
(12.4), and junior Matt Gomia
(11.3) lead a veteran Mohawks team. Whisman, who is a Division I recruit, has seen his scoring drop some from last year, but is more than capable of being one of the better offensive weapons in Southwest Ohio. The Mohawks lone defeat came in a four-point game where head coach Jeff Smith's team scored just 28 points. There is no debate, Harvest Prep will be the best team Madison plays in the regular season, so this a big game on a grand stage for the Mohawks.
Monday, 8:15 p.m.
One of the most anticipated games of the weekend is the event closer where Division I power Pickerington Central faces Division II heavyweight Trotwood-Madison. Two of the state's best football programs will finally meet on the hardwood in what should be quite an entertaining showdown. Though, the game did lose a bit of luster when Pickerington Central's Sam Towns
(10.1 points per game) and Jay Rodgers
(11.2) appeal to become eligible past the 11-game mark was denied. The Tigers are currently (11-0) but without the 6-8 Towns wreaking havoc all over the court and Rodgers providing solid guard play, head coach Eric Krueger's team will need some younger guys to step up. Make no mistake, Central still has plenty in the arsenal led by senior guard Javohn Garcia
, who averages 18 points per contest. Senior Coleton Landis
, a recent Rio Grande commitment, is good for nearly 12 points a game but has recently been hampered with an ankle injury. Sophomore Garner Wallace
, a rare three-sport athlete at Central, is one kid that could step up in Towns' absence. Look for Wallace to increase his production. Junior Tahliek Walker
, who is better known for his defense, is another kid that could see his offensive numbers rise. Tough junior Conner Maciag
will accumulate Rodger's minutes and senior sniper Jaidon Lipscomb
will be asked to play a much larger role. Tigers haven't endured much resistance outside of their game at Reynoldsburg, but that should change on Monday night. The Purple and White will play crosstown rival Pickerington North before Monday's marquee encounter with the Rams.
Very few, if any, score the ball like Rocky Rockhold's Trotwood-Madison Rams, putting up totals of 138, 133, 109 and 101 this season. On three other nights the Rams topped 90 and only once has Trotwood been held under 80, which was 75 in a win over Centerville. T-M's lone loss came to rival Wayne, 91-88, in overtime. Senior standout Amari Davis
scored 43 points on 19-of-26 shooting in the loss. Davis, who is averaging nearly 28 points per outing, became the school's all-time leading scorer on Dec. 22 passing 2018 graduate Myles Belyeu. Junior Carl Blanton
has been very good as well averaging close to 19 points a night and Malachi Mathews
and Sammy Anderson
evenly divide 24 points a game. Senior center Justin Stephens, who is signed to play tight end at Toledo, is nearly totaling a double-double. Keontae Huguely
and Terrence Gates
combined for 12 points. The Rams (9-1) will play rival Dunbar before its matchup with PC.