The road to Columbus has arrived.
When that road began in late November, I was still in football mode.
But I have surely been in basketball mode for a while now, although the long winter did make it a grind, at times.
And believe me, it was a grind for a lot of coaches and players too this winter.
The 22 game schedule and trying to find open dates for makeup games, etc.
But now we are at the boys’ state tournament.
I love the coming weekend.
Until recently, I never really got a chance to appreciate being there for the whole tournament.
Back working at WLIO-TV, I would cover a certain team at state, but then have to get right back to put the highlights on TV.
My very first time at the state tournament was 1981 when Kalida beat Columbus Academy in the Class A state title game.
Dick Kortokorax was the head coach of Kalida then.
He’s still the Wildcats head coach.
I remember the following year at state covering Lima Senior when it lost in the semifinals to Cincinnati Roger Bacon.
Hey, Roger Bacon is Lima Central Catholic’s opponent Friday afternoon in Columbus.
The year after that, I did my first TV play by play announcing gig with then LCC head coach Bob Seggerson, broadcasting the Delphos St. John’s/ Old Washington Buckeye Trail game, which the Blue Jays won in double overtime.
St. John’s went on to win the state championship the next day, the first and only one for legendary head coach Bob Arnzen.
I was there for LCC’s first appearance at state in 1989.
And every Thunderbirds state games after that.
There were some tough losses for them.
But I was also there in 2010 and witnessed LCC’s first boys basketball state championship and also end of a legendary career by long-time head coach Bob Seggerson.
That was really special.
I was there for Lima Senior’s last trip to state in 1992
I remember sitting courtside and watching the incredible shot by Ohio’s Mister Basketball Greg Simpson to send the Spartans into overtime versus Canton McKinley in the state semifinal. Lima Senior would eventually win in double overtime.
And then the following day watching the Spartans blow a big lead against bitter rival Lakota and losing the state championship in overtime.
That was a toughie, too.
I remember two years prior when St. Henry won a Division III state championship one year, and then the Division IV state title the next.
Man they were good.
Upper Scioto Valley won the boys state championship a week after its girls had captured their own state championship.
It was the first time that a school had won a boys and girls state title in the same season.
How about the Lincolnviw Lancers’ run? State runners-up in 1996 and state champs the following season. And their only loss during that time was in that ’96 state final to Springfield Catholic Central and future NBA player Jason Collier.
Remember Fort Jennings winning the 2000 state championship?
It was an all Limaland final too, with St. Henry as the opponent.
We’ve had that kind of matchup with two Limaland teams doing battle at state several times.
The great run by Ottawa-Glandorf-oh so close in 1996 when the Titans lost in the final seconds, but then winning state championships in 2004, 2008 and last year.
I could on and on about other Limaland teams that made their first ever appearance at state, sometime during my time covering the boys state tournament since 1981.
I think about the great teams and the great players.
LeBron James and Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary won three state titles when he was in high school.
But my biggest memory of LeBron at state, was the Irish losing in the 2002 state final to Cincinnati Roger Bacon.
Man that was unbelievable.
What will be the great story or stories that will come out of the 2014 boys’ state tournament?
I can’t wait.
Good luck to our Limaland teams Crestview and LCC.
See you in Columbus.
You can comment to Vince Koza at firstname.lastname@example.org.