ELIDA – Elida’s Dakota Mathias has almost grown up in the shadows of the Elida Fieldhouse.
First, he was a ball boy since his early grade-school days.
Then, he started as a freshman on the varsity from Day 1 with the Bulldogs basketball team.
Mathias recently wrapped up his Elida career as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,906 points.
Mathias is honored today as The Lima News’ Dream Team player of the year.
That’s one more in a long list of honors for Mathias this year which include the following: Western Buckeye League player of the year, district player of the year, first team all-district, Division II state co-player of the year and first team all-state.
It marked the second year in a row he was named first-team all-state.
The 6-foot-5 Mathias was also one of the finalists for the Ohio Mr. Basketball award.
As a senior, he averaged 27.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists. The Purdue-bound Mathias shot 52 percent from the field, 48 percent on 3-pointers and 79 percent at the foul line.
Also named to the boys Dream Team were the following: Noah Bramlage (Ottawa-Glandorf); Colin Gossard (Bath); Damian Helm (Crestview); Bruce Hodges (Perry); Martyce Kimbrough (Lima Central Catholic); Zach Kuhlman (Leipsic); Xavier Simpson (Lima Central Catholic); Taren Sullivan (Bath) and Will Vorhees (Columbus Grove).
The coaches of the year are LCC’s Frank Kill and Crestview’s Jeremy Best. Both won state championships.
Mathias is one of the few Elida players to have started as a freshman on the varsity from Day 1.
“I wanted to play varsity my freshman year,” Mathias said. “That was my goal. Both my brothers (Bo and Dustin) had done it. Starting as a freshman was my main goal.
But Mathias wasn’t quite sure he would start the opener.
“The first couple of scrimmages I was the sixth man,” he said. “Then, a few days before the Tipoff (Classic), coach (Denny Thompson) called out the first five, and I was the starting point guard.”
Mathias said his teammates were great about his promotion.
“They welcomed me with open arms,” he said. “They wanted me up there.”
As a sophomore, Mathias was the No. 2 offensive option behind Reggie McAdams, who is now playing at Akron. The Bulldogs went all the way to the Division II state championship game before falling to Dayton Dunbar, 54-52.
Mathias scored 16 points, including hitting 9 of 9 at the foul line, in the championship game. He averaged 14 points per game that season.
“I think I appreciate it (the trip to state) more now,” Mathias said. “At the time there was no time to think about it, but looking back, not many teams get there.
“It was an eye opener. We made it down there and almost pulled it off. I can’t explain the feeling of playing there (at the Value City Arena). Seeing all the orange in the stands, I’ll never forget it.”
The following year, McAdams graduated and Mathias’ scoring average rose to 25.5.
This year Mathias led his team to a 21-4 record. The Bulldogs were co-champions of the Western Buckeye League at 8-1 and advanced to the district finals before falling to Bath.
“It all started in the summer, and we progressed as a team,” Mathias said. “We really improved. We came up a little short, but I’m proud of the improvements we made.”
Mathias is set to play in the Ohio-Kentucky All-Star game at Thomas More (Ky.) on April 12. He’ll also play in the Ohio North-South game April 27 at Capital.
Mathias has always been about winning and not individual awards. But he said not receiving the Mr. Basketball award will fuel his competitive fire.
“Awards come and go, but I keep all those things as motivations,” Mathias said. “I write them all down in a notebook and take it with me.”
BOYS DREAM TEAM
Noah Bramlage (Ottawa-Glandorf), 6-7, Junior, 18.2
Colin Gossard (Bath) 6-3, Senior, 15.0
Damian Helm (Crestview), 6-4, Senior, 15.5
Bruce Hodges (Perry), 5-10, Senior, 25.1
Martyce Kimbrough (Lima Central Catholic), 6-1, Senior, 19.0
Zach Kuhlman (Leipsic), 6-2, Senior, 20.3
Dakota Mathias (Elida), 6-5, Senior, 27.7
Xavier Simpson (Lima Central Catholic), 5-9, Sophomore, 18.5
Taren Sullivan (Bath), 6-6, Senior, 20.9
Will Vorhees (Columbus Grove), 6-7, Senior, 17.6
Player of the Year
Dakota Mathias (Elida)
Coaches of the Year
Frank Kill (Lima Central Catholic) and Jeremy Best (Crestview)
Louis Gray (Elida), Ryan Hoyng (Celina), Logan Delong (Celina), Isaac Fitzgerald (St. Marys), Connor Holliday (Van Wert), Kyle Williams (Lincolnview), Jay Thomas (Lima Senior), Brady Allen (Lima Senior), Ben Bowers (Spencerville), Zach Goecke (Spencerville), Cam Etzler (Crestview), Tyson Bolenbaugh (Crestview), Trey Smith (Delphos Jefferson), Ross Thompson (Delphos Jefferson), Tre Cobbs (Lima Central Catholic), Dylan Hunsicker (Upper Scioto Valley), Jared Poling (Perry), Woody Prater (Upper Scioto Valley), Lane Hurley (Upper Scioto Valley), Elijah Kahlig (Fort Recovery), Ryan Mikesell (St. Henry), Carson Manger (New Bremen), Luke Knapke (Marion Local), Andrew Arnett (New Knoxville), Adam Bertke (Marion Local), Andy Grothouse (Delphos St. John’s), Brandon Wolters (Coldwater), Adam Niese (Miller City), Luke Schimmoeller (Ottoville), Brandt Landin (Ottoville), Jace Darbyshire (Columbus Grove), Adam Drummelsmith (Miller City), Tyler Rue (Continental), Devin Kortokrax (Kalida), Cory Heuerman (Miller City),