Ten things to watch in the upcoming high school boys basketball tournament:
1. Can Shawnee take the next step and get to the state tournament?
The Indians went all the way to the Bowling Green Division II regional championship game last season before being beaten by eventual state runner-up Columbus South. They have several of the key players, led by George Mangas, back from that team and have built on that success.
The Columbus district, which sent teams to the BGSU regional last year, will feed into a different regional this year and will be replaced by the North Ridgeville district from northeast Ohio.
2. Can Lima Senior get to its fourth regional in the last six years and take another run at the state tournament?
The Spartans have struggled in matchups against good non-league opponents such as Canton McKinley, Ottawa-Glandorf and Shawnee but have dominated the Three Rivers Athletic Conference. They might end up facing a TRAC team for the third time this season to win another district. Or they could have to get past teams like Perrysburg, Sylvania Southview or Toledo Start.
3. The Division IV regional tournament at Bowling Green just got even tougher.
The winner of the Wapakoneta Division IV district will go to the Bowling Green regional this year instead of going to the Dayton regional, where it has played for many years. This means the Midwest Athletic Conference could be part of the equation at BGSU.
It also reduces the chances of area Division IV teams getting to the state tournament. Last year, Crestview and St. Henry both played in the state tournament because they came out of different regionals. If they both had gone to Bowling Green, only one would have been in Columbus.
Two years ago, Marion Local and Pandora-Gilboa would have been in the same regional instead of both of them being state semifinalists. Three years ago Perry and Delphos St. John’s both would have played in the Bowling Green regional instead of both of them going to the state tournament.
4. Will there be a team that puts everything together at just the right time after some early struggles, like Coldwater last season?
The Cavaliers started 4-7 but won 13 of their next 15 games, upset Ottawa-Glandorf, Archbold and Willard in the tournament and were the runner-up in the Division III regional at Bowling Green.
5. Can Columbus Grove do what the 2006 Bulldogs did and get to the state tournament?
That would be the second trip to the state tournament in school history. The 2006 team was Division IV state runner-up. Columbus Grove was a Bowling Green Division IV regional semifinalist last season so it has tournament experience.
6. Will any of the top talent in the state be on display in the state tournament?
According to 247sports.com, the top five seniors playing at Ohio high schools are Jon Hugley (Lyndhurst Brush), Grant Huffman (Lakewood St. Edward), Gavin Clarke (Euclid), Josiah Fulcher (Lima Senior) and Mo Njie (Centerville).
It says the top five juniors playing at Ohio high schools are Malaki Branham (Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary), Kalen Etzler (Crestview), Logan Duncomb (Cincinnati Moeller), Seth Wilson (Lorain) and Jalen Billingsley (Cleveland Lutheran East).
7. Can Ottawa-Glandorf add to its tradition of tournament success?
If history is any indicator, it’s a pretty good bet it can. No one in northwest Ohio has won more sectional titles (28) since 1988 than the Titans. And only Lima Central Catholic has won more district titles (12) in that time span.
8. Is Ottoville a team that could be a factor in the postseason?
The Big Green started the season 4-3, but once they got Josh Thorbahn and Ryan Suever healthier they went on a long winning streak.
9. No team has ever won a boys basketball state championship in Ohio after losing more than 10 games in the regular season in the last 70 years. If your team accomplishes that, it will make a little history.
Youngstown Ursuline won the Division III title in 1994 with 10 losses, and Dayton Jefferson won the 2010 Division IV championship with 10 losses. Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph won the Division II title in 1992 with nine losses, and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary was the 2011 Division II champ with nine losses. Fort Loramie won the 1977 Class A title with eight losses and Columbus Linden McKinley won the 1975 AAA championship with eight losses.
10. Every team in the Putnam County League has appeared in the boys basketball state tournament. Can one of the other area leagues add another team to its list of state tournament teams this year?
Here are how many schools from the other area leagues have reached the state tournament: Midwest Athletic Conference (9), Western Buckeye League (8), Three Rivers Athletic Conference (7), Northwest Conference (6), Blanchard Valley Conference (5), Northwest Central Conference (2).