I’m not alone, but I’ve missed filling out NCAA brackets. And I’ve really missed the boys state basketball tournament.
I saw the state tournament for the first time when I was a senior in college, came back four years later as a sportswriter for the first time and would have been attending my 44th consecutive state tournament this year if it hadn’t been postponed and then cancelled by the coronavirus.
So, the question for me was what could I do to take the place of the brackets? And what could I do to take the place of the state tournament?
Looking through a list of past state tournament winners on the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s website, it became clear to me what I needed to do.
In the last 50 years, 24 teams that The Lima News covered have won boys basketball state championships, starting with Fort Recovery in 1971 and going all the way up to Crestview last season.
So, I decided to make a bracket that matched up those 24 state champs and find a mythical state champion.
At first, I was just going to do it for my own entertainment. But I mentioned it to my bosses and they suggested having readers vote round by round until they picked the winner.
Readers can vote online at limaohio.com/bestbasketball and also can find the bracket on page 4C.
Eight teams got byes in the first round and the other 16 were matched up by a random draw. Readers can make round by round picks until one team is voted the champion of champions.
Meet the teams competing for the championship:
1971 Fort Recovery (26-2). The Indians won the Class A title the first year there were three divisions in Ohio high school basketball.
1975 Marion Local (25-4). Midwest Athletic Conference teams have won 136 state championships. The Flyers, led by 6-foot, 7-inch first-team All-Ohio post player Steve Hartings, won the first MAC state title with an overtime victory over Indian Valley South, coached by Bob Huggins’ dad, Charlie Huggins.
1979 St. Henry (26-0). Mike Post was a first-team All-Ohio player. Chuck Stahl went on to play at Miami University and the sixth man was a 6-6 sophomore named Jim Lachey.
1981 Kalida (27-1). A year after losing in the state semifinals, Kalida returned to Columbus and won the Class A state championship.
1983 Delphos St. John’s (28-0). Almost everybody thought the 1982 St. John’s team, with Ohio State recruit Alan Kortokrax, might be the team to win the first state championship of coach Bob Arnzen’s career, but they missed by a year.
1985 Jackson Center (27-1). You could write a book about the Tigers’ two state tournament games. First, they beat Columbus Wehrle, the overwhelming favorite to win the Class A tournament in the semifinals, then won the championship game on a last-second shot by a player who had scored 18 points all season.
1990 St. Henry (25-1). Here’s a question not many people outside St. Henry would answer correctly. On a dominant team with MAC legends Bob Hoying, Kevin Niekamp, Jeff Hartings and Scott Brunswick on the roster, who was the only player to get Associated Press All-Ohio honors who also led the team in scoring in the Division III state championship game against Youngstown Liberty with 25 points? Answer: Pat Droesch.
1991 St. Henry (26-1). The Redskins dropped down to Division IV and won back-to-back state championships. Bob Hoying and Scott Brunswick were first-team All-Ohio. St. Henry dominated Kirtland by 16 points and Tri-Village by 26 in its state tournament games.
1994 Upper Scioto Valley (27-1). The mid-1990s were the golden age of USV basketball. The boys state championship in 1994 happened after the USV girls won back-to-back state championships in 1993 and 1994.
1997 Lincolnview (27-0). After being state runner-up to Springfield Catholic Central in 1996, Lincolnview was on a mission. The Lancers went undefeated and put an exclamation point on the season with an 88-49 win over Norwalk St. Paul in their state semifinal and a 76-60 win over Zanesville Rosecrans in the championship game. Division IV Player of the Year Brandon Pardon, Wes Dudgeon and Chad Pollock all ended their careers with more than 1,000 points.
2000 Fort Jennings (24-3). The enrollment figures said Fort Jennings was one of the smallest schools in the state, but it was one of the big boys in Division IV basketball this season when the Musketeers won a state championship.
2002 Delphos St. John’s (21-6). The Blue Jays were state runner-up in 2001, but came into the 2002 Division IV state tournament unranked after six regular-season losses.
2003 Marion Local (24-2). The Flyers’ state title made Marion Local the third school to win boys and girls state championships in the same year. Delphos St. John’s and Upper Scioto Valley were the previous two.
2004 Ottawa-Glandorf (27-1). After two consecutive regional championship game losses to LeBron James and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, the Titans, led by Tim and Eric Pollitz, got past the regional and won the Division II state championship.
2004 St. Henry (22-5). The Redskins won the school’s fourth boys basketball state championship by beating another Midwest Athletic Conference school, Versailles, in the championship game.
2008 New Knoxville (27-0). The Rangers got to Columbus after falling one game short of the state tournament in 2007. The only thing falling in 2008 at the state tournament was a lot of their shots when they completed a perfect season with a 21-point win over Wayne Trace in a semifinal and a 22-point win over Worthington Christian in the Division IV championship game.
2008 Ottawa-Glandorf (23-5). O-G was third in the Western Buckeye League behind Shawnee and Defiance but went on to win the Division III state championship.
2010 Lima Central Catholic (23-4). LCC won the first boys basketball state championship by a Lima school in Bob Seggerson’s last game as coach after 32 years. The Thunderbirds finished the season on a 20-game winning streak after starting 3-4.
2013 Ottawa-Glandorf (26-3). The Titans were inspired by a state semifinal loss a year earlier. They came back from six points down with 56 seconds to play to beat Ironton in overtime in the 2013 semifinals and got nine 3-pointers from T.J. Metzger in a 67-46 win over Versailles in the Division III championship game.
2014 Lima Central Catholic (25-4). Martyce Kimbrough started LCC on its way to its state title by scoring 18 of his 22 points in the first half and Xavier Simpson scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half.
2014 Crestview (29-0). Twenty-three of the Knights’ 29 wins were by 10 points or more, including a 71-44 win over Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas in the Division IV state championship game.
2016 Lima Central Catholic (28-1). LCC dominated in its tournament run, winning its games by 58, 36, 27, 31 and 25 points to get to Columbus, then won by 18 and 22 points in its games in the Division III state tournament. Its only loss to Division I runner-up Lima Senior came on a last-second shot by former teammate Xavier Simpson.
2018 Marion Local (25-4). The Flyers became only the fourth school to win a boys state basketball championship and a football state championship in the same school year with a 52-51 double-overtime thriller against Cornerstone Christian.
2019 Crestview (28-1). When Crestview’s seniors were in junior high, people started talking about them winning a state championship. With a roster that included two Division I basketball recruits, a Division I football recruit and a four-year starter at point guard, that prediction came true.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.