Teams in the area last year were on the precipice of making state before everything was shutdown due to the pandemic.
This year, schools are ready to make another run at a state title and like last season, there are plenty of solid contenders to make the final four down in Columbus.
The journey begins Feb. 23.
Here are five things to look for in the postseason.
1.Is Lima Senior ready for another big run?
The Spartans looked to be heading to state last year after making it to the regionals with a wealth of talent and while some of that talent is gone due to graduation they returned a lot of players looking to make their own mark. Blessed with depth and a strong defense, the Spartans are 15-2 this season despite enduring a long layoff and injuries. Trying to make up some of those lost contests, Lima Senior has had a rigorous schedule down the stretch bu this should only make the team stronger as they enter tournament play. If the Spartans can continue with its smothering defense and unselfish offensive play, Lima Senior, who have won six straight, can go a long distance in the Division I bracket.
2. Shawnee looks like a team on a mission
After last year’s postseason run was cut short, Shawnee came into the season with pretty much the attitude of state or bust. Led by George Mangas, the Indians have dominated team this season and lost only once this season to a strong Findlay squad. With the return of Tyson Elwer and the rest of the Indians filling out their roles, Shawnee looks to be a contender for a state title. But as we all know Mark Triplett and the rest of the team is taking nothing for granted in this time of uncertainty. In their bracket is No. 2 seeded Wauseon, along with the bulk of the Western Buckeye League. Wauseon is an impressive 15-3 this season.
3. Can Ottawa-Glandorf survive a tough Division III Lima district bracket?
Like a number of teams, Ottawa-Glandorf has endured injuries and the pandemic and have still posted a 14-4 overall record. However, the Titans faltered last week against a Van Wert team that is finding itself that is a red flag for Titan fans. However, like Tom Brady, its tough to bet against the Titans in the postseason and they have the necessary talent to go deep into the tournament. The Titans will face a number of challenges in the bracket including Wayne Trace and Lima Central Catholic Which leads us to…
4. What are Lima Central Catholic’s hopes in the bracket.
The Thunderbirds, have a mixture of youth and experience, and it has shown with its topsy-turvy season. LCC (10-7) has picked up big wins over Perry and Ottawa-Glandorf but playing three freshmen at times, the Thunderbirds are prone to inconsistent play. See Van Wert game. A tough schedule has prepared LCC for the postseason, playing teams like Lima Senior, Ottoville and Kalida, so it will be interesting to see if the younger players have taken the lessons of this season and take them over to the playoffs.
5. Who will come out of the always tough Division IV districts?
Let’s face it, Northwest Ohio has perhaps the best small schools in the state and this year is no different. Consider Putnam County on its own and it is evident it will be a challenge for any team to move on to regionals.
This bracket could be considered one of the toughest in state in terms of talented teams. It features Columbus Grove as the No. 1 seed and Ottoville as the No. 2 seed and in the mix are Kalida, Crestview, Leipsic and Lincolnview. Any number of teams can come out on top. Columbus Grove, with the return of Gabe Clement, has been playing some its best basketball of the year, but Ottoville comes in with the a senior laden team led by Josh Thorbahn, Ryan Suever and Will Miller. With its pressure defense Kalida looks strong and never the Kaden Etzler Crestview team can win on any given night. .
Perry, winners of three straight Northwest Central Conference titles, come in as the No. 1 seed and Commodores have enjoy another big year. Perry is 16-3 this year and have suffered losses to Lima Central Catholic, Shawnee and Bath. Led by Bubby Knight, the Commodores solid defense will be tested in a bracket that features No. 2 seeded Minster, No. 3 seeded St. Henry and No. 4 seeded New Bremen. Earlier in the year, Perry beat Minster by two back on Jan. 19, 42-40.