For second-straight season, three of the top four seeds are in the sectional’s upper bracket.
SPRINGFIELD — The teams in the Springfield Division II sectional have made themselves clear again. They want to delay playing a Dayton team as long as possible.
Three of the top four seeds all chose to play in the sectional’s upper bracket for the second-straight season. Top seed Urbana (21-1), No. 3 seed Carroll (16-6) and No. 4 seed Bellefontaine (12-9) will battle each other for one district final berth in the upper sectional. Shawnee (17-5), the No. 2 seed, looks like the heavy favorite in the lower sectional.
The reason most of the top seeds went in the same bracket? The winner of the upper bracket will face a Cincinnati team in a district final game. The winner of the lower bracket however will face a Dayton team, likely either Franklin (21-1) or Ponitz (17-5).
Franklin is led by Duke recruit Luke Kennard, who averages nearly 40 points per game and is likely to repeat as Ohio’s Mr. Basketball. Ponitz has won its last six games, including a win over Dunbar.
Shawnee head coach Chris McGuire knows if the Braves win Springfield’s lower sectional, they’ll have a tougher district opponent than the sectional’s other winner. Still, it was an easy choice for McGuire to place his team in the lower bracket.
“We knew we would get someone great in the district game,” McGuire said. “If we’re fortunate enough to get there, we know we’ll have to play really well. I think our matchups are much more favorable in the (lower) sectional than if we’d gone in the (upper bracket). Since we had the opportunity to avoid play the other two top seeds, I wanted to take it.”
Shawnee will still have challenges ahead to get to districts. If the Braves beat No. 9 seed Clinton-Massie in a first-round game, they’ll play Tippecanoe for a third time this season in the second round.
“We know we’ve got the target on our back as the high seed,” McGuire said. “We’ve got some tough teams to play. If we get by Clinton-Massie, we’ll have to beat Tipp for a third team. It’s never easy to beat a team for the third time. We’ll have to be ready to go.”
Tournament action starts this Friday. Urbana plays Northwestern at 6 p.m., and Carroll plays Benjamin Logan at 7:30. All games in the sectional are at Springfield High School.
Carroll looks to crash CBC party
The sectional has 10 teams from the Central Buckeye Conference. Carroll, Meadowdale and Clinton-Massie are the other three teams in the conference. Carroll is in its second season in the sectional, and the Patriots will look to crash the CBC party.
Carroll won Springfield’s lower sectional last year by beating Greenon, Indian Lake and Shawnee. The team hadn’t advanced past the second round since 2010 before last season. The Patriots also didn’t win over 12 games in a season during that time. Head coach Tim Cogan has helped lead the improvement.
Cogan, who’s in his second year at Carroll, led Fairmont’s girls basketball team to four-straight state final fours and three-straight championship game berths before leaving Fairmont for Carroll.
Carroll (16-6, 4-6 GCL Co-Ed) has beaten the likes of Northridge, Meadowdale, Stivers and Graham outside of league play this year. They’ve also beat Alter, Badin, McNicholas, and Fenwick within their conference.
“We are pleased with our season so far, and this team has really fought through adversity with injuries this season,” Cogan said. “… Without question the GCL has prepared us to compete at a high level. It’s a dog fight every night out. The work our team put in from last spring until now is starting to pay dividends.”
The Patriots are built much like other CBC teams. They have a couple of go-to players for scoring and not much size in the post. Carroll leads the GCL Co-Ed in defense, surrendering 44 points per game. That’s good news for the Patriots, who average 54.6 points per game on offense.
“We take great pride in preparing our team on the defensive end of the floor,” Cogan said. “It’s our number one priority. Playing great defense gives us a chance to win any game… There are always concerns when you don’t have a high-powered offensive team. We must do a great job limiting our opponents’ scoring opportunities and take advantage of our opportunities.”
David Ivey, a 6-1 guard, averages 15.4 per game and shots 82.5 percent from the free-throw line. He’s second in steals and assists.
Jackson Jabir, a 6-1 point guard, is second on the team with 8.4 points per game. Jabir, whose father Jim Jabir is UD’s head womens’ basketball coach, leads Carroll with 3.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
Cogan has been appreciative of the leadership both Ivey and Jabir have shown.
“They have done a great job of leading the way for this team,” Cogan said. “Their work ethic is outstanding and they are a positive influence on all of the underclassmen. This is a special group of young men.”
Urbana, Bellefontaine face tough road
Urbana was the sectional’s top seed last year but lost by five points to Bellefontaine in a second-round game. The Hillclimbers will try to avoid a repeat performance this year. If they beat Northwestern in the first round, they’ll get a rematch with Bellefontaine. Whoever wins that game will likely face Carroll in a sectional final.
Though Urbana faces a tough road, it faced a stout nonconference schedule and came away unblemished this year. The Hillclimbers beat Division I Hilliard Davidson (7-14), Alter (11-10) and Ponitz this season. They went undefeated in CBC Mad River play for the second-straight season and beat Tecumseh (14-7), Kenton Ridge (11-11) and Bellefontaine in crossover games.
Cameron Logwood hit a buzzer-beater three to give the Hillclimbers a 32-30 win over Bellefontaine on Jan. 27. The game was the latest in a series of close matchups between the two squads. Before Bellefontaine beat Urbana in the second round last year, the Hillclimbers beat the Cheiftains by four points in a regular season game.
Logwood and senior forward Nathan Mays have been a one-two scoring punch this season. Logwood leads Urbana with an average of 17.6 points per game. Mays averages 15.7 points and 10 rebounds per game. Caleb Honore has been a key contributor with 11 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
Bellefontaine struggled early this season and lost four of its first five games. But the Chieftains are 11-5 since then, and all five losses have come by ten points or less.
Tristian Tillman leads Bellefontaine with 11 points per game. Jake Kennedy, Caleb Mitchell and Max Oyer all average seven or more points per game.
Shawnee hopes to get back to U.D. Arena
Shawnee’s bid to return to the district finals last year was thwarted by Carroll, who won a sectional final matchup by seven points. The Braves won’t have to worry about a repeat this year since Carroll’s in the sectional’s upper bracket.
In fact, the Braves look like the favorite to win the bottom sectional. Shawnee is the only team in the bottom sectional with a record above .500. Kenton Ridge is the next highest seed in the bracket after Shawnee. The Braves beat the Cougars by 14 or more points both times they played each other in conference play.
“Nothing is guaranteed,” McGuire said. “The opponents we will or could play (in the sectional) are going to give it all they have and would love to knock us off. So we’ve got a lot of games to win before we can worry about playing anyone in the districts.”
Jaden Greenwood has been Shawnee’s go-to scorer this year. The senior guard averages 17.3 points per game. Seth Gray, a 6-3 forward, has emerged as a big scoring threat in the second half of the season. Gray averages 16.4 points per game and leads the team with 7.5 rebounds per game. Point guard Andrew Tincher averages about nine points and four rebounds per game.
The Braves had a slow start to the season and lost their first two games. But a 34-30 win over Urbana on Dec. 16 sparked a six-game winning streak. Shawnee went 9-1 in the CBC Kenton Trail this season and posted a big nonconference win over Trotwood (14-8).
“We’ll have to play hard and not have any excuses,” McGuire said. “We’ll have to play our best. We feel like we’re getting there, but we still have room for improvement.”