Cover picture by Amy Hoyng Photography
(2-3-22) Sam Houseworth takes a look at all 4 divisions of this year’s OHSAA Girls State Basketball Tournaments.
Despite being led by Notre Dame commit KK Bransford, Mount Notre Dame is far from a lock to win their third straight OHSAA state championship.
Looking into the sectionals, there are few to keep an eye on. The most impactful one is in Troy where Sidney and Beavercreek are on a path to meet in the sectional final. Sidney has clinched the MVL Valley Division, but only has one win outside of league play. Beavercreek is the opposite with woeful 3-8 record in the GWOC, but 6-1 out of conference.
Staying in the southwest, one contest to keep an eye on is Princeton and defending D-I champion Mount Notre Dame as a potential for the Cincinnati regional semifinal. Princeton beat MND on the court back in December, led by 4-star junior Sole Williams and her 33 points. However, the game was later changed to a forfeit, keeping Mount Notre Dame’s historic win streak intact.
The top four rated teams in Ohio are all in separate regions, meaning we should get the true state champion at UD Arena. Those teams are Reynoldsburg, Hoban, Dublin Coffman, and Mount Notre Dame. Despite their two out-of-state losses, I like Reynoldsburg to hand Hoban their first loss of the season and take home their school’s first girls basketball state title.
While I tend to be critical of the AP polls for high school sports, we agree that it’s unlikely that St. Vincent-St. Mary will win their 4th state title in the last 5 tournaments.
Heading to the northwest, there are a bunch of slobberknockers scheduled for the sectional finals. Heading to Hamler on the 19th, that double header will have regional semifinal potential. In the early game, we could see Lima Shawnee against Bath in a rematch of their early December showdown. In that game, Shawnee held on to win 42-38. The likely second game could feature NWOAL leader Bryan pairing with St. Marys.
Unfortunately for these WBL teams, all paths go through Shelby and Toledo Central Catholic in the Mansfield regional. Though, one potential pairing to watch for is Kettering Alter and Granville in the Springfield regional semifinal. That’s a state caliber game a full two rounds early.
The top three teams in the Projection Index are picked to go to state: Alter, Shelby, and Sheridan, with St. Vincent-St. Mary joining them. Alter is the favorite, but it’s tough to say that with any confidence. Any of those top three could walk away with the state championship.
All the favorites have had a good ten years without a state championship. With that in mind, the state participants could have a different look this March.
There is no question that the Elida district is the toughest and deepest in the state. Liberty-Benton will have no issues getting out of sectionals. Ottawa-Glandorf and Delphos Jefferson are strong adversaries. But even beyond them, teams like Spencerville, Coldwater, and Van Buren can make some noise.
The geography worked out as the regionals appear balanced, unlike what we will see in D-IV. While I like Liberty-Benton pairing with Worthington Christian in the Lexington regional final, there’s no guarantee they both make it with O-G and Africentric awaiting them beforehand.
At state, it should come down to Purcell Marian, Liberty-Benton, Union Local, and Waynedale. Purcell Marian is a strong favorite to win the state championship, with Libety-Benton finishing runner-up. What’s scary about Purcell Marian is the presence of two freshmen in their starting five. This could be the first of many state titles for the Cincinnati area school.
If you are going to miss a state final game for any reason, this is probably the one to miss. The state championship will be decided in the semifinals because one half of the bracket features the top 8 teams in D-IV
Look at this first round contest. Botkins vs. Mechanicsburg. In the Projection Index, both teams are in the top 15 in D-IV and one of them is going home after one game.
Looking at the important regionals, it’s projected the defending state champion Fort Loramie, Tri-Village, Cincinnati Country Day, and a sacrificial lamb from the Columbus area will head to Vandalia. That’s 3 of the top 4 teams in D-IV. In Elida, we should see MAC leader New Knoxville, Toledo Christian, Crestview, and Columbus Grove. The winners of these regionals meet in the state semifinal.
New Knoxville doesn’t have an easy path, but it’s easier than Fort Loramie’s. I think both make it to state, but I would not be shocked if Tri-Village pulls the upset in Vandalia. On the right side of the bracket, I’ve got Buckeye Central and Waterford. Not that it matters because whoever wins that semifinal will be smoked by 20 in the state championship.