It’s one and done time in high school basketball throughout the state. One loss and the season is over. Only four teams will celebrate championships on March 23 at Value City Arena on the campus of Ohio State University.
Between now and then, tournament favorites will get upset, more than one buzzer-beater will become a memory for life and fans will dress up and paint their faces in a variety of colors.
This is March Madness at the high school level.
PTC FALLS EARLY
Unfortunately for the Portage Trail Conference, one and done became reality real quick as seven teams took the court Monday and six of them exited the tournament. Congratulations to Crestwood, a 54-36 winner over Hubbard. The Red Devils advanced to face No. 1 seed Poland Seminary on Wednesday at the Boardman District, but were handed a 69-38 loss.
In the County Division, 5-of-8 teams all fell victims on Monday: East Canton, Garfield, Rootstown, Waterloo and Woodridge.
Field, of the Metro Division, was eliminated by Tallmadge. The other nine members of the PTC will tip off either Friday or Saturday.
WHO CAN WIN?
There are several potential matchups looming on the horizon that involve PTC teams. Southeast will meet Niles McKinley in the early game at the Boardman Division II District on Friday, while Ravenna will battle Salem in the nightcap. Both the Ravens and Pirates have the ability and opportunity to pull mild upsets and advance to the district semifinals.
The two teams, who did not face each other during the season, would then battle each other on March 6.
Metro Division champion Norton will open tournament action on Saturday against the winner of Marlington and Akron Springfield at the Canton Division II District.
The Panthers beat Springfield twice this season, but the Spartans cut a 15-point loss early in the season down to only three points late in January.
Springfield won six of its last seven games following that loss to Norton, but the Panthers have won nine in a row, so if this matchup materializes, it could be very exciting.
Windham and Mogadore both received No. 2 seeds in their respective districts. The County Division champion Bombers will need to beat undefeated Bristol, which finished the season ranked No. 3 in the AP’s state poll, if they reach the Warren Division IV District finals. Marty Hill has coached the Bombers to 14 district championships since 1976 and is currently looking for three in a row. Windham opens against Vienna Mathews this Friday at Warren G. Harding.
Mogadore will also open Friday against Sebring in the Struthers Division IV District. The biggest challenge for the Wildcats is No. 1 seed Wellsville, which finished the regular season 19-3.
The Wildcats and Bombers are pointed toward the Canton Regional, which is where both teams ended the season last year. The regional matchups are the same as last year. If Windham should make the trip, they will face the Garfield Heights District winner, which includes Richmond Heights and Cleveland Villa Angela St. Joe — both top 10 teams in the AP state poll. Richmond Heights defeated Windham in the regional semifinals last year at Canton.
Mogadore would face the Byesville District winner, which includes the two-time defending Division IV state champion Berlin Hiland, which eliminated the Wildcats last year.
Good luck to all local teams as they march into tournament action. This marks the final report of the year in what has been an exciting season. I look forward to visiting the state finals at Value City Arena in a couple weeks. It sure would be nice to see a local team in Columbus.