Welcome to the 2013 OHSAA boys basketball tournament from the floor of the Value City Arena on the campus of Ohio State University. This marks the 15th year the tournament has been held at the Value City Arena.
It's always nice to know somebody on the floor and this year the Kiser brothers of Windham carry the torch for Portage County. Brothers Chad, Brian and Jeff Kiser are three-fourths of the coaching staff for Leavittsburg LaBrae. The Division III Vikings from Trumbull County came into the tourney with a 24-3 record and meet Versailles (22-5) in the second game on Thursday.
Division III opened the tournament this year on Thursday morning and if the first game is any indication of what to expect for the weekend it's going to be a great time of watching high school basketballs best.
Ottawa-Glandorf (25-3) and Ironton (23-3) squared off in the 91st edition of the tournament, which tipped off at 10:45 a.m. The final result was a Ottawa-Glandorf overtime 61-60 win in a thriller. The Titans trailed by six points with less a minute to play in regulation but tied the game with 1.1 seconds on the clock and then won in overtime.
Matt Kaufman, the smallest player on the OG team, drove to the basket for the final shot of the game to send the game into overtime. Kaufman was clutch for the Titans all day finishing the game with 11 points, five rebounds and six assists. All-state TJ Metzger sank the back end of a one-and-one free throw with only one second on the overtime clock. He finished the contest with 25 points to lead the team.
Unfortunately for the Kiser brothers and LaBrae, things did not go well in the second half of the division III semi-final. Chad Kiser, who has been the head coach at LaBrae for seven years, summed it up pretty simple following the game. The Vikings led 37-33 at the half and then went stone cold in the second 16 minutes. Behind the shooting of Versailles Kyle Ahrens, the Tigers outscored LaBrae 31-15 in the second half for a 64-52 final.
Ahrens, a future division I college player, scored 21 points.
"It was a tail of two halves," said Kiser. "I thought we started out a little slow but then finished well in the first half. We knew they would switch to a 2-3 zone to open the second half but we just couldn't hit the shots. We told the kids they had to be patient and rebound well on the defensive end and that was what we did not get done, added the LaBrae coach.
Peyton Aldridge of LaBrae finished the afternoon with 23 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots. The 6-foot-7 Alldridge was a first team all Ohio selection and has carried the Vikings throughout the year and he is only a junior. He is also the quarterback for the Viking football team and star pitcher and shortstop for the baseball team.
Kiser said following the game that he believed his team finished strong. "I don't think our guys left anything on the floor, they just didn't shot well and when you get this far you have to hit the shots."
He also talked about how hard and dedicated Aldridge is as a player. "Next year is next year and we have to get our younger players to work as hard as these seniors worked. They have a good example to look up to in Peyton," said Kiser. "There is not a player in the state that works as hard as Peyton. He is in the gym year round an hour before school starts to work on his shooting. He is a proud example of what our younger kids have to do to get ready.
Chad Kiser is a 1994 Windham graduate and has his older and younger brother next to him on the sideline. Older brother Brian (a 1991 Windham graduate) coached for Marty Hill at Windham for so many years, he can't remember how many. Kiser is also the head football coach for the Bombers. He joined Chad two years ago, while younger brother Jeff (a 1995 Bomber graduate) is in his first year at LaBrae. All three brothers still reside in Windham.
Division II kicks off the late session on Thursday with Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary opening the action against Vincent Warren from Washington County. I will report on that action tomorrow.