The high school basketball tournament season is my favorite time of the year on the Ohio sports scene, and again this year I attended quite a few games -- 14 to be exact.
Unfortunately, none of my favorite teams advanced to the girls state or boys regional levels, although I'm happy to see the West Holmes girls of Holmes County get to the Division II state tourney for the second year in a row.
Richmond Heights is the only Chagrin Valley Conference team to advance to the boys regional in Division IV. It was to play Malvern in the semifinals on March 11 in Canton.
The Solon girls, which beat Aurora in the first round of Division I play, were knocked out of a state tourney berth by North Canton Hoover in the regional finals.
West Holmes (27-0) will play Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (25-2) on March 13, while Hoover (25-2) will face Dublin Coffman (22-6) on March 14.
In Division III, I'm glad to see Smithville (26-2) make it to the state level. It will play Columbus Africentric (24-3) on March 14.
Smithville is where one of my favorite restaurants in Ohio -- The Barn -- is located, and the Smithville district is erecting a new elementarty-middle school-high school building.
The Smithies beat Beachwood by 2 points in one of the most exciting games I saw on this year's tournament trail. A girl hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the victory.
The other exciting contest I saw was in Division I at Medina, where Lakewood beat Brunswick by one point on a buzzer shot.
One of my favorite schools -- the Hiland Hawks -- missed out on Division IV regional tourney play, as the boys and girls lost in the district finals. The girls made it to the state tourney the last two years.
I got to see one Hiland boys and one girls tourney games, both at New Philadelphia High School. The Hiland boys easily beat Frontier, while the girls lost to Zanesville Rosecrans (26-1), which will face Holgate (23-4) in the state semifinals on March 13.
HILAND HAD beaten Rosecrans in tourney play the last two years, but the third meeting was a charm for the Bishops, who have a legitimate shot at the state title.
The Hiland boys lost by 3 points to Malvern in the district finals after the Hawks had slaughtered the Hornets twice during the regular season.
Another of my favorite teams -- the Garaway girls of Sugarcreek -- just missed advancing to the Division III state tourney. I saw their sectional tourney opener at Dover High School.
I watched the Solon girls easily defeat Canton McKinley at the Canton Civic Center, and also saw Hoover beat Twinsburg in the other Division I regional semifinal game.
And I got to see my alma mater -- the New Philadelphia Quaker boys -- play a couple of games for the first time in years. They beat Massillon and lost to Canton Timken in Division I.
I visited two gymnasiums where I had never watched basketball games -- Medina and Massillon high schools.
Medina, listed as Ohio's 15th largest high school in enrollment, has existed at its present location since 1973, while Massillon is newer -- built next to the famous Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in 1992.
My return to Dover High School's gymnasium was the first time in probably 30 years I've watched a game there.
I watched several games there when I was in high school since Dover is New Philadelphia's arch rival. Dover's gym was built in 1963, four years after New Philly's gym.
A bond issue to build a new high school in Dover is on the May ballot. If successful, the current school built in 1915 -- with an addition in 1938 -- would succumb to the wrecking ball.
Just a final thought about the 2013-14 basketball season -- Windham boys coach Marty Hill reached the 600-win plateau in his 39-year career, 10th most of any Ohio high school boys coach. Also, it was great to see the Greenmen boys post nine wins after the 2012-13 season when they won only one.
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