Broncos cruise to a perfect 28-0, win first ever state title
Cameron Mellor (@CamMellor)
April 27, 2015
The Broncos from Mustang High School left no doubt as to who the best team in Oklahoma’s Class 6A was during the 2014-15 season.
Mustang outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 1994-1334 over the course of 28 games that ultimately led to the Oklahoma Class 6A State Championship.
While the State Championship victory over Edmond Santa Fe (93-54) may have seemed old hat to some long-time Mustang High School basketball fans, it still marked the Broncos first ever state title in boys basketball. The girls basketball team on the other hand, has captured five State Titles ranging from 1980 all the way to as recent as 2006.
The Mustang Boys Basketball team’s championship victory came after a long season of close victories and blow out wins across the state and even into Texas.
The Broncos hosted Texas power DeSoto in their first game of the season, narrowly defeating the Fighting Eagles by a 62-60 score. Jakolby Long paced Mustang in their season debut, scoring 16 points, hitting two three-pointers and pulling down six rebounds.
Their second game of the season continued a familiar feel as the Broncos hosted another Texas team – this time Kimball came to town. Also much like their first game, Mustang found themselves trailing at halftime against Knights, 49-45.
However, unlike their opener against DeSoto – the Broncos held Kimball to just 17 second half points pulling away late en route to an 88-66 victory. Aubrey Johnson carried Mustang against the Knights, scoring 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting including 6-of-8 from behind the arc.
After their opening victories over two of Texas’ top teams, Mustang rolled through their next opponent, defeating Deer Creek, 91-54 to set up an eventual championship game preview against Edmond Santa Fe.
In the first of their two meetings, the Broncos utilized a strong final three quarters, outscoring the Wolves by 16 points after the first quarter. Long scored a season-high 25 points during the 83-74 victory for Mustang as the Broncos out rebounded Santa Fe by a 43-33 margin, including 25 offensive rebounds that led to 28 second chance points for Mustang.
After narrowly defeating Norman North (72-63) and holding off Edmond Memorial (72-64), the Broncos got back to their crushing defeats, handing Texas’ HSAA South a 101-49 defeat and HCYA a 135-70 loss.
After holding off Eisenhower in their next matchup (77-72), Mustang cruised from there on. The Broncos ended their regular season on a tear, finishing with a 21-0 record before heading into the Oklahoma State Championships.
Continuing their impressive play – Mustang eased through their first six opponents of the post season, including a 101-68 victory over Norman North and a 107-51 triumph over Grant. After defeating Edmond Memorial once again, this time by a score of 60-50, the State Championship game and rematch of their early season matchup was set.
Edmond Santa Fe would be the only team in the way of a perfect 28-0 season for the Broncos and the state title.
The Wolves once again proved to be no match against Mustang, this time falling 93-54, giving the Broncos the school’s first State Championship in boys basketball.
During the 2014-15 season, Mustang saw many successes en route to their title, including outscoring their opponents in every quarter, most notably by a 462-371 margin in the first quarter. The Broncos shot nearly 50 % from the field while limiting their opponents to well under 40 %.
Mustang outrebounded their opponents during their championship run by nearly 300 rebounds. The Broncos doubled their opponent’s offensive rebounds at 360-180 and managed to force over 500 turnovers.
Finishing with a 28-0 record and the team’s first ever State Championship, combining with the fact that their two top scorers and top rebounder will be back in 2015-16, hopes heading into next season for the Broncos should be at an all-time high.
It will remain to be seen how they will fare as defending champions – but surely, that’s a challenge they will enjoy relishing in all the way until March 2016.
Eagles-Truckers matchup set for Division II Championship game in Ohio
By: Cameron Mellor
March 20, 2014
Norwalk High School and defending champion Bishop Watterson High School became the first two teams to punch their tickets their respective Championship games in the Ohio Divisional Semifinals at the Jerome Schottenstein Center Thursday.
Norwalk (28-1) defeated Thurgood Marshall, 72-64 while in a rematch of the Div. II Championship game from a year ago, Watterson (26-2) knocked off St. Vincent St. Mary, 56-51. Each team earned the right to play for the Division II Championship this Saturday at 10:30 at the Schottenstein Center on Ohio State University's campus.
Norwalk was paced by guard Ben Haraway and forward Jeff Thomas as each scored 20 points against Thurgood (22-6). The Truckers bounced out to an early 13-6 lead before the Cougars closed the gap and the two went to half time tied at 30.
The second half was much of the same as the two traded scores before Norwalk finally pulled away late in the fourth quarter, closing the game on a 16-7 run. Grant Hull chipped in with 17 points for the Truckers.
In the second game of the day, a rematch of the 2013 Division II Championship game pitted the Bishop Watterson Eagles against the St. Vincent St. Mary Fighting Irish (19-10).
STVM started the game quickly, scoring the first two points on an impressive alley-oop dunk by sophomore VJ King. The Irish would score the games first seven points and jump out to an early 9-2 lead in the first quarter before Watterson found their stride. Opening the second quarter down 15-10, the Eagles pushed a streak of their own as they 12 straight points and outscored STVM by 14 in the 2nd quarter.
Watterson led 30-21 at halftime.
The third quarter would start as the second ended for the Eagles as they scored another four and opened up a 14-point lead. The Irish put up a determined effort after a third quarter timeout and closed the gap to just six points at the end of three. They would even tie the game at 44 points a piece with just under four minutes to play.
That would be the closest the Irish would get to the lead again however, as free throws were key in a Watterson victory. The Eagles were good on 17-of-20 free throws in the game, including several key shots down the stretch, keeping the lead at two-possessions. Watterson would win the game 56-51, led by 19 points from Matt Lehmann. Matt Hughes added 11 points while Joe DiOrio notched 10 points and six rebounds.
The Irish were led by Jalen Hudson with 18 points and VJ King who finished with eight points and seven rebounds.
The total attendance of the two games totaled 18,841 fans at the Schottenstein Center on Thursday.
The Eagles will now look to defend their first state championship this Saturday at 10:30 against Norwalk. Tickets are on sale, but if you can't make the game, follow along live at HSGamecenter.com by clicking here: Norwalk vs Watterson, or on Twitter (@HSGameCenter).
Senior shooting guard powers Golden Bears past No. 1 seed Northland
By: Cameron Mellor
March 17, 2014
It was the start of the fourth quarter in the Ohio Division I Columbus Regional Final basketball game and a mere point separated Upper Arlington and Northland. The winner earning a spot in the Ohio State Championship Semifinals. The winner, eight minutes away from a Regional Championship.
Senior shooting guard Kevin Vannatta had been the work horse for the Golden Bears through the first three quarters, much like he had been all season long for UA. Having already compiled 18 points and 11 rebounds through the first three, it would come as no surprise as the University of North Carolina-Asheville commit propelled his team to victory with an impressive performance just when his team needed him most.
Vannatta notched nine points and grabbed seven rebounds in the final eight minutes, leading Upper Arlington over Northland, 50-36. Vannatta single-handedly outscored the Vikings 9-to-5 as he and the Golden Bears’ defense held NHS to just one field goal in the final period.
For his efforts in leading UA to the Regional Championship and a trip to the State Semifinal, Vannatta has been tabbed as our HSGC National Player of the Week.
Vannatta celebrates UA's Regional Championship
The 6-foot-3 guard finished the game against Northland with 27 points, 18 rebounds, two assists and a steal. While the points were close to a season high for him, Vannatta’s 18 boards were six more than his previous high. It was also his fourth double-double this season.
Vannatta has now scored 20 or more points in three consecutive games this postseason and dating back to January, has scored in double figures in 14 consecutive games.
He and the Golden Bears have now won 25 straight games and are arguably the hottest team heading in to the Ohio Division I Semifinal. Included in those 25 are victories over No. 12 seeded Grove City (55-45), No. 6 Pickerington Central (63-53) and No. 2 Gahanna-Lincoln (55-49). With their defeat over the No. 1 Vikings, Upper Arlington doubled (4) any other team’s total of victories over top 15 ranked opponents in the Columbus Region. Dublin Coffman and Northland were the only other teams with more than one victory over a top 15 team.
Upper Arlington will face Trotwood-Madison next in the Ohio Division I State Semifinal on HSGameCenter.com this Friday at 8:30 PM. HSGC will be at all of the Ohio Divisional Semifinals as well as each of the State Championship games this weekend at the Jerome Schottenstein Center on Ohio State University campus.
Trinity Classical Academy's Beau Howell notches first career points in victory
By: Cameron Mellor
March 12, 2014
It was late in the game and the lead was well in hand for Trinity Classical Academy this past Saturday during the CIF Southern Section Division 6 Championship game. With time winding down and the game seemingly over, what the Knights and their opponent, Desert Chapel, did next, will not soon be forgotten.
Up by 23 points with under a minute to play, head coach John Brooks made a substitution and the player entering the game was Beau Howell, a freshman with autism. While Howell had played in eight games previous, he had yet to score a point on the season. That all would change with the help of his teammates and his opponents.
After his first shot bounced off the iron and the Eagles gained possession, it was Desert Chapel who called a timeout to save time on the clock. They then in-bounded the ball and handed it over to Howell who in turn notched his first career points, a layup with 13 seconds to play, erupting those in attendance as he ran with his arms raised to hug his teammates.
A touching moment capped off an impressive game for TCA, which was lost in the emotion of a touching show of sportsmanship by a team on the verge of their season ending. What Desert Chapel, Trinity Classical and the players showed was nothing short of memorable, and something not soon to be forgotten.
Take a look at the video from the NFHS Network to see for yourself.
12 top seeds still alive with District Semis just a day away
By: Cameron Mellor
March 3, 2014
While the top teams in some divisions of high school basketball are often easy to spot, postseason play usually allows for a few surprises in the opening few rounds, if not a complete upheaval of the top seeds. But sometimes, these surprises or upheavals do not take place and the brackets fill themselves out.
Save for one game here or there, the Ohio Division I District Tournament has nearly stayed par for the course throughout the first two rounds.
Of the 16 remaining teams in the Division I Tournament, only two are seeded outside of the top 20 when the brackets were decided. Of those two teams – Teays Valley (No. 21) and St. Charles (No. 27) – only St. Charles could have wins classified as upsets through two rounds. The Cardinals defeated No. 14 Thomas Worthington in the first round and No. 19 Groveport-Madison in the second.
Teays Valley defeated lower-ranked Hilliard Darby in their second round matchup to advance to their position. Darby had received the No. 24 seed during the bracket-making process.
Both St. Charles and Teays Valley will face their stiffest competition to date as they will play the top two seeds. The Cardinals face the No. 2 seed Gahanna Lincoln Lions and the Vikings play No. 1 seed Northland.
No. 17 Marysville pulled what could also be seen as an upset as well, defeating No. 13 Olentangy Liberty in the second round, 68-64. But, upon further investigation, one would find out that the Monarchs and the Patriots actually split their regular season series, arguably negating the upset feel to the victory.
Having said that, it doesn’t mean the tournament hasn’t had its fair share of exciting and close finishes. Of the 29 games so far, nine have been within a single-digit scoring margin while four of those have been within one possession. Dublin Jerome and Delaware Hayes played to a 59-50 Hayes victory in overtime in the first round.
Some top seeds will be falling early this week as the District Semi-Finals take place on Tuesday, March 4 and Wednesday, March 5. The matchups are as follows:
Tuesday March 4: No. 1 Northland vs. No. 21 Teays Valley 7:00 PM at Olentangy Orange High School
Wednesday March 5: No. 8 Westerville Central vs. No. 10 Delaware Hayes 7:00 PM at Olentangy Orange High School
Wednesday March 5: No. 6 Pickerington Central vs. No. 17 Marysville 7:00 PM at Westerville Central High School
Tuesday March 4: No. 2 Gahanna Lincoln vs. No. 27 St. Charles 7:00 PM at Marysville High School
Warriors face off against Circleville in a Division II quarter-final matchup
By: Cameron Mellor
February 27, 2014
Winners of 15 straight, Warren High School will put their streak, and their season, on the line against Circleville High School this Friday night at The Convo, where the Ohio University Bobcats play their home games. In one of the HSGameCenter Game’s of the Week, the Warriors (20-3) will square off against the Tigers (18-7) in an Athens District, Division II quarterfinal game at 6:15.
Warren has seen their fair share of success this season, outscoring opponents 1626-1018 this season, a total difference of 608 points. The Warriors defense has been front and center to their success, limiting opponents to 34 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent from behind the three-point line. WHS has a distinct advantage on the boards as well, securing 806 rebounds this season compared to their opponents 575.
They have outplayed their opponents in assists, steals and blocks as well, while taking better care of the ball with far few turnovers.
Paced by Evan French on offense, the Warriors have three players who average double-digits in points this season. French leads the way averaging 22.5 points per contest, while Michael Hall and Reece Patton average 14.9 and 13.3, respectively.
Hall holds the team high in rebounds a game, averaging 7.3, while Patton has a team high in steals with 43 to date.
During their 15-game winning streak, Warren has defeated each of their opponents by a double-digit margin, including 22- and 26-point victories in their first two playoff games.
Part of Warren’s success this season can be attributed to their hot starts in the first half and, more specifically, the first quarter. The Warriors have outscored opponents 400-248 in the first quarter alone this season.
Look for Warren to start fast if they want to continue their hot streak and advance through to the next round. Tipoff is set for 6:15 EST. If you can’t make the game, you can watch the stats stream in live right here: http://www.hsgamecenter.com/basketball/boys/game/2852138
Panthers sit at 34-0 heading into State Championship weekend
By: Cameron Mellor
February 25, 2014
The Duncanville High School Lady Panthers will look to finish the season undefeated this weekend, matching a feat they accomplished just a year ago when they went 42-0. The Panthers (34-0) face Wagner High School, Friday February 28 at 3:00 with the winner advancing to the 5A State Championship game, Saturday March 1 at 8:30.
Duncanville, the two-time defending state champion, is two games away from a third championship as they play the Thunderbirds at the Frank Erwin Center, home to the University of Texas basketball programs. If the Panthers were to win, they would play the winner of Manvel versus Plano West from Friday night.
Duncanville has won 104 straight games.
The Panthers this season have been led by Ariel Atkins, who is averaging 17.6 points per game. Atkins has been a force on both the offensive and defensive side as she is averaging just fewer than six rebounds a game and five steals per contest. She is shooting 58 percent from the field and 41 percent from behind the three-point line.
Atkins has registered a season-high of 32 points twice this season, secured six double-doubles and has scored in double-figures in all 34 contests to date.
Tiara Davenport leads the team in rebounds as having secured 222 boards on the year, just over 6.5 a game. Davenport is also third on the team in points per game, averaging 12.5 per game on the season.
The Panthers and Thunderbirds have not met this season, nor has any player from either team played against their respective opponent. Wagner will bring with them a 24-10 record, but are winners of 13 straight.
While this might be the first time Duncanville and Wagner will have met on the court, if the Panthers are victorious Friday, they will have a little more familiarity with their opponent in the State Championship Game, regardless of whom they play. Duncanville secured victories over both Manvel and Plano West, earlier this season.
DHS' second slimmest margin of victory on the year came back in November, against Manvel, when they were able to eek out a 56-50 victory, led by Atkins' 19 points. Conversely, Duncanville posted one of the biggest margins of victory in their earlier season matchup against Plano West, defeating the Wolves by a score of 83-36, this time led by Tasia Foman's 19 points, six rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
The Panthers are outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 2393-1215 on the season while also out-rebounding their opponents 1088-644. More precisely, they have grabbed two more offensive rebounds (444) than their opponents have secured defensive rebounds (442).
Duncanville and Wagner meet Friday at 3:30 with the winner playing for the state championship Saturday at 8:30. Check out the Panthers versus the Thunderbirds on HSGameCenter.com right here: http://www.hsgamecenter.com/basketball/girls/game/2845707
Delaware Hayes needs overtime to hold off upset minded Dublin Jerome, 59-50
By: Cameron Mellor
February 24, 2014
The Ohio Division 1 District Playoffs got off to a heated start this past weekend, with games firing off on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Close calls, easy wins, upset victories and a couple of exciting finishes were at hand on the first full weekend of postseason play in Ohio this season.
One game in particular stood out as Delaware Hayes needed an overtime period to put away pesky Dublin Jerome Saturday afternoon. The Pacers (21-2) beat the Celtics (10-13) 59-50 in the opening round of the Division I District Tournament. Hayes was led by Khalil Iverson who scored 24 points and brought down seven rebounds.
Jerome, the No. 22 overall seed in the tournament, came out with something to prove, outscoring Hayes in each of the first two quarters before heading in to halftime with a 24-20 lead.
Baich led Jerome with 20 points in the game.
In need of a change of pace in the second half, the Pacers turned to Iverson to bring them back, and bring them back he did scoring 19 of his 24 points in the second half and OT combined. Iverson led the team in points and rebounds in the game. Phillip Frentsos chipped in with 11 points and four rebounds.
Even with Iverson and the Pacers’ best efforts, Delaware Hayes could not muster enough to put the Celtics away in regulation as there were ten lead changes in the final two periods.
It was Jerome who had to fight back in the final stages of the fourth quarter, as they found themselves down 46-43 after two Iverson free throws. The final basket of regulation would come moments later, from someone who was arguably having one of his toughest shooting games to date.
Despite missing his previous five shot attempts, Alex Cline sank his one and only bucket in the closing seconds, a clutch 23-footer from behind the arc, to knot the score at 46 and force overtime. Cline finished with just the three points, on 1-of-7 shooting.
After the exciting first four quarters, overtime and Hayes proved to be too much for the Celtics as the Pacers ran away with the extra period, outscoring Jerome in the added four minutes by a score of 13-4. Regardless of their valiant efforts, Dublin Jerome’s season is unfortunately over, finishing the season with a 10-13.
The Pacers however will move on to the next round of the Division 1 Playoffs, in the Columbus 2 District. Hayes will host New Albany, Friday February 28 at 7:00.
Fighting Saints (Minn.) set several individual, team and state records this season
By: Cameron Mellor
February 20, 2014
Fans of the St. Francis Fighting Saints have not only enjoyed a great season in terms of wins so far, they have also been treated to some great individual performances during the 2013-14 campaign. Sitting at 20-5 on the season, winners of 10 of the last 12 games, the Fighting Saints are just two games behind their opponent Friday night, Buffalo High School, for tops in the Mississippi 8 Conference.
During their successful season, St. Francis has had several players set school records this season, starting with their 6-foot-8 power forward, Jake Johnson, who became the school’s all-time leading rebounder this year. Johnson signed a full scholarship offer from Northern State University in South Dakota and has also climbed to third on the school’s all-time scoring list.
Johnson is averaging career highs during his senior season.
“This season (Johnson) is averaging 20 points, eight rebounds,” St. Francis assistant coach Kyle Waterworth said. “He is shooting over 52 percent from the floor and 40 percent from the 3-point line.”
Another all-time St. Francis mark was set this year as Nate Svihel broke the school record for 3-point field goals made in a season. Svihel’s record, in all likelihood, will continue to rise as the Fighting Saints still have games on their schedule, as well as postseason play.
Continuing with school all-time records, SFHS point guard Cody Wald set the school’s mark for career games played at 103. Similar to Svihel, Wald’s mark should rise as their season continues.
As if those marks weren’t impressive enough, St. Francis set the Minnesota High School record for 3-point field goals in a game this season, sinking 21 from behind the arc against Princeton. Led by Svihel, who was 9-of-12 from 3-point range, the Fighting Saints were 21-of-36 from three against the Tigers.
St. Francis takes on Buffalo this Friday night, February 21 at 7:00. The Bison defeated the Fighting Saints in their earlier season matchup, 79-65. Check it out on hsgamecenter.com or by clicking here: http://www.hsgamecenter.com/basketball/male/game/2430028