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Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Another good hoops year for MAC, WBL

By Colin Foster

Minster's Mike Ketner, 12, tries to get past Fort Recovery's Ryan Braun, 5, duri. . .

Last Saturday marked the end of another great basketball season for Grand Lake Area basketball teams.
How good, you ask?
Well, four MAC boys' teams (Marion Local, Versailles, Fort Recovery and Delphos St. John's) advanced to district finals and three won (Marion Local, Versailles and St. John's). The Blue Jays are gearing to play in the Division IV State Final Four, the Flyers were ousted in the Division III Elite Eight and the Tigers were taken out in the Division III regional semis.
The Versailles girls advanced to the Division III State Championship game, where the Tigers were upended by Gates Mills Gilmour Academy 56-54. MAC champion Minster made it one step further than it did in 2015-16, advancing to the Division IV regional title game to face Jackson Center. There, the Tigers rallied back in the fourth quarter from a six-point deficit to defeat the Wildcats 39-35.
After going just above .500 during the regular season, the Elida boys made a surprise run to the Division II regional final - beating state-ranked Ottawa-Glandorf along the way. The Bulldogs fell one step short of state, losing in the regional final to Wauseon, 54-45, in double overtime.
And for a third straight season, the Ottawa-Glandorf girls reached state in Division II. The top-ranked Titans, who had finished runner-up the past two seasons, were handed their first loss of the season by second-ranked and eventual state champion Alter in the semifinal.
A memorable season, indeed.
Here's a look back at some of the most entertaining area games during the 2016-17 season and a look ahead to this week's state tournament, which involves two teams from Allen County in Perry and Delphos St. John's:
Versailles at Minster girls, Jan. 26
Minster and Versailles - two of the top teams in their respective divisions - met in front of a packed house at Wildcat Gymnasium in the de facto MAC title game. The battle didn't live up to the hype for the first 2 1/2 quarters. The Wildcats built a 19-point lead midway through the third, but the Tigers made it an 11-point game by the end of the quarter and cut the margin to three points early in the fourth. The Wildcats held on for a 59-51 win and went on to clinch a second straight outright MAC title.
Minster at Fort Recovery boys, Feb. 17
It took four overtimes to decide a winner at Fort Site Fieldhouse. Twice Minster came with big plays to tie the game and force overtime. Center Isaac Dorsten, who had not attempted a three-pointer going into the game, beat the buzzer with a trey to send the game into overtime. And then Bryce Schmiesing was fouled as time ran out in the first extra session and went to the line with the Wildcats down two. Shooting in front of the Fort Recovery student section, Schmiesing made both tosses to send the game to a second overtime. But the Indians survived in the end as Micaiah Cox scored a game-high 33 points to lead the way in an 86-82 win.
Delphos St. John's at Marion Local boys, Feb. 10
The Blue Jays had won 10 straight games entering the Hangar, but the Flyers - led by Tyler Prenger's 13-point fourth quarter - halted that streak with a 55-47 victory between two of the state's best teams.
Maumee Valley Country Day at Parkway boys, Dec. 30 (Chatt Holiday Tournament Final)
If there was a sign that Parkway was a much-improved team under coach Doug Hughes, the Chatt Insurance Holiday Tournament was it. After scoring a tournament-record 91 points in a rout of Hardin Northern in the semifinal, the Panthers traded blows for four quarters and two overtimes with Maumee Valley Country Day in the finals. But Zeb Jackson - a freshman - scored a tournament-record 49 points to lead the Hawks to an 86-77 victory.
Marion Local vs. New Knoxville girls at Allen East, Feb. 25  (Division IV sectional final)
The Rangers rallied from an 11-point deficit with five minutes to go to tie the score with 10 seconds to play. But Marion Local's Natalie Rethman beat the buzzer for the game-winning shot, lifting the Flyers to a 49-47 victory over the Rangers. It was the second straight season in which Marion Local defeated New Knoxville for the sectional championship.
Marion Local vs. Wayne Trace boys, March 11 (Division III district final)
Most pundits and fans probably didn't think Marion Local could beat seventh-ranked Wayne Trace, led by All-Ohio Division III co-Player of the Year Ethan Linder. But if history has taught us anything, it's that anything can happen in March. Marion Local played a nearly flawless game - hitting 11-of-20 from the three-point line. The final one by Nathan Bruns with roughly two seconds left gave them a 66-65 victory and a third district title in four seasons.
St. Marys at Celina boys, Feb. 3
It was another classic in the Battle of Grand Lake, but it didn't start that way. Celina fell into a 15-point hole by the end of the first half but then rallied in the second half behind solid defense and free throw shooting to defeat the Roughriders 48-45 at the Fieldhouse.

Allen County continues success
The tourney journey continues for two Allen County Division IV teams (Perry and Delphos St. John's) in Columbus on Thursday. If both win their semifinal games, it could be an all-Allen County title game.
St. John's opens the D-IV state semis against Lutheran East on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Perry meets The Wellington School later that evening.
Last season, Allen County sent two teams to the state tournament as well and both reached the state finals. Lima Central Catholic won the Division III title and Lima Senior finished runner-up in Division I.
Through the tragic, Perry has maintained its magic - and has given itself a chance at winning a basketball state championship in program history.
Just days after Perry's assistant boys basketball coach and head football coach Herb Lane Jr. was killed in an automobile accident, the Commodores rallied together and defeated Fort Loramie and Cincinnati Christian in the regional round to secure their first-ever state berth.
Hundreds of Northwest Ohioans and others from around the state have rallied behind Perry, too. The hash tags #PerryStrong and #ForHerb have been sent out on Twitter by users in support of the Commodores.
Perry (24-3) has won 20 straight games since falling to Wapakoneta 53-50 on Dec. 28. The Jaguars (21-7) enter the contest having won 17 out of their last 20 and return most of their roster after last year's run to the state semis.
Blue Jays make return to Schott
Fifteen years have gone by since Delphos St. John's last made state. That season ended with the Blue Jays hoisting the title trophy after defeating the Russia Raiders, 74-64, for their school history. St. John's is hoping history repeats itself this weekend.
The Blue Jays (21-4) began the season 3-3 but have since won 18 of 19 games to earn a trip to the Final Four. The program has 12 state appearances dating back to 1924, with three titles and four runner-up finishes. Lutheran East (18-9) is making its third appearance at state and first since 2009. The only state title won by theFalcons came in 2005.
Additional online stories on this date
CELINA - A 38-year-old Fort Wayne, Indiana, man was sentenced to 30 months in prison for his involvement in the Sept. 23 robbery of the Second National Bank, 800 N. Main St., Celina. [More]
ROCKFORD - The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has granted Parkway Local Schools a hunting permit to help fight an invasion of turkey vultures at the football field. [More]
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