Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has a music degree from Ohio State University.

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Hardly scientific, but after seeing all the area boys and girls basketball teams, here’s how I handicap the field as to those we’ve seen…who might make the longest run in the tournament.

Now that we have that Bengals out of the way (two weeks you’ll never get back), on to that which you can actually watch and not wonder if it’s legitimate.

The girls and boys tournament action heats up this week and after watching, and hearing people repeatedly ask about which teams are the best and which ones have the best chance for a long tournament run…I’ll share from what I’ve seen.

There is one caveat, however.  Just because a team is capable of winning a couple of tournament games because of seeding doesn’t mean they have the best chance of getting to a district final.  So, if I leave someone off that you think is deserving…that’s why they call it sports.

In the girls category….

My #1 seed is Fort Loramie, Division IV…Not the Loramie of the last two years (21-1), but still the #1 seed and highly capable of making good teams look worn down after 32 minutes of that pressing defense.  Not as big and not as much firepower as the last two years, but when you can bring subs off the bench five at a time like hockey teams do…there aren’t many Division IV teams that I’ve seen that can keep pace with that.  They still have outside threats, they still get points off turnovers, and it would be hard to bet that the Redskins and Carla Siegel won’t get back to another regional.

New Knoxville’s Carsyn Henschen heads a senior starting five that can score and held opponents to just 23.5 ppg this year.

My #2 seed is New Knoxville, Division IV…What I like most about the Rangers is their maturity and experience.  When you play five seniors with size who have a state title in volleyball under their belt that experience pays dividends in other sports, as well.  What will ultimately hurt them is their lack of depth.  But they held opposing teams to an average of 23.5 pts. per game this season, they seem to get enough scoring, and if they don’t have an injury or get into foul trouble it might not matter.  They got a great draw as a #1 seed, and I see nothing in their way to the district final.

My #3 seed is Marion Local, Division IV…I don’t know why, but every time I saw the Flyers play this season they made another good team look frantic, and a little intimidated.  They lost six times (16-6), but their style of physical play, coupled with the scoring potential of Sammy Hoelscher and Lindsey Koenig make them a tough out every time they play.  Their other trump card is Molly Winner off the bench.  Big and strong in the paint, she has great touch around the rim and creates space for teammates to operate because you have to collapse around her.  They also have depth enough to play at least eight, and that’s a luxury.  They’re the #2 seed, and they deserve it.

Arcanum’s Hailey Unger (#14) is one of three thousand-point scorers in the Trojans’ starting five.

My #4 seed is Tri-Village, Division IV…The Patriots are a #1 seed, but I’m not as sold on their strength of schedule like I am with some of the teams from the MAC and the Shelby County League.  Their size and experience is inarguable.  They’re well coached, and I think they may be as highly motivated as any team in southwest Ohio.  They should breeze through to the district final, where I believe they’ll be a favorite to advance to the regional round.  Honestly, of the top four teams here there isn’t that much of a difference in how far they might advance.  They’re all that good.

My #5 seed is Arcanum, Division III…I’ve seen them twice this year and I think their experience in the backcourt is as good as anyone’s.  Their guards can both score in bunches, they have a trio of thousand-point scorers, and they’ve been together for three years.  Second only to Fort Loramie, this is the most athletic starting five that I’ve seen.  They lost twice this year, to Tri-Village by 5, and to Marion Local by 8.  I haven’t seen enough to be confident of their depth, but this is a team that deserves their #1 seed.

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In the boys category…

My #1 seed is Versailles, Division III…They’ve had some close calls this year, and at 17-1 they might also be the most challenged of any of the teams I’ve seen.  They have size (lots of it), experience, and they can play off their bench.  Teams in the MAC have thrown the kitchen sink at Versailles this year and that lone loss came in overtime against New Bremen in a game that either team could have won in regulation if they’d hit some free throws.  The Tigers could get to the regional finals, but they’re going to be challenged again by someone out of Cincinnati, and that’s been an issue for them in the past.

Versailles’ Jaydon Litten gives the Tigers points, defense, and experience.

My #2 seed is Tri-Village, Division IV…The Patriots are 18-3 at this writing, a #1 seed, have won eight in a row, and are outscoring opponents by 30 a game.  Their most notable loss was to Botkins (in two OTs), and their non-con schedule has been pretty good.  What really stands out about them is their size, and the potential for Layne Sarver (21 ppg.) to go off on a given night.  They should breeze through to their district final, and then of course, the rim begins to shrink and all sorts of bad things happen to good teams.  Still, I think they’ve seen most of that in the past, and I think they’re good enough to get through it.

My #3 seed is Botkins, Division IV…It didn’t help them when they lost Dylan Topp, but somehow they still find a way to win against good teams.  They probably have the most complete post player I’ve seen in Jacob Pleiman, and their inside-out scoring threat is good because they can shoot the three.  They’re good, and they seemed charmed.  In fact, they look an awful lot like they did last year.  Nobody saw them winning it all then, and I’m sure there’s some doubters now.  But I’m not one of them.  They’re good enough again to make the next month very exciting in Botkins.

Tipp’s Stanley Clyne heads a list of Red Devils who both defend and score.

My #4 seed is Marion Local, Division IV…The Flyers are a #4 seed, and a dangerous one.  They’re the most physical team I’ve seen this year, they’ve got a rapidly improving big man in the post with Jack Knapke.  And, it seems like every night someone different shoots well from outside for them.  Their defense is intense, and their competitive nature is off the charts.  They love tournament officiating because they just let ’em play.  But they’re going to be challenged in that Wapakoneta sectional/district.

My #5 seed is Tipp City, Division II…This will raise some eyes because there are some who think the Red Devils aren’t physical enough to win on nights when their shooters aren’t on.  And they can point to last year’s district loss to Chaminade as proof.  But the fact that they’re the best shooting team that I’ve seen this year is an advantage, as well.  Not many teams have four legitimate outside shooters on the floor at the same time, and a couple that can shoot it off the bench.  Adam Toohey swears that their loss to Sidney last week was a ‘physical’ eye-opener, and time will tell.  They’re a #5 seed and they’ll have to play through #2 Oakwood, and I think eventually Chaminade, again.  We’ll see how much they learned from last year.

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