August 2, 2018
By Morgan Wenger
What would eventually end up being a good day started rather inconspicuously for Waynedale in the high school division. Adam Bidlack hit six of his team’s eight three pointers as his Showtime team hung a 30-19 loss on Waynedale in the division’s opening game. From there, the Waynedale foursome hit another gear. They defeated the Shooting Stars 30-19 and the Sauce Gawds 29-27 to earn the #3 seed heading into bracket play. After top seeded Hiland Black bowed out in the semifinals against the Shooting Stars, a rematch with earlier nemesis Showtime was all that stood in between Waynedale and the championship game. Derek Reber exploded for 17 points and Showtime was unable to duplicate their three-point magic from the earlier game. Waynedale notched the 30-24 win to advance to the championship round as heavy favorites.
As Waynedale had just done to Showtime, the Shooting Stars tried to turn the tables on Waynedale in the title game; bolting out to a big lead early on. The more experienced, bigger Waynedale squad methodically forged their way back into the game; eventually taking the lead 29-26 on a late Zach Geiser three-pointer. Derek Reber dropped in his only two points of the championship game on the next possession to seal the 30-29 win for Waynedale. Chase Murphy and Mason Higgins scored 11 points each to lead the champions in the final game.
The Young Bucks division was more populated than any youth division has been in tournament history. Even with the large number of teams, the parity in the division was evident early on. Several of the teams with high hopes spent the early portion of pool play beating each other up. Potential Energy handily defeated Details 30-21 while Ohio Storm defeated the Basket Hounds 30-24. The next round saw Details clobber Ohio Storm by a 30-16 margin while the Basket Hounds defeated Potential Energy by a 30-19 count. As pool play ended, only the Shooting Stars remined unscathed heading into bracket play. The parity in the division continued as bracket play moved along, with the Bobcat Ballers and the Big Ballers advancing against higher seeded teams. Nobody was able to defeat the Shooting Stars, however, as the foursome went through pool play and bracket play unscathed to win the division. Jared Frey, Jalen Wenger, and Michael Bova all took turns leading the offensive charge for the champions while Javar Simpson provided energy, scoring, and good defensive play off the bench.
The 8th Grade division of the tournament featured more hotly contested games than any other division, with several games being decided by less than five points. As pool play concluded, Details and the Bobcat Ballers looked to be on a collision course to have a rematch of their hotly contested pool play matchup in the championship round. The #4 seeded Bulls had other ideas though. They defeated Hiland 30-8 in the quarterfinal round, and then ousted the previously unbeaten Details squad 30-27 in a game that went back and forth the entire way in the semifinals. Carter Piatt led the Bulls’ charge with 12 points to offset a 16-point effort on the other side from Braylon Wenger. The other side of the bracket stayed true to form as the second seeded Bobcat Ballers defeated Last Minute 30-22. The Bulls carried their upset minded play into the championship game as well; racing out to an early lead. Justin Rupp steadied the ship for the Bobcat Ballers though, scoring from all over the court as his team pulled away late for a 30-21 victory. Rupp’s 16-point effort highlighted the squad’s final game, but Jake Gill and Elijah Stanley took turns leading the offensive charge throughout the day. Roman Portis completed the foursome and provided a scoring and defensive spark wherever the team needed it all tournament long.
Six middle school girls teams made up the Biddy Ball and 8th Grade divisions for the girls. Both divisions played against the two other teams at their own grade level, and then participated in a bracket challenge game against somebody from the other grade level. The Warriors won two close games to earn the #1 seed in the Biddy Ball division as they edged the North Canton Streaks 21-19 and then beat West Holmes 20-14. The 8th Grade division started off quite differently, with NEO Swish 1 running roughshod over their first two opponents by counts of 30-6 and 27-9. This set up the bracket challenge games where each team faced the same seed from the other division. The highlight of the bracket challenge was between the two #1 seeds. NEO Swish 1 pulled away late to secure a 27-20 win despite 12 points from the Warriors’ Alyssa Geiser. The other bracket challenge games saw NEO Swish 2 defeat West Holmes 24-23 and the North Canton Streaks upending the Mustangs 30-27.
Now full of confidence after defeating an 8th grade team, North Canton avenged an earlier pool play loss to West Holmes to advance to the championship round against the Warriors. The rested Warriors proved to be too much in the end, pulling away for a 30-15 championship game win. Ashley Mullet equaled the North Canton scoring output in the finals with 15 points while Kendall Batchik led the Streaks with 11 points. Geiser and Mullet were joined by Abby Hewitt and Naomi Keib for the champions.
Although the 8th grade division seemed to be tilting towards an inevitable NEO Swish 1 championship after pool play concluded, NEO Swish 2 was not quite ready to concede the title just yet. NEO Swish 2 rattled off three straight wins after the 30-6 drubbing they absorbed in the first round from NEO Swish 1 to advance to the championship game. They had the upset on their mind from the start as they built an early lead and stretched it out to as many as six points on the strength of six points each from Allie Morlock and Mia Halverson as the game neared its final stages. Ella Lunsford stepped in and saved the day for NEO Swish 1, scoring six consecutive points down the stretch to pull her team into the lead. NEO Swish 1 secured the title with a 24-18 victory. Ella McMillan scored eight points for the winners as well. Lunsford and McMillan were joined by Cammi Wickens and Lacey Walters for the undefeated champions.
Grizzly 4 entered bracket play in the Biddy Ball division as the undefeated #1 seed after securing five and three point wins against Soup-A-Stars and Dynamite Dawgs, respectively. They also defeated Prime Time Players and the Rising Suns in more comfortable fashion during pool play. Although they had defeated everyone in the field once already, this division was far from over. After the Rising Suns survived their second nail biting victory over Prime Time Players in the quarterfinal round, Grizzly 4 was able to dispatch of them 30-15 in the semifinals to move on to the championship round. The suddenly resurgent Soup-A-Stars were busy avenging their opening round loss against Dynamite Dawgs in the other semifinal by a 26-22 count. All four members of the Soup-A-Stars scored at least six points in the victory. A hard-fought championship game neared the final stages with Soup-A-Stars primed for the upset holding a 28-24 lead. The sharpshooting Drew Bishko had already nailed three shots from behind the three-point arc as part of his 11 point total. Grizzly 4 was not done yet though. The #1 seeded foursome turned up the heat on defense to give themselves a chance to win. Soup-A-Stars had multiple chances to close the game out but could not get the elusive last basket. With the game tied at 28, Grizzly 4 had a chance to win it all at the foul line. A missed free throw gave the Soup-A-Stars even another opportunity, but a missed shot led to Grizzly 4 firing up a runner in the lane that caromed off the rim and backboard. Sullivan Chadbourne corralled the offensive rebound and put it back in the hoop in one motion to set off a tournament title celebration for his team. Alex Innocenti, Callaghan Corell, and Matthew Fahey joined Chadbourne for the undefeated champions.
The Panthers breezed through pool play in the Junior division and seemed destined to take home the title for the second straight year. Their closest game during pool play was a 30-20 opening round win against Norwayne. Pool play also saw an ultra-competitive game between the Mansfield Ballers and Norwayne. Norwayne prevailed 24-20 to earn the #2 seed heading into bracket play. After Hiland dispatched of the Grizzlies in the quarterfinals, the Panthers had their closest game of the day against Hiland. Behind Jonathan Stangl’s 12 points, the Panthers were able to hold off Hiland 30-24 to advance to the championship round. Predictably, Norwayne and the Mansfield Ballers were locked in a dog fight in the other semifinal. Both teams had numerous chances to win the game as it reached its final stretch. Norwayne eventually prevailed 30-28 behind Parker Metsker’s 10 points to advance to the finals. Norwayne was no stranger to hard fought games throughout the day. In addition to their opening round loss against the Panthers, they had two pool play games that went the full 25 minutes against Ohio Phenom Academy and the Mansfield Ballers. Then they survived the even tougher semifinal game against Mansfield. Perhaps the stringent stretch of games was just what they needed to prepare for their championship game rematch with the Panthers. Norwayne blitzed the Panthers from the start and never looked back in winning 30-8. Braden West led the way in the championship game with 11 points, while Dylan Smith added 10 and Connor Preattle chipped in with nine for the champions.
The Puppy division featured some good play from the stars of tomorrow as several of the youngest players in the tournament displayed skills and poise beyond their years. The Perry Panthers and the Bobcats locked horns in pool play and in bracket play in the most competitive games of the division. The Bobcats came away victorious each time. The class of the division, however, was clearly Ohio Phenom Academy. Ohio Phenom Academy simply wore their opponents down with defensive ball pressure and offensive skill throughout the day. OPA even gave eventual Junior division champion Norwayne a run for their money in their bracket challenge game. David Thompson Jr led the offensive onslaught for the champions by using his advanced ball handling skills and body control to continually break his defender down off the dribble and finish in the paint. After winning two pool play games by the score of 30-0, OPA won the championship game against the Bobcats 30-8. Joining Thompson Jr on the title winning team was Mandwel Patterson, Cameron Carl, and Hunter Hershberger.
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