Dayton Christian has next to take the Versailles challenge. There’s one appropriate word to describe that: Gulp.
“I consider this an awesome opportunity for us,” DC coach J.T. Holliday said after both teams posted Division III boys high school basketball sectional semifinal wins on Tuesday night and will return to Northmont’s new Thunderdome in Saturday’s sectional final. “We aren’t going into that game thinking major upset, but we are expecting to do well like we have been all season.”
DC advanced by outlasting undermanned Greeneview 46-32 in Tuesday’s opener. Top-seeded Versailles leveled Greenon 89-36 in the nightcap.
Holliday is in his second season coaching DC (17-6), which also was 10-1 in conference play and won a Metro Buckeye title by one game over Troy Christian. A 2004 DC grad, he played basketball for then-coach Tony Pitts.
DC graduated eight seniors from last season, but there was enough returning talent to stoke Holliday’s expectations. He figured the Wariors would contend for an MBC title and make a deep postseason drive.
“Honestly, I did,” he said. “It was one of those things in which our young guys worked hard and bought in. I expected a good year and I knew we’d dominate the conference and have a good record.”
Matt Welker led the Warriors with 13 points.
Greeneview (15-9) has been playing without leading scorer and rebounder Ethan Bradds. He was averaging 19 points until opting to repair an aggravated meniscus in his left knee last month. He initially suffered the injury during Greeneview’s playoff-bound football season. He remained a basketball force but the knee pain increased after each practice and game.
“I’m proud of them,” said Bradds, who had his customary court-side seat. “They came out and played their hardest and that’s all you can ask.”
A tight end, he has signed with Eastern Kentucky University.
“You can’t call not having Ethan a blessing, but not having him for the second half of the year, we kind of got used to maybe how things will be next (season),” said Greeneview coach Kyle Fulk.
Nick Clevenger led Greeneview with 11 points.
Greenon (3-20) had no chance against Versailles. Riley Williams led the Knights with 12 points. Mr. Basketball candidate Justin Ahrens, who’s verbally committed to Ohio State, led Versailles with 38 points.
The top-seeded Tigers have lost only to Dunbar 79-70 and are having the most successful season – record-wise – in program history under first-year head coach Travis Swank.
“It’s really been a blast this year,” Ahrens said. “We’re looking to keep it going and end the season with one loss. I really think we can do it if we keep playing the way we have. Shots are falling, everybody’s happy and playing well and it’s a fun thing to be a part of.”
Keaton McEldowney added 15 points and Austin Knapke 11 for the Tigers.
It also was the debut season for Knights coach Kevin Taylor, a Greenon grad who was a sophomore on the 1986 Class AA state runner-up team. Greenon leaves the Central Buckeye Conference and joins the Ohio Heritage Conference next season.