OHSAA on future of state basketball at UD Arena: ‘We want to be here’

Credit: Name Test

Credit: Name Test

Two years into a three-year contract, the Ohio High School Athletic Association is happy to be playing its state basketball tournaments at UD Arena.

“This arena is built for something like what we’re doing,” said Doug Ute, executive director of the OHSAA.

Ute said talks about future contracts are always ongoing. And while nothing is official yet, he believes the future of the boys and girls tournaments will remain in Dayton. He said working with state venues on three-year contracts is something he expects to continue.

“We have a great relationship with (arena director) Scott DeBolt and his staff here and we want to be here,” Ute said. “And I think they want us here, and so we’ll make that happen. We welcome those talks about what comes after next year with the arena and visitors bureau.”

Previously the state tournament was hosted by Ohio State at the Schottenstein Center. During the Covid pandemic the girls and boys tournaments were relocated to UD Arena because of health regulations at the time in Columbus. Then UD won the bid the next year. Ohio State prefers to keep its arena open for potential use by its teams. The women’s basketball team hosted NCAA games this weekend.

The aesthetics and acoustics of the arena are important to the OHSAA, Ute said.

“It’s a basketball arena — it’s a beautiful arena,” he said. “I love this place because you get a girls crowd at 3,500, it sounds like there’s 7,000 people in here. And a boys crowd of six, seven, 8,000 like last night and it seems like it’s packed. You get to this level you want your kids to feel like they are in a high-class place, that they’re treated right. It’s a big-time experience for them. And it gets loud in here.”

Total attendance for the 12 games was 59,476 which averages to 4,956 per game. The largest crowd of 8,517 turned out Saturday for Centerville’s Division I semifinal against Pickerington Central. The next largest crowd was 6,439 for Saturday morning’s Columbus Africentric-Ottawa Glandorf game in Division III.

Friday morning’s Division II semifinal between Chaminade Julienne and Akron Buchtel was the fourth largest crowd at 5,262. The smallest draw was Saturday’s Division III semifinal between Cleveland Heights Lutheran East and Canal Winchester Harvest Prep at 3,641.

Northeast dominance: All four state champions hail from the same region.

Akron has two champions in Hoban in Division I and Buchtel in Division II. Cleveland Heights Lutheran East won Division III and Richmond Heights won its second straight title in Division IV. The Spartans are the 24th team to win consecutive titles.

Hoban won its second title. The other came in 1989. Buchtel won for the first time in its eighth trip. Lutheran East won for the third time since 2017 and fourth overall. Richmond Heights has two titles in four appearances since 2019.

Poll champions to state: For the seventh time, all of the Associated Press poll champions advanced to the state tournament.

This year it was Centerville in Division I, Columbus Bishop Ready in Division II, Ottawa-Glandorf in Division III and Richmond Heights in Division IV.

Only undefeated Richmond Heights won the state title, running over Convoy Crestview 70-26.

Winning big: Richmond Heights’ 44-point victory is the largest margin of victory in state finals history in any division. The previous record of 43 happened twice.

Cincinnati Mariemont defeated Philo 87-44 in 1953. Cincinnati Taft defeated Cleveland Central Catholic 95-52 in 2011.

Record futility: Crestview hit a half-court shot going into halftime of the Division IV final to trail 31-22. Then Richmond Heights held Crestview scoreless in the third quarter.

The only other time that’s happened since 1950 in a championship game was when Defiance Tinora failed to score in the first quarter against Cleveland Central Catholic in 2009. Catholic won 45-38.

Crestview’s 26 points weren’t the fewest in the small-school division. In 1930, Lancaster St. Mary’s defeated Proctorville-Rome 34-3. And in the big-school division, Lorain defeated Bellevue 15-14 in 1923.

Hot shooter: Richmond Heights sophomore Dorian Jones set a Division IV record championship game record with seven 3-pointers. He surpassed the previous record of six held by Todd Humrichouser of Worthington Christian set in 1994.

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