State basketball primer: It’s Round 3 for Centerville and Pickerington Central

Centerville vs. Pickerington Central. There’s definitely statewide interest in that one.

Last year in the Division I final at UD Arena, Central was the better team in the final minutes and denied Centerville a second straight state title, 55-48, and ended a 45-game winning streak.

In December, Centerville was the better team and won the rematch in double overtime, 60-54, at Nationwide Arena.

Saturday at 5:15 in the first Division I semifinal, the Elks and Tigers meet again.

The intriguing subplot is Mr. Basketball 2022 Gabe Cupps of Centerville vs. Mr. Basketball 2023 Devin Royal of Pick Central. Royal, bound for Ohio State, scored 20 points, and Cupps, bound for Indiana, scored 14 in the state final last year. Royal scored 27 and Cupps all of his 12 in the second half in December.

Both teams had to integrate new players and roles, then play well this past month to make it back to UD.

“Based on the films that we’ve watched, they’re much better now than they were in December,” Centerville coach Brook Cupps said. “They’ve settled into their roles. The guys that are alongside Royal are now more confident in what they need to do and what they are capable of doing. That makes them a lot more dangerous. In December, we sure didn’t know who we were, and I don’t think they did either.”

D-II: Chaminade Julienne vs. Rocky River Lutheran West

The Eagles made a surprising run to state two years ago. This year with the Ohio Gatorade Player of Year George Washington III moving to town, the Eagles were favored to get to back to UD.

Washington, who has signed with Michigan, brought his brother, B.B. Washington, with him and joined senior Evan Dickey, a starter on the previous state team. The matchup of guards is similar.

“They don’t have a player as good as George,” Eagles coach Charlie Szabo said. “But they have three really athletic, really good guards, and they have contributors off their bench.”

West (24-3) is led by 6-foot junior guard Jayson Levis, who averages 19.1 points a game.

The other semifinal pits unbeaten Columbus Bishop Ready against Akron Buchtel.

“I don’t think there’s a super team,” Szabo said. “From what I know about them, I think all four are very capable of doing this.”

Washington surpassed CJ’s single-season scoring record in the regional final victory over Alter when he scored 32 points. He now has 683 points. Al Sicard, who went on to play at UD, set the record of 671 in 1989.

D-IV: Russia vs. Richmond Heights

If a super team exists this weekend, it’s Richmond Heights. They outscore opponents by about 40 a game and are the defending champions. They defeated Tri-Village in the final last year. But two years ago they lost to eventual champion Botkins in the semifinals.

“Everyone’s saying how good of a team they are, but we’re putting our head down,” Russia’s Xavier Phlipot said. “We’re going to do the things that we do right and go in there believing 100% we’re going to get a win.”

Russia knew they might face a team like Richmond Heights, so they scrimmaged Division I Dublin Jerome before the season.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” interim head coach Spencer Cordonnier said. “We’re playing against long athletic 6-5, 6-5, 6-6 and a little quicker than we’re used to. We’re just going to work on ourselves and work on what we think we need to do with the ball, being strong with it and not throwing any lazy passes and just being being fundamentally sound.”

2023 Boys Basketball State Tournament Pairings

University of Dayton Arena

Division II

Rocky River Lutheran West (24-3) vs. Dayton Chaminade Julienne (26-2), Friday, 10:45 a.m.

Columbus Bishop Ready (28-0) vs. Akron Buchtel (21-6), Friday, 2 p.m.

Division II State Championship: Sunday, 10:45 a.m.

Division IV

Berlin Hiland (19-9) vs. Convoy Crestview (24-3), Friday, 5:15 p.m.

Russia (25-3) vs. Richmond Heights (27-0), Friday, 8:30 p.m.

Division IV State Championship: Sunday, 2 p.m.

Division III

Ottawa-Glandorf (24-3) vs. Columbus Africentric (23-5), Saturday, 10:45 a.m.

Canal Winchester Harvest Prep (21-6) vs. Cleveland Heights Lutheran East (20-5), Saturday, 2 p.m.

Division III State Championship: Sunday, 5:15 p.m.

Division I

Centerville (25-3) vs. Pickerington Central (23-5), Saturday, 5:15 p.m.

Akron Archbishop Hoban (24-3) vs. Toledo St. John’s (19-9), Saturday, 8:30 p.m.

Division I State Championship: Sunday, 8:30 p.m.

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