A couple of high-profile area boys high school basketball teams took different routes, but arrived at the same destination: the state final fours.
Trotwood-Madison (Division II) and St. Henry (D-IV) both advanced to this week’s season-ending state championships at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center.
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Top-ranked Trotwood (26-2) is up first, playing Akron Buchtel (20-7) in a state semifinal at 8 p.m. Thursday. St. Henry (24-3) plays at noon on Friday against No. 1 Berlin Hiland (27-1). The winners advance to Saturday’s state title games.
Already a proven mid-sized state power in football and boys basketball, Trotwood continues to blaze a decorated basketball tourney trail. This is the third straight state final four for the Rams and fourth in six seasons.
Add an outstanding team led by then-junior Chris Wright in the 2006 season and the Rams are still seeking their first state championship.
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As usual, Trotwood’s lineup is loaded and is proven.
“What we’re hoping is we’ve got some experience on that floor in front of a crowd like that,” Trotwood coach Rocky Rockhold said during Monday’s statewide media teleconference call. “Every guy who we put on that floor has played on that floor once or twice before. We’re hoping to rely on some of that experience.”
Trotwood has mounted a 16-game win streak since being thumped 95-80 by Pickerington Central at Flyin’ to the Hoop. “We learned a lot that night,” said Rockhold.
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More impressive, the Rams have won six blowout postseason games. Its closest postseason contest was a 106-84 defeat of Thurgood Marshall, which the Rams trailed at halftime. Trotwood crushed Cincinnati Aiken and Northridge by a combined 82 points in last week’s regional. Their average point differential in those games is 93-49.
It doesn’t get any better than four-year senior Trotwood starters Amari Davis (29.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 6.3 steals) and Justin Stephens (8.4 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.4 blocks). Davis, a 6-4 lefty guard, signed with Wisconsin-Green Bay. Stephens, a 6-6 center, signed to play tight end at Toledo.
“I’ll get criticism for saying this, but I’m not sure there’s many kids in the country that have his mid-range jumper,” Rockhold said of Davis. “There’s kids who score better and shoot it better, but that mid-range jumper is deadly. We’ve obviously going to rely on him for what we do.”
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»» RELATED: Girls, boys tourney pairings, results
St. Henry, the Midwest Athletic Conference champ, also has won 16 straight following a 60-44 loss to Anna, which lost to Cincinnati Purcell Marian in a D-III regional final on Saturday.
There were relatively close defeats of MAC rivals Minster and defending state champ Marion Local in the district. St. Henry beat Springfield Catholic Central 54-36 in a regional semi and withstood Jackson Center 46-43 in the regional final.
“It’s just a bear to get out of our district with so many good teams,” said Redskins coach Eric Rosenbeck, n his 10th season and who doubles as the school principal. “To get by Minster and Marion Local was a huge step for our program.”
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The top three teams in the final D-IV state poll are lumped in the final four: No. 1 Hiland, No. 2 Convoy Crestview and No. 3 St. Henry.
St. Henry has won four boys state titles, the last in 2006. This is the first final four for the Redskins since that championship season.
• Like the girls state title games, all four boys championships on Saturday will be televised live on Spectrum News 1 (Channel 1).
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• There are four semifinal games Thursday and Friday as usual, but new are two sessions. Session 1 games are at noon and 2 p.m. Session 2 games at 6 and 8 p.m. Single-person cost is $15 per session.
• The boys All-Ohio basketball Division III and IV teams will be announced by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association on Tuesday.
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»» RELATED: Girls, boys hoop results/pairings
»» BOYS HOOP: Trotwood overcomes Thurgood in second half
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»» BOYS HOOP: Emotional win for Fairmont
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