Family means everything to Versailles boys basketball.
Coach Scott McEldowney’s nephew Josh Langston coaches the freshman team. McEldowney’s son Brett is a JV player who dresses for the varsity. Brett’s younger brother Noah is the team manager.
Scott’s older brother Roger McEldowney was Versailles’ head coach when the Tigers last played in a final four in 2004. Scott was a Tigers assistant that season.
Versailles (22-5) returns to the Division III high school state final four against Leavittsburg LaBrae (24-3) at 2 p.m. today at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
“It’s been really special,” Scott McEldowney said. “I learned a lot from Roger through the years. It means a lot to get back here to the state. Instead of a state runner-up we hope to take it one step further and bring home a championship this year.”
Tough stuff: Troy Christian (26-2) is rewriting its record books on the way to Friday’s D-IV state semi vs. Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph (23-4) at 10:45 a.m.
The Eagles swept sectional, district and regional titles, all firsts in program history. They split with Tri-Village, winning the contest that matters most, an overtime thriller in a regional semi. TC dodged Delphos St. John’s by two in the regional final on Grant Zawadzki’s two free throws.
Versailles’ family plan has nothing on Troy Christian. Zawadzki, the team’s scoring (16.1) and assists (5.9) leader, is the son of head coach Ray Zawadzki.
Title country: Central District teams have upped their games. From 1980-2007 the Columbus-based area won just two D-I state titles, Brookhaven in 2002 and Westerville North in ’94. Now, top-ranked Northland (28-0) is seeking the Central District’s fourth D-I state title in the last six years.
If Northland wins the championship, it’ll be the first team in Ohio history to win 30 games. That coincides with the regular season expanding to 22 games.
Touch all the bases: If Cleveland VASJ sounds familiar, it should. It’s the first team in state history to advance to the final four in all four divisions. VASJ won D-I and D-II titles and was twice a D-III runner-up.
They’re back: Ottawa-Glandorf in D-III is the only team of 16 to return to the final four from last season. O-G lost to Portsmouth in the 2012 semis.
Match that: If Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary wins the D-II title, it’ll be the first school to sweep football and boys hoop state championships since Cleveland Benedictine in 1996-97.
MAC that: Much is made about Midwest Athletic Conference teams dominating state football and basketball titles. However, Versailles is the first MAC team in a final four since 2008 when New Knoxville won a D-IV title.
GCL nod: Alter’s inclusion in the D-II field means a Greater Catholic League team has been to a boys final four in 15 of the last 19 years.
Who’s counting? This will be the 91st boys state tourney. The first girls state basketball tourney was in 1976.