Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Checking out potential area matchups ahead of the boys basketball state tournament

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CHILLICOTHE − It’s tournament time once again.

Well, almost. On Sunday, the OHSAA released its seedings, brackets and first-round matchups for the boys basketball tournament ahead of the final week of the regular season.

With the brackets in place, the opportunity for a handful of interesting matchups presents itself. So why not take a look at some of those potential matchups? Check out this list of matchups that, while not guaranteed, we’d like to see in the postseason:

OHSAA Boys Basketball Seedings: See matchups for Chillicothe-area boys basketball teams following OHSAA tournament draw

Girls Basketball Tournament Speculation: A brief look at area teams’ potential matchups in the girls basketball state tournament

Division III District Semifinal: No. 12 Westfall vs. No. 13 Adena

Consider it either a blessing or a curse that five Scioto Valley Conference teams are all bottlenecked in the same half of the Division III Southeast 1 bracket. As a result, the postseason will feel more like the regular season than anything. On the bright side, two teams with a high chance of deep tournament runs have a chance to butt heads once again.

It’s a simple premise: Adena’s senior-heavy squad wants to reach The Convo, and Westfall wants revenge for the 79-52 Adena dealt it back in mid-January. The prospect of All-SVC district semifinal with two programs in their prime is too good to pass up. Depending on how the two’s regular season rematch goes on Friday, there might be even more fuel added to the fire.

Division II Sectional Final: No. 6 Unioto vs. No. 3 Washington

Both the Shermans and the Blue Lions have come a long way since their regular season matchup back in December. In fact, the Shermans’ last loss came at the hands of the Blue Lions − a seven-point defeat that preceded a now 11-game win streak.

Washington, while still fighting for the top spot in the Frontier Athletic Conference, has grappled with a pair of tough losses. The second, a 12-point upset by Hillsboro, threw Washington off-kilter a bit as tournament time nears. Still, the bracket play out accordingly, Unioto will have a chance at revenge on a larger stage.

Division III Sectional Final: No. 14 Zane Trace vs. No. 3 North Adams

Sure, the Pioneers have taken some tough losses − both in conference play and outside of it − but they still have plenty in their favor to make a potential matchup with the Green Devils worth keeping tabbed.

Of Zane Trace’s nine losses up to the seeding, six of them were determined by six points or less. Three of those losses came in overtime. Another two came against teams leading their respective conferences − Wheelersburg and Miami Trace.

So what then? Well, the Pioneers have a boon in Landen Jarrell having returned to the lineup earlier this season, as well as Landon Robinson establishing himself as a strong all-around player. The emergence of Gunnar McCullough as a dominant paint presence helps, too. Give the Pioneers their due, they’ve stepped with some of the best in Southeast Ohio and come close time and time again. A matchup with the Green Devils will be closer than some might expect.

Division III Sectional Final: No. 21 Piketon vs. No. 28 Paint Valley

There’s nothing like a good underdog story, so why not include two? Paint Valley, in its first tournament since bumping up to Division III, has a chance to make some noise late in the year. Its overtime win over Zane Trace showed promise. When all cylinders fire for the Bearcats, they can send out shockwaves.

Now, line Paint Valley up against a scrappy Piketon squad that’s lost three of its last five games by four points or less. The two traded losses during their SVC slates in the regular season, so a matchup between the two is bound to run hot.

Piketon will have to fight past a surging Westfall team in the first round, and Paint Valley will have its hands full with the No. 5-seeded Portsmouth out of the gate. But, again, you can never count the underdogs out.

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