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Division I and IV District Semifinal Preview

By Zach Fleer, 03/06/19, 12:30PM EST

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Previewing district semifinal action across each division

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It's officially district final week. Before we tip off at the Columbus Convention Center on Friday, we have 10 more games in Division I and IV to decide who will play for all the marbles.

Let's take a look at each matchup and what's on the line. 


DIVISION I

 

#17 Thomas Worthington (16-7) vs. #2 Hilliard Bradley (22-1)

Dublin Jerome HS - 7 p.m.

Last meeting: Jan. 18, 2019 - Hilliard Bradley 47, Thomas Worthington 31

Last district title: Thomas Worthington (2001), Hilliard Bradley (2018)

Game Note: Thomas Worthington is looking to snap a nine-game losing streak to Hilliard Bradley, having not beaten the Jaguars since Dec. 3, 2010 in Bradley's second year ever as a school. Thomas Worthington hasn't won a district title since the father of starting sophomore guard Jalen Sullinger (JJ Sullinger) won one in 2001.

Key matchup: AJ Mirgon, Matt Allocco vs. Jalen Sullinger, Isaac Settles. In the two matchups this season, Bradley dominated Thomas' backcourt, as Mirgon and Allocco combined for 42 points in two wins, while Sullinger and Settles combined for half of that, scoring 21 combined points. For Thomas to have any sort of shot, they need both Sullinger and Settles to finish with 15+ points tonight. That's no easy task as Mirgon and Allocco are two of the elite perimeter defenders in the area. 

#10 Canal Winchester (20-4) vs. #5 Pickerington North (20-4)

Groveport Madison HS - 7 p.m.

Last meeting: Feb. 5, 2019 - Pickerington North 92, Canal Winchester 63

Last district title: Canal Winchester (2008, D2), Pickerington North (2017)

Game Note: Canal Winchester is looking to bounce back from a 29-point shellacking it took at the hands of Pickerington North in early February. To our knowledge, a win would put Canal Winchester in its first-ever Division I district final. A win for Pickerington North would put them in a position to win its second district title in three years.

Key matchup: Brady Snyder vs. Pickerington North's guards. In Canal's 92-63 loss in February, Snyder was held to 11 points in a difficult matchup. The senior guard is the lifeblood of the Indians, as they go as he goes. If the Indians can get 20+ from Snyder tonight, combined with strong performances from Bilal Sow and Cole Metzler, Canal will have a shot. However, it will be very difficult to defend the length and athleticism of a Panthers team led by the man child Jack Sawyer. 

Follow Jason Morrow for live updates tonight. 

#26 Big Walnut (15-8) vs. #3 Pickerington Central (23-1)

Gahanna Lincoln HS - 7 p.m.

Last meeting: No meetings after 2004-05 season

Last district title: Big Walnut (1997, D2), Pickerington Central (2018)

Game Note: This might be the first-ever meeting between these two programs since Pickerington Central was just "Pickerington." Big Walnut is playing in the Gahanna gym for the second-straight week since upsetting the host Lions on Saturday.

Key matchup: Big Walnut against the athletes of Pickerington Central. At 15-8, the Eagles are enjoying a huge year for the program, however, in the OCC-Capital there is no team quite like Central. The Tigers will pressure and look to make Big Walnut extremely uncomfortable. For the Eagles to have any sort of a chance to win, they will absolutely have to take care of the ball and force Central to play at a slow pace. If not, look for Central to run away with this one.

Follow Mitch Brown for live updates tonight.  

#8 Upper Arlington (17-5) vs. #7 Reynoldsburg (19-5)

Westerville Central - 7 p.m.

Last meeting: Jan. 25, 2008 - Upper Arlington 66, Reynoldsburg 65

Last district title: Upper Arlington (2017), Reynoldsburg (2018)

Game Note: Upper Arlington and Reynoldsburg have not met since they were in the same OCC division during the 2007-08 season, in which they split both matchups and the winning team won by a single point each time. Upper Arlington and Reynoldsburg just met in the girls Division I district final on Saturday. 

Key matchup: Max Martz vs. Ben Fort. Two of Central Ohio's very best seniors will do battle on Wednesday. Martz is coming off a strong run of games where he helped the Golden Bears hand Dublin Coffman its only loss of the year on the back of 29 points from the Penn signee. For Reynoldsburg, Fort is the guy that makes things go for the Raiders. For Reynoldsburg to win tonight, Fort needs to be in attack mode from the opening tip. If this becomes a slow down, value each possession type game, Upper Arlington will have the advantage. Reynoldsburg has to find a way to speed the Golden Bears up and make them defend in space. 

Follow Connor Harr for live updates tonight.

#13 Olentangy Orange (16-7) vs. #1 Dublin Coffman (22-1)

Worthington Christian MS - 7 p.m.

Last meeting: Jan. 22, 2019 - Dublin Coffman 67, Olentangy Orange 59

Last district title: Olentangy Orange (none), Dublin Coffman (2018)

Game Note: Olentangy Orange and Dublin Coffman have played in each of the last three years with the Rocks winning two of the three matchups. Orange knocked off Coffman last season while the Rocks returned the favor in late January.

Key matchup: Luke Bartemes vs. Bryson Lane. In Coffman's January win over Orange, Bartemes knocked down three triples and scored 23 points to power the Rocks. In that same game, Orange's top player, senior Bryson Lane, was held to eight points. While these two won't match up, they are both the heart and soul of their teams and whoever has the better performance might just end up winning the game. Orange has the offensive firepower and discipline to play with Coffman, but not if Lane isn't playing to his potential. 

Follow Darkell Curry for live updates tonight. 

#12 Walnut Ridge (19-4) vs. #9 Newark (18-6)

Watkins Memorial - 7 p.m.

Last meeting: Jan. 26, 2013 - Walnut Ridge 47, Newark 45

Last district title: Walnut Ridge (2015, D2), Newark (2015)

Game Note: Walnut Ridge has not won a Division I district title since 1978, when the division was referred to as Class AAA. The Scots will look to do what they did to Newark the last time these two programs squared off, a game in which I covered in my first year following the area. Both Walnut Ridge and Newark both won their last district title in 2015, a year that the Scots advanced to the Division II state tournament.

Key matchup: Von Cameron Davis against Newark's defensive scheme. Newark has historically done an outstanding job of eliminating big men in high-stakes games, most notably in its OCC-Capital clinching win over Canal Winchester where the Wildcats held Bilal Sow and Cole Metzler to seven combined points. On Wednesday, they're going up against a much bigger beast in Von Cameron Davis, the area's top scoring junior and a player who is more than capable of going for 30+ on any given night. Don't be surprised if Newark attacks Davis with multiple schemes to force the ball out of his hands. If that is the case, Walnut Ridge's supporting cast will need to step up. Qian Magwood and Meach Coble have been outstanding as of late, while Kaveon Ross has been a terrific secondary scorer. Newark will also have to be able to score on an athletic Scots team that defends with plenty of toughness and intensity. This one could go either way but we tend to think it will lean Newark's way if the Wildcats find a way to hold Davis under 20 points. Another great two-way performance from Magwood could be what Walnut Ridge needs to win. 

Follow Zach Fleer for live updates tonight. 

#22 Westerville North (13-10) vs. #4 Olentangy Liberty (20-4)

Centerburg HS - 7 p.m.

Last meeting: Feb. 1, 2019 - Liberty 73, Westerville North 61

Last district title: Westerville North (1998), Olentangy Liberty (2012)

Game Note: Olentangy Liberty has won the last three meetings over Westerville North in which Ben Roderick has logged at least one minute. Liberty won both meetings this season by a margin of 20 points. 

Key matchup: Philip Alston vs. Ben Roderick. Westerville North's Alston is one of the most athletic players in the area for his size and is the ideal athlete to defend Roderick. For Westerville North to have a chance to win, Alston needs to be on his A-game from the opening tip. Alston and senior guard Jeremiah Keene seem to elevate each other, which means they both need to play at a high level for the Warriors to have a shot. If Roderick has his way with North once again, look for Liberty to roll into the district finals.

Follow Andy Hoben for live updates tonight. 

#16 Olentangy (14-9) vs. #6 Hilliard Davidson (19-5)

Marysville HS - 7 p.m.

Last meeting: Feb. 5, 2019 - Olentangy 61, Hilliard Davidson 54

Last district title: Olentangy (1991, D3), Hilliard Davidson (2000)

Game Note: Olentangy has never won a Division I district title, as Liberty (2012) is the only Olentangy program to ever win a title at that level. Meanwhile, Davidson has gone 19 years without a district title and will have to overcome an Olentangy team that upset them just a month ago. 

Key matchup: Length vs. shooting. Two teams with much different personnel, Wednesday's matchup will present a clash of styles. Davidson prefers a slow down tempo where the Wildcats can work the ball into the post and force opposing teams to take well over 40 seconds to find open looks behind its stellar defense. For Olentangy, the Braves play at a higher tempo, where the ball whips around the perimeter and into the hands of deadly shooters Sean Marks and Noah Gossett, among others. In the first matchup, Olentangy scored 61 points. In games this season where teams have scored more than 60 points, Davidson is 2-4, while posting a 17-1 record when holding teams to 60 points or less. That will be the mark once again for the Braves to get to, as we see Davidson grinding out Olentangy if the game is played at their preferred tempo.

Follow Jake Spegal for live updates tonight.

DIVISION IV

 

#9 Newark Catholic (8-16) vs. #1 Fisher Catholic (17-7)

Pickerington North HS - 7 p.m.

Last meeting: Jan. 14, 2019 - Fisher Catholic 52, Newark Catholic 49

Last district title: Newark Catholic (2012), Fisher Catholic (2002)

Game Note: Fisher Catholic needed a buzzer-beating three to take down Newark Catholic in their only meeting this season. With back-to-back road wins over No. 4 Tree of Life and No. 5 Ridgedale, Newark Catholic is looking to upset the biggest bully in Division IV on Tuesday. 

Key matchup: Heath Jeffries vs. Fisher Catholic's team defense. Jeffries is one of the very best players in Division IV and has been outstanding thus far in the Green Wave's run to the semifinals. Newark Catholic needs another strong showing from him in order to take down a Fisher Catholic team that, albeit not having a single star, knows how to work together and grind out wins. Look for Fisher to zone in on stopping Jeffries and making the rest of the Green Wave rotation beat them.

#6 Shekinah Christian (16-8) vs. #2 Berne Union (16-8)

Hamilton Township HS - 7 p.m.

Last meeting: Feb. 22, 2016 - Shekinah Christian 68, Berne Union 55

Last district title: Neither program has ever won a district title

Game Note: A district final appearance will be the furthest either program has advanced in the last 10 seasons. Shekinah Christian is arguably the hottest team in Division IV, coming in with an 11-game winning streak. 

Key matchup: Ben Hershberger vs. the rest of Berne Union's backcourt. With stud junior guard Chase McCartney missing Friday's sectional final against Danville due to injury,  Berne Union had no problems with Danville, dismissing the Blue Devils by a margin of 15 points. If McCartney can't go on Wednesday, the Rockets could struggle, as Shekinah Christian is a team led entirely by its backcourt with seniors Ben Hershberger, the Division IV district player of the year, and Joel Headings combining for the bulk of the offense. If McCartney misses Wednesday's game, that could impact Berne on both ends of the floor, which could be the difference in the game. 

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