Ohio boys basketball Division III final four is a heavyweight bracket
VASJ’s Tour de Associated Press Poll continues this week.
After advancing from the Garfield Heights District, which featured Nos. 1, 2, 8 and 9 in the final poll, the Vikings are in the Division III state final four, which includes No. 2 VASJ, No. 5 St. Bernard Roger Bacon, No. 6 Columbus Bishop Ready and No. 7 Lima Central Catholic.
If you’re looking for a Cinderella story, this is not the bracket to find one. All four teams are heavyweights with state tournament histories.
Let’s take a quick look at the three teams joining VASJ in Columbus:
Columbus Bishop Ready: VASJ’s semifinal opponent is making its fifth state tournament appearance. It has two state titles, in 1972 and ’73. Area fans might recognize the name from football season, when Kirtland beat Ready with a last-second field goal in a Division VI state semifinal.
Roger Bacon: The Spartans are two-time champions in three appearances in the state tournament. Most famously, the Spartans defeated Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, 71-63, in the 2002 Division II state championship game. It was the only year LeBron James didn’t win a state title while with the Fighting Irish.
Lima Central Catholic: The Thunderbirds are making their seventh state tournament appearance, including a state title in 2010. In 1992, Lima CC was leading Berlin Hiland, 62-55, with 38 seconds remaining when the Hawks stormed back to win and advance to the Division IV state title game, in which they defeated Gilmour. The ending of the state semi was detailed in a 2001 Sports Illustrated story about then Hiland coach Perry Reese.
-- Howard Primer