The Tigers and Irish, who play each other tonight for a district championship at UD at 9 p.m., might see their opponent in the mirror.
Both Jackson Center, 19-6, and Springfield Catholic Central, 23-2, will push the basketball if the opportunity exists; each exercises great patience on offense when the situation dictates.
Each club has lessons to learn from last weekend’s W’s in district semifinals, which could easily have resulted in L’s.
On Friday, the Tigers won by a scant point in the last two seconds over Fort Loramie, 42-41, after coughing up a 32-21 lead. The next day, Catholic Central eked out a two-pointer over Cedarville after also blowing a double-digit cushion.
The two collide in a late evening district title game on Tuesday. In the earlier 7 p.m. tilt, prohibitive favorite Botkins (23-2), the defending state champ and the 2022 AP Poll winner with Tiffin Calvert, meets Ripley Union-Lewis. Both contests are carried live on ScoresBroadcast.com and WMVR, 105.5 TAM FM, starting at 6:30 p.m.. The two winners tangle next Tuesday in a region semifinal at Trent Arena at 8 p.m.
By the way, Catholic Central, which was ranked in the AP top ten all season and won the Ohio Heritage Conference South, reeled off 15 straight victories to open the campaign. Unranked Jackson Center, a second place finisher in the tough Shelby County Athletic League, has won its last 12 in a row after starting out 7-6.
Why are the Tigers so red hot in February?
Well, they are now closing out games. Something they didn’t do earlier in the season. Friday’s sectional final at Piqua and the late season 57-56 decision at Anna are great examples.
In addition, Camdyn Reese, a 6-3 junior, has taken charge at crucial moments in recent contests. His game-winning drive to the bucket on Friday topped off a 14-point performance. He also swished 7-of-8 free throws and nailed a trifecta. He, too, was the big play-maker in the last half minute versus Anna.
And, yes, the Tigers scoring has been well-balanced when it has needed to be, keeping strong defensive opponents off guard. The huge 19-point upset win at Marion Local on Jan. 22 was ignited by four players in double figures. Jace Mullenhour tallied 18; Nolan Fark, 16; Carson Regula, 14; and Reese, 11.
Plus, the free-throw shooting has been superb. Success or failure at the stripe often determines outcomes of fourth quarter nail-biters. The Tigers’ accuracy at the line has been on the climb. It’s now at 74 percent. The five starters are hitting fouls between 72 and 82 percent. Mullenhour is a torrid 69 for 84 after 25 games.
Catholic Central shoots free throws at only 67 percent, but buries triples at a 38 percent clip.
Like Jackson Center, the Irish offer fine balance. Tyler Galluch leads the way at 17 points per contest. Ashton Young is at 12; and Ian Galluch, at 10. Cole Ray chips in with nine. Catholic Central averages 56 per game to the Tigers’ 48.
Tuesday’s doubleheader begins a week of seven broadcasts on ScoresBroadcast.com and seven simulcasts on WMVR.
Thursday’s girls D-IV regionals kick off with an air time of 5:30 p.m.. Tri-Village meets Danville, which is located northeast of Columbus, followed by Fort Loramie versus Cincinnati Country Day.
This Friday, Marion Local or St. Henry squares off with Spencerville or Lima Perry in a boys D-IV Wapakoneta district final at 6:30 p.m..
If the Fort Loramie girls win Thursday and are crowned region champs after Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. tilt, online and radio coverage of the girls northwest region final at Elida takes place at 6:30 p.m. that night. New Knoxville will likely match up with Toledo Christian or Columbus Grove.
Fort Loramie, which earlier this month won its fourth straight AP Poll championship, and Tri-Village, which was rated in the top two or three all season, could very well battle it out for a berth in the state tournament on Saturday afternoon at Vandalia-Butler.
This week’s string of online and on radio games brings to 15 the total number of contests covered by ScoresBroadcast.com over a dozen-day stretch.
Nearly 7,000 listeners joined online for the two boys sectional finals at Piqua last Friday and Saturday.