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February 23, 2012Sectional tournaments tipoff this week in Ohio and LaSalle and Moeller appear to be the favorites, but there are teams that could make some waves. Whether or not those challengers have what it takes dethrone the Lancers or even uproot the GCL South's stronghold on the region remains to be seen.
In the lower divisions Taft, Dunbar and Marshall are at the top of the class. Those programs are loaded with talent and highly entertaining. Here is a glance at some teams and their players that will have to take it to a next level if they want to make a deep run in the post-season.
Reigning Division I state champion LaSalle (19-1) has been outstanding defensively. The Lancers are allowing just 36.9 points per game. Five times they have held opponents below 28 points and another seven foes to 38 or fewer. Senior guard Joshua Lemons currently sits in ninth place on the school's all-time scoring list and is 82 away from 1,000 in his career.
Mason (17-3) was the only team to beat LaSalle. The Comets led the GMC in Points allowed at 47.6 per contest. On offense, the inside-out combo of Darin Harris and JD Sprague are both averaging more than 16 points over each of their last five outings.
At the small school level Summit Country Day (19-1) gets it done on defense as well. The Silver Knights have held 10 opponents to 31 points or less. Their only loss is to Taft and their biggest weakness is at the foul line where the team converts just 58.8 percent from the charity stripe. Junior Kevin Johnson is a candidate for District Player of the Year.
Be leery of Lakota West (14-6) who has won six straight. The Firebirds have picked up victories at Mason and Middletown since the first of the year as well. Guard Ali Barnes goes into the post season having found his stroke. The junior has connected on 13 of his last 19 three pointers whiles scoring 47 points in the teams last two tilts.
Kwan Cheatham of Winton Woods (17-3) is a matchup nightmare as a point forward. The 6-foot-9, 205 pound junior is proving how versatile his game is. He has had his only three double-doubles of the season in the last six contests, with at least five assists in each of the past four outings while scoring at least 10 points for seven straight games.
Withrow (14-6) forward Devin Williams had seven double-doubles in the Tigers first eight games. The junior has had just two since. He averaged 21.5 to the start of his season but has poured in just 11.8 per contest during his last 11 outings.
Since Taft (15-4) lost four consecutive games back in December they have won 12 in a row. Point guard Orlando Berry 7-29 (24.1 percent) from the field during the Senators swoon. Since then he has shot 56.6 percent from the floor and had three double-doubles (assists & points) in the last six games.
Having the biggest Johnson in Southwest Ohio is a huge reason that Walnut Hills (18-2) has won 17 in a row. Center Isaiah Johnson has been a beast on both ends of the floor for the Eagles. The 6-foot-9, 275 pound junior has 17 double-doubles on the year and is shooting 66.9 percent from their field over his last 10 games.
As Geovonie McKnight goes, so goes Middletown (15-5). In the Middies five losses the senior guard has shot just 30.8 percent (24-78) from the floor while averaging 12.0 points. In Middletown's victories he shoots 52.4 percent from the field and averages 21.9 points.
Western Brown (17-3) inflated their record this winter by winning an SBAAC American Division that did not have another team with a winning record for the season. Those five league foes were a combined 6-23 in non-conference games not involving SBAAC National squads and 16-34 in non-conference play overall. Senior guard, Justin Nickell paces the Broncos with 12.7 points, 4.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game.