At the end of the 2012-13 boys basketball regular season, defending City League champion Rogers, having played perhaps Ohio’s most difficult nonleague schedule, was humbled by a 54-53 upset loss to eventual City champion Start in the CL’s playoff semifinals.
But the Rams of coach Earl Morris turned that disappointment into an improbable Division I state tournament mission that took them to the brink of becoming Toledo’s first state champion in 23 years.
Rogers upset fifth-ranked Three Rivers Athletic League champion St. John’s Jesuit (20-4) in a district semifinal 66-55, then pounded ninth-ranked Central Catholic (19-6) in the district final 60-39.
The unranked Rams — led by the senior guard trio of Clemmye Owens, Tony Kynard and DeVonte Pratt — marched on to regional victories over Northern Lakes League champion Anthony Wayne (20-5), 68-62, and Brecksville-Broadview Heights (23-4), 63-61 in overtime, to reach the state semifinals for the second time in three years. In 2011, Rogers lost in the Division II state semifinals.
The Rams continued their roll by upsetting third-ranked Cincinnati Walnut Hills (27-2), 58-51, in the D-I state semifinals at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus before ultimately falling 76-67 to eighth-ranked Mentor in the title game, finishing 21-8 overall.
Toledo Area Athletic Conference runner-up Ottawa Hills won the season rubber match against ninth-ranked TAAC champion Toledo Christian (22-3), 65-50, to win a Division IV district title. Coach John Lindsay’s Green Bears (22-5), led by the frontcourt combo of senior Lucas Janowicz and juniors Geoff Beans and R.J. Coil, would then beat Colonel Crawford 53-40 in the regional semifinals before falling to eventual state runner-up Lepsic 63-54 in the regional final.
Another highlight was Otsego’s Northern Buckeye Conference title, the first league championship for coach Jim Bostdorff’s Knights (20-5) since Otsego squads won back-to-back crowns in the former Suburban Lakes League in 2000 and 2001.
Anthony Wayne’s NLL championship under coach Bryan Borcherdt was the school’s first since 1998, while the Generals won the first district crown in school history.
Bedford won the Southeastern Conference Red Division title won under coach Nick Lowe, the first league title in history for the Kicking Mules (18-4), who were led by Class A all-state player Jackson Lamb.
The Northwest Ohio Athletic League title was shared by coach Doug Krauss’s Archbold Blue Streaks and coach Chad Burt’s Wauseon Indians.
Scott (14-10) of the City League reached the D-II district final before falling 50-47 in overtime to Sandusky Perkins (21-6), co-champion of the Sandusky Bay Conference.
Liberty-Benton (22-2) won the Blanchard Valley Conference title, and coach Steve Williman’s Eagles were ranked No. 2 in the final D-III state poll before being upset by Spencerville in a district semifinal.
The area had its best collection of talent in one senior class in more than 30 years, and perhaps ever.
The Class of 2013 was headed by St. John’s senior Marc Loving, who became Toledo’s third player to be selected Ohio’s Mr. Basketball, following Macomber’s Jim Jackson (1988 and 1989), and Libbey’s William Buford (2008). Like Jackson and Buford, Loving will play at Ohio State.
Other notables headed for the Big Ten are Whitmer’s Nigel Hayes (Wisconsin), Bowling Green’s Vitto Brown (Wisconsin), and Anthony Wayne’s Mark Donnal (Michigan), all named to All-Ohio teams.
Toledo Christian senior Eric Cellier was named to the All-Ohio Division IV first team. Whiteford’s Colin Lake was named to Michigan’s Class C all-state first team.
St. John’s Ed Heintschel (609-190 career record, 34 seasons), who became Ohio’s 10th boys coach to reach 600 wins during the season, was named D-I state co-coach of the year.