Can Northland repeat in the Columbus region? Things to wonder about the 2012 Central District Tournament
With the 2012 Division I district tournament less than 3 days away, the questioning has begun about many different topics of this year’s field.
Moving and Shaking
The 2012 field is different that the 2011 field in many regards, mainly in the teams that are actually in the field. Perennial City League powers Brookhaven and Beechcroft have dropped down to Division 2. Ex D2 members Hilliard Bradley (9-11), Canal Winchester (10-10) and Olentangy (10-10) have moved up a level, with Bradley getting their first taste of Division I tournament experience.
No Power Change at the top
The top seed three of the last four years, the Northland Vikings, finished their season at 19-1, with their only loss to Huntington Prep (WV) early this year. The Vikings won the Columbus City League Championship again this year for the sixth time in a row, their 89th consecutive CCL win, a 66-55 win over Walnut Ridge. Walnut Ridge is the second seed in the tournament, also finishing 19-1.
The annual discovery of Cinderella
Every year, without a doubt there is one team, low seeded or no seeded, that gets hot just at the right team and breaks the hearts of teams in their path. Last year, unseeded Westerville Central ran through the Columbus 2 regional, knocking off 12th seeded Mount Vernon, 10th seeded Olentangy Orange, culminating with an upset of 3rd seeded and 19-1 Upper Arlington, 59-55. The Warhawks then faced Northland in the district final, giving the Trey Burke-led Vikings all they wanted, but fell in the end 65-62.
This year’s tournament has the potential to be upset happy, with there being many good unseeded and low seeded teams in the field. One team that stands out would be 10th seeded Grove City. The Greyhounds have a favorable route to the district final, and could possibly fly under the radar, much like they have all year, finishing 14-6.
Can Northland Repeat?
Coming off the mentioned 66-55 win over 2nd-seeded Walnut Ridge in the Columbus City League championship, the Vikings are flying high, looking for a 3rd regional title in 4 years. Northland is led by their bigs in the middle, a pair of 6’8 centers in Jalen Robinson and Devon Scott. The guard play for Northland, which was a trouble in their only regional loss 2 years ago, a 71-45 upset by Gahanna, has been improved the past two years, with Trey Burke handling the duties last year. This year, seasoned veterans Jordan Potts and Ke’Chaun Lewis dominate as the guards.
The Vikings run to another title begins Thursday against winless Central Crossing, then a match-up with another winless team in West the following Wednesday. Northland won’t face a seeded team until the district final, where they could possibly face 9th seeded Olentangy Orange or 10th seeded Grove City. The chances of a repeat are very high, considering the biggest hurdle they would face would either be a rematch with Walnut Ridge, or 3rd seeded Olentangy Liberty, team that started the year 17-0 but lost 2 of their last 3. There is no reason that the Vikings shouldn’t win the region again, and here are my final predictions:
Columbus District 1: #1 Northland over #10 Olentangy Orange, 71-57
Columbus District 2: #3 Olentangy Liberty over #2 Walnut Ridge, 61-55
Columbus District 3: #4 Pickerington Central over #6 Newark, 59-50
Regional Semi #1: #1 Northland over (Canton Regional #1) Canton Timken, 80-68
Regional Semi #2: #3 Olentangy Liberty over #4 Pickerington Central, 65-59
Regional Final: #1 Northland over #3 Olentangy Liberty, 52-45