COLUMBUS, Ohio — Of the 800 high schools in Ohio that play girls basketball, 16 are still practicing as state tournament qualifiers in the 39th Annual OHSAA Girls Basketball State Tournament, which tips off Thursday afternoon at Value City Arena inside the Jerome Schottenstein Center.
This year marks the 14th year that the state tournament has been held at Value City Arena, the home of the Ohio State Buckeyes. The divisional order of play in 2014 is II, IV, III and I. The Division II and IV semifinals are Thursday, followed by the Division III and I semifinals on Friday. The semifinals are played as double-header sessions beginning at 1 p.m. or 6 p.m., while the championship games on Saturday are separate sessions, with tip times at 10:45 a.m., 2 p.m., 5:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Princeton, which ended the season ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press state poll and beat defending state champion Kettering Fairmont in the regional semifinals, won a state title in 1987 when the Vikings made their only state tournament appearance prior to this weekend. Seventh-ranked Notre Dame Academy is making its third-straight appearance in the Final Four, falling in the semifinals in 2012 and 2013. ND beat fourth-ranked Wadsworth in the regional final.
Like Princeton, Hoover also won a state title in its only previous trip to the state tournament, that coming in 2002. The Vikings were ranked fifth in the final AP state poll. Unranked Coffman is making the first girls basketball state tournament appearance of any of the three Dublin high schools. The Shamrocks beat 10th-ranked Reynolsburg in the regional finals.
Rogers, unranked in the final AP state poll, is making its first trip to the state tournament. The Lady Rams beat ninth-ranked Lima Bath in the regional semifinals. Second-ranked Alter is making its fifth and first since 2010 when the Knights were state runner-up. Top-ranked West Holmes, a three-time state champion (1983, 1984 and 1985) is back in the Final Four for the eighth time and was the state runner-up last year. Fifth-ranked St. Vincent-St. Mary, also a three-time title winner (1979, 1980, 1995), returns for the sixth time.
Unranked Smithville is back in the state tournament for the third time in the last five years and the fifth time overall. The Smithies fell in the semifinals in their previous four appearances. Eighth-ranked Africentric was the state runner-up last year and has played in the state championship game all five time the Nubians have reached the state tournament, winning three state championships. They beat fourth-ranked Archbold in the regional semifinals.
Unranked Fairland is in the state tournament for the first time, while ninth-ranked Versailles is back for the sixth time (first since 2009) and owns one state title (2008). The Tigers beat fifth-ranked Miami East in the regional semifinals.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Rosecrans made 10 state tournaments, winning it all in 1982, 1983 and 1992. The third-ranked Bishops are back for the first time since 1998 for the school’s 11th Final Four appearance. Holgate, unranked in the final AP poll, is back for the fourth time and took home the runner-up trophy in each of its three previous trips.
No. 1-ranked Eastern made its first Final Four appearance last year and the Lady Eagles are back in 2014 after topping second-ranked Newark Catholic in the regional finals. They face defending state champion Fort Loramie in the state semifinals. The ninth-ranked Redskins are back for the ninth time overall, including four of the last five years.
Cin. Princeton (26-2) vs. Toledo Notre Dame Academy (24-3), Friday, 6 p.m.
North Canton Hoover (25-2) vs. Dublin Coffman (22-6), Friday, 8 p.m.
Div. I State Championship: Saturday, 8:30 pm
Toledo Rogers (24-4) vs. Kettering Arch. Alter (28-0), Thursday, 1 p.m.
Millersburg West Holmes (27-0) vs. Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (25-2), Thursday, 3 p.m.
Div. II State Championship: Saturday, 10:45 am
Smithville (26-2) vs. Cols. Africentric (24-3), Friday, 1 p.m.
Proctorville Fairland (22-3) vs. Versailles (23-3), Friday, 3 p.m.
Div. III State Championship: Saturday, 5:15 p.m.
Zanesville Bishop Rosecrans (26-1) vs. Holgate (23-4), Thursday, 6 p.m.
Reedsville Eastern (25-1) vs. Fort Loramie (26-2), Thursday, 8 p.m.
Div. IV State Championship: Saturday, 2 p.m.