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Ohio high school boys basketball playoffs: Previews of the semifinals and state championship game in all four divisions

Archbishop Alter vs. St. Vincent-St. Mary feels more like a championship game than a semifinal in Division II.
Sencire Harris photo by Jeff Harwell

Sencire Harris photo by Jeff Harwell

For as crazy as the sectionals and districts played out, the regionals last week went about as planned. 

The one exception was the D-I Toledo Regional, but nobody had any idea what was going to happen there.

Looking at the brackets, there are a ton of familiar faces and traditional powers making a trip to University of Dayton Arena.

With so many favorites coming out of their respective regionals, that means there will be zero cupcakes to get mowed over in the semifinals. Every game should be competitive, and any game could come down to the wire.

Division 3

Africentric vs. Ottawa-Glandorf, 10:45 a.m. Friday

Lutheran East vs. Taft, 2 p.m. Friday

State Championship: 10:45 a.m. Sunday

The lack of upsets in the regionals results in seeing the best of the best at UD Arena for the D-III state semifinals. The best of the best includes three of the best underclassmen in the state: Africentric's Dailyn Swain, O-G's Colin White and Taft's Rayvon Griffith. All uncommitted, the scouts will be out in full force just to watch these three. If the chalk continues, expect a highly competitive state final between O-G and Taft, with Taft having a razor-thin edge.

Division 2

Archbishop Alter vs. St. Vincent-St. Mary, 5:15 p.m. Friday

Waverly vs. Gilmour Academy, 8:30 p.m. Friday

State Championship: 2 p.m. Sunday

The de facto state championship is being played in the 5:15 contest on Friday. Kettering Alter and St. Vincent-St. Mary have spent the entire season in the top 10. Only a couple of other D-II teams flirted with the SBLive Top 25 throughout the year. Gilmour Academy shocked the state when it knocked off Buchtel in the North Ridgeville district final. The Lancers' Cinderella run doesn't have the best odds against a well-rounded Waverly team. However, St. Vincent-St. Mary has been the D-II favorite from Day One, and there's no reason to believe Sencire Harris and company won't win their school's ninth state title this weekend.

Division 4

Richmond Heights vs. Berlin Hiland, 10:45 a.m. Saturday

Tri-Village vs. Antwerp, 2 p.m. Saturday

State Championship: 5:15 p.m. Sunday

16 teams will be playing in the state semifinals this weekend. For the Antwerp Archers, this is the first trip to state in school history, while the other 15 teams have at least one trip under their belts. Richmond Heights will be a heavy favorite over traditional powerhouse Berlin Hiland. Antwerp will be a slight underdog against the WOAC champion Tri-Village Patriots. Despite having the most state appearances, Hiland is the longest shot to win the state title in D-IV. It's a close call between the other three teams, but Richmond Heights holds the edge with a great record against a brutal schedule. If the Spartans get past Hiland, they'll play for their first state title in school history.

Division 1

Pickerington Central vs. St. Edward, 5:15 p.m. Saturday

Centerville vs. St. Ignatius, 8:30 p.m. Saturday

State Championship: 8:30 p.m. Sunday

Two of the most common criticisms of the SBLive Top 25 were not putting Centerville at No. 1 to begin the season and keeping St. Ignatius in the rankings late in the season, despite a pedestrian record. There is some merit to the first critique, but maybe not to the second. St. Ignatius dominated a quadrant that included Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Lima Senior and Sylvania Northview. But the Wildcats face their biggest challenge of the season against undefeated Centerville on Saturday. Pick Central was neck-and-neck with Gahanna Lincoln all season for the honor of best team in the Columbus area, but the Tigers won the regional with a convincing 59-42 win Saturday over Gahanna. The Tigers will be favored against St. Edward in the state semifinal. However, there is no reason to believe anybody will upend Centerville's quest for back-to-back state championships.