On Tuesday night a pair of Division IV District Semifinals was hosted by Wapakoneta High School. The first game featured St. Henry going up against Marion Local in a meeting of familiar conference foes. While it took a little time for the offenses to get going, Marion Local would have too much size, and too many athletes for St. Henry, taking the first game of the night by a final score of 56-43. Here is who stood out in this one:
2024 C Jack Knapke (Marion Local) – Following in the foot steps of brother Luke, who starred at the University of Toledo, Jack certainly has a bright future of his own. Standing around 6’8″ with a thick, strong build, Knapke bullied anyone who was thrown his way on Tuesday night down low. Runs the floor well, and is active on the glass on both ends. Scores it consistently, and cleans up around the rim on offense. Will need to continue to develop an array of moves on the low block, and improve his footwork, but the young big man has to be considered one of the top post prospects in Ohio in his class. Plays with passion, can be a vocal leader, and was far and away the best player on the floor. Makes his presence felt defensively with his strength, and ability to contest shots. Finished with a game-high 23 points on this night.
2022 PG Brady Ronnebaum (Marion Local) – smart and skilled lead guard, who does a nice job of managing the floor for his team. Picks his spots to score it, but makes sure to get teammates involved. Capable of pushing the pace in transition, he also does a sound job of being solid with the basketball and valuing possessions. Competes, plays quick, but not in a hurry. Brings activity to the defensive side of the floor. Key piece to their success thus far.
Others who stood out: Seth Heitkamp (St. Henry), Bennett Gels (St. Henry), Tate Hess (Marion Local).
In the second game of the night, Lima Perry matched up with Spencerville in a game that promised to bring intensity to the floor, and that it did. Spencerville would take an advantage early in this one with shot-making, and energy, but Perry would make their runs to get themselves back in this one when it counted. Just as Perry would get close in the final quarter, Spencerville would come right back led by stellar play from their standout junior backcourt, ultimately sealing the game, and advancing 50-43, to face Marion Local in the District Final. Here is who stood out:
2023 G Dylan Smith (Spencerville) – he may not look the part, but Smith can really go, and had his fingerprints all over this game. He is an extension of his coach on offense, understanding what they want to do, and making good decisions. Has a good handle, capable of beating pressure off the dribble. Smith is quick, and doesn’t require much space to get to the rim where he does the bulk of his damage. High energy, steady, and trusts his teammates. Made big plays as needed, finishing with 20 points in the win on this night. Doesn’t do anything to ‘wow’ you, but there is no denying he can play.
2023 G Josh Henline (Spencerville) – had a defender draped over him all night long, but managed to not let the frustration get to him, and still contributed in a major way. Pretty polished and skilled as a prospect, Henline does a lot of the little things to impact winning. Has a smooth demeanor, confident, and is a fun watch on the court. Really gets after it defensively, moves his feet, and puts pressure on the ball. Shoots it well from the outside with a nice looking shot, and doesn’t get deterred if it’s not his night offensively, as was the case tonight. Will be interesting to see what attention he can garner on the AAU circuit this spring and summer, but for now is a key reason his team continues to find success.
2022 G/F Ryan Yingst (Lima Perry) – brought fire and tenacity to the court for his team when they really struggled to find that, especially early on. Isn’t afraid to be physical, and doesn’t back down from opponents regardless of what end of the floor it’s on. Scored it well around the basket, and made his presence felt in transition. Signed to play baseball at Tiffin University in the future, but left it all on the floor in his final game on the basketball court.
Others who stood out: Terry Riley (Lima Perry), Bubby Knight (Lima Perry), Carter Sudhoff (Spencerville).