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Not off the Press: Ready to travel the tournament road; wrap-up regular season

This is one of the biggest weeks in recent memory not only for the girls basketball teams with the start of their postseason tournament, but for the Hillsboro boys team as well.

The Hillsboro Indians boys basketball team won Friday night and the Miami Trace Panthers lost Saturday night, so that gives the Tribe a chance to win a part of the South Central Ohio League title for the first time in 22 years (I think). The way the Indians can win a piece of the SCOL title … defeat London Friday night at Hillsboro High School.

This week also has a lot of important girls basketball on the schedule with the tournament starting.

So, let's get started.

A big game this Friday at Hillsboro High School
I'm betting this will be a big … BIG … topic amongst high school basketball fans this week. Like I said earlier, if Hillsboro wins, they are co-champions of the SCOL. LHS is a quality team, but the Indians did defeat the Red Raiders earlier this year 65-55 at LHS. In that first meeting, Hillsboro had three players score in double figures, plus outscored the Red Raiders in all four quarters.

I have enjoyed watching the Indians play this season. Sometimes I don't know which HHS team will show up, but that is expected because as the season goes, teams get better, and in the SCOL everyone has seen each other play once already. It can be said this SCOL season has been the craziest one I have covered.

Either way, Hillsboro High School is the place to be this Friday. I think the place should be a SELL OUT for this team. It has been since the 1988-89 season (again, correct me if I am wrong) since they have won an SCOL title. Think of it as a way of not only seeing a good basketball team when you attend, but as a way to support Hillsboro High School. I know the league went away for a decade, but fans need to come and support this team in their final home game of the year, with a chance for an SCOL championship on the line. I think that would be a great way to send the team to the postseason.

2010-11 Boys Basketball Tournament Games
Here are the games with Highland County teams:

Division II
Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011
at Southeastern H.S., 8 p.m.
No. 3 Hillsboro Indians (11-7) vs. No. 6 McClain Tigers (8-10)

Division III
Monday, Feb. 21, 2011
at Waverly High School, 7 p.m.
No. 8 Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs (7-12) vs. No. 9 North Adams Green Devils (5-12)

Division IV
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
at Valley High School (Lucasville), 6:15 p.m.
No. 5 Fairfield Lions (8-9) vs. No. 4 Portsmouth Clay (11-8)

Division IV
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
at Valley High School (Lucasville), 8 p.m.
No. 6 Whiteoak Wildcats (7-11) vs. No. 3 Franklin Furnace Green (13-5)

Rivalry games in the tournament
I can't wait for the Indians-Tigers tournament game on Feb. 22 at Southeastern High School. I know sometimes its' not good for two SCOL teams to play each other in the tournament, but the games these two teams have had the past few years have been fun to watch.

The scores this season for HHS-MHS games have been 49-43 and 46-36, both HHS wins. In fact, HHS has won the past seven meetings between the two teams. Both teams have been playing differently since their last meeting, and this game could be an even better contest with the winner sending their county rival home.

I'll go into way more detail later in the week on this upcoming game.

This week the girls tournament starts
Highland County has three teams playing in postseason games Monday. Hillsboro is playing Waverly at Adena, Fairfield is playing Green at Northwest High School and Whiteoak is playing Western Latham, also at Northwest High School.

Here is a preview of those three games, plus the McClain and Lynchburg-Clay girls games later this week:

Here are a few final thoughts before the girls tournament begins:

- The Lady Indians are entering their game Monday following a win against London on Saturday. Let's hope HHS can get their second consecutive win of the year.

- Whiteoak must take care of the basketball. They have the capability to score points with the talent they have on their team. Coach Mike Cooper said his team is showing progress and his team has been working hard.

- Fairfield has played a tough schedule this season, so they are well prepared for the tourney.

- McClain has turned things around since losing to Eastern Brown with just one other loss since that Jan. 10 game. The other loss was to Unioto. In the same span, MHS has defeated Washington (twice), Clinton-Massie, Madison-Plains, London, Miami Trace (their lone loss of the season), Hillsboro and Eastern Beaver.

– LC has been up-and-down like most teams. They enter the tourney with a win over the Washington Lady Blue Lions, so that is a quality win against a Division II opponent.

Good Luck to all five teams this tournament

Ten quick thoughts on high school sports
1) Since the tournaments are starting, that means I better fill up the gas tank on my car.

2) Had fun at the SCOL wrestling meet in Greenfield Saturday morning. Wasn't able to stay for the entire meet, but there were some quality student-athletes wrestling.

3) Not exactly pertaining to sports, but I purchased an egg biscuit at MHS during the wrestling meet … I think that should be a normal item on the menu because I like breakfast food at all times of the day. Though it was like 10 a.m. when I had it at the meet ... but still, brinner (breakfast at dinnertime) is a great meal.

4) Has anyone watched the Fairfield Lions boys team lately? Watch out for them in the tournament.

5) The McClain Tigers boys team has won five straight games. Two regular season games remain. They started 0-7 this season, now are 8-10.

6) If the MHS girls win their game and MT wins their game, both this Wednesday, then what a game we would have that Saturday for the sectional title, with a trip to Athens on the line.

7) One of my favorite places to go during the tournament is Southeastern High School. I like their gym.

8) Something about tournament time lets me know baseball is around the corner.

9) Highland County has 14 games involving teams this week, possibly 17 (maybe more) depending on game outcomes on Monday and Wednesday. I better make sure the coffee maker works.

10) Congrats to all the seniors this year in all the sports.

Thoughts on sports not involving high school sports
1) As a NASCAR fan, I can't wait for the 2011 Daytona 500, but it is a bittersweet day as this coming weekend is the 10-year anniversary of the death of Dale Earnhardt during the 2001 Daytona 500. Still a sad day for me and many, many Earnhardt fans.

2) If I was an Ohio State men's basketball fan, I'd be glad I don't have to worry about being undefeated once the tournament starts.

3) Hockey fights between goalies are pointless.

4) Bill Simmons is such a great writer. I am getting ready to read the paperback version of his 700-plus page book on basketball. I read it last year when it was released in hardcover, but he's changed some things, plus it is worth reading again.

5) I really miss the NFL, but I have NASCAR and baseball to help out.

6) Opening Day in Cincinnati is on Thursday, March 31 … Spring Training starts Wednesday for pitchers and catchers … everyone, spring is almost here.

7) What has happened to the New York Yankees' pitching staff? I almost feel sorry for them. I don't think it is up to their standards right now. Remember, I said ALMOST sorry for them.

8) Speaking of books and baseball, Does anyone have a favorite baseball book? I love reading about baseball and need to find something different.

9) I think LeBron James should get strong consideration for the NBA MVP.

10) Watch out for the Xavier Musketeers. Hard to believe Danté Jackson is a senior. I remember covering his signing day when he was a senior in high school.

Bonus thought (not on sports):
I was happy to see Arcade Fire win the Grammy for Album of the Year. They have some really good music. Give them a chance. My favorite song they have is "Wake Up."

Unique Stat of the Week: The Hillsboro Lady Indians won their fourth game of the season, a feat not accomplished since at least the 2006-07 season.

Quote of the Week: "Zach (Matracia) has progressively gotten better each year. He's our emotional leader, our toughness leader, our defensive leader, he's our scorer. Without him, we don't have a team. One man doesn't make a team, but one man like him sure helps a team." — McClain boys basketball head coach Brent Eaton talking about Zach Matracia following the Tigers' win over Miami Trace.

Quote of the Week … again: "It has been a frustrating year, if you look at just wins and losses. We have continued to improve as the season has progressed. As a team, we feel we have a great opportunity to do something we have been working all year for." — Whiteoak girls basketball head coach Mike Cooper's thoughts on his team as they enter tournament play.

Third (and final) Quote of the Week: "Our non-league schedule has been brutal playing Division II and III schools all year long. We only play three Division IV schools all year, and even though we have taken our thumpings, this year I think this will help us as we hopefully advance in the tournament. The big key to our team is to not turn the ball over, and we have cut back on the turnovers these last few games." — Fairfield girls basketball head coach Matt Hodson's thoughts on his team before tournament play begins.

A quick observation
I enjoyed the intensity of the SCOL wrestling meet from not only the fans, but wrestlers and coaches. The image that lasts with me is how one wrestler dropped to his knees in defeat when he lost a match that went into extra time. I got to give props to all the wrestlers who were involved in the event, great job.

One last item of business
I really do want opinions from readers and sports fans. It is fun to see what others think about the local sports scene. Let me know what you are looking forward to the most with the tournament about to start. Feel free to comment, or email your opinions on the high school sports scene. I'll add them to the column if you would like.

Thanks for reading.

Stephen Forsha is the sports editor of The Highland County Press. He can be reached at Follow Stephen on Twitter @[[In-content Ad]]

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