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Best of Monday Mailbag: March 30, 2020

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

With the 2019-2020 winter sports season in the books (not in the fashion we had hoped), this week’s Monday Mailbag features some of the best questions submitted by readers from December until earlier this month.

The Monday Mailbag will return to its normal format next week.

December 16, 2019

Q: I’m sure this isn’t a new topic — the aggressive defenses that seem to be dominating high school basketball. I think of the 19 Friday night scores shown on your website, only two losing teams got into the 50s. I was at a game where the score was 17-13 at the half!

I know it takes great athleticism and great coaching to shut teams down like this and maybe it’s not new, but it certainly makes for some ugly basketball. Your thoughts? Name withheld upon request

A: Personally, I think it’s a combination of things. A number of fine basketball senior players graduated after last season, taking a lot of points and experience with them. Van Wert and Crestview are two prime examples of that.

Now you have players who previously played limited varsity minutes on the court full time and are trying to adjust to a higher level of play, which takes time. Plus, you have to keep in mind that these players may not have much on-the-court time with each other – you’re meshing some varsity players with previous junior varsity or freshmen players – which again, takes some time to click.

Something else to keep in mind – in sports like basketball and football, defense tends to come around a little faster than offense. Generally, if you can hold a team under 50 points, you stand a decent chance of winning. Yes, the offense has to score points, but coaches tend to hang their collective hats on defense.

January 6, 2020

Q: I read your column about Ohio State and the Fiesta Bowl. I’m not sure what game you were watching, but the officials cost the Buckeyes the game. It was pretty obvious. You must be a Clemson fan. Name withheld upon request

A: I’m not a Clemson fan and obviously we see things differently.

The point of the feature was to show how the Buckeyes were their own worst enemy at times, which is true.

Yes, the officials missed some calls against Clemson. However, if you go back and watch, the same can be said for Ohio State. Yes, I think the replay official overreached with the targeting call. I still don’t like the fact that no flag was thrown, yet OSU was assessed a penalty and had a top level defender tossed from the game. As I said before, I still don’t agree with the overturned fumble and touchdown.

Ohio State had a chance to put the game away in the first half and didn’t do it. The Buckeyes had a chance to stop Clemson with three minutes left in the game but didn’t do it, and they had a chance to win after Clemson’s drive, but it didn’t happen.

February 3, 2020

Q: How do you see the seeding going at the Division IV boys’ basketball district at Elida? Name withheld upon request

A: Let me say – that’s one tough 13-team district.

In my opinion, Columbus Grove will be the top seed, with Ottoville getting the No. 2 seed. I’m thinking the No. 3 seed goes to Kalida, then things could get a little murky.

At this very moment, Crestview, Delphos St. John’s, Lincolnview, Miller City and Leipsic could probably make an argument for the No. 4 seed. Delphos St. John’s currently has the best record of the three (11-5), but the Blue Jays have lost five of their last six games. They beat Crestview but lost to Lincolnview, and they have two games before Sunday’s draw – vs. Van Wert on Tuesday and at Parkway on Friday.

Lincolnview (9-8) could make a strong case for the No. 4 seed with wins over Crestview and Coldwater this weekend. The same can be said for Crestview (9-9), winners of five straight. After Lincolnview on Friday, the Knights will host Wayne Trace on Saturday.

Miller City is 11-6 and Leipsic is 9-7, and in some form or fashion, the aforementioned five teams will likely be the No. 4 through No. 8 seeds. Out of that group, I wouldn’t want to play Crestview or Lincolnview right now.

After that, Ada, Continental, Fort Jennings, Pandora-Gilboa and Patrick Henry are the remaining teams. I’m guessing Patrick Henry and Fort Jennings, each with two wins currently, will be seeded No. 12 and 13.

Q: My question is why don’t high school basketball programs across the board have a shot clock? Guys playing at the next level will see one. Last night (Friday) a game had a final score of 24-12. Jason Ruder, Defiance

A: Let’s start by looking at the 24-12 game. It was No. 9 seed Russia against No. 1 seed Jackson Center. Russia had nothing to lose, so why not give it a try? It’s was strategy, plain and simple. No, it didn’t work, but again, what did they have to lose?

Why should a big underdog, a team that had struggled all season, be forced to put the ball up to beat a shot clock? How does that benefit anyone?

I saw some of the game video. It goes both ways here – why didn’t Jackson Center come out of their zone and defend – force Russia to move the ball?

It’s my opinion that this is a classic overreaction. More than 17,000 boys high school basketball games have been played in Ohio this season and one 24-12 score has shot clock supporters clamoring to change the rules.

By the way, only about three percent of high school basketball players go on to play at the collegiate level in any division. That means 97 percent won’t play at the next level. A small percentage might play in college intramural programs, city leagues, etc., where shot clocks aren’t in use.

If you have a question or comment for next week’s Monday Mailbag, simply email it to

POSTED: 03/30/20 at 3:40 am. FILED UNDER: Sports