Lake, Jackson and Canton South each earn top seeds for the upcoming boys basketball sectional-district tournaments in Stark County
A top seed guarantees Canton South nothing when the state’s high school boys basketball tournaments tip off. A loaded Division II sectional-district at Memorial Field House awaits the Wildcats in two weeks.
But Sunday — when the Wildcats were one of three Stark County teams voted a No. 1 seed at the Field House for their respective tournaments — it gave Frank Spotleson another chance to reflect on the remarkable turnaround his players are enjoying.
“These kids have worked so hard for this,” he said. “They’ve never had a seed before. They’ve had a whole season of never hads. They never had won this many games before. They never had won the league before. There’s a lot of things these kids have done this season.”
Lake and Jackson, both in Division I, joined South in being voted a No. 1 seed Sunday. Lake plays at Alliance High School, Jackson heads to the Civic Center.
All three know challenging journeys await them if they hope to cut down the nets as district champs March 9 and move on to the state’s sweet 16.
“This tournament is very difficult,” Spotleson said of the Division II field where 10 of the 12 teams have won at least nine games.
Included in that mix is defending district champion Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, the No. 3 seed. The Fighting Irish are a so-so 9-9, but they’ve played an outstanding schedule and feature lots of talent. No. 2 Hoban owns a win over SV-SM. No. 4 Norton is 16-3. Marlington, Alliance, Springfield and Tuslaw each have 12 or 13 wins.
South is 18-2 and guaranteed at least a share of the NBC title. The Wildcats had won 13 games total the previous three years.
“It’s a credit to our kids that they got themselves in this spot,” said Spotleson, in his first year at South. “They were deserving.”
Spotleson came to South after being a top assistant at Lake under Tom McBride. His son, Mitchell Spotleson, remains one of Lake’s top players and has helped the Blue Streaks to their own memorable first — their first-ever Federal League title.
“It seems like every year we looked to get a little higher up on the board,” McBride said. “To get this, it’s a tribute to the kids. It’s their hard work. They’ve bought into our program since the seventh grade to make this happen.”
No. 2 Green and No. 3 Hoover, which each own wins over Lake, also were in the mix for the top spot. Defending district champ Warren Harding is No. 4.
“We’re very honored to get the No. 1 seed from the coaches,” McBride said.
Lake sealed the top seed by winning a double-overtime thriller over Jackson to win the league. Jackson took solace in getting its No. 1 seed ahead of No. 2 Perry, No. 3 Barberton and No. 4 Timken.
Page 2 of 2 - “We’re still disappointed about the league, but we’ve got to move on,” Jackson head coach Tim Debevec said. “And this is the way we move on. This is our next goal. We’ve got a chance to bounce back.”
For the complete brackets with dates and times for all three tournaments, pick up a copy of Monday’s Repository.
Canton Division I seeds, all games at the Civic Center
Alliance Division I seeds, all games at Alliance High School
4, Warren Harding
5, Youngstown East
8, Austintown Fitch
9, Warren Howland
12, Kent Roosevelt
Canton Division II seeds, all games at Memorial Field House
1, Canton South
3, St. Vincent-St. Mary