Neither the Wilmington Hurricane nor the East Clinton Astros have ever tasted defeat in the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic in three previous outings.
In fact, of the 10 teams who have participated in the event more than once, they are the only two undefeated squads.
In 2014 Wilmington defeated Lexington Catholic 79-52 while East Clinton outlasted Blanchester in a thrilling 79-71 double overtime game.
In 2015 Jarron Cumberland broke his own OVHC scoring mark as he poured in 37 points to lead the ‘Cane over Cleveland Heights 82-69, while East Clinton beat Paint Valley 61-51 in Tony Berlin’s head coaching debut.
And, last season both teams had to go to overtime to secure a victory with Wilmington downing New Albany 49-41, and East Clinton topping Fayetteville-Perry 73-71.
Both teams face stiff challenges in keeping their perfect records intact when they take to the Patriot Center floor on the campus of Southern State Community College for this year’s Ohio Valley Hoops Classic Presented by R+L Carriers Hometown Showcase.
Wilmington will face Campbell County, Ky. 7:30 p.m. Friday while East Clinton squares off with neighborhood rival Leesburg-Fairfield 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
Campbell County was 30-5 a year ago and the Camels have been used to winning as they advanced to Kentucky’s Sweet 16 in 2014 and 2015. The Camels return three starters from last season’s club – guards Tanner Clos and Joel Day, and 6-4 forward Reid Jolly. Campbell County will be making its second appearance in the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic. They defeated Chillicothe 55-45 in 2014.
If Wilmington is to get its fourth straight victory in the OVHC, it will have to do it for the first time without senior guard Dylan Beaugard who suffered an injury during football season and is out indefinitely.
Wilmington will rely heavily on seniors Jeffrey Mansfield, Matt Smith and Layne Griffith. Newcomer Sam Jacobyanksy has fit in well, according to Hurricane mentor Mike Noszka. The Hurricane also will rely on their trademark hard-nosed pressure defense and motion offense to try and wear down opponents.
East Clinton will face a familiar foe in Fairfield. Last year the Lions took down EC in the opening game of the season on their way to a 17-7 season and a Southern Hills Athletic Conference small school division championship.
If the Astros are to keep their unbeaten OVHC record intact they will need big production from a pair of senior stars. Senior guard Wyatt Floyd went over the 1,000 point mark for his career in the last season’s final game. He averaged just over 20 points per game on his way to being named a first-team All-South Central Ohio League performer. Fellow senior J.T. McCarren also was a first-team All-SCOL pick a year ago. McCarren is an athletic 6-3 wing who averaged 17 points per game last season, and has worked hard to improve his game, according to head coach Tony Berlin.
First year coach Josh Howland is looking to three seniors to lead the way for this year’s Fairfield squad.
“Cody Gragg and Tucker Ayers were key contributors on last season’s team and both will need to do the same this season. Quinten Beatty is the third returning senior, and we will rely on his leadership,” said Howland.
Howland also is counting on a talented group of underclassmen to step into key roles.
Tickets for the Friday session of the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic are available at Wilmington High School while tickets for the early Saturday session are available at both East Clinton and Fairfield schools. Tickets also are available online at www.ohiovalleyhoopsclassic.com or at the gate.
Wilmington fans also will have a chance to see future opponent Princeton and star player Darius Bazley, the No. 9 player in the nation according to ESPN’s top 100.
The Vikings take on Xenia immediately after the Wilmington game Friday night.
EC and Fairfield fans coming early also will have an opportunity to see a high profile game as Hilliard Bradley takes on Cooper at 3 p.m. Saturday. Cooper was runner-up in Kentucky last season while Hilliard Bradley was 25-2 a year ago. Multiple Division I college prospects will be on display in that game