Editor’s note – This is a part of a continuing series of previews for the third annual Ohio Valley Hoops Classic Basketball Tournament that will be played Dec. 2-4 at the Southern State Patriot Center in Hillsboro. This story previews a game between McClain and Upper Arlington that will be played at 8:45 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3.
Many fans will be excited to see this game as Upper Arlington features Ohio State commit Dane Goodwin.
A 6-4 wing and the son of former Dayton standout and current Capital University coach Damon Goodwin, Dane Goodwin is currently the number 52 junior in the nation, according to ESPN. And the fans aren’t alone. McClain coach Jesse Mitchell and the Tigers are equally excited for the chance to play the Bears.
“We are a small Division II school. We don’t get a lot of chances to play Division I teams, so we jumped at this opportunity,” said Mitchell.
Upper Arlington graduated seven seniors from last year’s squad that finished the year 23-4 while winning the Ohio Capital Conference Central Division title and also capturing the Central District championship. In addition to Goodwin, the Bears have another highly regarded young prospect in 6-7 sophomore Max Martz, who is garnering attention from Division I colleges. Aside from those two, the Bears will look to seniors Andy Hummer, Justin Whitcomb and Jordan Bailey to provide leadership for this year’s team.
During coach Tim Casey’s 16-year tenure at his alma mater, the Bears are used to winning and winning often. Casey’s 239 wins is the most all-time at Upper Arlington. His teams have captured three Central District championships. The 2014 team was 27-2 and finished as state runners-up.
McClain enjoyed a similar run of their its under hall of fame coach Rick Van Matre, who retired after the 2009 season. Van Matre won 472 games in a 28-year career at Greenfield, including eight district championships, and was one game away from the Final Four on three occasions. Second year coach Mitchell hopes to bring the Tigers back to those glory years.
In Mitchell’s first year at the helm the Tigers finished with a 5-18 record. However, a young squad gained valuable experience. The top two scorers return for McClain in 5-9 senior Matt Barton and 6-5 senior Jacob Starkey, who was a first-team All-South Central Ohio League selection a year ago. Greenfield returns three other players who started at one point or another last season: 6-4 senior Owen O’Connor, 5-11 junior Brock Dean, and 6-3 junior Landree Gray. Jay Beatty, a 6-2 junior, and 6-3 freshman Dalton Mischal are two newcomers that could also see significant playing time.
Mitchell was pleased with the work his team put in this summer.
“We worked hard this summer and some of our younger players got some great experience against quality competition. We play Upper Arlington, Wilmington and Chillicothe early in the season, so it was good for them to get their feet wet,” he said.
On paper, Upper Arlington would appear to be a solid favorite in this game. Goodwin will obviously be the most talented player on the court, and Martz is likely the next best. But other than those two, Upper Arlington is very inexperienced, so playing them early in the season will be to McClain’s advantage. The Tigers have the size to battle Upper Arlington on the boards. If they can contain Goodwin reasonably well, and find some scoring of their own, the Tigers have a chance to pull the biggest upset of the entire event.
Interesting side note: Upper Arlington is the alma mater of Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus was actually an outstanding high school basketball player who was recruited to play college basketball. Nicklaus shares a nickname with the school – Golden Bears – but according to a school press release, that is purely coincidence.
Bennie Carroll is the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic director and a teacher and girls varsity basketball coach at Blanchester High School.