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.
The Wilmington Hurricane will begin the post Jarron Cumberland era when they step on the Patriot Center floor in Hillsboro to face New Albany in a 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2 nightcap of the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic.
Cumberland, the Hurricane’s all-time leading scorer with 2,383 points, is now playing for Mick Cronin at the University of Cincinnati.
Over the past two years, Wilmington has been one of the most dominant teams in Ohio as the Cane has posted a 51-4 record during that stretch including last season’s run to the Final Four in Columbus. And, Wilmington has not tasted defeat in South Central Ohio League play, posting a 28-0 record over the past two campaigns.
Many teams may be intimidated by those gaudy numbers. But, the New Albany Eagles haven’t been too shabby themselves over the past two years, posting back-to-back 21-4 seasons while ringing up a 25-3 record in the Ohio Capital Conference.
Both teams have sent stars to the college ranks in recent years. Aside from the aforementioned Jarron Cumberland, his cousin, Jaevin Cumberland, Wilmington’s second all-time scorer with 1,846 career points, moved on to Oakland University after graduating in 2015. New Albany’s Jon Miller is now playing at Army, while Austin Schaub is at D-2 Tiffin and Bryson London is at Quincy.
The two teams have one other thing in common; both are 2-0 in the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic. Wilmington owns victories over Lexington Catholic and Cleveland Heights while New Albany has beaten Lakota East and Dayton Northmont, so something has to give in this matchup.
Wilmington Coach Mike Noszka has four returning lettermen that he will count on heavily. Junior guard Dylan Beaugard has started for two years and this past summer he was a member of a national championship AAU squad. While he has mostly been a defender and facilitator on offense, he has the capability to score and he is on the radar of Division I college coaches. Fellow junior Austin Mansfield got valuable minutes last season and he brings scoring punch and athleticism to the table. Chris Wolary, a 6-7 senior, saw extensive action a year ago and his perimeter shooting can stretch defenses. Junior Matt Smith came on strong at the end of last season.
Noszka mentioned that several younger players have worked hard since last season and could see minutes. Included are senior Alex Wright, juniors Curtis Gauche and Layne Griffin, sophomores Mason McIntosh and Jake Vaughn, and freshman Brady Evans, the starting quarterback for the Hurricane football team.
New Albany Coach Sam Davis has won 491 games overall in a 30-plus year coaching career that includes stints at Bishop Watterson (girls), Bishop Hartley and Gahanna before coming to New Albany. As he tries to get to that 500-win club he will look to returning point guard Jalin Jackson, who is “a coach on the floor,” according to Davis. Tommy McDonald, a 6-4 forward, was a part-time starter last season and will be counted on heavily this year. Jordan Nash, a 6-2 senior, is an outstanding shooter.
Both these teams have veteran coaches who know how to win. It is a given that both teams will bring high energy and intensity, especially on the defensive end. Both teams have several new pieces to fit into the puzzle. Whichever team is quicker to figure out how those pieces fit is likely to come out on top in this game.
Bennie Carroll is the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic director and a teacher and girls varsity basketball coach at Blanchester High School.