COLUMBUS (AP) — Winning a title is never easy. Staying on top might be just as, or even more, difficult as opponents mark their calendars in anticipation of possibly knocking off a defending champion.
The four defending boys basketball state champs are all in the top 10 in their respective divisions of the latest Associated Press state polls, and several of the final four participants are represented as well.
In Division I, Huber Heights Wayne (12-0) sits atop the poll with 13 of 21 first-place votes. State runner-up Westerville South (11-2) is sixth. Semifinalist Garfield Heights (12-2) is fourth in the voting.
Defiance (10-3) is seventh in Division II, while the school it beat in overtime for the title, Cleveland Central Catholic (8-3), is in the ninth spot. Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (12-1) is the top-rated team.
In Division III, Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph (9-3) is ranked third despite not having any returning starters from its title team. Lima Central Catholic, who lost in the final to the Vikings, is No. 1 with a (13-0) record and 18 first-place votes. Central Catholic beat the Vikings in the 2014 championship.
Dayton Chaminade-Julienne, a Division III semifinalist last season, moved up a classification and is No. 12 in Division II.
Last year’s Division IV champ, New Madison Tri-Village (13-1), checks in at No. 2 in the poll behind Van Wert Lincolnview (14-0).
BACK IN CHARGE: Villa Angela-St. Joseph boys coach Babe Kwasniak returned to the bench Friday after taking a leave of absence just prior to the start of the season in late November. His brother, assistant coach T.J. Kwasniak, ran the team while he was gone.
DONE WITH THAT: The Wellston Golden Rockets boys snapped a 27-game Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division losing streak with a 64-46 home win over Nelsonville-York on Friday night.
Their last TVC-Ohio win was 56-50 against visiting Albany Alexander on Feb. 8, 2013. The Rockets’ skid began in the regular season finale at rival McArthur Vinton County that year. They lost all 10 league games in 2013-14, all 12 in 2014-15 and the first four this season.
NOTABLES: Defiance Tinora’s Logan Bailey had a school-record 29 rebounds while scoring 29 points in a 66-46 win over Stryker on Friday. Earlier in the week, Bailey had 19 points and 23 rebounds in a 73-56 victory over Delta. Teammate Brevin Renollet tied a school record in that contest with eight three-pointers among his 37 points. . Mason Edgell set a school career record with his 172nd three-pointer during McConnelsville Morgan’s 87-52 win against West Lafayette Ridgewood. Edgell scored 24 points, including six threes, as the Raiders improved to 12-2 for their best start in more than a decade. . Dayton Northridge, No. 8 in boys Division III with a 13-1 record, has beaten Division I Riverside Stebbins, four D-II teams and New Madison Tri-Village. Its only loss is to Division II Dayton Meadowdale. Northridge returns three starters from last season’s 24-3 team.