March Madness kicks into high gear today and the NCAA tournament games will keep area basketball fans like myself glued to our television sets for game after game this weekend.
As much as I love the tournament games I would just as soon be hopping in the car and heading off to another local high school basketball game as it seems impossible that the local prep season is finished for another nine months.
For the past three months area hoops fans were treated to some outstanding basketball from both the girls and boys prep teams and while each one of their seasons came to disappointing endings by being eliminated in their respective tournament games, it is worth recalling some of the most memorable moments in the 2013-2014 season.
Let's start with the girls teams as we saw some expected favorites once again live up to expectations while a few others came out of nowhere to have successful seasons of their own.
Warren got off to a slow start before coming on very strong at the end of the season to finish with a 10-11 record and no win was bigger for the Amy Colgrove-led Lady Warriors than a Victoria Buzzard buzzer- beater that gave them a 48-47 win over the Marietta Lady Tigers back on Feb. 6.
While that loss was a disappointing one for the Lady Tigers, the season was anything but as MHS posted a very respectable 15-7 record.
With the loss of All-Ohio standout Erica Dawson to graduation and the resignation of head coach Scott Cozzens, many thought it would be a down year for the orange and black.
That was not to be the case however as Mark Hannuksela returned for his second tour of duty as Tiger head coach and actually led Marietta to a better record than it posted the year before (14-10).
The Lady Tigers will return a solid nucleus next season and should only improve as all five starters from this year's team will return in 2014-2015.
In Beverly, Fort Frye graduated four girls from its final four team of 2012-2013 leaving Brooke Borich as the only returning starter.
Head coach Dan Liedtke may have done one of the best coaching jobs of his storied career as he guided the Lady Cadets to an outstanding 20-5 mark.
Borich was simply brilliant for most of the season as she earned all-PVC and all-district honors as well as honorable mention all-state.
Winning sectional titles has become something of a given for head coach Jerry Close and his Waterford girls and the Wildcats took care of business once again by defeating conference-rival Southern for the title.
The Lady Wildcats kept things going by knocking off top-seeded Peebles in overtime (48-45) and then besting South Webster (44-42) to claim the district championship before being eliminated by the future state champion Eastern Eagles in the regionals.
While many expected the Lady Cadets and the Lady 'Cats to thrive in the post season, few had the Frontier Lady Cougars going anywhere this season with a roster that consisted of just two seniors, five underclassmen and no junior varsity squad.
Three months later the Scott Murphy-led Cougars finished the season with an outstanding 18-5 record, including a thrilling win over previously undefeated Bridgeport (46-44) to claim their first ever Ohio Valley Athletic Conference title and a sectional tournament, overtime win over Malvern (69-61) Along the way senior Kelsey Daugherty broke the all-time Lady Cougar single game scoring mark by putting up 46 points against Tyler Consolidated.
While Daugherty was breaking records for the Frontier girls, Drew Schneider was doing the same for the Cougar boys as he became the all-time leader in three-pointers at Frontier with 71 and the team set a single season mark with 213 triples.
The Marietta Tigers opened the Mark Duckworth era with a 10-13 mark but showed vast improvement as the season went on as they gave state ranked teams like Zanesville and Athens all they wanted in the season's final weeks.
Waterford, Caldwell and Monroe Central all put together solid seasons on the hardwood.
The Tom Simms-led Wildcats finished the season with a 14-8 mark and claimed a share of the Tri Valley Conference Hocking Division title with Southern while Monroe Central finished at 15-8 despite losing senior Curtis Nixon to a season ending knee injury early in the season.
First-team All-Ohio selection Jonathan Wiechman led the Caldwell Redskins to a 16-8 mark including a tournament victory over River.
Wiechman averaged 21.8 points per game and finished the season with 1362 points, good enough to pass Brett Riddle as the Redskins all-time scoring leader.
To say the 2013-2014 was a successful one for second-year Fort Frye head coach Eric Henniger and his team would be a major understatement as the Cadets went 21-4 on the season, capturing PVC, OVAC, and sectional tournament championships along the way. Seth Legraen was honored with third team, All-Ohio honors while teammate Chandler Lang garnered honorable mention.
Last but not least are the Warren Warriors (21-4) who once again stormed through the season behind the terrific trio of Evan French, Reece Patton, and Michael Hall before being eliminated in the district championship game by top-seeded Logan Elm 61-45 at the Convo.
French, who is arguably the best pure scorer to come out of the mid-Ohio Valley in sometime, once again earned Division II, first team, All-Ohio honors by averaging 22 point a game and leading the Blane Maddox led Warriors to a phenomenal 47-6 record over the past two years.
While Hall will return for his senior season next year and the royal blue and white will no doubt continue to be competitive, the Warrior nation certainly miss the fire power of French and the unselfish, overall play of Patton.
So good luck in the future to all the upcoming graduates and we will all look forward to that opening tip-off in December to begin yet another great basketball season.
Mike Morrison is a part time sports writer for The Marietta Times.