By: Zach Fleer / @YS614
On Wednesday night, two of the 16 teams remaining in the state of Ohio will meet on the Ohio Expo Center Coliseum floor for a vital regional semifinal matchup. Northland, the No. 1 team in Division I comes into Wednesday’s game, winners of 26 straight, including a hard-fought victory over Olentangy Liberty, 52-48 on Saturday. At 17-9, Canton Timken enters the Coliseum as huge underdogs, but peaking at the right time.
Different paths lead to one destination: Each team enters Wednesday’s game undefeated in tournament play. However, there is a major difference in the way that they have both gotten here. Northland has won each tournament game by an average of 32 points per game, including a 54-point win over Central Crossing in round two.
Timken, on the other hand, has won three tournament games by a combined ten points. In Timken’s district final victory over Barberton, the Trojans only scored 38 points, but still found a way to win. For a team as dominant as Northland, who has won 17 of 26 games by double-digits, it will be interesting to see if they are focused on Timken, or looking ahead to a possible matchup against the winner of Pickerington Central/Gahanna Lincoln.
Common opponent: There is one common opponent between Northland and Timken. Timken opened up their 2012-’13 campaign with a 69-53 loss vs. Pickerington Central. Exactly one week later, Northland took down the defending state champions in a 58-42 home victory.
- Canton Timken: March 5 at North Canton Hoover. In a non-league matchup, Timken topped Hoover, the Alliance district champions, 56-51.
- Just one day later, Timken topped the No. 1 seed in the Canton district, Massillon Jackson, 54-49. With the victory, Timken advanced to the district final.
- Northland: Dec. 1 vs. Toledo Rogers. In the first game of Northland’s season, the Vikings topped Toledo Rogers, 71-69 in the Clark Kellogg Classic. Rogers won the Toledo district championship in a 60-39 rout over Toledo Central Catholic this past weekend.
- Dec. 8 vs. Pickerington Central. As mentioned above, Northland took down the Columbus 1 district champion Pickerington Central, even when Central had star forward Taco Charlton. Charlton was an early enrollee at the University of Michigan for this upcoming football season.
- Jan. 5 at Cleveland St. Ignatius. Northland topped the No. 1 seed in the Solon district 62-54 on the road to open up 2013. St. Ignatius was defeated by Shaker Heights in a district final matchup this past Saturday.
- In City-League action, Northland topped Division II power Brookhaven twice, by a combined four points.
- In non-league tournament action, Northland topped quality opponents, Wilmington (Jan. 19, 64-57), and Mansfield Senior (Jan. 26, 59-52).
My Prediction: Northland wins, 70-54. Although Timken has had a magical run, I haven’t seen another team this season that is capable of topping the Vikings. Northland will use their size and athleticism to advance to an intriguing regional final that will have Columbus buzzing. Even if Timken can slow down Northland’s pace, and turn this into a defensive game, the Vikings have shown a supreme level of resiliency that warrants the top ranking in the state of Ohio.