It was Martin Luther King's dream that made the holiday. But on Monday, it
will be David Lighty's dream that takes center stage in Columbus.
The Martin Luther King Day Challenge brings two of the state's top teams together to collide on Monday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. at OSU's Value City Arena. Lighty's Cleveland Villa Angela – St. Joseph Vikings (8-2) will square off against the Dayton Dunbar Wolverines (10-2).
Not only will it match a pair of future Buckeyes against one another, but it will also see a couple of squads looking for dreams of state championships to come to fruition later this season.
"It will be a pretty good game and a big game for both of us," Lighty said of the upcoming challenge.
Dunbar has yet to lose to any Ohio team this season. Their two losses have been yielded to national power Indianapolis Lawrence North, behind all-world center Greg Oden, and also Memphis Ridgeway at the Beach Ball Classic on December 26 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Meanwhile, VASJ's losses have come to Akron St. Vincent St. Mary and perennial national powerhouse Bronx St. Raymond at the Stop-DWI Tournament in Binghamton, NY the week after Christmas.
Next year's guard mate will be this game's arch nemesis for Lighty. Daequan Cook (6-5 SR) is mister everything for the Wolverines, averaging 23.4 points and nearly 10 rebounds a game. Cook committed to the Buckeyes in March of this past year, and helped to convince Lighty to join the fray a little over a month and a half later.
"I guess it's something I would like to be able to brag about later," Lighty kidded of a possible victory over Cook.
Although Lighty's task will be to hold his future teammate in check, the Vikings will have a bigger task both literally and figuratively speaking in stopping Dunbar's 6-8, 280-pound forward/center, Aaron Pogue.
"I really, really like the Pogue kid for them and he's going to be a load for us," Wojciechowski explained. "We're going to have to send some people in when he touches the ball and we want to limit his opportunities and keep him off the boards."
Pogue is averaging 14.2 points and 10 rebounds a game this season. Dunbar has also seen some significant contributions from 6-8, sophomore Josh Benson as well as 6-5, senior Mark Anderson – who is adding another 13.6 points a game.
The backcourt, in addition to Cook, is also a concern for the Vikings. Senior 5-10 guard Antoine Sain averages 8.8 points a game, but can score in bunches.
"He's got very good shooting ability and he's crafty with the basketball," Wojciechowksi said of Sain. "He's got the ability to put it on the floor and get to the basket."
Lighty (21 points, 10 rebounds) is not a one-man show for the Vikings, either. They have a tremendous compliment to Lighty with 6-5 senior wing Darryl Rushton.
Rushton averaged 13.1 points a game last season and is scoring over 16 a game this year. The Vikings have also seen a recent emergence by senior point guard, Erich Leden, which has allowed Lighty to shift back to the two-guard after playing some point earlier in the season.
VASJ also will get contributions from sophomore Ashen Ward and seniors Jimmy McLeod and Maurice Haynes.
The game on Monday isn't all Villa Angela – St. Joseph has to be excited about over their extended weekend.
On Sunday, the team, who will already be in Columbus, will check out Lighty's Buckeyes against Michigan State in a big battle of Big Ten contenders. After the game, CBS color commentator and VASJ graduate Clark Kellogg will treat the team to dinner.
"It's a big weekend with the Ohio State game and going out to dinner with Mr. Kellogg," Lighty said. "We want to be prepared and come out and play hard and show him that the Vikings still know how to play basketball."
The Vikings wouldn't want Kellogg's alma mater to disappoint him.
"Of course not," Lighty affirmed.
Kellogg will most likely be attending Monday's showdown. He might not be the most high profile guy in attendance, however.
There's a good chance that Buckeye head coach Thad Matta will take advantage of the opportunity to see two of his future players in action.
He shared his thoughts on the game.
"It's a great high school game," Matta said, "and I really think it's a great thing for them."
It wasn't that long ago that Matta had a dream of his own after arriving at Ohio State. That dream culminated with the Thad Five – the coined nickname for his 2006 recruiting class that includes Lighty and Cook.
On Monday, both Lighty and Cook have aspirations of their own they hope to fulfill.
MLK Day Challenge Info
Here is the schedule for Monday's events:
* 3 p.m. -- Cleveland Villa Angela/St. Joseph vs. Dayton Dunbar - Junior Varsity
* 4:30 p.m. -- Cleveland Villa Angela/St. Joseph vs. Dayton Dunbar - Varsity
* 6:15 p.m. -- Canal Winchester World Harvest Prep vs Summit Station Licking Heights - Varsity (Harvest Prep features OSU sophomore verbal B.J. Mullens).
Tickets are $7 (plus service charges) and on sale now at the Schottenstein Center Box Office and Kroger Ticketmaster Centers. Charge at 614-431-3600 or print your tickets today with ticketfast at ticketmaster.com. All seats are general admission.