If variety is the spice of life, the 2007 Scholastic Play-by-Play Classic has enough spice to go around.
On Saturday, Columbus will play host to the fifth annual classic at the Schottenstein Center and nearby St. John Arena. Passes for the event, which begins at 3 PM, will cost $14 for the entire day and include entry and re-entry.
This year's Play-by-Play Classic features a total of seven games in the two venues. The 2007 lineup is as follows:
ST. JOHN ARENA
3:00 – Lancaster (6-3) vs. Canal Winchester (5-4)
5:00 – Harmony Prep (n/a) vs. Harvest Prep (5-1)
7:00 – DeSales (5-3) vs. Grove City (6-1)
3:45 – Wayne Trace (7-1) vs. Van Wert (7-0)
5:30 – Solon (5-2) vs. Canton GlenOak (4-2)
7:15 – Upper Sandusky (6-1) vs. Greenfield McClain (9-0)
9:00 – Chillicothe (5-2) vs. Toledo Libbey (5-0)
This year's classic is headlined by a total of five future Ohio State basketball players in the 2007 and 2008 classes. It also includes one Xavier basketball commitment, two sons of former Ohio State legend Clark Kellogg and a rematch of two Northwest Ohio state championship contenders.
Saturday kicks off with the Golden Gales of Lancaster playing the Canal Winchester Indians, led by head coach Kent Riggs.
Lancaster relies heavily on 6-6 forward Brett McKnight. The senior, who averaged 10.7 points a game last year in helping the Golden Gales get to the Division I Final Four, is leading Lancaster in scoring this season at nearly 20 points a game.
McKnight and point guard Jordan Lucas are the two returning starters from last year's team that lost just two games. McKnight will join his brother Chris next season at the University of Akron.
The task of stopping, or at least containing McKnight will be assigned to Canal Winchester's newest player – 7-1 junior B.J. Mullens.
The Ohio State commitment, Mullens, transferred to Canal Winchester this past spring after basketball season from Harvest Prep – who will play Harmony Community School at 5 PM. Mullens is averaging 23.6 points and nearly 12 rebounds a game this season.
Mullens and Riggs' Indians are extremely young, featuring several freshmen and sophomores. Canal Winchester is also high on 6-3 sophomore forward/center Aaron Barber, who has been effective playing alongside Mullens this season averaging over 10 points a game. Canal Winchester also relies on junior guard Blake Erwin.
Although Harvest Prep is without Mullens this season, their cupboard isn't entirely bare. Harvest is led in scoring by 5-8 junior guard Remon Nelson, an explosive scorer capable of tossing up 20 points on any given night.
Also of note for Harvest Prep: 6-5 forward Marquis Mathis, averaging over 15 points and eight rebounds a game this season.
Grove City is having a surprising 6-1 season thus far despite the loss of 6-7 Seth Price. Filling in admirably for price has been 6-6 forward Michael Agunga, who is averaging about 11 points a game and nearly eight rebounds.
The Greyhounds have been very balanced this season by Agunga, Ryan Cosgray and also point guard Nate Helton.
They Greyhounds will need all the help they can get Saturday against the De Sales Stallions. Columbus DeSales has as talented a starting five as Grove City might see all season.
Alex Kellogg (a 6-7 senior) and his younger brother Nick, a 6-2 freshman, are sons of former Ohio State star and current CBS National Basketball Analyst, Clark Kellogg. Kellogg and 6-4 senior Elijah Allen lead the Stallions in scoring, both averaging double-figures.
DeSales has a ton of offensive firepower with Kellogg, Allen and returning point guard Dane Johnson. The Stallions also have a 7-0 junior center, Sean Hobbs, giving them a good combination of size and quickness.
The afternoon's first contest in Value City Arena features a rematch of a season-opening battle between the Van Wert Cougars and Wayne Trace Raiders. On Dec. 2, in the first game for both teams, Van Wert used a 16-2 second quarter to win a 53-36 slugfest behind 16 points and 10 rebounds from 6-5 junior Chris Morrow.
Through seven games this season, Morrow is averaging 21 points. The Raiders are hoping to avenge their only loss of the season with a steady performance from Dane Treece (11 points a game) and Riley Linder (9.0 points a game).
In addition to Morrow, Jared Meyers is averaging 12 points a game for the Cougars.
Both Lauderdale (15.6 points and 11.2 rebounds a game) and Koufos (24.0 points and 17.5 rebounds a game) will play for Ohio State beginning next season. It's the second time the two have gone up against one another, with the first coming at the Ohio State Team Camp this past summer.
Solon also depends on 6-7 sophomore forward Reggie Keely, who is averaging in double-figures for the Comets.
Upper Sandusky is hoping to win their second Division II State Championship in three years. Although Saturday's game will have no impact on their quest for a state title, standing in the Rams' way is the McClain Tigers led by senior Dante Jackson.
Jackson, a 6-5 guard, will be playing his college basketball for Xavier next season. Jackson averaged 28.7 points a game last season, and this year, has averaged over 20 points a game for the 9-0 Tigers.
Meanwhile, scoring is Jon Diebler's specialty.
The 6-5 senior will join Lauderdale and Koufos next season at Ohio State. Diebler is on pace to beat Jay Burson's record as the all-time leading scorer in the state of Ohio. So far as a senior, Diebler is averaging 41.9 points, 15.0 rebounds, eight assists and over five steals a game. This coming off a junior year where Diebler accounted for 34.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 5.0 steals a game.
With 2,399 points, Diebler remains just 559 points shy of Burson's record of 2,958 points. If Diebler averaged 43 points over the remaining 13 regular season games, he would break the record. Getting to the district finals, Diebler would need to average just 33 points a game to break the record.
On the season, the Rams are averaging 95.9 points a game. In addition to Diebler's 42 points per contest, the Rams also get 19 a game from sophomore Alex Falk and 11 a game from Drew McClellan.
In the last game of the evening, the Toledo Libbey Cowboys play the Chillicothe Cavaliers. Libbey is led in scoring by 6-5 junior William Buford – an Ohio State verbal commitment.
Buford is averaging 23.4 points a game as well as grabbing 12 rebounds a game. Meanwhile, 5-9 junior point guard Anthony Hitchens, averaging 20 points a game, leads Chillicothe along with 6-6 post Ray Chambers.