Making the choice where to place your team is one of the most interesting parts of the Central District drawings, and Liberty coach Greg Nossaman’s decision might have been the best of the day.
The Patriots were Delaware County’s highest seed in the draw, held Sunday at Liberty High School, and Nossaman’s pick could set them up for a district championship.
Liberty (18-1), seeded third overall in Division I, passed on putting themselves in the bottom bracket at Jonathan Alder, instead choosing to take a first-round bye in the middle bracket at Reynoldsburg High School along with No. 2-seeded Walnut Ridge.
“We thought if Northland was going to go in one bracket and Walnut Ridge in another, we thought if we went in the other, then Pickerington Central, Westerville South and Westerville North follow,” Nossaman said. “After our choice, a lot of those teams from No. 4 to No. 8 went to the bottom bracket, and everything seemed to work out to our advantage.”
With the other top 10 seeds except for No. 7 Upper Arlington avoiding that middle bracket, Liberty could very well see Walnut Ridge in the District Championship, but will wait until 6 p.m. on Friday, March 2 for their opener against wither No. 22-seeded Dublin Scioto or No. 25-seeded New Albany.
The winner there will likely face No. 11-seeded Gahanna in the district semifinals, with the likely result a Liberty-Walnut Ridge matchup in the final, if the seeding holds.
“We want to get to a district final, and if Walnut Ridge is there, we’ve already scrimmaged them,” Nossaman said. “They’re a good team, they’re well-coached. They’re tall and so are we, so I think we compare with them very favorably. I like where we’re sitting right now.”
Orange (14-5) was next highest in Division I, earning the No. 9 seed. Pioneer coach John Betz put his team in the upper bracket with No. 1 seed Northland, but will open the tournament at 7:45 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23 against Canal Winchester at Marysville High School, with the winner facing No. 15 seed Reynoldsburg at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 1.
Olentangy (10-9) and Hayes (10-9) were seeded 20th and 21st, respectively. Braves coach Chris Kelly chose the bottom bracket with No. 4 seed Pickerington Central, and Hayes coach Jordan Blackburn, after passing a few times, decided on an opening round game with Olentangy at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 at Jonathan Alder, with the winner likely facing No. 6 seed Newark in the second round.
In Division II, Buckeye Valley (13-6) was selected the No. 8 seed, while Big Walnut (9-9) was seeded 11th overall. Barons coach Donovan Barrett passed his opening chance at a selection, but later took a spot in the bottom bracket with No. 1 seed Jonathan Alder, and will face No. 14 seed DeSales at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22 at Heath High School, with the winner facing No. 5 seed Licking Heights in the sectional final.
Big Walnut also received a favorable first game in the tournament, as Golden Eagles coach Eric Myers took the top bracket with No. 2 seed Brookhaven, and will take on No. 16-seeded Granville at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22 at Dublin Scioto High School. The winner there likely will face No. 4 seed Watterson.
Delaware Christian (12-6) was the county’s top seed in Division IV, earning the No. 9 position. Eagles coach Matt Moore chose the very top of the top bracket with No. 2 seed Newark Catholic, and will take on No. 10-seeded Gahanna Christian at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 at Granville High School in a sectional championship game.
Village Academy (5-13), seeded No. 17 overall, had very little to choose from, but coach Bruce Campbell decided to go into the same bracket as Delaware Christian and take a first-round bye before a likely matchup with the No. 2-seeded Green Wave at 2:45 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, also at Granville. Newark Catholic opens the tournament against No. 18 seed Madison Christian two days earlier.
Africentric was the top seed in Division IV, while Bloom-Carroll was voted the No. 1 seed in Division III. It was also announced only district championship games will be held at Fairgrounds Coliseum in Columbus due to cost, breaking a tradition dating back before this reporter’s memory. Instead, all district semifinals will be played at sectional sites.