Perhaps the biggest discovery amid the survival of the Northland High School boys basketball team through the Division I regional was thecontinuing development of its backcourt.

Perhaps the biggest discovery amid the survival of the Northland High School boys basketball team through the Division I regional was thecontinuing development of its backcourt.

Sophomore Trey Burke has been a starter throughout the season at point guard after playing a complementary role a year ago, but freshmen Jordan Potts and Ke'Chaun Lewis have seen their playing time increase as the postseason has worn on.

That trio likely will be tested in a new manner beginning Friday.

After edging Grove City 70-64 on March 19 and Dublin Scioto 54-53 in overtime last Saturday in the regional in the Fairgrounds Coliseum, Northland will make its first appearance at the state tournament at 5:15 p.m. Friday at Ohio State in a semifinal against Warren Harding.

The winner plays for the championship at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Ohio State against Cincinnati Princeton or Toledo St. John's. Entering their game at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Princeton is 24-1 and St. John's is 20-5.

The Raiders, who were eighth in the final state poll behind No. 1 Northland, improved to 23-2 by forcing 20 turnovers in a 53-38 win over North Ridgeville in a regional final last Saturday.

Using man-to-man pressure defense is near the top of a list of reasons for Harding's success.


"Defensively we're going to get after it," Harding coach Steve Arnold said. "We're going to try to maintain the tempo with our defense. The reason we're here is pretty much because of our defense. We try to force turnovers and make it a transition game."

Despite the youth of his guards, Northland coach Satch Sullinger believes his backcourt -- which at times also has included senior Ricky Bennett -- is ready.

"Everybody that's a freshman has become a sophomore and everybody that's a sophomore becomes a junior," Sullinger said. "(Harding) is very athletic. They like to attack offensive and defensively, and we're going to have to make sure we're able to handle that pressure on both sides of the floor. We've got to make sure our guards are strong enough to run the offense."

Harding is making its second state appearance, but first since 1966. The Raiders are led by 6-foot-6 senior post player Desmar Jackson, a Wyoming signee who had 23 points, nine rebounds and six steals in the regional final. He averages 21.0 points. Other key players are 6-0 point guard Fred Williams (16.0 points) and Angel Gonzalez (15.0).

Against Grove City, Sullinger used a group of players to guard St. Louis-signee Jon Smith in the first half before putting post player and Ohio State-recruit Jared Sullinger on him in the second. The Vikings held Smith seven points under his scoring average.

Northlandcould use some combination of Jared Sullinger and senior forward Javon Cornley on Jackson as well.

"I watched that kid bring them back at the end of the game (in a 61-57 win over Lakewood St. Edward in a regional semifinal March 18)," coach Sullinger said. "I thought they were pretty good. We've got our hands full."

Princeton, which was second in the final state poll, features an Ohio State recruit in junior Jordan Siebert. Senior guard Orlando Williams, who was the team's leading scorer and has committed to Miami, and 6-7 senior Marquis Horn, who has committed to Ohio University, are other key players.

It will be Princeton's first state appearance since 1972.

"We're long and athletic, and this year we've got seven seniors so we've got a lot of experience," Princeton coach Josh Andrews said. "We were regional semifinalists last year and it got the guys hungry for this season. We can play any style that's needed."

St. John's is the program with the most state experience of the four, having made four appearances over the past seven years.

The Titans, who were state runners-up in 2004 and state semifinalists in 2003 and 2006, have won 15 in a row after opening 5-5.

All five starters from a year ago -- 6-7 senior post player Tim Simmons, senior forwards Tim Kynard and Michael Taylor, sophomore point guard Cheatum Norrils and junior guard Jay Springs -- are back.

Coach Ed Heintschel has more than 500 career victories.

"We're pretty much a man-to-man team and we'll try to create some shots off transition," Heintschel said. "Our expectations were pretty high coming into the season and the kids were pretty stunned by (our slow start), but we were able to go on a run since then of 15 in a row. We started to play more to our capabilities."