When Bear Davis helped create the Ohio Machine High School Showcase, his main objective was to provide additional exposure for the sport he loves.

The Machine played host to the event for the first time March 17 at Fortress Obetz, as the area boys lacrosse season kicked off with five games featuring state-ranked teams from last year.

Davis, a 1992 graduate of Hilliard High School who is preparing for his sixth season as coach of the Machine, loved how the event gave the teams a chance to begin the season in a professional setting.

"We're trying to keep doing more and more each year," Davis said. "We're excited about this opportunity to help get the season kicked off right and bring in all these great teams and showcase all the talent that we have in this sport here in Ohio. ... It's been pretty cool to bring in six of the top (15) teams from last year."

It's no secret that lacrosse is a growing sport in Ohio. Davis said that when he first began playing at the prep level, there were 12 programs in the state. There are now 152 boys teams competing at the Division I and II levels.

"I grew up in Ohio (and) I played high school lacrosse," said Davis, who guided the Machine to its first Major League Lacrosse title last season. "Actually, (Hudson coach) Dave Blue and I played against each other. For us back then with 12 teams in the state, we had almost as many teams here today as we had when we first started playing."

Davis said he will join the Davidson girls team as a volunteer assistant coach this season as his daughter, Sadie, is a freshman defender. The Machine, which defeated the Denver Outlaws 17-12 in last year's championship game, begins the season April 29 at home against the New York Lizards.

For first-year Olentangy coach Dominique Alexander, the showcase event had special meaning. He's also a midfielder for the Machine and played a role in the title run last season.

Alexander, who served as an assistant coach at Olentangy the past two seasons, guided the Braves to a 14-6 win over Davidson in the fourth game of the event.

"It's awesome to get people down here," said Alexander, who also has served as an assistant at Dublin Scioto and New Albany. "You have 10 teams coming down and fans. To see what they've built down here is pretty awesome and to get local teams involved, it's going to help grow the game and get more people down to (Machine) games."

Olentangy Liberty began the event by defeating Toledo St. Francis 9-2 after trailing 2-1 at halftime. St. Francis lost to Cincinnati Mariemont 9-4 in the Division II state title game last season, while the Patriots lost to Cleveland St. Ignatius 5-3 in a Division I state semifinal.

Liberty coach Jason Godwin was pleased with his team's effort and happy the Patriots could compete in the event.

"I loved this," he said. "I love the area. The venue is fantastic. This is great. It was motivation for our players. We had an opponent that we lost to last year (10-9) as well, so that was a good thing for us, too. They feel good being a part of this as one of the top teams in the area and state."

Davidson coach Adam Beasley, who played for Davis at the middle school level in Hilliard, was impressed with the Machine's effort in hosting the event.

"It's great for our kids," Beasley said. "We're on a national broadcast (on Lax Sports Network). It's an opportunity for us to get on a big stage. For people to see it all over the country, it will be amazing for our kids."

In other games, DeSales lost to Cincinnati St. Xavier 15-4, Hudson defeated Mason 11-6 and Pickerington Central capped the event by defeating Hilliard Bradley 12-8.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank