Even though he signed in December to play football at the University of Iowa, Luke Lachey wasn't about to give up his final season with the Grandview Heights boys basketball team.
The 6-foot-7 senior forward said it was important for him to play out the string with the Bobcats, who were 13-5 overall and 5-4 in the MSL-Ohio Division before playing Whitehall on Feb. 4.
Lachey has started all four seasons for Grandview and recently surpassed 1,000 career points. He was averaging 16.1 points and 8.6 rebounds through 16 games.
Although it's a path taken by some future college football players, Lachey said he "never thought of" graduating early and enrolling at Iowa this winter to prepare for spring football.
"I've played here (the past) three years and wanted to finish it out," he said. "Even though that would have been a great opportunity for me, I wanted to spend the rest of my senior year at Grandview and spend it with family and friends."
Coach Ray Corbett was happy to see Lachey come back for a final season, although Corbett initially wasn't sure if Lachey would be focused on the court.
"I asked Luke the other day if he was having fun, and he said he was," Corbett said. "I wasn't sure what I would get. I wasn't sure if he would be into playing. Some kids would say it's time to prepare for 'my real sport.' I think it's a testament to (his parents) Ann and Jim. It has been really impressive.
"We couldn't be more pleased than what we have gotten from him. As a coach you only go as far as your good players are going to take you, especially in crunch time. He and (senior guard) Brian (Corbett) have taken us there."
Not that football isn't on his agenda this winter. The Hawkeyes sent Lachey a workout regimen to help his transition to Division I college football from the Division VI high school game.
As a senior, Lachey was first-team all-state and all-district and the MSL-Ohio co-Back of the Year as Grandview went 7-5, losing to Mechanicsburg 48-7 in a Division VI, Region 24 semifinal. He filled in at running back and quarterback because of injuries but mostly played slotback and wide receiver/tight end, finishing with 57 catches for 720 yards and seven touchdowns and rushing for 337 yards and three scores on 43 carries. He also had five interceptions as a defensive back.
"I lift a few times a week for the workouts (the Hawkeyes) sent me," he said. "They put me on a program that's basically just lifting and in the spring I'll still be lifting and working on some football stuff along with track. I'll be busy."
As good as Lachey is in football, Corbett believes he also could have been a Division I college player in basketball. Already having an offer from Bowling Green, Corbett said more would have come had Lachey chosen to play college basketball.
"I always have told him that he was naturally more of a basketball player than a football player," said Corbett, who is in his 33rd season leading the Bobcats. "I still say this. I see the natural potential he has in basketball. I would wonder how good he could be if he would devote all of his time to (basketball).
"I know I'm being selfish, but I see him as one of the rare athletes that can be really special. He knows that 6-7 wing men are a dime a dozen (in basketball), but a 6-7 tight end with good hands is something to be had. There's something to be said for his logic. He's going to a great program that produces top-notch tight ends. This could be a meal ticket and a way to make a substantial paycheck."
Lachey said he has gone back and forth throughout his playing days on whether he prefers basketball or football, settling on the latter.
"I like football more but they are really close," he said. "I grew up liking basketball, but I started liking football more in high school.
"They help each other. The lifting that we do during football helps me with my jumping. Obviously that helps with football. The physical aspect of football made me a little more physical my freshman year and gave me the opportunity to play varsity (basketball)."
Lachey started on varsity from his opening game as a freshman and has continued to improve his skills. Last season, he averaged 18.0 points and was honorable mention all-state and second-team all-district in Division III and first-team all-league.
"I have become more physical inside and made my shot better," Lachey said. "I have just gotten a lot better at taking it to the hole and being more physical inside."
His graduation will mark the end of an era at Grandview. He is the last in a line of five Lachey kids who have graduated from the school and excelled in various fields of competition beginning in fall 2006 with Paige, a 2010 graduate. Following her were Emily (2012 graduate), Ali (2015), James (2018) and Luke.
"All of my siblings were good at sports, but I didn't let that get into my head," Luke said. "It inspired me to work harder. I went to all of my siblings' events and it made me want to be an athlete like they were. I kept on working hard for it."
At one of those games, a young Luke was running around shooting basketballs at halftime, the way youngsters will do. Afterward, he went over and sat in the stands next to his mother and his future basketball coach.
"I was there watching my daughter, Mary, play (an AAU game) with Paige at Central Crossing and Luke was running around shooting before he came over and sat with Ann and me in the stands," Corbett said. "The next thing I know, I'm talking with Ann and I look down and Luke was sleeping on my lap. I laughed and told Ann, 'This isn't part of the gig.' I keep telling Luke that no football coach ever let him sleep on his lap. He should remember that."
Berlin leads bowlers in MSL-Ohio tourney
Luke Berlin finished second for the boys bowling team in the MSL-Ohio tournament Feb. 1 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
The senior rolled a three-game series of 573 to finish behind medalist Tyler Roberts (597) of Bexley. Berlin had games of 202, 201 and 170.
The Bobcats made the roll-off in both the boys and girls tournaments. The boys finished second (3,437) in the preliminaries behind Whitehall (3,547) as Worthington Christian (3,292) and Buckeye Valley (3,145) also advanced.
Grandview lost to Worthington Christian 3-0 in a best-of-five Baker games semifinal, and the Warriors won the title by defeating Buckeye Valley 3-2.
Jack Greer (553) joined Berlin with first-team all-league honors, and Noah Dimmick (506) made the second team.
The girls finished third (2,662) in the preliminaries behind Worthington Christian (3,193) and Buckeye Valley (2,929) and ahead of Whitehall (2,633). The Bobcats lost to Buckeye Valley 3-0 in a semifinal, and the Barons defeated Whitehall 3-0 in the final.
Emily Bullock (446) and Paige DeNiro (427) were second-team all-league, and Madalyn Hollar (388) and Leila Meyer (359) were honorable mention.
Below are the coming schedules for the Grandview Heights boys basketball, girls basketball, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 8 -- At Bexley. The Bobcats defeated the Lions 54-33 on Jan. 7.
*Feb. 11 -- At Wellington. The Bobcats lost to the Jaguars 51-47 on Jan. 11.
*Feb. 7 -- At Columbus School for Girls. The Bobcats defeated the Unicorns 42-27 on Jan. 3.
Feb. 8 -- Home vs. Centerburg
Feb. 18 -- Home vs. 17th-seeded KIPP Columbus in first round of Division III district tournament. The Bobcats are seeded 16th.
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 8 -- Division II sectional at Upper Arlington. A total of 27 at-large qualifiers in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites advance to district Feb. 12 at Ohio State. There is no diving at sectional.
Feb. 12 -- At Columbus Academy with Caledonia River Valley and Morral Ridgedale