Grandview Heights Roundup: Boys basketball team turns page after lost title chance

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Grant Culbertson (bottom) and Grandview Heights are getting ready for a season that has been delayed by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Last winter, the pandemic ended the Bobcats' postseason run when they were one win from the Division IV state tournament.

Ray Corbett is adapting to the times in his 34th season leading the Grandview Heights boys basketball program.

Despite the limitations caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Corbett has continued practices and other workouts via the internet to make the most of a bad situation.

The Bobcats were under a two-week quarantine through Nov. 12 for positive tests and had about a week of in-person workouts before the school district suspended practices and games through Dec. 1. Contests are expected to resume Dec. 19.

“Technology has not passed me by,” said Corbett, whose team was scheduled to play at home Dec. 21 against KIPP Columbus. “During the quarantine, we got all of our players together virtually and ran a Zoom practice.

"Through their phones, we all would do push-ups, jump rope, work on ball-handling and practice some shots that we wanted to work on. We did as much as we could and it really felt like we got something done. When you’re desperate, you do desperate things.”

The team just wants to play games to ease the pain of a lost postseason. 

The Bobcats routed Glouster Trimble 62-32 in a Division IV regional semifinal at Ohio University, but the season was paused March 12 because of the pandemic before Grandview could play Berlin Hiland in a regional final. The postseason was ultimately canceled March 26.

The Bobcats won their final game, but lost all of the potential memories of what might have been had they reached the state tournament. Corbett tried to ease that disappointment with a celebratory cookout in July to give that team a sense of closure.

“I gave them plaques and T-shirts that said ‘Co-Division IV state champions,’ ” Corbett said. “I don’t know if we would have beaten Berlin Hiland or whomever, but I know we won our last game and not many teams can say that.”

Grandview graduated two 1,000-point scorers and two all-state players in guard Brian Collier and forward Luke Lachey. 

Collier, a Concord recruit, averaged 21.3 points, 3.2 assists and 2.2 steals and shot 68-for-156 from 3-point range (43.6 percent) in being named first-team all-state and district Player of the Year. 

Lachey, who plays football at Iowa, was third-team all-state and first-team all-district after averaging 16.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals.

The Bobcats won their final 11 games to finish 22-5 overall and placed third (8-4) in the MSL-Ohio Division behind co-champions Whitehall and Worthington Christian (9-3).

Junior guard Aiden Leslie started the majority of last season and senior forwards Adam Bechtel and Grant Culbertson (6-foot-7) came off the bench. They are the most experienced players on this team.

“I think our team chemistry is really good,” Bechtel said. “We had just a few in-person practices, but we all are pretty close. All of the guys on the team either are football guys, soccer guys or baseball guys.”

Sophomores Ian Gecse (6-4, forward) and Tre Holliman (guard) dressed for the postseason a year ago. The roster also includes junior forwards Tommy Ernst and Keegan Kearney, sophomore guards Danny Claypool, Will DeVere, Chris Kowalcyk and Tristin Pierce and sophomore forwards Colin Cleary and Ian Roediger (6-4).

“We’re young, but in some respects that isn’t bad,” Corbett said. “We graduated some tremendous talent. Something like 85 percent of our offense graduated, but I like the kids we have and their work ethic.

“We’ve thrown a lot of things at them, and they’ve done a great job. They’ve given us a good effort, both mentally and physically.”

MSL commissioner Jim Hayes announced a tentative MSL-Ohio schedule Nov. 24. Teams will play one round of league competition, with the Bobcats scheduled to start Jan. 9 at home against Columbus Academy, and then will be seeded for a league tournament Feb. 5-12.

“It’s about the best you can do in the situation we’re going to be in,” Corbett said. “If we can get some league games in and whatever we can get on the side, that’s great.

“If you catch fire at the right time, it can be good for a team. I think the kids will like it because there’s a different level of excitement in tournaments. I’m actually a fan of it.”

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen

BOYS BASKETBALL

Coach: Ray Corbett, 34th season

Top players: Adam Bechtel, Grant Culbertson and Aiden Leslie

Key losses: Brian Collier, Darreion Davis, Glenn Cribbs, Charlie James, Luke Lachey and Lance Trares

Last season: 22-5 overall

2019-20 MSL-Ohio standings: Whitehall and Worthington Christian (both 9-3), Grandview (8-4), Buckeye Valley and Wellington (both 6-6), Columbus Academy (4-8), Bexley (0-12)

2020 postseason: Defeated Danville 72-32; def. Fairfield Christian 59-19; def. Shekinah Christian 53-32; def. Fisher Catholic 51-30; def. Glouster Trimble 62-32 in Division IV regional semifinal