Grandview Heights Roundup: Bobcats boys basketball team looks ahead after regional-semifinal loss

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Grandview Heights' Aiden Leslie (left), Tre Holliman and Danny Claypool celebrate a 57-40 win over Patriot Prep in a Division IV district final March 5. All three players are eligible to return to the Bobcats, who had only two seniors and lost to New Boston Glenwood 50-48 on March 9 in a regional semifinal.

During its tournament run a year ago in the Division IV postseason, the Grandview Heights boys basketball team turned in a dominating regional semifinal performance to put the Bobcats one victory away from their first trip to state since 1998. 

One year later, the Bobcats' season again ended in regional semifinal, but this time it was with a 50-48 loss to sixth-ranked New Boston Glenwood on March 9 at Chillicothe Southeastern to finish 9-10 overall.   

Last year, the Bobcats defeated 10th-ranked Glouster Trimble 62-32 in a regional semifinal at Ohio University. Two days later, the OHSAA announced that all remaining winter tournaments were postponed because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Two weeks after that, the remainder of the postseason was canceled. 

“I’m a big fan of the COVID, in case you want to put that in quotations,” coach Ray Corbett said with sarcasm. 

The fourth-seeded Bobcats had four coronavirus quarantines this season. The latest came after Grandview lost 61-46 to Buckeye Valley on Feb. 12 in the MSL-Ohio Division tournament.  

The players were not able to work out as a team until the day of Grandview’s tournament opener, a 59-27 win over 16th-seeded Fairfield Christian on Feb. 27 in the second round at home. 

The Bobcats' Grant Culbertson shoots over Patriot Prep's Eric Clemonts on March 5. Culbertson and Adam Bechtel were the only seniors on the team.

Even with the disruption, the Bobcats captured their third consecutive district title with a 57-40 victory over second-seeded host Patriot Prep on March 5. They won a Division III championship in 2019. 

“We were playing well before the last shutdown, and I never thought we’d get back to that level, but we did in the second half (of the district final),” said Corbett, who won his 500th career game against Patriot Prep. “We’ve been hit as hard as anyone in central Ohio, if not the state. 

“We were 1-8 in our own league and for them to persevere and stick with us is a big feather in their caps. They did a great job, and they bought into the fact that we play in a great league and play great teams in our league every Friday night. That doesn’t guarantee jack that we’d get anything done in the district like we did.” 

In the regional semifinal, the Bobcats trailed by 17 with 2 minutes, 19 seconds left in the third quarter, but pulled to within 46-45 with 3:01 to play on a Grant Culbertson putback. 

After junior guard Aiden Leslie’s 3-pointer made it 50-48 with 25.5 seconds to go, Glenwood’s Devon Jones missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 25 seconds left, but the Bobcats could not get off an open shot before time expired as the Tigers’ defense held its ground. 

"(The Glenwood starters) are all seniors,” Corbett said. “I thought our kids battled, but physically (the Tigers) were a lot more mature.” 

Grandview forced 22 turnovers, including 14 in the second half, while committing 10 of its own.

The Bobcats shot 16-for-51 from the field (31.4%), including 5-for-18 in the fourth quarter (27.8%), while Glenwood finished 18-for-37 from the field (48.6%). 

Culbertson, a senior forward, and Leslie both scored 12 points to lead Grandview. Sophomore forward Ian Gecse had nine points, and sophomore guard Tristen Pierce came off the bench to score eight. 

In the district final, Leslie scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half and shut down Eagles’ standout Darius Ogburn in the final two quarters, limiting the forward to seven points in the second half. Ogburn had 11 points in the first half as Patriot Prep scored 25 points. 

“I told coach (Corbett) when we were coming out of the locker room that I wanted to guard (Ogburn),” said Leslie, who was second-team in both the district and MSL-Ohio Division and averaged 12.5 points per contest. “He was going right and I noticed that he couldn’t dribble as well to his left. (Sophomore guard) Danny (Claypool) and (senior forward) Adam (Bechtel) played great and helped out on the defensive end.” 

Sophomore guard Tre Holliman scored 15 points in the district final, and Gecse added 12 points. 

Bechtel and Culbertson were the team's only seniors. 

“This was a class that didn’t win a lot coming up and a lot of the kids who were involved with the program walked away from it,” Corbett said. “Those two kids stuck with it, and I appreciated what they were able to give us. I think they had a great year because of it. I think they had a lot of fun, and that’s what it’s all about.” 

Starters expected back are Claypool (third-team all-district honorable mention all-league, 10.1 points per game), Gecse, Holliman and Leslie. Junior guard Keegan Kearney, sophomore guards Will DeVere and Tristin Pierce and sophomore forward Ian Roediger also played major roles. 

“We’re excited about our future,” Corbett said. “We knew we were young, and we’d be immature. We knew we were going to make a lot of mistakes. We kept getting better, and we were right there at the end.” 

shennen@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekHennen 

•Record: 9-10 overall 

•MSL-Ohio standings: Worthington Christian (8-0), Whitehall (6-3), Bexley and Buckeye Valley (5-4), Columbus Academy (3-5), Wellington (2-6), Grandview (1-8) 

•Seniors lost: Adam Bechtel and Grant Culbertson 

•Key returnees: Danny Claypool, Ian Gecse, Tre Holliman, Keegan Kearney, Aiden Leslie, Tristin Pierce and Ian Roediger 

•Postseason: Defeated Fairfield Christian 59-27; def. Millersport 55-35; def. Patriot Prep 57-40; lost to New Boston Glenwood 50-48 in Division IV regional semifinal