For the West Holmes Knights boys basketball team, a near-miss in the Ohio Cardinal Conference turned into a post-season celebration.
On Monday, Feb. 24, days after the OCC regular season had put the wraps on an exciting run, the Knights found out that they had been awarded the league title.
During a meeting on Sunday Feb. 23 among OCC officials, and the schools involved, it was declared that the West Holmes boys basketball team was given the outright Ohio Cardinal Conference Championship for the 2013-14 season.
It was announced at the meeting that an ineligible player was used by Mansfield Senior during the Feb. 14 game with West Holmes, and subsequently with several other teams late in the year.
That pivotal game against West Holmes was won by Senior 61-53, and guaranteed the Tygers the share of the conference title. Senior later sealed the conference championship with their final OCC win, a two point victory over Clear Fork. While the ineligible player did not play against Clear Fork in the Tygers win, he was involved with several other games, most importantly the West Holmes confrontation.
This change in events gives West Holmes their first boys basketball OCC title since when the conference was formed.
If West Holmes wanted to continue the turnaround which began with Jim Lindeman five years ago, it appears to have paid off, with all of the hard work and belief in first-year Coach Keith Troyer ultimately pays off the the Knights program.
“I feel badly for the Senior kids, but at the same time I know how hard these kids have worked here, and how much they have invested,” said Troyer of his Knights.
“They put themselves in position to earn this by winning the games they needed to win. I am excited for our kids, because they deserve this. They worked hard and did things the right way.”
Since West Holmes was awarded the Feb. 14 win it gives the Knights a 12-2 record in the conference and improves their overall mark to 18-4. The Knights lost to Wooster and Mansfield Senior earlier in the year as their lone OCC defeats. The Tygers record falls to 11-3 with losses to West Holmes (awarded), Orrville and Lexington.
All schools were contacted to verify their OCC records on Saturday night, Feb. 22 and then on Sunday the OCC selection meeting for boys and girls basketball was held.
After the selections, the coaches met to discuss matters amongst themselves. This is when news of the ineligible player was announced and discussed.
While Troyer and his Knights are reveling in the news of a title, he said they have to put that aside and turn their attention to bigger things now.
“We are excited to have the title, but this doesn’t change anything in terms of where we want to go,” said Troyer of the State tournament. “We have to stay focused on what we have in front of us, and the games at hand.”