EOAC begins 5th year of basketball: A look back at boys’ conference history

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Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference EOAC basketball

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COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – The Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference will begin its fifth season of high school basketball.

Last year, the league saw an exciting finish to the season as Southern was crowned the league champion for the first time, outlasting quality opponents such as Valley Christian, Wellsville and Lisbon.

Who will take the crown this season?

Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference History
2020-21 Standings
Southern – 12-2 (14-6)
Valley Christian – 11-3 (15-5)
Wellsville – 10-3 (16-6)
Lisbon – 9-5 (14-9)
United – 7-7 (9-13)
Leetonia – 4-9 (8-12)
Columbiana – 2-12 (4-19)
East Palestine – 0-14 (0-17)

Southern finished the 2020-21 season impressively by winning seven of its last eight regular-season games to finish atop the EOAC standings with a 12-2 mark.

The Indians split their two-game series with Valley Christian – which finished second behind Southern – with an 11-3 league record.

Southern won its first meeting, 46-43, on January 5.

Brock Smalley led Southern’s offense with 14 points. The team then dropped its road trip to Youngstown, 53-45, in February.

Despite their league championship, Southern was seeded #9 in the tournament and fell to Mathews 57-56 in the opening round.

Valley Christian won its first two games of the playoffs (over Maplewood and Windham) before being eliminated in overtime on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by McDonald (57-56).

The Eagles and Wellsville were the only team to post a win in the playoffs. Both recorded a pair of wins as they made it to the District Semifinal round.

2019-20 Standings
Columbiana – 11-1 (19-5)
Southern – 9-3 (18-7)
Wellsville – 8-4 (12-11)
Lisbon – 7-5 (11-13)
East Palestine – 3-9 (3-20)
United – 3-9 (3-20)
Leetonia – 1-11 (3-20)

Columbiana’s lone loss in league play was on January 17 against Wellsville, 69-65. The Tigers’ point guard Darien Suggs sank 27 points and dished out five assists as Wellsville handed the Clippers their only loss.

From there on, the Clippers didn’t lose another game until their regular-season finale (on February 18) at home against West Branch (45-39).

Columbiana topped Mooney, 58-47, in the Salem Sectional Final before falling to Springfield (70-41) in the districts.

Southern became the first (and only) team in conference history to play in a District Championship game. The Indians finished their season with 18-wins, two of them came in the playoffs against Valley Christian (59-40) and Sebring (64-56) before being eliminated by McDonald (72-59).

2018-19 Standings
Toronto – 14-0 (21-3)
Wellsville – 8-6 (14-10)
Southern – 7-7 (15-9)
Columbiana – 7-7 (13-11)
United – 7-7 (12-12)
Lisbon – 7-7 (11-13)
East Palestine – 5-9 (8-15)
Leetonia – 1-13 (3-20)

Toronto cruised through the league slate by recording a perfect 14-0 mark and outscoring their divisional foes by an average of nearly 16 points. The Red Knights were ranked as high as #3 in the (Division IV) AP poll.

With all of the success that the Red Knights experienced, the #2 seed in the East District were eliminated by #6 Malvern (58-52) in the Sectional Championship.

The league was highly competitive among teams two through seven, as four finished tied at 7-7 in the middle of the pack.

Once again, all teams were eliminated in the sectional rounds including Toronto, however, all but two teams won one playoff game to close out the post-season with a 6-8 record.

2017-18 Standings
Toronto – 12-2 (16-8)
United – 11-3 (14-9)
Wellsville – 9-5 (16-8)
Lisbon – 8-6 (13-11)
East Palestine – 6-8 (10-13)
Southern – 5-9 (12-11)
Columbiana – 4-10 (7-17)
Leetonia – 1-13 (5-18)

In the league’s inaugural season, Toronto and United split each of their two matchups. The Golden Eagles took the first meeting on December 8, 57-54, behind Parker Hydrick’s 18 points. A little over a month later, Toronto topped United, 57-49.

The Red Knights were paced by Trillion West (15 points), Nate Karaffa (13) and Lucas Gulzynski (13).

United failed to keep pace with Toronto as they fell to Wellsville on January 26 (65-52).

The Red Knights took the league title by virtue of their 12-2 mark in league play.

All eight schools were bounced from the post-season in the sectionals. The EOAC, as a whole, recorded a 5-8 playoff record.

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