A pesky pack of Bulldogs from Green High School are headed to Cleveland to meet Mentor in a Division I regional semifinal boys basketball game on Wednesday night.
Green (21-4) is making its first regional tournament appearance after beating Jackson 65-45 on Saturday to win its first district championship in program history.
Senior Kaleb Martin led Green past two-time defending district champion Jackson (19-6) with 35 points in front of 2,360 fans at the Canton Memorial Civic Center.
“It was an outstanding night,” Green coach Mark Kinsley told the Akron Beacon Journal on Monday. “I’m just so happy for our players that have worked so hard over the years putting that time in. It was nice to see them rewarded for that. We also had a number of former players that were at the game, and they came down onto the floor afterwards and got to experience the win with us. They were truly happy for our players.”
Kinsley, a 1984 Green High School graduate, is in his 21st season as the Bulldogs coach. He played on Green’s varsity boys basketball team and lettered in 1983 and 1984.
“This means the world,” Martin told the Canton Repository on Saturday after beating Jackson. “I just wanted to do this for coach Kinsley. I love my dogs. It’s the first one in Green High School history, so it’s a big one.”
Kinsley, 53, shared the victory with his players, coaches and family members, including his parents, Harold, 81, and Ruth, 77.
Green will meet Mentor, the 2013 Division I state champs, at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday in a regional semifinal at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center.
Mentor (23-2) defeated Lyndhurst Brush 77-73 on Saturday at Euclid to win its eighth Division I district title in the past 12 seasons under coach Bob Krizancic. Junior Luke Floriea, a 5-10 guard, led the Cardinals with 30 points.
Martin, a 5-foot-9 guard, made 14-of-16 free-throw attempts, including all 14 in the second half on Saturday.
“Kaleb displayed his leadership out there,” Kinsley said Monday. “Not only did he get himself involved, he also got Garrison Keeslar some really good looks and he got a couple of assists on Alex Casper baskets too.”
Keeslar, a 6-4 junior guard, made 11-of-12 free-throw attempts, including all eight in the fourth quarter, and finished with 23 points. Casper, a 6-5 junior, scored seven points.
The Bulldogs also received quality minutes on Saturday from 5-9 junior Ryan Smith, 6-3 junior Donovan O’Neil, 5-10 junior Shea Simmer and 5-11 freshman Trey Martin.
Green and Jackson split their regular-season games, with the Polar Bears winning the Federal League title in the process. Jackson also won the past two Canton district crowns.
Green outscored Jackson 27-7 in the second quarter on Saturday to lead 35-16 at halftime. The Bulldogs maintained the double-digit lead in the second half with Martin and Keeslar leading the charge.
“Give Green a lot of credit,” Jackson coach Tim Debevec told the Canton Repository on Saturday. “They pushed us out of our offense. It was more about what Green did to us. They did a nice job of dictating tempo and being physical with us.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org.