For the first time since the 2010-11 season, the Carrollton Warriors are conference champions in boys basketball.
With a victory over the Minerva Lions Friday night, Carrollton clinched a share of the Eastern Buckeye Conference (EBC) title and are co-champions after Alliance defeated Marlington by two points.
The last time Carrollton won a title was the 2010-11 season, when now-head coach Mike Aukerman was an assistant in his first season.
“It’s kind of come full circle in 13 years, you know, I came here to Carrollton. Not really knowing much about Carrollton,” said Aukerman. “I fell in love with this community. I fell in love with with the way the kids work here. I took some time off to have kids and start a family. But I always have had the bug for to get back into it.”
Carrollton led 12-8 after the first quarter of action, thanks to the scoring efforts of Jaxon Rinkes and Cadyn Smith, both of which scored 6 points in the quarter.
The Warriors nailed four three-pointers in the second quarter to increase their lead, thanks in part to Smith, Rinkes, Lincoln Mallarnee and Cayden Rininger.
Carrollton led 26-16 at halftime.
The teams went back and forth in the third quarter, both scoring 12 points to take a 38-28 game into the final quarter of regulation.
Rinkes scored six points in the third quarter and didn’t slow down in the fourth as the Warriors cruised to victory. He finished with 19 points.
Carrollton’s Cadyn Smith scored 13, Mallarnee added 12 and Brock Smith scored six points.
With Carrollton’s 22-point win over Minerva, they extend their win streak to 16 games.
“This team is state ranked. We’re on a 16-game win streak. A great team and if we can close this out, we’re going to be remembered just like the 2011 team is,” Aukerman added.
As for the 16-game winning streak, standout player Rinkes said it’s cool, but they’re not going to get wrapped up in it.
“Sixteen wins certainly gets your mood high, but our coaches tell us ride the highs but don’t ride them too high because when things go down then it really goes down,” Rinkes said. “So we’re just trying to keep it mellow and keep our emotions under control.”
He went on to add that the league title has been the Warriors’ goal since last summer.
“We’ve been working for it,” Rinkes said. “We look at the banner every day and say we need one more up there.”
Rinkes also said he expected success this year, but didn’t see the winning streak in his vision.
“I knew we were going to be successful but this is a little over what I thought it was gonna be but I’m not complaining,” Rinkes noted. “I love it. I love every minute of it.”