Garfield Heights boys hoops set for third state tourney appearance

Garfield Heights boys hoops set for third state tourney appearance

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Garfield Heights boys hoops set for third state tourney appearance

Bulldogs in search of first state title

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Bulldogs in search of first state title

2014-15 Garfield Heights boys basketball team celebrates regional championship / Photo courtesy athletic director Dale Krzynowek

2014-15 Garfield Heights boys basketball team celebrates regional championship / Photo courtesy athletic director Dale Krzynowek

The Garfield Heights High School boys basketball team is set to appear in the state tournament for the third time in program history.

The Bulldogs (24-3) will play Westerville South (26-1) in Friday’s first Division I state semifinal contest at the Jerome Schottenstein Center on the campus of Ohio State University.

Garfield Heights is coached by Sonny Johnson. The 1998 Associated Press Ohio Mr. Basketball award winner also guided the Bulldogs to the 2011 state tournament.

Garfield Heights clinched its state tournament berth by defeating Shaker Heights 61-53 on March 21 to win the Cleveland regional tournament.

Junior Willie Jackson, an AP second-team all-state honoree, averaged more than 18 points per game during the regular season. Fellow junior Frankie Hughes, who averaged 17 points per contest, earned third-team Northeast Lakes all-district recognition.

“You win with character kids,” Johnson told WKYC earlier this week. “I really like this team and they’ve gotten better toward the end of the year.”

Jackson believes playing tenacious defense – and giving it your all while doing so – will be the key to having success in Columbus.

“If you go down there and play with defense and heart, you can get it,” the all-state selection said.

Tipoff for the state semifinal is set for 5:15 p.m.

WATCH: Take an inside look at a recent Garfield Heights’ practice

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