COLUMBUS – Behind four starters scoring in double digits, Worthington Christian defeated Bedford St. Peter Chanel 66-58 in the Division IV state semifinals at Ohio State’s Jerome Schottenstein Center in front of 11,020 fans to advance to Saturday’s state championship game.
Guards Tyler Joseph, Zack Joseph and Bobby Condon netted 17, 14 and 13 points, respectively, and forward Brian Hecker added 15 as the Warriors shot 44 percent from the field on 20-of-45 attempts.
“I am just really happy for our school community,” WC head coach Brian Weakly said. “We felt there some really important factors coming into this game. It was a tremendous effort from our guys and I was really proud of that.”
No. 3 ranked Worthington Christian (26-1) was down 6-2 early in the game but went on an 11-0 run as Chanel suffered a 3:42 scoring drought in the first quarter. The Warriors run was sparked by a Taylor Joseph three-pointer and Worthington Christian sunk threes on its next two possessions to give them some early momentum.
The Warriors shot 39 percent from downtown on 9-of-23 shooting.
Worthington Christian carried a 19-13 lead into the second quarter and defensively Chanel put on the full court pressure.
“That’s how we play,” Chanel head coach Bernie Tarr said. “We try to wear teams down and throw a variety of presses at them and hopefully it will wear their legs down.
“I don’t know how many (three-pointers) they made in the first half but it seemed like those shots started to come up short and they started to miss a couple of free throws. That maybe gave us a chance to get back in the game and try to pull it out.”
“We knew they were going to take a lot of risks defensively,” said Tyler Joseph, who was 5-of-13 from three-point land. “And if we could just settle down and be patient with the ball, which we didn’t do an amazing job at, but we knew if we could cash in on those times where we have an open guy down the floor then that would be really beneficial to our team.”
Chanel (17-9) got within one point midway through the second frame but was outscored 15-12 in the quarter with Worthington Christian leading 34-25 at the break.
The first half ended on a Hecker 45-foot bucket as the horn sounded giving the Warriors the nine point lead.
“I have no idea how that went in,” the Division IV player of the year joked. “I honestly didn’t even see it go in. I was fading away and I thought it had no chance.”
Said Weakly, “Brian’s shot was a big momentum changer for us coming into the half.”
Both teams netted 17 points in the third period with Worthington Christian leading 51-42 going in to the final quarter.
Chanel pulled within four points early in the fourth quarter and scored 16 points in the final period but Worthington Christian went 11-of-14 from the free throw line to stretch the lead.
The Warriors shot 59 percent from the charity stripe sinking 17-of-29 attempts.
Forward Lamar McKnight led Chanel with 21 points and eight rebounds and forward Arthur Jordan tallied a double-double with 13 points and 13 boards.
McKnight was double-teamed most of the night standing in at 6-foot-5 and the tallest player in the game.
“When they double-downed it kind of surprised me because they were more physical than the film showed,” McKnight said. “It just took some time to adjust.”
Worthington Christian out-rebounded Chanel 39-34.
“I thought we did a great job rebounding the ball defensively,” Weakley said. “For us to come in here and out-rebound them by five – I thought that was a tremendous effort by our guys.”
Worthington Christian will face the winner of the New Knoxville-Haviland Wayne Trace on the other side of the bracket Saturday, March 15 at 2:00 p.m. for the Division IV state championship.
“I don’t think we will be able to exhale until Saturday night,” Weakly said.
In their fourth trip to the state tournament, the Warriors are in the hunt their second state title having hoisted the championship trophy in 1999.