The 88th annual OHSAA Boys Basketball State Tournament got underway
Thursday morning with Lima Central Catholic meeting Chesapeake in a
Division III state semifinal. LCC used a lengthy defense, timely scoring and key free-throw
shooting en route to a 59-48 triumph. The win sends the Thunderbirds to
their first state title game since 1994 (lost to Youngstown Ursuline).
COLUMBUS – The 88th annual OHSAA Boys Basketball State Tournament got underway Thursday morning with Lima Central Catholic meeting Chesapeake in a Division III state semifinal.
LCC used a lengthy defense, timely scoring and key free-throw shooting en route to a 59-48 triumph. The win sends the Thunderbirds to their first state title game since 1994 (lost to Youngstown Ursuline).
LCC jumped out to a quick 4-0 advantage before Chesapeake answered back with the next six points.
A pair of Desi Kirkman free-throws brought Lima CC within four points (15-11) by the end of the opening quarter. Kirkman finished with five points in the stanza.
6-foot-4 sophomore Austin McMaster led the Panthers with seven points in initial eight minutes.
Following a Nathan Copley triple, the Thunderbirds knotted the score at 18 on back-to-back buckets from junior Jon Steiger. The T-Birds would then take the lead on a Sam Stolly bucket, 20-18. Back-to-back baskets from junior Austin Stolly would give LCC a 24-18 advantage forcing Panthers head coach Ryan Davis to call a timeout.
With Kirkman leading the way in the second quarter, the T-Birds used a 12-0 run to take a 28-19 lead at the intermission. Kirkman played great defense, rebounded the basketball, blocked shots and drove the lane with ease sharing the sugar with open teammates.
LCC also turned up the defense in the second quarter making it impossible for the Panthers to get anything but a contested shot. Chesapeake shot just below 32 percent in the first half and 36.5 percent for the game. According to head coach Bob Seggerson, this was nothing new for his squad.
“Our defense carried us,” Seggerson said. “It wasn’t pretty, so we wanted to make it hard for them to score. You have to earn points against us. We see good players all year and our schedule certainly prepares us for this.”
Kirkman, Steiger and Austin Stolly all netted five first half points for LCC, while McMaster and Copley had seven and six respectively for the Panthers.
The teams traded buckets in the third quarter, but in the end it was Kirkman getting the best of the Panthers. The 5-foot-11 senior ended the stanza with a slick move to the basket and finished near the rim as he hung in the air until the defender passed by to give the T-Birds a commanding 42-31 lead. Kirkman scored eight points in the quarter, while conducting his own dribbling clinic.
“Desi has had a great tournament and has continually picked his game up as the postseason has gone on,” Seggerson said. “He is a three-year starter that knows when to go and when not to go.”
The ‘Peake got out of the gates quick in the final eight minutes with a 7-2 run sparked by a Peter Hintz bucket, followed by a Copley banker and then a triple from McMaster. Austin Stolly stopped the bleeding with a drive-in basket from the left wing.
Once the T-Birds secured the lead at 49-40, Seggerson called for four-out-one-in at the offensive end putting the game on ice and running the set to perfection despite a strong finish from the volume scorer (Copley). Couple the offensive execution with a near perfect performance at the charity-stripe in the fourth and the Panthers had nary a chance of any late game heroics.
“I didn’t think we attacked enough in the fourth quarter,” Seggerson said. “Maybe it was nerves or the pressure got to us a little bit. I thought our depth helped us down the stretch. We got two or three breakout buckets where they couldn’t get back. We just had too many weapons and were able to grind it out.”
According to Seggerson, the game almost never happened.
“When we were getting ready to leave to come over here this morning there was a skunk circling our van,” Seggerson joked. “I told the coaches this might be a bad omen.”
Though, the Thunderbirds eventually arrived at Value City Arena and advanced to Saturday morning’s title game (10:45 a.m.), Seggerson is hoping for a little more.
“We try to get to the rim and we were able to that today, but we also some good shooters,” Seggerson said. “I am still waiting for us to have a good shooting game and maybe it will be our last one. Regardless, we want to attack at both ends.”
The LCC boss had high praise for the opponent as well.
“Chesapeake had a great year, and should be proud of what they accomplished,” Seggerson said. “It is tough playing in your first state tournament and I thought they performed pretty well.”
Kirkman led LCC (22-4) with 22 points on 7-of-9 shooting including an 8-for-11 showing at the charity stripe. He added five rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks. Sophomore Ty O’Connor chipped in with eight points and 10 rebounds.
The T-Birds shot 50-percent from the floor.
Chesapeake (21-5) was led by Copley (16 points) and McMaster (15). Copley was just 6-of-22 from the floor.
LCC held a considerable edge on the boards, 39-20.