Perhaps no team or head coach has felt the agony of defeat at the boys
basketball state tournament more than Lima Central Catholic and it’s
head coach Bob Seggerson. Saturday, Seggerson and Co. finally got to
taste the thrill of victory.
COLUMBUS – Perhaps no team or head coach has felt the agony of defeat at the boys basketball state tournament more than Lima Central Catholic and it’s head coach Bob Seggerson. Saturday, Seggerson and Co. finally got to taste the thrill of victory.
After having its five previous trips to state – all under Seggerson – end in one or two point losses, the Thunderbirds broke through for their first state title with a 60-57 win over Orrville in the Division III state championship game before a crowd of 14,008 at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
At the postgame press conference, Seggerson announced his retirement.
Orrville didn’t go lightly.
“In those last two minutes, anyone who knows what we’ve been through in those five previous games knows that those were tough losses,” Seggerson said. “I’ll have to admit that the feeling those last two minutes was all too familiar. I’m sitting there going ‘Man, no way.’ But we collectively held our composure and we bent, but we didn’t break.”
LCC (23-4) had to overcome a sluggish start as Orrville (21-6) exploded out of the gate for a 7-2 lead. The T-Birds clawed back to make it 12-12 after one and led 26-20 at halftime.
LCC had to whether another storm to open the third quarter as Orrville scored eight of the first 10 points to tie it at 28-28. The T-Birds responded with their own 10-2 run to distant themselves. LCC was up 43-34 after three.
The fourth quarter got interesting.
The T-Birds led 48-34 with 6:37 to go, but Orrville cut the deficit to 56-55 with 59 seconds left. Four free throws – two each by Desi Kirkman and Ty O’Connor – in the final 55 nervous seconds preserved the win. Orrville still had a shot down three with the ball with 15.3 seconds left, but a last second 3-pointer slid off the rim.
Mayhem, tears and a collective sigh of relief ensued for LCC.
“I thought it was fitting that with 15 seconds left they had a chance to tie it with a 3 and we defended it,” Seggerson said. “He wasn’t getting that 3. That’s fitting, because that’s what we do. We play defense. No one was overly impressed with anything we did offensively in the eight quarters we were here. But we still battled and played great defense and that’s what this team does.”
Austin Stolly led LCC with 16 points, while Kirkman added 15. O’Connor chipped in 12.
Although it forced LCC into 19 turnovers, Orrville had 17 of its own and shot a dismal 3-of-18 from 3-point range. LCC was even worse (2-of-14) from distance, but it didn’t matter.
Joey Bescanson and Jacob Bolyard led the Red Riders with 14 points each. Zach Wasson added 12.
Under first year head coach and alum Sly Slaughter, Orrville fell just short of adding the school’s fourth state title, which would have moved it into a tie for fourth place all time with Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph, Columbus Wehrle, Dayton Stivers, Hamilton, Newark, Portsmouth and St. Henry.
The Red Riders previous three championships all came under the guidance of Orrville’s own legendary coach Steve Smith. Slaughter played for Smith on Orrville’s first title team in 1992.
“When I got hired my staff and I put together basketball shirts for our basketball camp and the very first word that went on there was character,” Slaughter said. “That was one of the things we wanted these guys to play with and they have all year. What you saw tonight was just a little bit of what we’ve seen all year along. They’re never going to quit. They never give up and they always think they have a chance to win.”
The state championship was the lone missing piece to Seggerson’s resume which now includes 517 wins, 13 district titles, six regional championships and three state finals. His T-Birds were runners-up in 1989 and 1994.
When Seggerson accepted his state championship medal he placed it around his wife’s neck, hugged her and capped it with a kiss. He then went to the locker room and told his team he’d coached his last game.
“This year it became clear that this was my last year,” Seggerson said. “That whisper in my ear got a little louder. I knew a month ago. So everything I did, was the last time I was going to do it. I never dreamed in my wildest dreams, though, that the last game of my life would be the biggest of my life and that we would come home with the win. This was my last basketball game and I’m walking out on top.”
Said Slaughter: “Anyone who has been here six times has nothing to be ashamed of.”