Cincinnati Taft and Cleveland Central Catholic move one win away from the D-III state title

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Taft junior Adolphus Washington scored 22 points in the D-III semifinals. (Gary Housteau)

The 89th annual Ohio High School Boys Basketball State Tournament began Day 2 with a pair of Division III semifinals. In the first game Cincinnati Taft tangled with Columbus Africentric, while in the second Portsmouth headed north to meet Cleveland Central Catholic. Here’s how it went down…


The 89th annual Ohio High School Boys Basketball
State Tournament began Day 2 with a pair of Division III semifinals. In
the first game Cincinnati Taft tangled with Columbus Africentric, while
in the second Portsmouth headed north to meet Cleveland Central
Catholic. Here’s how it went down…

Cincinnati Taft 63, Columbus Africentric 50

Photo Gallery Below

In Friday morning’s first D-III semifinal Cincinnati Taft used its depth, size, and relentless pressure to knock off a game Columbus Africentric squad, 63-50.

The Senators dashed out to a 21-6 lead late in the first quarter and eventually took a 21-8 advantage into the second quarter. Taft’s fast start can be attributed to junior Jalen Lowe’s hot shooting off the bench.

Africentric (18-8) settled in nicely in the second period thanks to star point guard Marquise Taylor. The Nubians held an 18-17 advantage in the second frame as Taylor had 15 points by half.

Taft (25-1) came out in the third quarter looking to make an extra effort to get the ball into junior Adolphus Washington. The 6-6 and 250-pound man child, who was the Associated Press D-III Player of the Year, was able to do some damage scoring 10 points in the period.

Despite Washington’s efforts, Africentric continued to attack led by Taylor and was able to get some easy put backs on the interior. The Nubians won the quarter 22-14 cutting the lead to 52-48 heading into the final stanza.

The Nubians scored the first bucket of the fourth quarter cutting the lead to two points, but never scored again as the Senators outscored their counterpart 11-2 in the final frame.

Taft got 16 points from Jalen Lowe off the bench and nine rebounds from junior Dwayne Stanford.

Taylor scored 21 points in defeat on 9-of-14 shooting. FuQuan Tucker added nine points and nine rebounds and 6-5 shooting guard Kalomo Figueroa-Jackson chipped in eight on just 3-of-11 shooting.

Both teams committed a high amount of turnovers with the Nubians giving the ball away 23 times and Taft was charted for 21.

Player of the Game: Adolphus Washington (Taft) had 22 points and four rebounds. Washington was 7-of-8 from the field.

Stat of the Game: Taft out pointed Africentric’s bench 28-6 thanks to Lowe’s 16 and Marquez Johnson and Rasaan Jackson netting eight and four respectively.

Cleveland Central Catholic 58, Portsmouth 47

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Cleveland Central Catholic was silky smooth in the second as in Anton “Silk” Grady smooth. The Ironmen overcame a 20-9 first half deficit with a strong second half to secure a 58-47 victory.

Grady was sensation in the second half especially the third quarter following a three point and eight rebound first half. The 6-8 Cleveland State commit scored 15 of his team’s 19 third quarter points along with being a menace on the boards and defensive end.

It certainly wasn’t easy for Central Catholic (19-8) as it had to withstand a first half in which the Trojans shot nearly 55 percent from the field and 4-of-8 from distance including an off-balance runner at the end of the first half by junior Wayne Evans giving the Trojans a 28-20 lead.

However, Grady quickly went to work in second half scoring his team’s first 11 points of the quarter to take a 31-30 lead. Ra’Saun Smith followed with a bucket for the winners, but Zaide Whitley answered right back with another triple to knot the game at 33.

Grady would score again and lanky junior Alan Harper would knock down a right corner jumper giving the Ironmen a 39-36 lead heading into the final frame. Not only were they terrific on offense, CCC was equally as good on defense holding the Trojans to just 24 percent shooting in the final 16 minutes compared to 54 percent shooting of its own.

Central Catholic outscored Portsmouth, 19-11 in the final frame.

The Ironmen held a 40-26 edge on the boards and outscored the Trojans 30-8 in the paint.

Portsmouth (21-5) got 15 points from senior Andrew Bendolph and 13 by Evans. Senior Tre Underwood had six points and 10 rebounds.

Central Catholic will now meet Cincinnati Taft (25-1) in tomorrow’s championship game in a rematch of a two quarter scrimmage Thanksgiving weekend at Reynoldsburg High School. Taft edged the Ironmen 29-28, so Saturday should be a fantastic contest.

*Player of the Game: Anton Grady (Central Catholic) had 26 points and tied a state tournament record for rebounds with 22 along with blocking seven shots. Grady’s second half numbers were 23 points, 14 rebounds, and five swats.

*Stat of the Game: Central Catholic’s bench out pointed Portmouth’s bench, 14-1 thanks to sixth man Marcus Jones scoring all of those points and adding five rebounds.

D-III SEMIFINAL PHOTO GALLERY (By Gary Housteau)

 

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