Division I Semifinals: Whitmer and Pick Cental square off in football-flavored hoops final

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Toledo Whitmer won its first state basketball tournament game in four tries with Friday’s 62-51 win over St. Edward.

The Division I state semifinals capped the second day of the 90th annual OHSAA Boys Basketball State Tournament on Friday. Fairfield and Pickerington Central were making their first appearances, while St. Edward and Whitmer were seasoned vets. Here’s how things played out…


DIVISION I STATE SEMIFINALS

The Division I state semifinals capped the second day of the 90th
annual OHSAA Boys Basketball State Tournament on Friday. Fairfield and Pickerington Central were making their first appearances, while St. Edward and Whitmer were seasoned vets.
Here’s how things played
out…

Toledo Whitmer 62, Lakewood St. Edward 51

The Division I semifinals got started Friday night around 5:15 p.m., but nobody told Lakewood St. Edward as the Eagles fell behind 26-5 and were never able to overcome the deficit despite a valiant effort against a big and strong Toledo Whitmer squad.

The Eagles were able to close within three points (40-37) early in the fourth quarter, but could get no closer in a 62-51 defeat.

The Panthers got great balance from its starting line up in building a 26-12 lead by the break. Junior Nigel Hayes totaled six points and Luke Hickey, Chris Wormley, Ricardo Smith, and Leroy Alexander all netted five.  

Whitmer (24-2) opened up a 15-2 lead following the opening eight minutes and stretched the lead to 26-5 following a Hayes jumper. Though, the Eagles answered with a mini 7-0 spurt close the half thanks to a trio of Myles Hamilton freebies along with a Hamilton dunk.

The final minutes of the second quarter were very important to Ed’s confidence in the second half. Mike Newton cashed in a triple to make the score 32-28 closing out a 23-6 stretch. Whitmer was able to counter and push the lead back to 40-33 by the quarter’s end.

After the Eagles (18-8) closed the gap to 40-37 in the final chapter, Whitmer answered with a few buckets and a plethora of free-throws to put the game on ice.

Hayes stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, two blocks, and a steal. The 6-7 junior was 4-of-6 from the field and 10-of-14 at the charity stripe. Alexander added 17 points and seven rebounds and Luke Hickey was good for 10.

Myles Hamilton ended his Ed’s career with 24 points leading a furious comeback before fouling out.

The two teams combine for 45 turnovers and Whitmer out rebounded Ed’s, 31-21. One of the most telling stats of the game was the Panthers making more free-throws (23) than the Eagles attempted (20).

*Player of the Game: Nigel Hayes had 18 points, 13 rebounds six assists two blocks, and a steal.

*Stat of the Game: Lakewood St. Edward shot 4-of-18 from the field in the first half, which helped Whitmer build an overwhelming first half lead. 

Pickerington Central 60, Fairfield 45

In the final semi-final match up of the weekend, Pickerington Central was able to pull away from an upstart Fairfield squad for a convincing 60-45 victory. The Tigers will now be playing for the Division I state basketball championship following a state runner-up in football.

The Tigers led 16-14 after the first quarter and owned a 29-24 advantage at the intermission thanks to the all around play of fearless sophomore Jae’Sean Tate. The 6-4 sophomore had 12 points, six rebounds, and three blocks by the half. Tate used an array offensive moves along with a relentless motor on the offensive glass to spark the Tigers.

Pickerington Central (25-2) opened the half with a three-point goal from senior Chad Nelson and Fairfield was never able to come any closer than five points the rest of the way. The Tigers answered every mini-spurt with a counter run thanks to the explosive scoring of senior Caris Levert, Nelson, Tate, sophomore Javon Bess, sophomore Connor Kern, and Michigan football commit Taco Charlton.

Tate finished the contest with 16 points, 13 boards, and five blocks. Levert added 13 and Bess came off the pine to net 10.

Devon Barlow led the Indians (21-6) with 11 points and 6-7 senior Brandon Murphy added 10 despite playing just 19 minutes due to foul trouble.

* Player of the Game: Jae’sean Tate had 16 points, 13 rebounds, and five swats.

* Stat of the Game: Pickerington shot nearly 54 percent from the floor compared to just 36 for Fairfield.

D-I Final: Whitmer vs Pickerington Central, Saturday, 8:30 p.m.

LISTEN LIVE: State Final (OHSAA Radio Network)

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Photos by Gary Housteau (JJHuddle.com)

Toledo Whitmer 62, Lakewood St. Edward 51

Pickerington Central 60, Fairfield 45

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