The Division I state final capped the final day of the Boys Basketball State Tournament at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center. Both Pickerington Central and Toledo Whitmer were trying to win their first state hoops title. Here’s what happened…Photos, Stats, All-Tournament Team and more…
DIVISION I STATE FINAL
The Division I state final capped the final day of the 90th
annual OHSAA Boys Basketball State Tournament at Ohio
State’s Schottenstein Center. Both Pickerington Central and Toledo Whitmer were trying to win their first state hoops title. Here’s how
Pickerington Central 45, Toledo Whitmer 40
Before Saturday night, if you mentioned the named Pickerington, most people would associate the name with football or girl’s basketball and why not with all the success the city has enjoyed in those sports. Though, after Saturday night, most people will know Pickerington Central High School as the 2012 Division I OHSAA Boy’s State Basketball champions thanks to a well-earned 45-40 triumph of Toledo Whitmer.
Pickerington Central, who played for the Division I football title in December, played Whitmer’s game and still managed to make enough plays to seal the victory. The Tigers got two huge free-throws from sophomore Javon Bess following a Leroy Alexander triple, which cut the Tigers lead to 42-40. Bess’ freebies hit nothing but net and gave the Tigers a 44-40 lead sealing the unbelievable win.
Not a lot of people, if any, had Pickerington Central picked as the Division I winner. Though, second year boss Jerry Francis believed in his kids, got them to buy into what he was selling, and they rode the back of scoring machine Caris Levert.
The Tigers fell behind 5-1 to start the game before securing a 9-7 advantage following a Levert jumper at the buzzer. Neither team lit it up in the first half, and the teams were knotted at 19 by the break.
Central and Whitmer literally went back-and-forth in the third stanza. Sophomore Jae’sean Tate opened the quarter with a bucket and Leroy Alexander answered for the Panthers. Levert dropped another deuce and junior Nigel Hayes threw down a two-handed jam at the other end. Levert would score again and Hayes countered with a pretty spin move followed by another two-handed dunk shot. Levert proceeded to knock down two freebies and Hayes responded once again with a deuce.
Levert knocked down another two and a trey before Alexander closed out the quarter with a hoop making the score 32-29 at third’s end in favor of the Tigers. Levert scored 11 in the quarter. Hayes (6 points) and Alexander (4 points) scored all ten for the Panthers.
Alexander opened up the final quarter with another basket, but Tate scored at the other end and junior Taco Charlton added another inside hoop to give Central a 36-31 lead.
Alexander scored yet again, Hayes meshed 1-of-2 at the charity stripe followed by a hoop-and-harm on the next possession to give Whitmer the advantage at 37-36.
Levert had the answer once again. The lanky 6-4 senior drove to the cup and was fouled and calmly sank two free-throws. The Fairfield County-based school got a clutch bucket from Tate to extend the lead to 40-37 and Bess made 1-of-2 at the line giving the Tigers a 41-37 cushion.
Taco Charlton added another free-throw and when Central grabbed a rebound on a missed Whitmer shot attempt, the Tiger faithful was starting to sense it. Central threw the ball away on the outlet pass and Alexander cashed in a triple to make the score 42-40 setting up Bess’ two game-sealing free tosses.
Levert finished with 20 points, four rebounds, and four swipes. Tate added 10 and four and Charlton netted six points and ripped down six boards along with holding down the paint.
Alexander paced Whitmer with 19 points and six rebounds, while Hayes contributed 15 and nine. The rest of the roster scored just six points.
*Player of the Game: Caris Levert had 20 points, four boards, and four steals.
*Stat of the Game: Pickerington Central shot just under 36 percent for the game and still found a way to win, but the Tigers did manage to out score the Panthers 19-9 on points off turnovers.
DIVISION I ALL-STATE TOURNAMENT TEAM
Photos by Gary Housteau (JJHuddle.com)