Saturday’s D-IV boys basketball final (4:30 p.m. at the
Schottenstein Center) will pit a traditional power against a newcomer. Cleveland VASJ is going for its fifth state title. Leipsic is in its first state championship. Here’s how they got there…
Ohio HS Boys Basketball State Tournament
Division IV Semifinals
*Cleveland VASJ 67, Troy Christian 36 (Box Score)
The Eagles hung tough in the first quarter thanks to four triples, but sophomore Brian Parker’s six points and senior Demonte Flannigan’s five counters gave VASJ a 15-12 lead. The Vikings were able to get some space in the second quarter thanks to six points from Flannigan and two key drive-in buckets from senior Duane Gibson. Troy Christian continued to hang tough making 6-of-11 shots behind the arc to keep the score respectable at 29-22. Nathan Kirkpatrick paced the Knights with six points at the break and Holden Varvel and Spencer Thomas each had five. In the third quarter, TC closed the gap to four points following a pair of inside baskets, but the Vikings quickly answered with two inside hoops of their own. Flannigan’s old-fashioned three-point play gave VASJ its biggest lead at 43-30 at the end of third quarter. Flannigan and Gibson combined for 10 points in the period. Gibson and Flannigan erased any doubt of the outcome of the first Division IV state semifinal as the Vikings scored the initial thirteen points of the final frame giving the state’s top team a 56-30 advantage and the rest was history. Duane Gibson ended his night with 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting adding nine assists, six rebounds, and five steals. However, the game was secondary, to the amazing ending featuring both teams holding hands and circled up in the middle of the court in a moment of prayer.
Players of the Game:
Cleveland VASJ: Cleveland State-bound Demonte Flannigan scored 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting and added five rebounds.
Troy Christian: Spencer Thomas had nine points on 3-of-5 shooting for the Eagles.
Stat of the Game: VASJ held a commanding 34-16 edge on the boards.
*Leipsic 61, Fairfield Christian 58 (Box Score)
Leipsic jumped out to a 20-12 lead on the back of Zach Kuhlman’s eight points, but Fairfield Christian closed on an 8-2 run to trail by just two points, 22-20 at the quarter break. The teams battled back-and-forth in the second period with Kuhlman tallying seven more counters. Austin Brown (8 points) and Devin Mangas (7 points) combined for 15 points to aid Kuhlman’s fine showing. Fairfield Christian received 11 points apiece from junior Steven Carpenter and senior Zach Sullivan. The Knights trailed by the count of 35-32 at half. Leipsic clung to a five-point lead (45-40) at the end of the third quarter as Carpenter did his best to keep the Knights in the game with six points. In a wild fourth quarter filled with turnovers and fouls, Leipsic was able to survive and advance to the DIV state championship game with a 61-58 victory. Mangas scored 13 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and dished out four assists. Brown added nine points and five rebounds for the winners. Sullivan had 13 points and classmate Justin Potochnik chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds.
Players of the Game:
Leipsic: Zach Kuhlman paced Leipsic with 24 points on an outstanding 10-of-15 shooting, which included four bonus goals.
Fairfield Christian: Steven Carpenter scored a game-high 26 points, handed out six assists, and yanked down four boards.
Stat of the Game: Leipsic was just 12-of-21 at the free-throw line, but its 12 makes were three more than Fairfield Christian’s 9-of-10.