In a deep division, Columbus Watterson wasn’t necessarily a favorite when the D-II postseason started over a month ago. Saturday the Eagles shocked Akron SVSM 55-52 to bring home the hardware…How it happened (& PHOTOS).
Ohio HS Boys Basketball State Tournament
Division II Final
*Columbus Watterson 55, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary 52 (Box Score)
COLUMBUS – Watterson had never been to a boy’s basketball state tournament in its school history, but after Saturday afternoon’s Division II state championship contest, the Eagles are now called state champs.
Following a win over storied Kettering Alter in the semis, Watterson was able to get by one of the state’s most well known programs in Akron St. Vincent- St.Mary’s with a 55-52 triumph.
“It all starts on defense for us,” stated Watterson boss Vince Lombardo. “We like to take transition away. We want to have good patience on offense to get good looks, but we like to run in transition when we get a chance. We play good, solid fundamental basketball. It worked out well for us today.”
Matt Hughes and Cody Calhoun each totaled 14 points to lead the Eagles, and senior Bryan Jackson added 12 points and six rebounds. Matt Lehmann chipped in eight points, including a huge three-pointer in the closing minutes, and ripped down seven boards. Andy Grieser netted six points.
Watterson got down early in the first quarter of play, but battled back behind five points from Hughes and eventually took the lead, 13-9, at the quarter’s break.
The Eagles stretched their lead out to 19-9 early in the second quarter following an Grieser inside bucket. Hughes continued to shine for Watterson in the second quarter adding seven points to his total.
Watterson took a 26-17 lead into the locker room holding SVSM leading scorer VJ King scoreless in the initial 16 minutes of play. Gritty, guard Calhoun added seven points for the Eagles.
Hudson paced the Irish with five counters at the break.
The Irish closed the gap to five points on a pair of Nick Wells freebies at the 5:45 mark, but Matt Lehmann answered right back. SVSM got within two when Fransohn Bickley converted a pair at the charity stripe and Jarel Wooldridge hit a bank-in runner down the middle of the lane.
However, Watterson’s Jackson answered right back with a conventional three-point play. The remainder of the period went back-and-forth with the Columbus-based school clinging to a 39-36 upper hand. Wells (6 points), Hudson (4 points), and Woolridge (4 points) combined for 14 of the Irish 19 points to help the comeback cause.
Hughes picked up his fourth foul with 2.3 seconds to play in the third quarter on an offensive foul call.
Following a Jackson bucket for the Eagles, Nick Wells converted a pair of freebies to close the gap to (41-40). Hudson’s bucket at the 5:29 mark gave the Irish their first lead (42-41) since the first quarter.
Watterson seized control on a Calhoun hoop-and-harm, and never relinquished the lead after taking a 44-42 advantage. Though, the Irish had a great look in the closing seconds to tie the game, but Bickley’s triple try was off the mark and celebration began for the Eagles.
“It was a better look than we would have liked them to have,” Lombardo mentioned. “But it worked out for us.”
Watterson was out rebounded (30-25), but held the Akron-based school to just 34 percent shooting for the game.
“Your decisions are the reason for these guys anguish,” SVSM head coach Dru Joyce said in regards to his decision not to increase the pace earlier in the game. “We didn’t lose, the time just ran out.”
Joyce was also very complimentary of Watterson and how well they are coached and play. Though, he would love to get a rematch somewhere down the line.
“I’m a competitor, “ Joyce noted. “I would by lying if I said I didn’t want another chance at this team.”
Hudson paced the Irish with 17 points and five rebounds, and Nick Wells added 14 points and six rebounds in a hard-working effort. Freshman VJ King scored just five points, including just one field goal. He did snag eight boards. The Irish finished the game 19-of-21 at the foul line.
“We tried to crowd him early and really make him work,” Lombardo said of guarding VJ King. “We wanted to limit his touches. He is and will be a great player.”
Photos by Gary Housteau (JJHuddle.com)
Coming…2013 High School Football