COLUMBUS (AP) — With 4 minutes remaining and Norwalk hanging on to a suddenly tenuous lead over defending champion Columbus Watterson, Truckers guard Ben Haraway came up lame.
So what were you thinking at that time, coach Steve Gray?
“Oh my God,” he said.
But Haraway was able to return despite a twisted ankle and his presence was huge down the stretch as the Truckers beat the Eagles 65-58 for the Division II state championship on Saturday.
Moments after Gray left the court, a piece of the net in his hands, he summed up his feelings.
“It’s a great day to be a Trucker,” he said.
Haraway scored 29 points, scoring nine points after he hobbled briefly to the bench, to lead the way.
“I buckled my knee and rolled my ankle at the same time,” said Haraway, an Associated Press honorable mention All-Ohioan. “I thought I was going to be out for a while.”
He hit a free throw after limping to the free-throw line, then after Watterson pulled within four points with under a minute left, he made four foul shots in the final 36.6 seconds to lock up the victory — which came in Norwalk’s first-ever trip to the state’s final four.
“He’s a special person,” Gray said, nodding to his smiling point guard. “The way he looks now is the way he looks in every practice and at school. He’s just a happy guy.”
First-team All-Ohioan Jeff Thomas added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Truckers (29-1), who were ranked No. 2 in the final regular-season AP poll.
“We’re the first team from Norwalk to win a (basketball) state championship,” Thomas said. “I can’t explain my feelings right now.”
Second-team All-Ohioan Matt Hughes had 23 points and 10 rebounds for fourth-ranked Watterson (26-3), which hit just 4 of 24 behind the arc. Cody Calhoun added 15 points and Matt Lehmann had 11.
• Division IV
St. Thomas Aquinas 44
Damian Helm, Tyson Bolenbaugh and Connor Lautzenheiser each had two baskets in an 18-0 blitz to start the third quarter, pushing top-ranked Convoy Crestview to a 71-44 victory over Louisville Aquinas on Saturday for its first Division IV state championship.
Helm, a first-team Associated Press All-Ohioan who had 20 points, and Bolenbaugh, who finished with 18, each had four points in the spurt while Lautzenheiser, finishing with 11 points, made two 3-pointers. The run turned a 26-23 lead into a 44-23 rout.
Crestview (29-0) won the title in its third trip to the final four.
Anthony Moeglin had 10 for Aquinas (18-12), which went 6:28 without scoring at the end of the second and most of the third quarters.
• Division III
LCC 64, VA-SJ 62
Martyce Kimbrough had 22 points — including all four of his second-half points in the final 93 seconds — to lead Lima
Central Catholic past Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph 64-62 on Saturday in the Division III state boys final.
After VASJ (22-8) had cut the lead to a point on 6-foot-10 junior Carlton Bragg’s 3-pointer with 6 seconds left, two LCC players missed three consecutive free throws. But Brian Parker’s heave from midcourt was just short, touching the front of the rim.
The title was the second for the seventh-ranked Thunderbirds (25-4).
Bragg had 23 for defending champ VASJ, denied its sixth title.
Lakewood St. Edward and Upper Arlington faced off in the Division I title game, which was not complete at time of press.