The Watterson High School boys basketball team beat Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary 55-52 in the Division II state final March 23 at Ohio State University to capture its first state championship in its program’s 55-year history.
“This feels great and I’m incredibly proud of the way our guys played,” Watterson coach Vince Lombardo said. “It’s not just this group. I’m thinking about every group that came close to making it here and helped our program get to this point.”
Watterson ended its season on a team-record 23-game winning streak and finished 28-1.
St. Vincent-St. Mary finished 20-10.
The Irish jumped out to a 9-4 lead, before Watterson went on a 15-0 run to go ahead 19-9 with 5 minutes, 25 seconds left in the second quarter.
Junior post player Matt Hughes scored 12 points and junior guard Cody Calhoun scored seven points in the first half, as the Eagles took a 26-17 lead at halftime.
The Irish pulled within 39-36 by the end of the third quarter and took a 42-41 lead with 5:26 left in the fourth quarter on a field goal by Jalen Hudson.
After Hudson’s field goal, Calhoun left the court with a bloody nose after getting elbowed in the face. Calhoun returned less than a minute later and scored a 3-point play to put the Eagles ahead 44-42 with 4:22 left.
“My nose didn’t hurt because of the adrenaline, but it just wouldn’t stop bleeding so I had to come out,” Calhoun said. “They were making a run and the crowd was chanting my name, so I couldn’t wait to get back in there. The energy was amazing, so I just tried to do what I could to give my team a lift.”
Calhoun made a foul shot to put the Eagles ahead 54-50 with 22.2 seconds remaining, but Hudson scored eight of his game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter, including two free throws that pulled the Irish within 54-52 with 18.3 seconds left.
Junior guard Tommy Geraghty made a free throw to make it 55-52 with 11.7 left, before guard Fransohn Bickley missed a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
Junior wing player Andy Grieser secured the rebound and threw the ball the length of the court as time expired and the Eagles burst into an on-court celebration.
Hughes finished with 14 points, five rebounds and two blocks, Calhoun had 14 points and four rebounds, Jackson had 12 points and six rebounds and junior wing player Matt Lehmann had eight points and seven rebounds.