As his team scattered to the locker room March 26 in Ohio State's Schottenstein Center, Northland High School boys basketball coach Satch Sullinger stood with one of his granddaughters trying to get through what had become a painful moment.

As his team scattered to the locker room March 26 in Ohio State's Schottenstein Center, Northland High School boys basketball coach Satch Sullinger stood with one of his granddaughters trying to get through what had become a painful moment.

Then he summed up a winter full of ups and downs in the best way he could, explaining that the Vikings had "been through a lot this year."

Northland's season ended that night with a 59-40 loss to Cincinnati La Salle in the Division I state championship, Sullinger's final game as coach after announcing his retirement in late February.

The Vikings had ridden a series of emotions through a sometimes difficult regular season to win a fifth consecutive City League title, openly bickered while winning a district title, but seemingly found their way during the regional.

"We had to draw on our emotions, and these young kids let their emotions get the better of them," said Sullinger, whose team finished 26-2. "It all boils down to teaching."

The Vikings spent the morning of the state final attending the funeral of Tyree Robinson, the brother of junior post player Jalen Robinson who was shot and killed a week earlier.

During the regular season, Jalen Robinson and senior Jakyl Cornley both were handed a six-game suspension for unspecified reasons. They were reinstated the week before the Vikings won their fifth consecutive City title with a 59-52 win over Walnut Ridge on Feb. 19 at Columbus East.

"We attended the funeral this morning, and it brought back the memory of me burying my brother in December," Sullinger said. "But you don't write the script."

The state final indeed seemed to be out of Northland's hands midway through the first quarter when La Salle seized control after falling behind 12-4.

Once the Lancers' offense got going, La Salle held Northland to a season-low point total. It continually created easy baskets for 6-foot-3 senior post player Brandon Neel, who shot 10 of 15 from the floor and finished with 22 points. Senior guard Ryan Fleming added 17 points.

The state final was one of the few forgettable moments this season for Northland senior Trey Burke, who had been named Ohio's Mr. Basketball and the state co-Player of the Year in Division I earlier in the week.

After he struggled to 4-for-17 shooting and 15 points in the Vikings' 67-59 victory over Garfield Heights in a state semifinal March 25, Burke made just four of 14 from the floor and scored a season-low 10 points in the final.

Juniors Devon Scott and Jordan Potts were assessed technical fouls during the fourth quarter of the state final. La Salle stretched a 45-35 lead with 5 minutes, 30 seconds remaining to as many as a 22-point advantage.

It was the last prep game for Burke, Cornley and fellow seniors Lavante Justice, Roberto Pierre and Laquan Williams.

"It was the little things we decided not to do, like jump to the pass," Sullinger said. "(La Salle) looked extremely sharp, and after a while we kind of lost our confidence."

Burke averaged more than 23 points, nearly seven assists, three rebounds and three steals this season. The Michigan signee was the district Player of the Year and the ThisWeek Super 12 captain.

During the state semifinal, Scott (17 points, 10 rebounds), Potts (16 points, 3-for-6 from 3-point range) and Robinson (seven points, eight rebounds) led the way. That trio, along with junior starting forward Ke'Chaun Lewis, should lead the team next season. Scott made third-team all-district and Super 12 honorable mention.

Sophomore Jaylen Benton could be the heir apparent at point guard for Burke. Also on the state-tournament roster were freshmen Jhustus Cornley, Nate Jamison, Derick McKeiten and Johnathon Spencer.

Northland went 14-0 in the City-North and has won 74 consecutive games in City play, including the last five league finals.

During the district tournament, the Vikings beat Groveport 87-27 on Feb. 23 and Franklin Heights 75-36 on Feb. 26 before struggling to get past Olentangy Liberty 59-52 on March 5 and Westerville Central 65-62 on March 11.

Chemistry issues seemed to be getting the better of the Vikings at district, but they bounced back to beat Gahanna 57-52 on March 16 and Westerville South 80-62 on March 19 in the regional to advance to the state tournament for the second time in three seasons.

"We got back to being one team," Burke said after his team beat Westerville South. "We had a little adversity in the program, but the seniors stepped up."