Most Dramatic State Tournament Events: No. 4
Weston's block key in Warriors first title
Dan Weston blocked his first shot of the season during the final seconds of the second overtime in the 1999 Division IV state final against Fort Recovery. But even that play didn't appear to be enough to propel the Worthington Christian High School boys basketball team to the title.
Ross Wendell's shot was deflected by Weston into the hands of Fort Recovery's Chuck Bihn, who tipped the ball into the basket.
It was ruled, however, that Bihn's shot came after the buzzer, giving the Warriors a shot at a third overtime.
With 2 minutes, 3 seconds to go in what was the second game in state tournament history to go three overtimes, Bihn reached over Weston's back and was called for his fifth foul.
The Warriors followed by making seven of 10 free throws and won 95-90 to earn their first state championship and the No. 4 Most Dramatic State Tournament Event of the ThisWeek era.
"We had just tied it up and I had no blocks on the season," Weston said. "I jumped up and tipped the ball away to Chuck Bihn, and he shot it and made it, but they waved it off. I would not have wanted to make the decision (about whether his basket should have counted).
"They gave us a copy of the tape of the game, and the tape they gave us ran out with about two minutes left in the third overtime. The rest of the game was on a new tape. That's how long the game was."
Weston, who went on to play for Mount Vernon Nazarene and now is a basketball official, remembers how tough it was for the Warriors to stop Bihn throughout a game that he likened to a matchup of boxers with different strengths.
The Warriors were 13-for-32 from 3-point range while Fort Recovery preferred to pound the ball inside to the 6-foot-6 Bihn, who finished with 34 points and 15 rebounds in 36 minutes. Bihn went on to play for Capital University.
Sam Smith had 28 points on 11-for-18 shooting for Worthington Christian. Jason Weakley played all 44 minutes and scored 19 points.
Weakley made a jumper with 5 seconds left in the first overtime to tie the game at 74. Smith made a 3-pointer with 3:24 left in the third overtime for an 88-85 lead the Warriors didn't relinquish.
Smith and Weakley, however, both had leg cramps that sidelined them at times in the overtimes.
"I haven't thought about the game in a while, but I remember my legs cramping, both myself and Sam Smith because of inefficient hydration," said Weakley, who works as a nurse anesthetist in Springfield, Mass. "I remember it being a lot of fun. That's what we'd always dreamed of. The Fort Recovery game was a great game, just back and forth. It had a big impact on my life growing up in a basketball family and it was a big fulfillment to all of us on the team. To win in such a dramatic fashion made it so exciting for us. It was just a real sweet time."
Weston's play off the bench during the overtimes wasn't the only surprising contribution for the Warriors.
David Taylor was a starter who averaged four points but came through with 17 against Fort Recovery. He went 5-for-6 from 3-point range and added a pair of free throws in 29 minutes.
Ray Slagle, who was the architect of the Warriors' fast-break style, spent eight years coaching Cedarville University and the last four coaching Caldwell Academy in Greensboro, N.C. He recently retired after 41 years of coaching.
"I remember that Dan Weston went crazy when that big kid (Bihn) fouled out because we had no answer for him," Slagle said. "I thought we lost that game a couple times. There were a lot of close misses and makes. We should probably not have won that game. The greatest thing for me was that we just had such great kids."
Adam Heath played only 11 minutes but made a pair of free throws to begin the second overtime and added a free throw in the third overtime.
The starters along with Smith, Taylor and Weakley were Scott Hadley, who had nine points, and Brian Bumgarner, who added nine points and six rebounds.
"I just remember the unity we had and the crowd," said Hadley, who went on to play for Otterbein and is a teacher at Dublin Sells Middle School. "It was just a real fast, back-and-forth game, just crazy."
The Warriors, who went 24-3, were the only team to score more than 64 points that season against Fort Recovery.
There were 17 lead changes and 16 ties. The game produced state tournament records in scoring, field goals and 3-pointers.
The only other state tournament game to go three overtimes occurred in 1986, when Wehrle beat Van Buren 83-79 in a semifinal.
"It's interesting because people want to talk about that game and bring it up, so it must have had a profound impact," said Heath, who is Worthington Christian's girls basketball coach and a teacher at the school. "I think it carried our program a little for the next few years because guys like (2006 graduate) Chris Beals were in youth basketball at that time."