Most Dramatic State Tournament Events: No. 2
Westerville North title aided by 'no whistle'
Westerville North boys basketball coach Dave Hoover (left) instructs his team as the Warriors' bench cheers during overtime of a 50-48 victory over Cincinnati Withrow in the 1994 Division I state final at St. John Arena.
Westerville North High School senior Kevin Martin drove the baseline, but saw a roadblock ahead.
It was the final 15 seconds of overtime during the 1994 Division I boys basketball championship game. What happened next still is a matter of debate, and it's also the No. 2 Most Dramatic State Tournament Event of the ThisWeek era.
With a Cincinnati Withrow player holding his ground, Martin skipped a bounce pass to junior teammate Shaun Stonerook in the lane. As Martin collided with the defender, Stonerook banked in the decisive points in a 50-48 win at Ohio State's St. John Arena.
"When I saw (the defender), I dropped the ball off with an easy bounce pass," said Martin, whose team erased a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter. "It was an easy pass because (Stonerook's) man came over toward me to try and take a charge. Maybe it was a charge, maybe it was a block, I don't know. All I know was that no whistle blew."
Stonerook's memory is fuzzier.
"I hadn't thought about (the play) in a long time," he said. "(The Withrow contingent) all thought it was a charge on (Martin's) part. He passed it when he couldn't shoot it. I don't know if he lost the ball or passed it. He said that he passed it."
It was the first state title for the Warriors, who finished 25-2. It also was the first of three Division I state titles for North coach Dave Hoover.
"Kevin drove the baseline and kind of stumbled and ran into a guy," said Hoover, who also won titles at Canton McKinley in 2005 and 2006. "It was a bang-bang play and he dumped a bounce pass in the paint to Shaun, who made the winning basket."
Current North coach Kevin Thuman, an assistant on the 1994 team, said he was reminded of the state final before the Warriors defeated Withrow 62-55 last Jan. 7.
"Before the game, I walked past the scorer's table and the Withrow scorekeeper said to me, 'You know that was a charge,' " Thuman said. "George Jackson, who coached Withrow (from 1993-94) and is now an assistant coach at (the University of Cincinnati) was at the game (in January). He rehashed the game with me for about a half hour, so it's still on his mind as well."
Stonerook's basket put the Warriors ahead, but there still were 10 seconds left in overtime. After a timeout, the Tigers threw an inbounds pass intended for Jeff Carter, who led all scorers with 22 points.
North senior Pat Brown intercepted the pass and was fouled. He missed the front end of a one-and-one, but a half-court shot by Withrow's James Jones fell short at the buzzer.
"When (Hoover) told me to stay close to (Carter), it reminded me of a cover-2 (pass defense) in football," said Brown, who played football at Kansas. "Then they fouled me and I got to go to the foul line. That's something you always dream of and practice when you're a kid, making foul shots at the end of a state championship. I missed the first one, but things worked out."
The Warriors led 37-33 early in the fourth after Stonerook had a dunk and a Brown steal led to a basket by senior Kerrod Dunn. The Tigers then went on a 13-2 run to take a 46-39 lead with 2:18 left, but Withrow did not score again in the quarter.
Baskets by Brown, Martin and Stonerook cut the deficit to one as the Tigers missed the first free throw in three consecutive one-and-one attempts.
Both teams were 4-for-9 at the line.
"One thing that helped us was (1993-94) was the last season that the only way to get a two-shot foul was for it to be a shooting foul. The next season, the rules had it going to two shots after the 10th foul," Hoover said. "It was the kind of a situation that for all game long, we were fighting and scratching ... keeping within reach of Withrow."
Martin made a free throw with 10.1 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime tied at 46.
"It was a tight game throughout and no one led by more than one or two baskets until they went on that run in the fourth," said Martin, who scored 21 points. "We found ourselves down seven. They missed their free throws and we were able to convert on the other end."
The Warriors won the first state boys basketball title for the Ohio Capital Conference, which began in 1966. The OCC now has two others, both in Division I -- Pickerington Central beat Toledo Whitmer 45-40 in 2012 and Newark defeated Lakewood St. Edward 65-52 in 2008.
"The whole run in the postseason was amazing," said Stonerook, who had 10 points and 16 rebounds in the state final. "For a suburban Columbus school to pull that off was huge.
"We were supposed to get killed by Eastmoor (63-53 win in regional final) and by Cleveland Heights (76-69 win in state semifinal) and by so many other teams, but we won all of them. It was a great time, and it's something I will always remember."
Stonerook went on to play at Ohio State before transferring to Ohio University. He has played professionally for 12 seasons in Europe, including last winter in Italy.
Martin played at Ohio State before transferring to North Carolina-Asheville. He now is the coach of the Johnstown boys basketball team.
"If I look back on my career now in high school and college, it's probably the biggest game that I ever played," he said. "The summer before that year, (winning a state title) was a goal that we talked about internally. (Hoover) brought it up and told us that we could be in it at the end. No one outside those walls (of the locker room) thought we would have a chance, but we did it.
"Obviously, being able to win it was great. It's something you'll never forget."