ATHENS -- Moments after the Ready High School boys basketball team beat Lucasville Valley 38-33 in a Division III regional final March 15 at Ohio University, its players and followers of the team sang “Happy Birthday” to coach Don Worstell.
Worstell, who turned 50, has the Silver Knights in a state semifinal against Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph at 10:45 a.m. March 21 at Ohio State.
Ready, which improved to 21-5, is in the state tournament for the fifth time.
“That was our birthday present to him,” senior Josh Gantz said.
As has been their formula throughout their first run to state since 2010, the Silver Knights used strong interior defense and steady ball control throughout most of the regional final.
Ready led 14-5 by halftime and 21-5 with 6 minutes, 10 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Indians, who scored more than 80 points five times this season, went on an 11-0 run to rally within 21-16 heading into the final period. After Lucasville Valley got as close as 22-18 with 6 minutes, 51 seconds to go, Ready stretched the lead back to as much as 10.
Ready made just two of 16 from 3-point range, but shot 14-for-24 from the free-throw line. Valley was just 4-for-11 from the foul line.
“They’re a tough matchup for us with some of their big guys and we were a little shaky with our pressure in the fourth quarter,” Worstell said. “Our first half defense was fantastic. I think our point guard (Kelly Culbertson) controlled every loose ball.”
Shane Lee finished with 11 points and Jimmy Hanley shot 7-for-10 from the free-throw line and scored nine points. Gantz had six points, five rebounds and three blocked shots. Culbertson led in rebounds with seven.
Chris Flowers and Hayden Dunn each scored 12 points for Valley, which was trying for its first state berth.