During the first half of its Division III state semifinal March 21 at Ohio State, the Ready High School boys basketball team made five 3-pointers and hung in the paint with a taller Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph squad.
Outside shots didn’t fall often enough for the Silver Knights during the second half, and the result was a 55-40 loss before 8,914 fans.
Ready trailed just 27-24 at halftime but didn’t score for the first 5 minutes, 23 seconds of the fourth quarter on the way to finishing 21-6.
“Typically we don’t play quite the perimeter-oriented game that we did today,” coach Don Worstell said. “We like to take some easier looks, but we thought our best shot was to get to the 3-point line on kickouts. They became a little more perimeter-conscious in the second half, and give them credit for that.”
The Knights made just six of 31 shots in the second half against VASJ, which improved to 22-7 and will play for the championship at 4:30 p.m. March 22.
Ready held VASJ junior post player Carlton Bragg to 11 points and seven rebounds but rarely had an answer for junior guard Brian Parker.
While Bragg is 6-foot-10 and has 22 Division I scholarship offers, Parker scored 12 of his game-high 17 points during the second half.
The Vikings trailed 24-21 with 2:32 left in the first half but got a 3-pointer from Simon Texidor IV and a basket by Parker and closed the second quarter on a 6-0 run.
Ready fell behind 40-32 with one minute left in the third quarter but got a 3-pointer from Kelly Culbertson just before the buzzer to cut the deficit to 40-35 heading into the final period.
In the fourth quarter, Parker had six points, Bragg went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line and the Knights scored just five points.
Josh Gantz finished with seven points, six rebounds and three blocked shots, Culbertson and Shane Lee each scored six and Myles Fowler, Alec Holt and Matt Yoho all scored five for Ready.
VASJ won the Division IV state title a year ago and will try to become the first program to win a state title in all four divisions.
“(Ready) made their shots in the first half,” VASJ coach Babe Kwasniak said. “I thought they did a heck of a job screening us in the first half. That was probably the one adjustment we made on them.”