The Watterson High School boys basketball team failed to defend its title, as it lost to Norwalk 65-58 in the Division II state final March 22 at Ohio State.
The Eagles, who won their first regional and state championships last season, finished 26-3 overall.
Norwalk, which captured its first state title, finished 29-1 overall.
Watterson made 19 of 57 field goals and was just 4-for-24 from behind the 3-point line.
Norwalk made 19 of 40 field goals and four of nine 3-pointers.
“They did a nice job of taking the inside away from us, which is normally fine for us, because we usually shoot the ball well from the perimeter,” Watterson coach Vince Lombardo said. “We took a few more 3-pointers than usual but I have great confidence in our guys and I usually just try to stay out of their way when it comes to offense. We had good looks that we normally knock down so I don’t regret those at all. We just didn’t shoot as well as we normally do.”
Cody Calhoun made two free throws to put Watterson ahead 10-8 with 4 minutes, 10 seconds left in the first quarter, but that would serve as the Eagles’ first and only lead of the game, as the Truckers answered with a 23-9 run to take a 31-19 halftime advantage.
Norwalk stretched its lead to as much as 14 points early in the second half and was ahead 42-33 at the end of the third quarter, before the Eagles began a furious comeback attempt.
Matt Lehmann, who scored seven of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, made a 3-pointer to cut Watterson’s deficit to 57-52 with 1:03 left.
Matt Hughes also made a field goal to make it 61-57 with 50 seconds remaining.
But that’s as close as the Eagles would get, as Ben Haraway followed with four consecutive free throws to ice the game.
Haraway, who was 12-for-16 from the foul line in the fourth quarter, finished with 29 points, three blocks and three assists.
Jeff Thomas also had 18 points and 10 rebounds to pace the Truckers.
Hughes had 23 points and 10 rebounds, Calhoun scored 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, Lehmann had 11 points and Joe DiOrio had seven points to lead the Eagles.
“Norwalk’s run in the first half was big because we spent the rest of the game battling back,” Lombardo said. “We made some nice runs to get back in the game, but give Norwalk credit, because every time we were real close, they made a big play. We just couldn’t get over the hump.”