Dublin Scioto High School boys basketball coach Tony Bisutti says he believes if his team played Upper Arlington 100 times, he would expect the teams to split 50-50.

Dublin Scioto High School boys basketball coach Tony Bisutti says he believes if his team played Upper Arlington 100 times, he would expect the teams to split 50-50.

But heading into their meeting in the second round of the Division I district tournament in 2002, he did not expect this to be one of those 50 wins for the Golden Bears.

In his seventh season with the Irish, Bisutti had one of his best teams. Scioto was led by guard Mike Heine, who averaged 20.5 points and made third-team all-state, along with a sharp-shooting guard in David Hayes and a massive post presence in Jay Richardson, now a 6-foot-6, 280-pound defensive end for the Oakland Raiders. The Irish were 19-1 and seeded second in the district. They had won their first 19 games before dropping the regular season finale to seventh-seeded Reynoldsburg 47-44.

"We had continued to get better," Bisutti said. "It was just a great group of guys, and they were real dedicated to the game."

The Golden Bears, meanwhile, were in a transition phase. Coach Tim Casey was in his first season, and it had been a streaky year. After a strong first half of the season, UA lost six in a row to fall to 7-12 in early February.

"To be honest, since it was Casey's first year, there were a lot of changes," said guard Matt Kirby, a 2002 graduate. "Getting used to his system was one of the things that made our year up and down."

Kirby also said a tough regular-season schedule played into the Golden Bears' unimpressive record, but it was also a reason for them to believe they had a chance against Scioto despite losing both regular-season meetings. The Irish drilled the Bears 62-39 in the first meeting, but the second one was much closer as UA lost 46-42.

"Playing them during the season I think gave us a little bit of an advantage," said Casey, who remains at UA. "I did get to see them a couple of times late in the year as well, so we felt like we had a good scouting report."

The Golden Bears snapped that losing streak with a 61-44 win over Chillicothe to close the regular season. In addition, UA played fairly well in its tournament opener, upsetting Logan 43-37. The Chieftains were 13-7 in the regular season. Scioto, on the other hand, had taken a bye and was not faring well in its eight-day layoff leading up to the second-round game.

"It was one of those weeks where if anything could go wrong, it did," Bisutti said. "We had some nagging injuries, and we had some bad breaks with guys going down at practice."

UA jumped out to a 19-9 lead after the first quarter and led 35-31 at halftime, but Scioto appeared to be settling in as it took the lead midway through the third quarter. Scioto extended its lead to 56-47 with just 5:08 left in regulation, but the hot-shooting Golden Bears responded with a 13-4 run to tie the score at 60 and send the game into overtime.

The game remained close in overtime, but Scioto got the scenario it wanted down the stretch. Heine, who finished the game with a career-high 37 points, had the ball with the score tied and time running down. Heine was unable to convert and the game headed to a second overtime. Again, the Irish once again got the final possession with the score tied. And, again, the UA defense held.

"I was defending (Heine) each time, and I ended up playing pretty good defense," said guard Adam Hale, a 2002 UA graduate. "I made him take a tough shot each time, and he came up empty on those attempts."

"Casey is always very defensively-oriented, so I think we played great defense down the stretch," Kirby said. "But to be honest, I was surprised that Michael Heine didn't make either of those last two shots."

In the third overtime, UA took an early lead, and it also caught a break when Scioto's Trevor Shepperd saved the ball from going out of bounds with just over a minute left. Shepperd's save went right to Hale, who raced down court for a layup to give UA an 81-76 cushion. The Golden Bears, who were 19 of 24 from the free-throw line, held on for an 85-78 win.

On the night, UA shot 65 percent from the field and made 12 of 19 3-point attempts.

UA went on to beat Newark 62-55 in a district semifinal before losing Dublin Coffman 59-50 in a district final. In 2007, the Golden Bears finally won a district title, their first since 1947. Scioto went on to reach a district semifinal or final for five consecutive years before eventually breaking through for district titles in 2008 and 2009.

Seven years after their epic second-round meeting in 2002, the game still holds a special place in the memory of everyone involved, although the emotions it evokes are vastly different for each side.

"I don't mind telling you: It's one of my worst losses," Bisutti said. "It's one of those things where, when you're in coaching, you'll never forget those games. You have so many great wins and great victories, and you certainly remember those, but bad losses stick with you. It was horrible."

"Once every couple months, it seems like it gets brought up," Hale said. "All of our students and family who were there say that's the best game they've ever seen."


Below is a brief overview of Nos. 5-10 in our poll.

No. 5: The Westerville South boys basketball team stunned all of central Ohio in 2008 by knocking off unbeaten and top-ranked Northland 67-59 in a Division I district semifinal. South went on to win its first district title since 1990 and eventually reached a regional final.

No. 6: The Gahanna football team pulled off a 33-28 upset of top-seeded Lancaster in a Division I, Region 3 quarterfinal in 2006. The Lions entered the game at 7-3, but Lancaster was 10-0 and had beaten Gahanna 34-3 just two weeks earlier.

No. 7: The Westland boys basketball team, just 2-18 entering its game against 16-3 Brookhaven in the first round of the 1999 Division I district tournament , shocked the second-seeded Bearcats 59-56.

No. 8: Tom Jagels of Dublin Coffman came from behind to beat Craig Smith of Pickerington 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 in a quarterfinal of the 2003 Division I district tennis tournament. With the victory, Jagels snapped a life-long, 17-match losing streak against Smith, the two-time defending district champion.

No. 9 (tie): The Groveport softball team upset top-seeded Hilliard Darby 2-1 in the second round of the Division I district tournament in 1999. The Cruisers were 6-16 entering the game, while Darby was 22-1.

No. 9 (tie): Westerville South wrestler Troy Bowers stunned Alex Stepanovich of Berea by pinning him in 1 minute, 3 seconds in the 1999 Division I state heavyweight final. After falling to Bowers, who had not won sectional or district titles, Stepanovich went 36-0 the following season and has gone on to play five seasons in the NFL.