Pickerington High School Central's bid for history came up short last weekend, but the Tigers took solace in the fact that their run to a second consecutive Division I state tournament was somewhat unexpected.

Central's 11-game winning streak was snapped in an 82-78 loss to Solon in a state semifinal game March 23 at Ohio State.

The Tigers led by 12 points on five occasions and 53-47 midway through the third quarter before the Comets reeled off a 14-8 run to tie the game early in the fourth quarter.

Solon took the lead for good on David Marbury's 3-pointer with 4 minutes, 49 seconds to play, and a Marbury lay-in two possessions later put the Comets ahead by four points. Central never got closer.

Solon lost to Cincinnati Moeller 83-65 in the state final March 24.

The Tigers returned to a state semifinal despite being seeded ninth in the district tournament and playing the entire season without North Carolina recruit Jeremiah Francis, a junior point guard who was sidelined because of a left knee injury.

Central finished 18-9, adding its season to a year that will go down as perhaps the best in the school's athletic history.

The football team won its first Division I state championship in December and the girls basketball team won its first title since 1999 -- and seventh in program history -- March 17 when it defeated Solon.

"What these guys accomplished in the past three years, they did some really good things," coach Eric Krueger said. "Three district titles, two regional titles in a row, back-to-back (state semifinalists), they have been a special group.

"Winning or losing, just being around the kids daily, I have a lot of love for all of the kids on the team," Krueger said.

"It's always hard any time your season ends. Even if you win the whole thing ... I will miss this group."

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

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