More than a minute before the start of the second half, the Olentangy Liberty High School boys basketball team already was on the floor warming up.
The Patriots, eager to put behind a first half in which they trailed by two points, believed they were close to seizing control against Pickerington North in a Division I regional final March 16 at Ohio Dominican.
Liberty backed up that conviction by opening the third quarter on a 10-3 run and outscored the Panthers 14-6 to begin the fourth period on its way to a 64-58 victory.
The Patriots improved to 24-4 and advanced to the state tournament for the first time. They will play Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary or Lima Senior in a state semifinal March 22 at Ohio State.
“We honestly were getting open 3s (in the first half), but we couldn’t make them,” senior forward Ben Roderick said. “We just kept saying we had to run our offense and had to run on them a little bit. We knew we didn’t play our first half very well and knew we could take (control of) this thing. It’s amazing.”
North, which finished 23-5, led 27-25 at halftime but trailed 43-40 after three quarters.
Both Henry Hinkle and Roderick made two baskets apiece and Nick Nakasian scored six points during the first 4 minutes, 32 seconds of the fourth quarter as the Patriots built a 57-46 lead.
“Once we get the lead, we’re pretty good at moving the ball, sharing it and making our free throws,” Patriots coach Greg Nossaman said. “They shot it real well in the first half and we didn’t. I said, ‘Just stay with the game plan and we’ll be fine,’ and the kids hung tough.”
Roderick finished with 20 points, Hinkle scored 14 and Nakasian added 13 for the Patriots, who also beat North 75-64 on Jan. 26.
Chris Scott had 23 points to lead the Panthers. Jack Sawyer added 18 points but just one in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers made only four of 11 free throws in the fourth quarter and never got closer than six points during the final three minutes.
“It seemed like we missed a million (free throws),” North coach Jason Bates said. “At the end of the day, these are guys that have not been in that position, stepping into new roles, and it was a big moment for them. We put ourselves in a position to win, so I’m proud of them, without a doubt.”Division II
Columbus South 64, Lima Shawnee 47
South built a 15-7 first-quarter lead and stretched its advantage to double digits later in the first half on its way to a 17-point victory over Shawnee in a Division II regional final March 16 at Bowling Green.
The Bulldogs improved to 27-1 and advanced to play Thornville Sheridan or New Philadelphia in a state semifinal March 21 at Ohio State.
South has made six previous state appearances, but its last came in 1986 when it finished as state runner-up.
The Bulldogs, who won their only state title in 1965, led Shawnee 35-24 at halftime. The Indians got within eight points in the second half before South pulled away.
Trevell Adams had 15 points and 11 rebounds, Ta’Quan Simington had 13 points, four rebounds and three assists and Tre’ohn Watkins added 12 points and five assists for the Bulldogs.
South limited Shawnee to 18-for-44 shooting from the floor, including just 5-for-22 from 3-point range. George Mangas had 19 points and six rebounds to lead the Indians, who finished 24-3.Division III
Harvest Prep 52, Wheelersburg 38
Harvest Prep is headed to the Division III state tournament for the second consecutive season after beating Wheelersburg in a regional final March 16 at Ohio University.
The Warriors led 33-29 after three quarters before outscoring the Pirates 19-9 in the fourth.
Harvest Prep improved to 26-2 and will play Cincinnati Purcell Marian or Anna in a state semifinal March 21 at Ohio State.
Christopher Anthony had 16 points, Elijah Glenn scored 14 points and Soul Hines added nine for the Warriors, who led 21-12 after the first quarter but were outscored 6-0 in the second.
Tanner Holden had 22 points to lead Wheelersburg, which finish 26-1.