During the opening quarter of its Division II state semifinal March 21 at Ohio State, the Columbus South High School boys basketball team was so hot from the floor that senior guard Tre’ohn Watkins scored on a putback while lying on the court just outside the paint.

The Bulldogs, who made 10 of their first 12 shots, led by 10 points at halftime and held a double-digit lead for all but one minute of the second half on their way to a 77-55 win over Thornville Sheridan.

South improved to 28-1 and will play Trotwood-Madison or Akron Buchtel in the state final at 2 p.m. March 23 at Ohio State.

“I’ll take that shot anytime,” coach Ramon Spears said of Watkins’ basket, which gave the Bulldogs a 23-5 first-quarter lead. “From watching film and scouting, they gave our attackers a lot of space and the main focus was to try to get the ball to our attackers. Once we did, we did a good job of sharing the ball and we got some easy layups.”

The Bulldogs are in the state tournament for the first time since finishing as runners-up in 1986. They won their only state title in 1965.

Sheridan, which was making its first state tournament appearance, finished 22-6.

South made 32 of 56 shots from the floor against the Generals as Alvin Byrd (18), Ta’Quan Simington (16), Trevell Adams (13), Watkins (12) and Marcus Johnson (10) all scored in double figures.

The Bulldogs also held Sheridan’s Ethan Heller, a second-team all-state honoree, to 15 points on 6-for-23 shooting.

The Generals cut a 25-10 first-quarter deficit to 30-24 with 3 minutes, 7 seconds left in the first half, but Adams scored at the buzzer to end the second quarter to give South a 36-26 lead.

For the game, the Bulldogs outscored Sheridan 58-30 in the paint and 19-6 on fast-break points.

“We were a little nervous at first, but it’s a great experience to be in this type of situation,” Adams said.

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