Luke Lachey put a thunderous exclamation point on a second consecutive district title for the Grandview Heights boys basketball team -- just as he had a year earlier.
The 6-foot-7 senior post player buried a rim-shaking dunk to start the fourth quarter as the top-seeded Bobcats began an 11-1 run that erased any hopes sixth-seeded Fisher Catholic might have in a Division IV district final March 5 at Ohio Dominican. Grandview went on to win 51-30.
Lachey had a similar play last season, turning a steal into a dunk with 3 seconds remaining to seal a 54-49 win over Johnstown in a Division III district final.
"I'm going to remember that," Lachey said of his dunk against Fisher Catholic. "But the biggest thing is winning another district (title) with my teammates. Playing out there with them was awesome. It's something that will never come back."
The Bobcats won their seventh district championship, their third since 2016 and their first back-to-back titles since 1998-99. Coincidently, they also won those in two divisions: Division IV in 1998 and Division III in 1999. The titles in 1989, 2009 and 2016 were in Division III.
"Division III or Division IV, that doesn't mean diddly to me," said coach Ray Corbett, whose team improved to 21-5. "A district (championship) is a district (championship).
"We went into (the Division III district final) last year and we certainly were not the favorite. We were playing a Johnstown team that (beat) us (56-35) earlier in the season. The finish of that game led to so much excitement and led us to the regional last year."
The Bobcats played 10th-ranked Glouster Trimble in a regional semifinal March 10 at Ohio University. Last year, they lost to Oregon Stritch 63-58 in a regional semifinal.
"We went to (Bowling Green) last year (for regional), and we just want to keep on doing it," said Lachey, who scored a game-high 19 points against the Irish. "Every time we win, it's a new thing and something special. Going out here and playing in another district championship (game) is great. Everything about it is awesome."
Senior guard Brian Collier said last year's regional experience would help the Bobcats.
"Playing up there last year will help us a lot," said Collier, who scored 15 points against Fisher Catholic. "We played in a big arena last year, and just playing against tough teams in the past will help us."
The regional semifinal winner plays fourth-ranked Peebles or eighth-ranked Berlin Hiland in a regional final Friday, March 13, at OU.
"It's awesome," Collier said. "It's what we have worked on all season. We played well in the district and we hope to continue that in the regional."
Fisher Catholic entered with a plan of taking away Collier's perimeter game. Instead, he drove into the lane and distributed to his teammates. The result was a 6-for-6 performance from the free-throw line as part of the Bobcats going 13-for-16.
"We got a full team effort from everyone," Collier said. "They tried to take me out of the game and face-guard me, but my teammates stepped up and scored. We had a balanced effort."
Senior guard Charlie James added eight points.
"Charlie has been contributing for us more and more," Corbett said. "It's really nice to have Charlie do what he has done. I thought we got more comfortable as the game went on in the second half, and that was good."
Defense propelled the Bobcats, who led 11-7 after the first quarter and 23-11 at halftime.
"We didn't know how our offense would be tonight, but one thing that has been consistent for us in the last month or so is our ability to guard," Corbett said. "I thought we did a nice job of that tonight. (Fisher Catholic) tried to control the tempo and tried to take away certain things, but our kids were able to spurt just enough (offense) that it didn't allow (the Irish) to recover."
The Bobcats led 36-21 after three quarters.
"We had a spurt in the fourth quarter when we got up 15 or 16 when we asked ourselves, 'Can they catch us?' And I didn't think they could," Corbett said. "We just had to come down and hold on to the ball a little bit and we'd be OK."