Watterson Roundup: Eagles boys basketball team surprises way to district title

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Watterson's Jake Hoying lifts Blake Devlin, son of assistant coach Steve Devlin, while the Eagles celebrate a 44-35 victory over host Heath in a Division II district final March 6. It was Watterson's first district title since 2014.

As his team looked to finally seize control of a Division II district final, Watterson senior boys basketball player Sam Intihar hardly flinched during the numerous times he got fouled by Heath and sent to the free-throw line. 

It was as if all of the frustrations from a regular season in which the Eagles won just seven games and lost eight by 10 points or fewer finally were being cast away. 

“We keep saying we’re 0-0,” Intihar said. “Our record doesn’t really matter. We’re going to come out and play our hardest.” 

Intihar made all nine of his free throws in the second half – he went 6-for-6 in the final two minutes – as the 13th-seeded Eagles outlasted the fourth-seeded and host Bulldogs 44-35 on March 6.

Watterson improved to 12-15 by beating Cincinnati McNicholas 48-41 in two overtimes in a regional semifinal March 11 at Vandalia Butler. The Eagles advanced to a regional final March 13 against Dayton Chaminade Julienne at the same site, with the winner to play DeSales or Byesville Meadowbrook in a state semifinal March 20 at the University of Dayton.

DeSales defeated Watterson twice in CCL play, 60-48 on Jan. 15 and 59-56 in overtime Jan. 20.

The state final is March 21 in Dayton.

On March 3, the Eagles upset third-seeded and defending district champion Beechcroft 43-39 in two overtimes to advance to a district final for the second time in three seasons. 

Watterson last won a district title in 2014 and has earned nine overall, including eight under coach Vince Lombardo during his 28-year tenure. 

“We’ve been playing much better basketball in the last several weeks, the latter part of the season and coming into the tournament,” Lombardo said. “The kids are executing our plans really well. If we’d really shot the ball better, we’d have been in even better shape (against Heath), but defense has been our calling card.” 

Cole Rhett had 17 points and Noah Grayem added 10 against Beechcroft. 

Then against Heath, Watterson trailed 18-15 at halftime and 25-20 midway through the third quarter before scoring the final five points of the period. 

In the fourth, Rhett completed a three-point play with 5 minutes, 3 seconds remaining to give the Eagles a 32-28 lead. 

The Bulldogs got as close as 38-35 on a 3-pointer by Keylan Williams before Watterson scored the final six points. 

Intihar finished with 14 points and Grayem and Jake Hoying both scored nine for the Eagles, who entered the game against McNicholas having won seven of eight. 

Watterson opened the district tournament with a 47-31 win over 11th-seeded Bexley on Feb. 23 and then upset seventh-seeded Linden-McKinley 59-45 on Feb. 26 in the second round. 

The Eagles had lost to Linden 59-46 on Feb. 18 in their regular-season finale. 

“We were all working,” Intihar said. “It’s great. If you’d have told me (we’d win a district title), I’d think you were lying, just the way our season was looking, but we fought and we battled.” 

Wrestlers end season

at district tourney 

The wrestling team had three competitors in the Division II district tournament March 4-6 at Wilmington, but none advanced to the state tournament March 13 and 14 at Sparta Highland. 

Senior Nick Youell, who entered district as a No. 1 seed at 182 pounds, opened by losing to Germantown Valley View’s Orbin Creech 4-2 in overtime. He then pinned Wilmington’s Brayden Smith in 4:25 and beat Highland’s Triston Hinkle 6-2 before falling to Springfield Northwestern’s Evan Hager 8-2 in the third round of consolation to finish 20-3. 

Junior Leo Pavell went 0-2 at 138, including an 11-7 loss to Dayton Oakwood’s Aaron Cunningham in the first round of consolation, to finish 19-7. 

Junior Derek Caswell (heavyweight) was pinned by Hamilton Ross’ Griffin Peacock in 2:29 to open district. He earned a win by default in the first round of consolation and was pinned by Clarksville Clinton-Massie’s Lane Schulz in 1:27 in the second round of consolation to finish 13-8.  

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek