Cleveland Villa Angel-St. Joseph runs away from Lima Central Catholic.
COLUMBUS — The Defiance Bulldogs came alive in the second half to win the Div. II state title over Cleveland Catholic Central in overtime by a score of 49-45. It’s the first state championship in program history.
A wild and crazy finish doomed Central Catholic. With a two-point lead, Antwon Lillard slammed a two-handed dunk with 40 seconds left to stretch the lead to four points.
Lillard dunked on a fast break and pulled himself up on the rim before letting go. He was called for a technical foul for grabbing the rim, and Defiance’s Wes Detter promptly made two foul shots on the other end to negate the dunk and keep CCC’s lead at two points.
Kameron Singleton scored inside with six seconds left on the possession after the technical to tie the game at 39-39.
Defiance took control of the game in overtime. Detter made a three-pointer with 1:34 left to give the Bulldogs a 44-41 lead, and they never trailed again.
“We made plays, first and foremost,” Defiance head coach Kirk Lehman said after the game. “To be able to have those two free throws turned the tide a little bit, but to our guys credit, after that tide was turned, we made plays and we made a lot of plays.”
Lilliard was not happy with the call and thought it was the turning point of the game.
“As I went up for the dunk, I wasn’t able to land,” Lillard said. “It was kind of difficult to land as I swung on the rim. It was difficult because I might tweak an ankle or tear something. It was kind of difficult for me to land so I could be safe as well. The ref is going to make a call regardless.
“Me personally, I feel like it was a bad call. I fell (the dunk) gave us a lot of momentum. I feel that dunk I did would have sealed the game. I’m not taking anything away from Defiance because that’s a good team, but I feel that that’s a steal.”
Cleveland Central Catholic led 19-12 at halftime as Defiance struggled with just 20 percent shooting from the field. But Defiance controlled the tempo of the game in the second half.
Lillard led Cleveland Central Catholic with 24 points along with six rebounds. Tervell Beck was also in double figure scoring with 12 points — all of which came in the second half. Central Catholic shot 43.2 percent from the field for the game and finished 24-6 on the season.
Defiance was led by Katwan Singleton, who had 18 points and 11 rebounds. He will play for Findlay University next season. Kameron Singleton contributed 14 points and eight rebounds for Defiance. Defiance finishes 28-2 with a state title in their first state final four appearance since 1940.
Cleveland VASJ 65, Lima Central Catholic 50
The rematch of last year’s Div. III state final went to Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph this time by a score of 63-50 over Lima Central Catholic.
The Vikings pulled away to their sixth basketball title in school history in the second half on Saturday. VASJ coasted with an early 9-0 scoring run in the third after leading by just five points at halftime. Lima Central Catholic cut the final scoring margin to 13 but were down by as many as 18 in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings were led by their trio of future Div. I college players: Brian Parker (17 points/five rebounds), Derek Pardon (15 pts/12 reb) and Carlton Bragg, who had 12 points and three rebounds while just playing 17 minutes with foul trouble. Parker, a 6-3 guard, is headed to Marist while Pardon (6-7) is headed to Northwestern. Bragg, a 6-10 center, is going to Kansas.
Senior Simon Texidor scored 12 points as well for VASJ. The four players were too much for LCC to contain. Central Catholic lost junior guard Tre Cobbs to an injury in the third, and junior forward Dantez Walton had to miss time getting into foul trouble.
Walton led LCC in scoring with 13 points and Josh Dixon also scored in double figures with 11.
Central Catholic finished the season 25-3 with their only two regular season losses coming to Versailles and Lima Senior. After winning state titles in 2014 and making it back today, LCC should be in good shape for another run in 2016 with four returning starters.
The win for St. Joe came down to their size advantage and patient half-court offense which frustrated LCC. VASJ shot 53 percent from the field for the game and made only 2-of-10 three-point attempts.
The win today for the Vikings made up for losing by two points in year’s final to Central Catholic. Villa Angela-St. Joseph finished the season 24-4 and today made their 14th appearance in the state basketball tourney.