Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary capitalizes on four turnovers in last two minutes to run away late from Wauseon.
COLUMBUS — Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary coach Dru Joyce figured his team would wear down Wauseon as the game progressed on Saturday. It may have taken a little longer than Joyce wanted, but the Irish finished the last two minutes with a spectacular display of athleticism to finish of Wauseon.
St. Vincent-St. Mary scored 10 points over the last two minutes to beat the Indians 45-30 and capture the Division III state championship. It’s the seventh state title for SVSM, which ties Middletown for the most in OHSAA history. It’s also St. Vincent-St. Mary’s first since 2011 and comes after losses in state title games last season and in 2014.
“When it was on the line, you just saw the character and the heart of these guys,” Joyce said. “… I had been telling our guys that our 11 games would be better than their seven and wear them down sooner or later. You could see in the last minute when we turned the pressure back up that they couldn’t respond.”
A free throw by Wauseon’s Austin Rotroff with four minutes left cut St. Vincent-St. Mary’s lead to 35-30. After passing around for about a minute, Lunden McDay hit a shot off the glass with 2:12 left to increase the lead to seven. It started a flurry of scoring for the Irish that sealed the game.
Jayvon Graves followed with a steal a dunk with 1:55 left, then Jonathan Williams got a steal a few seconds later and passed to Justin Sampson, who laid a shot of the glass. Sampson then got a steal and missed a layup attempt, but Deamonte’ King scored on a tip-in with 1:18 left to increase the lead to 43-30.
Waueson turned the ball over on its next possession, and both teams put in bench players shortly after that. Nathan Snipes, a freshman forward, finished the game off with a one-handed dunk with two seconds left.
The Irish led by 11 points late in the third quarter, but Wauseon went on a 6-0 run over a five-minute stretch to narrow the score.
“I guess we got a little comfortable with the 11-point lead,” Joyce said. “… But when it was on the line, you just saw the character and the heart of these guys.”
Graves led St. Vincent-St. Mary with 25 points and six rebounds. Rotroff scored 18 points for Waueson and had a game-high nine rebounds.