Lutheran East holds on and beats The Wellington School in Div. IV title game.
COLUMBUS — Cleveland Vila Angela-St. Joseph used a big run in the fourth quarter to take a commanding lead over Roger Bacon and then held on in the final minute to earn a 54-52 win in the Division III state championship on Saturday at Value City Arena.
Alec Pfriem hit a basket with 3:25 in the fourth for Roger Bacon that cut VASJ’s lead to 45-43, but the Vikings scored the next eight points (six from the free-throw line) to take a 53-43 lead with 35 seconds left. The Spartans scored nine points before the buzzer — including a 3-pointer by James Johnson with six seconds left — but they had no timeouts left.
“I still can’t figure out how we won,” Vila Angela-St. Joseph coach Babe Kwasniak said. “They’re really good. At times, they outplayed us. I told our guys it would be like looking in the mirror. They’re so good at getting good shots and so well-coached and so disciplined… Those guys are electric defensively.”
Jerry Higgins led the Vikings with 16 points, while Alonzo Gaffney had 12 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Justin Johnson led Roger Bacon with 14, while James Johnson scored 13 and Pfriem had 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
VASJ has made the state semifinals each of the last five seasons and had lost in the state final last year to Lima Central Catholic. Saturday’s win was the seventh state title for Vila Anegla-St. Joseph, which ties the record for most championships with Middletown and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.
Lutheran East 43, The Wellington School 38
The Wellington School jumped out to a 15-4 lead in the first quarter, but Lutheran East clamped down on defense and survived a late rally to win the Division IV state title.
The Falcons outscored Wellington 12-3 in the second quarter and 11-6 in the third to pull ahead to a 29-24 lead. The Jaguars pulled within four points on a basket by Dustin Harder with 41 seconds left. Travis Sanders made 1-of-2 free-throw attempts for Lutheran East a few seconds later, and Harder followed with a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left to bring Wellington within 41-38.
Sanders made two more foul shots with 14 seconds left, and Wellington missed a shot with four seconds.
Jordan Burge led Lutheran East 13 points. Harder scored a game-high 14 and had 11 rebounds.