COLUMBUS — Columbus Bishop Watterson entered Thursday’s Division II state semifinal against Archbishop Kettering Alter riding a 21-game win streak. Watterson (27-1, No. 2 AP) pulled away from Alter (21-6, No. 7 AP) late to earn a 53-42 victory, their 22nd straight, and a date with Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in the Division-II state title game on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.. The Irish beat Warren 70-51 in the early semifinal.
“It’s our first time here, and to get a win I’m thrilled,” commented Watterson head coach Vince Lombardo. “We did an outstanding job of executing our plan. We didn’t think they could guard us at all five positions and we were able to take advantage.”
Matt Hughes (6-5, junior, post) finished with a double-double of 21 points and 10 board while adding three blocks. Matt Lehmann (6-4, junior, wing) had 14 points and Cody Calhoun (5-10, junior, guard) added nine points for the Eagles, who shot 55 percent from the field (11-of-20) in the second half and 45.5 percent (20-of-44) for the game.
Jaaron Simmons (6-2, senior, guard) was the lone player in double figures for Alter with 17 points. Michael Spencer (6-1, senior, guard), Michael Schwieterman (6-4, soph, forward) and Dean Lemon (6-3, soph, forward) each had six points for the Knights, who are coached by long-time mentor Joe Petrocelli.
Petrocelli, who announced his retirement during the season after 50 years in coaching, is the second winningest coach in Ohio high school boys basketball history behind Kalida’s Dick Kortokrax (850 wins). He retires with a record of 831-305 and a trio of state championships (2001, 99, 78).
“We just did not execute very well for one reason or another, but that happens,” Petrocelli said. “A lot of times you think this is the one you’re going to win, but you don’t, and when you don’t think you have a chance, you win.
“I told the kids we had a magnificent season, one I will remember forever,” he added.