COLUMBUS — Columbus Bishop Watterson knew it was up against history when it met Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in the Division II boys state basketball championship contest on Saturday at The Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
After all, the Eagles were making their first state championship appearance in their first ever run to state. Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish were playing for their seventh state title in their 12 times in the Final Four. In the end, Watterson made enough plays down the stretch to capture its first crown, holding on for a thrilling 55-52 victory.
“We did what we always do, build off defense first,” stated Watterson mentor Vince Lombardo. “We want to play great defense, take transition away from our opponent and hit the glass. That’s what we did.”
Matt Hughes (6-5, junior, post), Cody Calhoun (5-10, junior, guard) and Bryan Jackson (6-4, senior, post) all finished in double figures for the Eagles (28-1, No. 2 AP), who were up by five points with less than a minute to play, before the Irish (20-10, No. 11 AP) had a chance to tie in the waning seconds before missing a 3-pointer from the corner.
Hughes had 14 points and five boards, with Calhoun adding 14 points and four boards. Jackson finished with 12 points and six rebounds for the Eagles.
Jalen Hudson (6-6, junior, guard) scored a game-high 17 points to pace SVSM, which won state titles in 1984, 2000, ’01, ’03, ’09 and 2001. Three of those were with Miami Heat superstar LeBron James. Nick Wells (6-6, senior, forward) added 14 points.
“It’s not so much we didn’t score, we didn’t stop them,” said SVSM head coach Dru Joyce. “We let them dictate tempo, that’s the bottom line.”