Division I State Championship: Nichols' 26 leads Lakewood St. Edward in overtime thriller

By AARON GROSS agross@crescent-news.com Published:

COLUMBUS — The Eagles of Lakewood St. Edward claimed the 2014 OHSAA Division I state championship game in thrilling fashion, claiming a hard-fought 62-58 overtime battle with Upper Arlington Saturday night at Value City Arena at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.

After finding themselves in a back-and-forth battle throughout regulation, the Eagles (26-2) sent the game into an extra session when senior forward Marsalis Hamilton, who had hit just three longballs all season, drained a triple as the buzzer sounded, setting off jubilation in the Lakewood bench.

In the overtime session, Lakewood St. Edward did not trail, earning layups from Malcolm Walters and Tony Vuyancih and 6-of-7 free throw shooting in the period. The final two free throws, made by 6-7 junior Kipper Nichols, sealed the deal, giving the Eagles their second state championship in school history (1998).

Nichols took over the contest from the opening whistle, netting 26 points on 11-of-15 shooting on the sport’s highest stage and sending the rabid fans of Upper Arlington (27-2) home stunned.

The Golden Bears, who made their first trip to the state tournament since a three-year run from 1937-39, used a mix of defensive tenacity and timely shooting to hold a lead after each of the first three quarters, including a 9-0 run to start the game.

6-3 senior guard Kevin Vannatta, a UNC-Asheville signee, and classmate Danny Hummer each scored 15 points in their final games in Black and Gold.

Hamilton, a 6-4 senior, chipped in 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting with only one made three point shot on one attempt …  the final shot of regulation.

The loss snapped a 26-game win streak for the Golden Bears, whose last defeat came by three points in the second game of the season to Powell Olentangy Liberty.

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