COLUMBUS - Caris LeVert scored 20 points, 13 in the second half, and Javon Bess hit two clutch foul shots with 9.1 seconds remaining to lead Pickerington Central to a 45-40 win over Toledo Whitmer and the Division I state championship on Saturday night in the final game of the 90th annual Boys State Basketball Tournament.
LeVert, an Ohio University recruit, tallied 11 points in the third quarter and the Tigers gave head coach Jerry Francis, former Ohio State standout, a state title in his second year at the helm.
Whitmer (24-3) rallied from a 32-27 third-quarter deficit to take a 37-36 lead on a three-point play by Nigel Hayes with 3:40 to play, but LeVert canned two foul shots with 2:27 left to put Pickerington Central on top to stay.
Whitmer, which won a game for the first time ever in five trips to the state tournament during the semifinals, pulled within 42-40 on a triple by Leroy Alexander with 9.1 seconds remaining but Bess hit both ends of a double bonus for the Tigers with 9.1 seconds still on the clock.
Jae’Sea Tate added 10 points for Pickerington Central.
Alexander led the Panthers with 19 points and Hayes finished with 15.