Wauseon's Owen Newlove grabs a rebound with 6:37 to play while surrounded by Columbus Eastmoor's Tim Smith (24), Tripp Hopkins (3) and Taevion Kinsey and goes on to score

COLUMBUS - Owen Newlove didn't lead Wauseon in scoring. 

He didn't lead them in rebounding or blocks or assists or shooting. 

But the 6-4 junior certainly helped lead the Indians to a berth in the state finals.

Newlove tallied a modest eight points and five rebounds in Wauseon's 42-35 win over Columbus Eastmoor Academy in the Division II state semifinals at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus on Thursday, but none of the baskets or boards could have come at a better time for the Indians.

"He knows he's not going to step outside and knock threes down and he's not going to beat guys off the dribble," lauded Burt of the junior's efforts, helping ensure the loss column in Wauseon's stellar 27-1 campaign to date did not become a crooked number. "Owen's a little unorthodox. If you've got kids, it's not how you'd teach your son to shoot it. But man does he compete, though.

"He's done that for us all year, that's nothing new. He's a likeable kid and man did he make three big plays for us today."

Added Newlove: "Coach Burt prides the team on effort and offensive boards and it was a key to the game. We try to be a star in our role. Scoring's not my role but offensive rebounds and effort are something I pride myself on."

With the Indians trailing 25-24 early in the fourth period, Newlove made his contribution to the team's winning effort in a big way. 

Newlove gave Wauseon a lead it wouldn't relinquish on a putback off his own miss. The junior came right back on the team's very next possession off an Austin Rotroff block and made another putback for the Indians.

That wasn't enough for Newlove, though. 

After yet another block from Rotroff to wipe out an Eastmoor possession, Newlove snared a key defensive rebound that turned into a jumper from teammate Carter Bzovi at the other end. 

"The start of the fourth quarter, he made two monster plays for us," lauded Burt. "(Eastmoor went) on a little 6-0 run at the end of the third quarter on a three and three-point play that got us on our heels a little bit.

"I'll be honest, there's been a few times this season where we've gotten a little big-eyed in circumstances like that. I didn't see that today."

Against a Eastmoor roster flush with athleticism that records eight steals a game, the Indians weathered the storm, leading for much of the contest and bouncing back from 13 turnovers and 13 offensive boards from the Warriors.

"Until you see that speed and size and athleticism, it's an adjustment," admitted Burt. "The film doesn't do it justice how physical they are on the perimeter."

A mantra for the Indians in the 2016-17 season has been to be a star in one's role. 

It wasn't lost on Burt or Newlove on whether that task was fulfilled.

"That's something we've talked about all year, being a star in your role," said the Wauseon mentor, who has now joined the rare class of those that have played and coached in a state championship game. "He was certainly a star in his role. It's just a mentality to go get it."

Newlove averaged just five points and 2.3 boards per game entering Thursday's state clash, well outside the spotlight of all-Ohio standouts Austin Rotroff and Carter Bzovi and do-it-all Brooks Gype. 

That trio combined for 33 of the team's 42 points in a matchup of two teams trying to take advantage with relentless tenacity. 

But perhaps the most relentless effort of all came from someone just outside the bright spotlight of state.

"It's great. It's so surreal," said Newlove of the emotions following a win in the Indians' first trip to Columbus since a D-II state runner-up finish in 1994. "For the next 20 hours, we're going to live it up and enjoy it but tomorrow's got to be all business."

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