COLUMBUS - Fueled by a massive third-quarter scoring advantage and a suffocating defensive effort, Cleveland Heights Lutheran East punched its ticket to the Division IV state finals following a 50-25 blitzing of Delphos St. John's in state semifinal action at the Schottenstein Center on Thursday.
The Falcons (19-9), battle-tested by a regular-season schedule featuring state tourney teams Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph and Lakewood St. Edward, pounded St. John's (21-5) 21-0 in the third quarter after leading just 16-13 at the half.
"I thought we pressured them in the first half but were not causing turnovers to get out in transition," said Lutheran East head coach Anthony Jones. "We needed to step it up one notch."
Lutheran East shook off a 6-of-17 shooting effort in the first two quarters by blazing the nets for a 15-of-25 effort in the final two stanzas. The Falcons held 6-8 first team all-Ohio standout Timothy Kreeger in check, allowing just two points on 1-of-6 shooting - 15 points below his season average.
"We haven't struggled to score all year to run our stuff," lamented DSJ head coach Aaron Elwer. "They were able to dictate it out there. It was tough to get to a spot where we were comfortable what we were doing. They did a great job of creating chaos."
Meanwhile, 6-3 junior Jordan Burge led the charge for Lutheran East with 16 points while senior Maurico Tate added 10. The Falcons will vie for the second state championship in school history (2005) Saturday at 2 p.m. against either Lima Perry or Columbus Wellington School.
Senior guard Robby Saine was the lone player in double figures for the Blue Jays with 10 points, including a pair of triples. St. John's was outscored in the paint, 26-10.