Top-ranked New Concord John Glenn made the plays down the stretch to win the big trophy in D-II, while denying Akron St.Vincent-St.Mary a record-tying 7th title. Our coverage continues from the boys state tournament.
Columbus – The t-shirts worn by just about everybody associated with the New Concord John Glenn Muskies read “We didn’t come here to participate.”
The new t-shirts will read “Division Two State Champions”.
The top-ranked Muskies watched a 14 point first half lead disappear in a wave of second half turnovers, then rallied to beat Akron St.Vincent-St. Mary 76-72 in front of 14,643 for their first state championship.
“Wow,” exclaimed a weary but elated Muskies coach Greg Woodward. “What an emotional roller-coaster ride that was for all of us. I thought we played real well in the first half, then got a little passive against their press. Fortunately, our guys’ leadership came through and got the job done for us.”
“You have to make shots,” lamented St.Vincent-St.Mary head coach Dru Joyce, referring to his team’s 1for 17 start from the floor. “But this one in on me. We should have pressed them the entire game. I decided at halftime we were either getting back in the game or they were going to blow us out. When I saw how effective the press was, I knew I should have gone to it much earlier.”
That press forced 10 Muskie turnovers in the third quarter alone, though John Glenn still lead 51-47. John Williams tied it for the Irish a minute into the fourth quarter, and on the next possession, John Glenn’s Jeh Blevins drilled a three. It was waved off because Woodward had called timeout.
“That’s never happened before,” he smiled ruefully. “Believe me, when it went in, My heart dropped to my feet.”
The Muskies responded like championship teams do. Drew Rackley scored 9 of his game high 25 points in the fourth quarter, Matt Weir nailed 6 of 7 from the line down the stretch, and Austin Blatt hit four in a row from the line as the Muskies survived to finish 28-1 on the season.
“We are happy where we are, obviously,” smiled Woodward. “But we are a little angry we aren’t 29-0. Our only loss was to Linden, New Jersey and we had our chances in that game. It’s just the way our guys have been all season. Never satisfied.”
Rackley, who led the Muskies on the season with 22 points a game, and is headed to the Virginia Military Institute next year, said his team didn’t change anything after the Irish took the lead.
“We just said keep your focus. This is what we have dreamed of since we were kids, and we weren’t going to let it slip away.”
The Muskies were the last team to beat St. Vincent-St. Mary during the season, and Joyce said there wasn’t anything different today.
“Blevins made a couple of shots we didn’t think he could make, but nothing else. We just didn’t shoot well enough to win. The better team won today.”
Weir, who has committed to the Air Force Academy, finished with 18 points while Tanner Slack had 15. Rackley grabbed 11 rebounds and had 3 assists to go along with his 25 points as he played all 32 minutes.
Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary was trying to tie the all-time record of 7 state titles set 59 years ago by Middletown. Jayvon Graves led the Irish with 18 points, Henry Baddley, a Butler recruit, finished with 16,Williams had 14 and Dominic Davis had 11.
Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph also missed a chance to tie that record earlier in the day when it lost the D-III title game to Lima Central Catholic.
John Glenn Finished at 66% from the floor, 50% from the arc, and 75% from the line.The Irish never recovered from that horrendous start, finishing at 37% from the floor, 33% from the arc, and 84% at the line.
“I just told these guys that this is the dream for anyone who coaches high school basketball,” concluded Woodward. “Its been a dream of mine for 21 years, and I love these guys to death for making it come true.” (Edited By Julie McMaken Wright)