In a hard-fought thriller between the state’s premier big schools, Massillon Jackson won their second state title, beating Moeller at the horn.
Columbus – It drew the tournament’s largest, and most enthusiastic crowd. 11,750 showed up to see the biggest, baddest basketball of the weekend.
What it resembled, in fact, was Division I football for the number of points scored.
Massillon Jackson scored just 39 points in beating Moeller, 39-38, in one of the lowest scoring Division I finals in the modern history of the OHSAA tournament…to break the hearts of the top-ranked Crusaders, seeking their fourth overall title and first in a decade.
lt was close, and in assistant commissioner Jerry Snodgrass’s words, it was contested in the manner that determined the toughest team left in the state. The score was tied 7 times; and it changed hands 5 times.
Massillon led 13-11 at the end of the first quarter, the delight of a huge contingent from Stark County. It was DEAFENING in Value City Arena.
Moeller came back to tie it at the end of the half, 20-20. Every possession was contested, and valued.
Massillon Jackson outscored Moeller in the third, 10-7, setting a climactic finish that saw the Tigers from Stark County actually outscore Moeller, 11-9.
There was drama; a pair of intentional fouls that gave each team an opportunity for free throws and a free possession at the end of the game, but neither team was able to put it away due to an official’s call.
It came down to a final possession for Moeller with 3 seconds remaining and 94 feet between them and basket. On a half-court pass to Keegan McDowell, McDowell leaped high to receive the basketball, twisting as he came down to set his feet for a half-court shot. The ball carried to the rim but went wide left as the horn sounded.
It set off a thunderous reaction by the Massillon crowd, who previously celebrated their only other basketball title just seven years ago (2010).
The Tigers (28-2) were led in scoring by Logan Hill with 12 points; followed by teammate Jaret Pallotta with 11. They shot just 35% from the floor, but were efficient enough to hit five three-pointers in the game at big moments to keep Moeller at bay.
Moeller, the state’s #1-ranked team in Division I, finished their season with a 28-1 mark, shooting 35% from the floor, but just 25% (2 of 8) from three-point range, and 67% from the foul line (10 of 15).
Moeller was seeking its fourth title, having won previously in 1999, 2003, and ’07.
Massillon Jackson’s win also marked the first, and only, win by a public school at this year’s tournament. Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, Cleveland Lutheran East, and Villa Angela-St. Joe won in Divisions II, IV, and III, respectively.