Shawnee put up its best effort. Like a lot of other great teams over the years, that wouldn’t be good enough against Dunbar.
The Braves’ history-making season came to an end late Friday against the Wolverines in the nightcap of three Division II boys high school district finals at UD Arena, 67-54.
It looked good early for Shawnee (23-3) after the Braves posted a 19-13 lead at the end of the first quarter. But by halftime the defending D-II state champs had taken command.
In the end, Dunbar was too long, fast and relentless, a story line it has honed to perfection for three state titles since 2006. The final score was its greatest lead.
Jaelin Williams capped a brilliant senior season with a game-high 25 points.
That didn’t detract from a great season by the Braves. Once Shawnee got defensive, most of the Central Buckeye Conference didn’t have a chance.
Offensive fireworks aside, defense had always been the Braves’ trump card. And they needed that at their high-end best against Dunbar.
Shawnee (23-3) was built around the rim-topping game of 6-foot-5 senior all-everything Williams. Averaging 20.0 points and 8.4 rebounds, that was a given.
But it’s the defensive work of a seven-deep rotation that really made the difference and set up the offense.
David Sawyer (10.8 points), Jaden Greenwood (10.3), Andrew Tincher (7.7), Jalen Nelson (6.5), Andrew Young (4.7) and David Barnett (2.6) all concede to Williams on offense, but all help turn up the heat on defense.
That was the goal against the Wolverines, too. Although this time the one-and-done stakes were higher and the opponent among the state’s strongest.
During the regular season, Shawnee lost at Vandalia Butler 43-36 in Game 2. A 71-70 setback at Tecumseh cost the Braves a perfect Kenton Division run.
Still, that was enough to secure a No. 2 seed to Trotwood-Madison. The Rams were eliminated by Cincinnati Hughes in Friday’s opening game shootout, 96-86. Alter extended veteran Joe Petrocelli’s coaching career yet another game with a 66-56 knockout of Wilmington in Friday’s second game.