There was no consoling Wilmington, not even after rallying from a 20-point deficit with all the hometown grit it could muster.
“We’re just devastated,” Hurricane coach Mike Noszka admitted after unbeaten Lima Senior ended Wilmington’s season quest with a 61-58 defeat in a boys high school basketball Division I state semifinal at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center on Friday. “We came up here to win.”
So did Jackson Center. And just like Wilmington, the Tigers fell hard, 52-37 to Van Wert Lincolnview in a D-IV state semi Friday.
Wilmington and JC were the last area boys teams in the postseason. Instead, it’ll be Lima Senior (29-0) against Westerville South (25-4) in Saturday’s 8:30 p.m. D-I state final. Lincolnview (27-1) gets Willoughby Cornerstone (16-12) in the D-IV state final at 5:15 p.m., also at the Schott.
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It was the first time Wilmington (27-2) had played in the final four since 1927 when the school was called Hillsboro Marshall. And it featured a marquee matchup between senior Jarron Cumberland and Lima’s Mr. Basketball, Xavier Simpson.
Both delivered on the game’s grandest stage before a robust crowd of 15,292. Cumberland, also a Mr. Basketball finalist, tallied a game-high 25 points to go with nine rebounds and a block. Simpson, an elusive guard, went for 23 points, five assists and two steals.
Cumberland launched Wilmington’s final shot a couple of big steps behind the key as time expired. It missed and Wilmington’s players crumpled to the floor while the Spartans celebrated.
“I wanted it in my hands and I thought I had a good shot,” said Cumberland, who’ll take his celebrated game to the University of Cincinnati next season.
Wilmington trailed by 20 early in the second half before a comeback.
“We got it as close as we could get it,” said Noszka.
Jeffery Mansfield added 14 points and Dylan Beaugard 11 for Wilmington, which played without injured 6-foot-4 front-liner Alex Miller.
“Those guys never quit and they had an opportunity to,” said Lima coach Quincey Simpson, Xavier’s father who coached both his son, who signed with Michigan, and Cumberland in AAU last summer. “In the state semis, this is how games should be.”
Lincolnview 52, Jackson Center 39: Drew Sosby, Jackson Center’s designated launcher, had seen every defensive scheme assigned to him. But no team was as successful as Lincolnview in carrying out that task.
“It was tough,” said Sosby, the Southwest District player of the year, after being held to seven points on 3-of-19 shooting. “It was one of those nights where the ball didn’t fall and that’s part of basketball.”
Tigers junior center Brady Wildermuth scored a game-high 20 points to go with four rebounds. But Van Wert countered with a shutdown defense, rugged inside game and balanced scoring, led by Chandler Adam’s 14 points.
Jackson Center (24-5) trailed by two points going into the decisive fourth quarter, then had its offense unplugged.
“I can’t speak enough about the importance and impact (Sosby and Wildermuth) have had on this team and the success we’ve had,” Tigers coach Scott Elchert said. “We would not be here if it wasn’t for either of these young men.”
Westerville South 86, Garfield Heights 76: Jordan Humphrey scored 25 points in leading South to a D-I win that set multiple semi records in Friday’s last of four games. That offset 27 points and 16 rebounds by Braun Harfield of Garfield Heights (23-5).
Willoughby Cornerstone 73, Col. Wellington 67: Michael Bothwell had 30 points and 10 rebounds and Brandon McQueen added 20 points to power Cornerstone in its first final four appearance in Friday’s D-IV semi opener. Wellington (24-4) was led by Dustin Harder’s 21 points.
• All of Saturday’s state finals will be televised live by Time Warner Cable channels 311/1311 (HD) except the D-IV game, which will air on tape delay at 11 p.m.