By Gary R. Rasberry
COLUMBUS —ĘThere are advantages to winning the first semifinal game of the day at the state basketball tournament.
Not is there a little extra rest in getting ready for the championship game, but also the fact that a coach gets to scout his potential opponent.
Keith Westrick did get that chance after his Marion Local Flyers won the Friday lidlifter over Sebring McKinley.
Hopefully he stayed for it all.
Holgate’s boys team took a page from the state runs of the girls the past several years and used a three-point buzzer beater to advanced to the state championship game with a 31-28 win over South Webster in the second semifinal on Friday. The last team to do that was Canton McKinley in the 1945 Class A semifinal against Middletown.
The fact that the Tigers are in the finals is astounding, considering that the team became the first team in 59 years to not score a point in one quarter. That came in the third quarter when the Jeeps outscored the Tigers 12-0 in the quarter to overcome a 18-11 halftime deficit to take a 23-18 lead going into the fourth quarter
The winning shot came as time wound down in regulation. Blake Sizemore, who underwent ACL repair surgery in his freshman year, hit his only basket of the game with a swish from the three-point line as the horn sounded.
Buzzer-beaters at the Schottenstein Center are not uncommon for Holgate, but it’s been the ladies who have done it before. Three years ago, Alissa Gill hit a long-range shot to force overtime against Worthington Christian in the semifinals. Last year, Vanessa Rothman hit a 30-footer at the buzzer to beat Shadyside for a chance to face Marion Local in the state title game.
The Tigers, 20-6, boast a team (Continued from page 6)that likes to keep the score totals below the 40-point mark as much as possible, keeping an defensive average of 35.8 points per game.
The best player on the team comes off the bench in 6-4 Earnest Ferguson. The senior averages 10.6 points a game and was a big factor in the fourth quarter in getting the win over South Webster, becoming the first team since 1932 to not score a point in a quarter and still win. An OHSAA staff member noted that Akron West went scoreless in the first quarter of the Class A semifinal before beating Pomeroy 23-14.
Ferguson hit three jumpers in the paint in the final 2:19 of the game to tie the game up to set up Sizemore’s winner. Ferguson scored 10 points and pulled down seven boards.
Junior Drew Clady leads the starters in scoring at 10.2 points per game and scored six points in the win over South Webster. Sophomore Lee Brubaker averages 9.7 ppg. Center Adam Bjorlin (6-3) averages just 1.4 points in splitting time with Ferguson.
Coach Paul Wayne knows his team is in for a battle with Marion Local.
“Coach (Westrick) does a great job over there,” said Wayne who is in his 27th year at the Henry County school. “He graduates all his starters from last year’s state title and brings them back to state this year. What a tribute to him and his program. They’re big, make plays, shoot the ball very well and play a great matchup zone. I’ll be going to the VCR to figure out a way (to play them).”