DAYTON — After trailing 18-16 at the half Wednesday night at the University of Dayton Arena, the Jackson Center Tigers knew exactly what had to be done over the final two periods — get the ball inside to their 6-foot-6 junior Brady Wildermuth.
He responded with 20 of his 28 points in the second half to lead the Tigers to a hard-fought 46-43 victory over Cincinnati Christian School in the Division 4 district boys basketball championship game.
The Tigers go to 22-4 on the season and will next take on the winner of Thursday night’s Fort Loramie-Southeastern district final, also at the UD Arena, in the regional semifinals next Tuesday at 5:30 at Kettering Fairmont’s Trent Arena.
Jackson Center coach Scott Elchert, who will be taking his team to the regional tournament for the second year in a row, said Cincinnati Christian simply had no answer for Wildermuth inside. He either scored, or more often, got to the free throw line. He finished the game 12 for 15 from the line, and hit 10 for 12 in the final period alone.
Still, there were some tense moments, even after the Tigers got up by a half-dozen with just a minute or so remaining. Wildermuth was whistled for his fifth foul, and Cincinnati Christian was able to make a run in the final seconds.
“We were in control,” said Elchert. “We were up five, and we broke pressure, and they were going to have to foul. But then we turned the ball over and they came down and hit a three-pointer.”
The Tigers were able to hold on to the lead, but they had to survive a three-point attempt by Cincinnati Christian with the lead at just two with about 13 seconds remaining, and then another three attempt with a three-point lead and time running out.
“We weren’t patient enough on offense in the first half and we hurried our shots,” said Elchert. “But to the kids’ credit, they recognized that they (Cincinnati Christian) couldn’t handle Brady inside and they started feeding him. And Brady and Drew did a heck of a job on defense, too. They had two players (Woods and Keese) who were both averaging around 14 and they were both held to about half that (7 and 8).”
Elchert said the fact that it was the Tigers that were able to dictate the tempo was a huge factor. Cincinnati Christian averaged around 90 points in their previous three tournament games, and was up in the high 60s for the season.
“We knew they would want to be more up-tempo,” said Elchert. “So I thought that was the key early. We were able to keep the game at our tempo.”
In addition to Wildermuth, who also had six rebounds for the Tigers, Drew Sosby finished with 11 points. And as a team, the Tigers sank 18 of 25 free throws.
Cincinnati Christian (43) — Grammel 13, Oates 8, Ringer 2, Woods 7, Keese 8, Roberts 3, Nimmo 2.
Jackson Center (46) — D. Sosby 11, Zorn 3, B. Sosby 4, Wildermuth 28.
Score by quarters:
Three-pointers: CCS 5 (Grammel 2, Oates 2, Woods); JC 2 (D. Sosby 2).
Records: JC 22-4, CCS 19-7.
JC’s next game: Tuesday, regional semifinals at Trent Arena in Kettering, 5:30 vs. Fort Loramie-Southeastern winner.