COLUMBUS — Seventeen years ago, Frank Kill was a state champion.
Now, 17 years later to the day, Kill will be going for another state title.
Kill was a member of the 27-0 Lincolnview team that won the 1997 Division IV state championship.
Now Kill is the coach of the Lima Central Catholic Thunderbirds, who will play for a state championship.
LCC (24-4) will meet Villa Angela-St. Joseph (22-7) for the Division III boys basketball state championship at 4:30 p.m. today at Ohio State’s Value City Arena.
LCC defeated Cincinnati Roger Bacon 63-44 in the Division III state semifinals on Friday at Ohio State.
Kill was also an assistant coach to LCC coach Bob Seggerson when the T-Birds won the 2010 state championship.
It’s been quite a ride for Kill and Thunderbirds.
“Being a player, you really don’t realize what you are doing and what you’re doing for your community,” Kill said. “To represent Lima Central Catholic the way these guys are doing it, they’re doing it with class. I was able to do that for Lincolnview 17 years ago.
“As an assistant, you’re just there for the ride. You get some of the credit. Right now, yes, I am in charge, but these guys are doing it all. I put them in positions, and hopefully, we have one more left in us.
“As a head coach, I’ve had to mold these guys and get them where they want to be and I’ve very happy for them. They’ve bonded together and come together as a team. As a head coach, that’s probably my proudest moment that I can get 15 guys to really jell and come together.”
As a player, Kill started on the Lancers’ 1997 championship team, but wasn’t the offensive star. All-everything guard Brandon Pardon, forward Wes Dudgeon and Chad Pollock were the top scorers.
But 17 years ago, it was Kill who was the Division IV’s state tournament’s most valuable player.
In the 76-60 championship game victory over Zanesville Rosecrans, Kill he had 23 points and 12 rebounds. For the state tournament, he had 35 points and 24 rebounds.
Over this year, Kill did mention to his team what the journey of reaching the state tournament was like.
“He talked about how fun and how special it was to do it as a team and share that bond with your teammates,” LCC guard Martyce Kimbrough said. “He talked about how hard you had to work and how you have to play together. … You have stick together and be confident.”
Kill went on to have a standout playing career at Defiance College.
As a head coach, he has a completely different perspective on the tournament ride.
“At the end of the day, these guys make me proud,” Kill said. “I’m a proud papa because I get to be with these guys for another 24 hours.”
The fact that the T-Birds are playing loose in the tournament doesn’t surprise Kill.
“They’re winners,” he said. “When you’re a winner, you play confident. … We keep it low key and don’t get too hyped and get all crazy.”
Kill did leave his team with a piece of advice the night before the state semifinals.
“I told them last night, ‘I want this to be fun.’ We’re on a business trip, but these business trips don’t come around like everyone thinks they do. To be in this situation, we have an opportunity to do something that not every school gets to do.”