COLUMBUS — Just in case anyone had missed it, Louisville Aquinas coach Matt Hackenberg played the underdog card again after his team’s 54-41 win over Harvest Prep in a Division IV semifinal at the boys basketball state tournament Thursday.
Aquinas (17-11), which plays Crestview (28-0) at 1:30 p.m. today for the Division IV state title, had an 11-11 record during the regular season.
Its schedule is not your typical Division IV lineup, with games against teams like Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph, Cleveland Central Catholic, Youngstown Ursuline and Youngstown Mooney. Still, teams with 11 losses are unexpected guests at state tournaments.
Hackenberg claimed after his team’s win Thursday that they had been at a restaurant the day before and were asked by a waitress if they were a swim team.
Aquinas plays a five-guard lineup, with only 6-foot, 3-inch Austin Hill over 6 feet tall. Its other starters are 6-foot Anthony Moeglin, 5-foot, 10-inch Daniel Piero, 5-foot, 9-inch Jacob Paul and 5-foot, 9-inch Sam Pusateri.
“Our program has been here before. It’s time to want to take the next step,” Crestview coach Jeremy Best said after his team’s 54-50 semifinal win over Tri-Village. “We know it’s not going to just happen. We’re going to have to prepare and get ready to play St. Thomas Aquinas.
“I think our group will be ready to play. How could you not be?” he said.