COLUMBUS — An abundance of speed and quickness.
Willoughby Cornerstone Christian had that and a lot more.
Cornerstone Christian used its athletic ability to run past No.1-ranked Lincolnview 72-54 to win the Division IV boys basketball state championship Saturday at Ohio State’s Value City Arena.
Cornerstone jumped on nearly every rebound and every loose ball and sprinted the floor at a track-like pace.
It marks unranked Cornerstone’s first basketball state championship in the 14th year of the history of the school. Cornerstone, which played a very competitive schedule, ended the year 17-12.
The Lancers (27-2) were making their first state appearance since the 1997 state championship team.
“We were 27-2 and lost to the Division III (Lima Central Catholic) and Division IV state champions and to have that on our record, that’s an accomplishment to these guys,” Lincolnview coach Brett Hammons said. “We didn’t have a winning record from 2005 to last year and we were 14-10 last year, and for us to go 27-2 this year, is a testament to these seniors.”
Cornerstone guard Michael Bothwell, who scored 30, 41 and 30 in his last three games, was held to 14 points. But the Patriots put four players in double figures.
Jeremy Owens scored 14 points, while Jack Kelsheimer and Brandon McQueen both scored 13 points and had nine rebounds. Kelsheimer and Bothwell both hit two 3-pointers.
“One of our keys was, ‘Be free and shoot the ball’ and Jack had a great stroke today,” Cornerstone coach Daniel Selle said.
Added Kelsheimer, “Inside we were amped up, but we knew we could play on this stage because we put the work in.”
For Lincolnview, Trevor Neate led the way with 16 points and four rebounds. Austin Leeth and Derek Youtsey both scored 10 points. Chander Adams had six points and 10 boards.
“It was an awesome feeling coming down here,” Neate said. “It didn’t end the way we wanted to, but there’s no better place to end it than down here.”
Added Leeth, “This is a dream come true for me.”
Cornerstone Christian shot a sizzling 56 percent from the field and was 7 of 15 on 3-pointers. Lincolnview shot 45 percent and was 1 of 8 on 3-pointers. Cornerstone won the boards, 30-23.
Cornerstone sprinted out to early leads of 6-0 and 9-4.
By the end of the first quarter, Cornerstone led 19-12. By that time, Cornerstone had hit three quarters.
“They did a great job of attacking the basket and their defense led to easy transition points because we turned it over,” Hammons said. “I think that set the tone for the game. … But halftime we were down 19 and had to play for the name on our jersey. I thought we won the second half and I applaud them for not giving up and just throwing in the towel.”
Cornerstone continued to gobble up loose balls and sprint the floor in the second quarter.
And in the halfcourt, Cornerstone used its quickness to take the ball right at the basket.
The Patriots outscored the Lancers 13-4 to start the second quarter to pull out to a 32-16 lead. Cornerstone led 37-18 at the half.
By the half, Cornerstone was hitting 52 percent from the field and was 4 of 9 on 3-pointers. They also owned the boards, 18-13.
Cornerstone led 61-35 after three quarters. The Lancers made a run in the final quarter, but 17 was as close as they would get, 67-50, with 2:28 to go.
Cornerstone was also able to rotate down and give him to bottle up 6-foot-3 Adams and hold him to six points.
“He’s a load,” Selle said of Adams. “We had a guy fronting him and limiting his touches, but most of the credit goes to Jeremy Owens.”
Added Hammons, “It was a challenge all night, one we knew it was going to be, and unfortunately for us, we didn’t give our best defensive effort today.”
Bothwell was named the most outstanding player of The Associated Press Division IV all-tournament team.
Joining him on the all-tournament team was McQueen, Also making the squad were Neate, Jackson Center forward Brady Wildermuth and Columbus Wellington forward Dustin Harder.
Reach Tom Usher at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @Lima_Usher