COLUMBUS — First, there was Lima Central Catholic’s Tre Cobbs attacking the rim.
Then, came LCC’s Dantez Walton firing 3-pointers and slashing his way to the basket.
With Ethan O’Connor on the inside, it was way too much for Roger Bacon to defend.
LCC rolled to a 74-56 victory over Roger Bacon in the Division III boys basketball state semifinals Thursday at Ohio State’s Value City Arena.
LCC (27-1) advances to the D-III state championship game against Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph (23-5) at 10:45 a.m., Saturday, at Ohio State. It will be the third straight year the two teams have met for the state title, with VASJ winning the title last year, while LCC won it in 2014.
Roger Bacon (21-8) lost to the T-Birds 63-44 in the 2014 state semifinals.
“Unfortunately, it played out about the same as it did the last time we were here,” Roger Bacon coach Brian Neal said.
The 6-foot-5, Northern Kentucky-bound Walton finished with 30 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. He hit 12 of 19 from the field and was 2 of 4 on 3-pointers. Cobbs had 20 points and was 3 of 6 on 3-pointers.
“Tre’s ability to get up and down the floor, then to have a guy like Dantez who can go inside and out, it makes it hard for us to be defended,” LCC coach Frank Kill said.
Ethan O’Connor added 12 points and three rebounds, hitting 5 of 6 from the field. Thomas Williams had two points and eight rebounds.
“It was a matter of pick your poison,” Neal said. “We wanted to protect against the drive, but Tre (Cobbs) is very good at creating contact. So we back up a tiny bit and they start making threes. Those two guys are as dynamic as two players as we’ve played all year. They both had a good game today and unfortunately we didn’t do enough to slow them down.”
Justin Johnson had 16 points, while James Johnson had 14 for Roger Bacon.
LCC ran out to a 10-0 lead, with Walton getting six quick points. But Roger Bacon came right back with an 11-0 run to pull ahead 11-10.
LCC then took the lead to stay, 13-11, with 1:42 left in the first quarter on a Walton 3-pointer. LCC led 17-13 after the first quarter.
The Spartans got within 17-15 early in the second quarter before LCC ripped off a 10-2 run to pull out to a 27-17 lead. During that run, Cobbs scored on a 3-pointer, a fast-break layup, a driving layup and a free throw.
“Good things happen when Tre’s going 94 feet shooting layups,” Kill said.
The T-Birds also went from their man to a 3-2 zone in the second quarter, which slowed down the Spartans.
“I thought it was a different look (to go zone),” Kill said. “I wanted to slow things down for a bit because it was getting super fast for a while. It was literally layup, layup. It was kind of a layup drill and I didn’t like it. It forced our guys to get back instead of just matching up.”
LCC led 32-25 after three quarters.
The T-Birds outscored Roger Bacon 18-8 in the third to make it 50-33 after three quarters.
Cobbs took a late headbutt to the forehead, but said he was ready to go after the game.
“Everything’s fine,” he said.
In the final 2:20, Walton threw down back-to-back monster dunks, one on a baseline drive, the other on a breakaway. The second made it 68-51 with 1:50 left.
“It looked like he was running out on me and he was coming too fast, so I went baseline,” Walton said. “And Tre just found me for my jump shots. That’s the 1-2 punch that we have.”
LCC won the boards, 32-29. LCC shot 52 percent from the field and was 6 of 14 on 3-pointers. Roger Bacon shot 42 percent from the field and hit 5 of 20 on 3-pointers.
Walton has been thinking of Saturday’s finals since LCC lost to VASJ in last year’s state title game.
“Our job’s not finished yet,” Walton said.
Reach Tom Usher at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @Lima_Usher