The excitement of the day had been building with two great games in the books. Division II was ready for the stage and what better game than Northwest and Chaminade-Julienne to get it started.
The Indians took the floor at the finish of the D-III game for a pre-game shoot around. C-J followed and as fans started filling the Schottenstein Center you could feel the excitement grow.
Northwest dressed in white with red trim looked calm during warm-ups. C-J took the floor dressed in black with blue/white trim and showed no emotion in preparing for the next step of the journey.
Northwest enters with one defeat and looks for the biggest prize of all, a state finals game. Having won 21 games straight, the Indians have not tasted defeat sine losing to Louisville in their forth game of the season. This is the first trip to Columbus as Northwest, in the 30's they played in Ohio's Class B Tournament when they were known as Canal Fulton High School. In 1938 they won a state title after beating Cincinnati Wyoming, Upper Arlington, Shawnee and Enon.
Chaminade-Julienne has made this trip before. Having played in 6 Final Fours, the Eagles have cut the nets down twice since 1966. In 1966 they defeated Warren Harding and Toledo Libbey for a Class AA title, in 1970 they defeated Waverly and Rossford for another Class AA title.
The tip was won by Northwest and they worked for the first score, a bucket by forward Chuck Samsa along with a foul, and before CJ had an offensive possession the score was 4-0. Derek Brown put CJ on the board at the 5:10 mark of the first as CJ looked to battle back in the game. A battle that would last all night long.
Brown leave the game with a cut lip from a collision with Anthony Turner, and by the end of the quarter Northwest held a 7-point advantage 13-6. The Indians received 7 points from Matt Lewis, while all 6 of CJ's points came from Derrick Brown.
Brown would become the story for CJ as he was taken to the locker room for treatment. Looking for a leader, the Eagles went into defensive lockdown and clawed their way back into the game as Anthony Turner hit a three for the tie at 4:55.
Brown returned to the bench and floor with 4:40 on the clock. CJ looked to make a statement. That statement never came as Northwest would see the ball and whistle go their way. When the horn sounded, the Indians were sitting with a 28-20 advantage.
At the halfway point the numbers stood as followed. CJ would shoot 30.4% from the field and Northwest 45.0%. Leading scorers were Matt Lewis with 8 for the Indians and Derrick Brown with 6 for CJ.
The third quarter was no different than the first half, Northwest always stayed a step ahead and the pressure mounted. At the horn, Northwest made an open pass only to see Brown make a big block. The scoreboard showed 43-36 Northwest with the Indian backers going crazy.
Staying a step ahead, and looking to close the door, Northwest played solid defense and controlled the clock. Would the Eagles go down easy? No, but every time they felt a surge, Northwest would shut the door and increase their advantage.
Coach Lower had a game plan, and a team that worked it to perfection. Playing zone forced CJ to an outside game, and with the Eagles not hitting from outside, they never got over the hump and suffer a 65-51 defeat.
NORTHWEST FANS CHEER AT THE HORN FOR A VICTORY
Northwest waits for the winner of Dover and Ottawa-Glandorf in the finals on Saturday.
NORTHWEST PLAYERS SHOW TEAM UNITY AFTER VICTORY
THEY MAKE SURE TO THANK THE FANS
After the game both coaches spoke about the feeling of being in Columbus. Coach Staley expressed that today's game wasn't Chaminade-Julienne basketball. That Northwest played a great game and to give them credit for taking it to CJ.
CJ shot 34.6% from the field and 37.0% from three. Northwest shot 51.4% from the field and 50.0% from three. The biggest difference came on the boards, CJ only pulled down 21 boards while Northwest hauled in 32.
Ryan Patrick paced CJ with 18 points, 5 assists and 2 steals, while Matt Lewis was one of three players for Northwest in double figures. Lewis finished with 23, Vinnie Sette 12 and Chuck Samsa tallied 15.
Northwest had control of the game from start to finish and look strong for the championship game.
NORTHWEST WITH THE PRESS
ANTHONY TURNER WALKS OFF AFTER LOSS
NOTHING CHANGED FROM THE COURT OR IN FRONT OF THE PRESS
OTTAWA-GLANDORF V.S. DOVER
The matching of two great programs makes the OHSAA Championships worth every penny spent in getting there. That is what the last game of the first day gave the fans who attended.
Ottawa-Glandorf and Dover have great traditions, both schools saw fans (16,079) turnout and cheer their team onto the finals on Saturday. The Titans make the trip for the fourth time and have yet to cut the nets.
Dovers making their seventh trip and has cut the nets twice. The last championship won came in 1933. Would the Tornadoes suck up the Titans, and advance for the chance to win another championship?
The Titans would score first, only to see Dover keep the score close. Tim Pollitz showed why he's one of Ohio's top talents, with 9 points in the first quarter. Brother Eric was close behind with 6 points. Dover saw Jeremy Ady keep them close with 5 and at the horn the score was 18-10 Ottawa-Glandorf.
With 5:39 left in the second, Dover hit a three and the scored moved to 18-18. With defensive pressure building, Dover looked for a chance to change the game. Every Dover run was answered by the Titans.
At the half, OG would sit with a 30-25 advantage, knowing Dover was ready to strike. Leading the way for Dover would be Jeremy Ady with 11 points. OG saw Tim Pollitz account for 13 of their 30 points.
Dover hit for 42.9% from the field and match that number from the three-point line hitting 3-7. OG was better, hitting on 53.8% from the field. The work on the glass was great for both teams as OG pulled down 12 and Dover 11.
The start of the third would be a test for Dover to overcome the 5 points and keep their hot hand from 3. Early on they passed, getting within 1 at the 5:31 mark and staying within reach. At the 5:08 mark Dover guard Jeremy Ady would leave with an injury but return after getting taped with 2:00 minutes left.
OG would see Tim Pollitz put the Titans on top and Dover saw a 44-36 score at the end of three. Dover would saw they're outside shooting cool and OG would call upon players other than the Pollitz brothers for shots.
The fourth quarter was gut check time and all the work in the summer and fall would pay off for one team. Could Dover find the magic touch, would OG fulfill their dream and reach the finals? The game would come down to the basics.
Never getting over the hump, Dover looked to their seniors for the lift. Going to the line and hitting foul shots Ady would keep Dover close. With a 3 and turnover at 1:53 you could sense a Tornado closing in. OG called a timeout with the score 52-49 and Dover would then cut the lead to 1. OG answers and Dover feels panic in its shot selection. Calling a timeout with 1:04 and down 5, Dover coach Bob Von Kaenel tries to settle his squad for a big finish.
Missing two free throws Dover missed cutting into the Titans advantage. With 38.2 left, Dover was forced to foul and foul often. As each second ticked off the clock, the Titans were a step closer in their goal making Dover foul Eric Pollitz. These would prove to be his biggest free throws in his young life. Hitting both shots proved to be the difference as Dover rushed down the court and shot as the horn sounded. Todd Lisowski hit a running three to close out a great season for the Tornadoes. Final score 61-60 Ottawa-Glandorf advances to the finals. If Pollitz misses one we have overtime and if both Dover would advance for the championship game.
For Dover, Jeremy Ady was the leading scorer with 26 points. Tim Pollitz paced the Titans with 23.
This finished a great day of hoops from Columbus, and what I'm sure will be even bigger on Friday.