CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio — Defense, and Defenders, win championships.
The Ohio Valley Christian boys basketball team rolled to a 49-28 victory over Dayton Temple Christian in the OCSAA State Championship on Saturday at Ohio Christian University’s Maxwell Center.
The Defenders (21-6) — who last claimed a state championship in 2004 under the ACSI banner — surrendered the game’s opening basket to the Tigers, but answered with seven straight points and never relinquished the lead.
OVCS led 10-5 at the conclusion of the first quarter, after shooting 4-of-12 from the field, while holding the TCS to 1-of-8 shooting.
Ohio Valley Christian’s offense got going even more in the second quarter, making 6-of-7 field goal attempts, including all three of its three-point tries. The Tiger offense doubled its first quarter effort with 10 points in the second stanza, but trailed 25-15 at halftime.
Both teams pulled in 11 rebounds in the first half, but Temple Christian held a 5-to-2 advantage on the offensive glass. OVCS committed four turnovers in the opening half, one fewer than the Tigers. The Defenders made 10-of-19 first half field goal attempts, while Temple made just 5-of-20 shots from the field.
Ohio Valley Christian made sure that Saturday wasn’t going to be a tale of two halves, as the Gallipolis natives began the second half with a 9-2 run that pushed the lead to 34-17 with 3:50 left in the third quarter. OVCS outscored Temple Christian by a 6-5 clip over the remainder of the third and took a 40-22 advantage into the finale.
Ohio Valley Christian allowed just six points over the final eight minutes, while scoring nine to cap off the 49-28 victory and the Defenders first-ever OCSAA State Championship.
“These boys have worked so hard,” OVCS head coach Steve Rice said. “I’m so excited for the seniors, they really deserve it. I told them ‘we’re going to win it on the defensive end’. We took care of the ball, played good defense and we had a good gameplan going in.”
For the game, OVCS outrebounded the Tigers by a 23-to-22 edge, but TCS held a 12-to-4 advantage in offensive boards. Both teams committed 13 turnovers in the game, but Ohio Valley Christian held a 14-to-6 advantage in assists, an 8-to-7 advantage in steals and an 8-to-1 advantage in blocked shots.
“We played really good defense, we rebounded well and our defensive rotation was much better tonight,” Rice said. “Offensively, we hit our first couple of threes and they had to loosen up, which opened up our middle. Everything worked the way that you want it to work.”
For the game, the Defenders — who made their only free throw attempt of the night — shot 21-of-37 (56.8 percent) from the field, including 6-of-15 (40 percent) from three-point range. Temple Christian made 7-of-10 (70 percent) free throw tries and 9-of-42 (21.4 percent) field goal attempts, including 3-of-15 (20 percent) three-point tries.
OVCS senior Marshall Hood — who is the lone Defender to compete in four final fours — led the state champs with a double-double effort of 14 points and 11 rebounds to go with three assists, two steals and four blocks.
Defenders junior Austin Ragan posted 11 points in the win, while freshman Justin Beaver added eight points, three steals and two blocks. Dillon Ragan marked seven points, four assists and two steals, Elijah McDonald came away with six points, five rebounds, six assists and two blocks, while Justin Sizemore rounded out the OVCS scoring with three points.
“Temple’s only player that was averaging double figures was (Jordan Kirkland),” Rice said. “We knew that he was going to take a majority of the shots and we knew that if we could take him out of the game and make the rest of their team beat us, then we had a good shot.”
Kirkland, a 6-4 senior, paced the runners-up with 16 points, seven rebounds and three steals, while Andy Timmons added five points and one block. Ma’Sone Miller came away with three points and three assists, while Joe Timmons and Eli Howder each scored two points.
This season marks the 25th anniversary of Ohio Valley Christian’s first boys basketball state championship, which under the WVCEA banner.
This marks the final game in the careers of OVCS seniors Marshall Hood, Andrew Sims, Dillon Ragan and Justin Sizemore.
“That’s the way you always dream about ending your career,” Rice said of his seniors. “Very few get to end on top, but they do. The younger guys are hoping to be back here again. We’ve been here four straight years and five of the last six. I know they’re going to be hungry to get back here and have the same feeling when they’re seniors.”
Eligible to return for the Defenders next season are Elijah McDonald, Austin Ragan, Michael Gruber, Justin Beaver, Josh McDonald and Bryce Gruber.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.