Boys basketball: Centerville wins fourth straight district title, extends winning streak to 42 games

Centerville's Tom House shoots a 3-pointer during Sunday's Division I district final vs. Lakota West at the University of Cincinnati's Fifth Third Arena. Nick Graham/STAFF

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Centerville's Tom House shoots a 3-pointer during Sunday's Division I district final vs. Lakota West at the University of Cincinnati's Fifth Third Arena. Nick Graham/STAFF

CINCINNATI – If Lakota West had any hopes of pulling off a second consecutive tournament upset, Centerville wasted no time dousing them.

The Elks took a 24-4 first-quarter lead on the way to extending their winning streak to 42 games and staying on course for a second consecutive Division I state championship with an easy 80-53 win over the Firebirds on Sunday in the third of four district championship games at the University of Cincinnati’s Fifth Third Arena.

“We were a little worried after not playing for so long, but we were locked in and ready to go, so we were happy with that,” Centerville coach Brook Cupps said.

ExplorePHOTOS: Centerville tops Lakota West for fourth straight district title

Senior Tom House connected on five 3-pointers and scored a game-high 24 points as Centerville led by as many as 35 points, 51-16, with 6:14 left in the third quarter.

Junior guard Gabe Cupps scored 17 points and senior forward Rich Rolf added 10 for the Elks, who actually were outscored in the second half as Centerville got nine players into the scoring column.

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Centerville's Gabe Cupps puts up a shot over Lakota West's Christopher Barber during their Division I District final basketball game Sunday, March 6, 2022 at Fifth Third Arena on the University of Cincinnati campus. Centerville won 80-53. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Centerville's Gabe Cupps puts up a shot over Lakota West's Christopher Barber during their Division I District final basketball game Sunday, March 6, 2022 at Fifth Third Arena on the University of Cincinnati campus. Centerville won 80-53. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

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Centerville's Gabe Cupps puts up a shot over Lakota West's Christopher Barber during their Division I District final basketball game Sunday, March 6, 2022 at Fifth Third Arena on the University of Cincinnati campus. Centerville won 80-53. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Centerville (26-0) earned a fourth consecutive district championship and is scheduled to meet Fairmont in a regional semifinal on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Xavier University’s Cintas Center.

The Elks, the Associated Press Division I state poll champions, already have beaten the Firebirds twice this season, by six at Centerville and by 20 at Fairmont. The Firebirds, a second seed, advanced with a 61-43 win over Sycamore, another second seed, in Sunday’s first game.

Wayne also earned a semifinal berth on Sunday with a 53-36 win over Turpin. The Warriors are scheduled to meet the winner of Sunday’s finale between 23-2 Walnut Hills and 21-4 Fairfield on Wednesday at 6 p.m. The regional championship game is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. at Xavier.

Senior William Layfield scored 18 points to lead Lakota West. Junior Jason Lavender added 11 points and junior Nathan Dudukovich finished with 10, 16 below his average while dealing with a tough Centerville defense focused on keeping him in check.

“They took (Dudukovich) out of his game,” said Lakota West coach Jim Leon, who delayed knee surgery to stay on the bench. “No. 4 (junior guard Emmanuel Deng) did a good job denying him the ball. They had a good game plan.”

Lakota West (14-11), an 11th seed, advanced to its second district final in three seasons with a 73-59 upset of sixth-seeded and intra-district rival Lakota West in a district semifinal. That was the Firebirds second straight win and third in their last four games.

“That’s a high-level team,” House said of the Firebirds. “They’re in the district final for a reason.”

The Firebirds also lost to Centerville, 48-40, in 2020.

Gabe Cupps gave the Elks a 61-37 lead going into the fourth quarter with a sprawling, underhanded putback from 10 feet out in the lane that bounced around on the basket before falling through at the buzzer.

“He plays hard at both ends of the floor,” Lakota West coach Jim Leon said about the Centerville point guard. “He’s an incredible player.”

Lakota West responded to falling behind by 35 by outscoring Centerville, 25-18, in the third quarter.

“They were going downhill and started hitting some shots,” Brook Cupps said. “We lost a little bit of our edge.”

“I was proud of our effort,” Leon said. “That’s a hell of a team.”

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