The St. Henry High School boys basketball squad’s postseason run ended at the hands of Ohio’s top-ranked small school team.
The third-ranked Redskins fell to No. 1 Berlin Hiland 57-50 in a Division IV state semifinal game on Friday afternoon at Ohio State University’s Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
St. Henry finished 24-4 and advanced to the final four for the first time since 2004.
The Redskins entered the game having won 16 straight games. They entered the fourth quarter down 37-36, but a 10-0 surge early in the fourth quarter by Berlin Hiland proved too much for St. Henry to overcome.
St. Henry senior Jay Knapke had a team-high 17 points, while senior Caden Niekamp had 13 points and eight rebounds and senior Zach Niekamp added 12 points.
“I guess the biggest disappointment is one less day with these guys,” said St. Henry coach Eric Rosenbeck. “I love them to death. That’s the biggest disappointment. One of the best things about getting to state is getting more practice time, getting to hang out with them because no matter what we try to do, this team will never be together again in the way that it was today and throughout the season.”
Sam Haberger had 17 points and Andy Miller added 14 as Berlin Hiland (28-1) extended its winning streak to 21 games. They’ll play the winner of Richmond Heights (21-6) and No. 2 Convoy Crestview (26-1) in the D-IV state final at 5:15 p.m. Saturday.
Miller hit a layup at the buzzer to give the Hawks a 37-36 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Hostetler opened the quarter with a 3-pointer, Haberger hit a bucket and then Hostetler hit another 3-pointer to give Berlin Hiland a 45-36 lead with about six minutes remaining.
“You knew when we get up nine and they called timeout, they’d have one big push left in them,” said Berlin Hiland coach Mark Schlabach. “I thought we handled things well and finally got a big stop and a big rebound at the end.”
The lead changed 12 times and was tied four times throughout the game. The Hawks shot just 4-for-11 from 3-point range, but it was St. Henry’s desire to take away their shooters that left them room in the lane, Rosenbeck said. Berlin Hiland outscored St. Henry 26-20 in the paint.
“The biggest thing was how many front of the rim points they were able to get on us,” Rosenbeck said. “In our defensive shell, they have so many shooters that maybe we were staying attached a little bit too much. Maybe I scared our guys about how good of shooters they are because they had a lot of times they were getting to the front of the rim without help defense.”
The Redskins pulled to within two points at 49-47 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Zach Niekamp and Caden Niekamp but wouldn’t get any closer. The Hawks went 10-for-14 from the free throw line to seal the win.
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