Nathan Bruns scored Marion Local’s final five points as the Flyers edged newcomer Pandora-Gilboa 56-54 in a Division IV boys high school basketball state semifinal on Thursday.
The win sends Marion Local (24-4) into Saturday’s D-IV state championship at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center against Willoughby Cornerstone Christian (21-7) at 10:45 a.m. Cornerstone advanced with a 51-41 defeat of Berlin Hiland in Thursday’s opening D-IV semi at the Schott.
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That sets up a rare shot at a state championship double-double for the Flyers. The Midwest Athletic Conference power also won a D-VI state football championship last December.
Scoreless in the first half, Bruns scored 15 points in the second half to lead the Flyers to their 12th straight win. None were more crucial than his last five.
Tyler Mescher’s 17 points led Marion Local in scoring. Trailing by two, he missed two free throws with 2:11 left. However, Bruns snared the rebound, hit a field goal and converted a free throw for a 3-point play that would give the Flyers the lead for good, but not without some anxious moments.
Following a steal, Gilboa was in great position for a final shot, but missed. Bruns rebounded the miss and converted two free throws.
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Ahead by three, the Flyers deliberately sent Jared Breece to the line with 5.2 seconds left. He converted the first to account for the final score. On the second he bashed off the rim, but the play was ruled dead. Marion Local successfully inbounded the ball and the celebration was on.
Drew Johnson had a game-high 24 points to lead Pandora-Gilboa (26-2), including 19 in the first half. Breece added 16 points.
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Marion Local will be shooting for its third boys state basketball title, joining the 2003 and 1975 Flyers’ teams. It also is Marion Local’s fifth state final four. It was the first final four for Pandora-Gilboa, out of the Blanchard Valley Conference and Putnam County League.
Cornerstone Christian 51, Berlin Hiland 41: Michael Bothwell, the D-IV state player of the year, scored 22 points in leading the Willoughby power. This is the second final four for the Patriots, who won a D-IV
state title in 2016. Hiland finished 23-6.
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• Upper Arlington senior Dane Goodwin was named Ohio’s Mr. Basketball by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association on Wednesday. The son of former University of Dayton hall of famer and Capital men’s coach Damon Goodwin, Dane averaged 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Golden Bears.
A four-year starter, he initially verbally committed to OSU but signed with Notre Dame after Thad Matta resigned with the Buckeyes.