Move over, Marion Local football.
There’s only one thing that’s worthy of making that happen: Marion Local boys basketball.
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Already a well-established, small-school state football power, the Flyers are hoping to do the same in hoop to complete this season. Marion Local (24-4) has a shot at doing that against Willoughby Cornerstone Christian (21-7) in the boys Division IV high school state basketball championship at 10:45 a.m. Saturday at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center.
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Should the Flyers win, that will clinch a rare state championship double in the same school year. Marion Local completed a 15-0 football season last December by winning a D-VI state title.
“Coming from Marion Local, we’re a big football school,” said senior Tyler Mescher, a standout in both sports for the Flyers. “Our senior class, our true love is basketball. To be able to do this with basketball is absolutely amazing.”
Marion Local advanced to the title game with a 56-54 dodging of Pandora-Gilboa in Thursday’s D-IV state semifinal. Similar to Maria Stein, Pandora is a village anchored in Putnam County. Cornerstone defeated Berlin Hiland, another established boys and girls small-school basketball power.
The Flyers will take a 12-game win streak into the state final. Marion Local has won two boys basketball state championships, in 2003 and way back in 1975 when the Midwest Athletic Conference was in its infancy.
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In contrast, the Flyers’ football team has won 10 state titles - all since 2000 – and will take a streak of seventh straight state championship appearances into next season.
“Marion’s a pretty proud basketball tradition, too,” assured Flyers coach Kurt Goettemoeller. “We’ve got some history there as well.”
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The Flyers did well to beat favored Fort Loramie and break through the Kettering regional. That’s where they had been eliminated in three of the previous four seasons.
Cornerstone Christian is making only its second state final four but won a small-school title in 2016.
Nathan Bruns drew two fouls in the opening two minutes against Pandora-Gilboa and was scoreless the first half. Mescher, a four-year starter who surpassed 1,000 career points this season, took over by scoring 12 first-half points.
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In the second half it was Bruns’ turn. Also the Flyers’ outstanding starting quarterback, he scored 15 second-half points to go with a game-high seven rounds. He accounted for Marion Local’s final five points, converted gut-check free throws and rebounded Pandora’s final missed shot.
“Late in the game Nathan took over for us,” Goettemoeller said. “We found a way to get it done and we’re elated to be moving on.”
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• Spectrum (Channels 99, 311 and 1311) will televise all four title games live. It also will stream each game live at MySpectrumSports.com.