Centerville falls in Division I state semifinal in final seconds

Markell Johnson made a running hook shot in the lane with 2 seconds left to lift Pickerington Central to a 57-53 victory over Centerville in the Division I state semifinals Saturday night at UD Arena.

The Elks (25-4) had a final chance with 1.3 seconds left, but Central’s 6-foot-7 Gavin Headings tipped Kyle Kenney’s long pass attempt, grabbed the ball and laid it in at the buzzer.

» PHOTOS: Centerville plays in Division I state basketball semifinal

In the final minute, Centerville’s Gabe Cupps, who scored 22 points, was fouled shooting a 3-pointer and made all three free throws to tie the score at 53. Baboucarr Njie made a steal and was fouled with 37 seconds left, but missed the free throw, which set up Johnson’s hook shot in the lane.

Tied at 40 entering the fourth quarter, Cupps made a jump shot and fed Njie for a layup for a 44-40 lead. The Tigers (24-5) rallied to tie the score, then Njie drove baseline for a two-handed dunk and a 46-44 lead with 4:02 left.

With Central up 47-46, Cupps drove hard to his left for a layup and a 48-47 lead with 2:24 left. Then Central’s Devin Royal, Ohio’s Mr. Basketball and an Ohio State recruit who scored 23 points, went hard to his right and scored, then added a free throw for a 50-48 lead.

The Elks came back to tie with a Kenney layup on a pass from Cupps. Then Central’s Juwan Turner hit a 3-pointer with 1:10 left for a 53-50 lead.

The teams met last year in the state final. Central won 55-48. The teams met again in December and Centerville won 60-54 in double overtime.

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