The greatest challenge Myles Belyeu faced was holding his emotional level in check. That wasn’t easily done, because Trotwood-Madison had just punched its ticket to a boys basketball state championship.
“We’re leaving a legacy for this school,” said the Rams’ senior leader after an 88-42 hammering of overmatched Byesville Meadowbrook in a Division II state semifinal on Friday morning. “We’re this close, but we’re not there yet.”
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That sets up an anticipated rematch back at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center between Trotwood (26-3) and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (20-8) in the D-II high school state championship at 5:15 p.m. Saturday. Akron SVSM posted a 62-51 defeat of Lexington in Friday’s other state semi.
Trotwood lost 81-71 at Akron SVSM in its second game this season, but half the Rams’ roster had been in place for only two days because of its state championship football run. More significant, the Irish stunned the Rams on a last-second shot in last year’s D-II state semifinals. That, more than anything else, has fueled Trotwood this season. Besides, Trotwood had beaten Akron SVSM by 39 points in the regular season.
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It’s fitting the teams will play again, this time for a state title.
“It feels good to get another shot at them,” admitted Trotwood standout junior Amari Davis, who tallied a game-high 21 points against Meadowbrook. “Last year didn’t finish the way we wanted it to.”
Trotwood has never won a state basketball championship, but came close in 2006. That’s when celebrated alum and future Dayton standout Chris Wright was a junior but Trotwood fell to Ramar Morgan-led Canton McKinley in a D-I title game. Trotwood also had a final four D-II appearance in 2014.
In contrast, Akron SVSM, the program that LeBron James elevated to national prominence, has won seven state titles and placed runner-up three times.
“That loss didn’t just stick with these guys,” Trotwood coach Rocky Rockhold said. “That loss stuck with our program. Honestly, we used that as a lot of fuel and motivation, not because we lost, but because we felt we didn’t finish the way we like to finish. We felt we let them off the hook a little bit.”
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Trotwood was at its spectacular best against Meadowbrook (22-7), which came out of the Athens region and was making its state final four debut. The Colts had no chance.
The Rams led by 19 points at halftime. Early in the fourth quarter the game became the first in Ohio state final four history to have a running clock. This is the debut season for that new rule and only comes into play when a team is ahead by 35 points or more in the second half of a playoff game.
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Trotwood allowed just 12 second-half points and outrebounded Meadowbrook 37-15.
“They were here for a reason,” Rockhold said. “A lot of people were talking David and Goliath and all that stuff. We didn’t buy it. Once our guys got their second wind on that floor and got after it, that was the difference.”
Meadowbrook coach Louis “Scooter” Tolzda was proud of his stunned Colts and in good-spirited awe of the high-scoring Rams.
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“A lot of people would take our place and take that beatin’ out there,” Tolzda said. “If I had a chance to take it again, I’d take it again. You could see their guys, the more they scored they started talking and getting more confident. They took it to another level.”
Belyeu and sophomore Carl Blanton each added 18 points and center Justin Stephens 12.
Trotwood will take a 19-game winning streak into the state title showdown. The Rams also are the first Greater Western Ohio Conference member to play for a boys state basketball title since Wayne won a D-I championship in 2015.
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Trotwood and Marion Local also have shots at rare state-title doubles. Marion Local will play for the D-IV state title on Saturday. Both schools won football state championships last fall.
“We feel we’ve put ourselves in a really good situation,” said Rockhold.
• Spectrum (Channels 99, 311 and 1311) will televise all four title games live. It also will stream each game live at MySpectrumSports.com.
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