Mired in a first-half shooting slump, Twon Hines’ Northridge teammates encouraged him to keep firing because eventually those wayward mostly 3-pointers would start falling.
Polar Bears coach Jeff Lisath was more direct: “I told him, he has to get going.”
Hines did just that, leading Northridge to an unlikely 60-56 historical defeat of Columbus Bishop Hartley in a boys high school basketball Division II regional semifinal at Fairmont’s Trent Arena on Thursday night.
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Northridge (19-7) is paired against mighty Trotwood-Madison (25-2) at 3 p.m. Saturday in the regional final also at Trent. That winner advances to next week’s state final four. Trotwood blew out Cincinnati Aiken 96-62 in Thursday’s doubleheader opener.
Northridge hasn’t played in a boys regional final since 1945 when the Polar Bears won a Class B state championship under then-coach Ben Ankney.
Hines was everything he wasn’t when it mattered most. Just 3 of 20 shooting in the first half, Hines tallied 25 second-half points and a game-high 33 in leading the Polar Bears.
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Hartley led by nine points early and Northridge appeared ripe for a blowout, especially with Hines missing so often. But the Bears trailed by just four at halftime, then Hines took over.
“My teammates were telling me to keep shooting; they were going to go down, eventually,” said Hines, whose two free throws in the final seconds were the difference in a 60-58 defeat of Taft in the previous district final. “I believed them. I know they have my back and I have their backs.”
Charles Drewery had two late breakaway scores, including a dunk, and added 13 points and nine rebounds. Ryan Heuser and Morgan Safford each had 15 points for Hartley (17-12).
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Last season Trotwood hammered Northridge 96-49 in a district semifinal.
“We’re playing a veteran team that’s been through all the final four wars,” Lisath said. “We’ll have our hands full, but our kids have been up to the challenge all season and we’ll give them our best shot.”
Trotwood-Madison 96, Cin. Aiken 62: Amari Davis scored 23 points mostly second-half points and Carl Blanton 18 in leading the Rams in a sloppy rout of Thursday’s opener.
“There’s no such thing at this point as a pretty loss,” Trotwood coach Rocky Rockhold said. “It was sloppy. There was never really a flow for either team.”
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Trotwood led 53-33 at halftime. A running clock was used most of the final quarter as play wilted. The teams – and benches – combined for six technical fouls, three each team.
Malachi Matthews added 16 points for Trotwood, Sammy Anderson 15 and Keon’te Huguely 11. Aiken (20-7) was paced by D’Arris Dean’s 21 points. Aiken advanced by overcoming an 18-point halftime deficit to defeat Alter 66-56 in a district final.
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• Three other boys regional finals will be held on Saturday, including Centerville (22-5) vs. defending D-I state champ Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller (26-0) at 7 p.m. at Xavier University’s Cintas Center.
Centerville must quickly regroup following an automatic two-game suspension that senior guard Ryan Marchal was given after he was hit with two late technical fouls in Wednesday’s 67-63 regional semi defeat of Springfield. Video of the two plays and resulting calls made the rounds on social media.
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Centerville appealed the suspension, which was upheld by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
• In Saturday’s other regional finals, it’s Anna (25-2) vs. Purcell Marian (23-4) at 7 p.m. at Trent and Coldwater (18-9) vs. Oregon Cardinal Stritch (23-3) at 7 p.m. at Bowling Green’s Stroh Center. Both are D-III.
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