The top-seeded Bowsher Rebels raced out to a 19-0 lead in Tuesday night’s City League boys basketball playoff semifinal against Woodward, and the rest amounted to a game of catch-me-if-you-can in a 97-77 victory over the Polar Bears at the Waite Field House.
The Rebels (19-2), who were led by 26 points from Nate Allen and 22 from Cameron White, will face Rogers (11-8) in Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. City championship game at Waite.
PHOTO GALLERY: Woodward loses to Bowsher
“That was really the key to the game,” Bowsher coach Joe Guerrero said of his team’s fast start. “We just try to get up and down the floor as quickly as we can, and we try to pressure the ball.
“We were worried about this game. Woodward’s had a great year, and they’re athletic. So, I was real happy that we were focused at the beginning of the game.”
Bowsher, Ohio’s eighth-ranked Division I team, wasted no time in putting Woodward (10-11) behind the eight ball.
Dajuan King (17 points) hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first 48 seconds, and the race was on.
The Rebels’ mix of pressure defense and transition offense caused nine Woodward turnovers in the game’s first 3:49 of the contest.
“We got off to a slow start,” Woodward coach Mark Knabbs said. “There were some first-time jitters. We had never been here before [CL playoffs].
“I didn’t expect them to come out shooting that hot from 3-point range. But, that’s Bowsher, and that’s what they do.”
When Allen hit the second of his five 3-pointers in the game at the 3:30 mark of the first quarter, the Rebels led 19-0. They were up 27-7 after one quarter and, when White hit a 15-footer 4:52 before halftime, the lead was 42-11.
“Everybody came ready to play,” Allen said. “We started slacking off a little bit after that, but we picked it back up. That’s just how we play. Our defense turns into our offense.
“Last year’s we got upset in the [CL] finals, so we’ve got a chip on our shoulders. We’ve got to win it this year.”
The Rebels eased up at that point, looking complacent at times as Woodward chipped away at the 31-point deficit.
The Polar Bears, paced by Romoan Fane’s 24 points and 11 rebounds, got within 51-27 by halftime. Woodward stayed aggressive in the third quarter, and used a 21-12 surge to get within 63-48 on a 3-pointer from Anthony Bell (10 points) with 3:20 left in the third.
That was as close as they would get. Bowsher closed the period with a 12-5 run and took a 75-53 lead to the final quarter.
“We’ve done that this season,” Guerrero said of his team’s mid-game lull. “When we get a big lead, sometimes we tend to play a little out of control.
“But, like I said early in the season, if that’s my only problem, we’re in a pretty good spot.”
Bowsher, which hit 38 of 80 shots (48 percent) from the field, including 13 of 33 on 3-pointers, also got 13 points from sub Aundre Kizer, and nine points and 11 rebounds from forward Mark Washington.
Tahron Watson contributed 17 points for Woodward, and Craig Kirkwood added 15 for the Bears.
“Our guys won’t quit,” Knabbs said. “They won’t give up. This is a different Woodward team and a different brand of kids that we have now. They’ve got a lot of pride. We’ll take the loss, but as long as we leave it on the floor I’m happy.”
Woodward was 34 of 74 (46 percent) from the field, including 3 of 6 on 3-pointers. The Bears outrebounded Bowsher 44-34, but committed 26 turnovers compared to 11 for the Rebels.