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Published: Sunday, 3/18/2007

Rams survive rough battle

Bloodied and bandaged by game's end last night at Savage Hall, Ohio's all-time scoring leader Jon Diebler of Upper Sandusky reached his goal of

getting back to the state boys basketball tournament.

The Rams (22-3) survived a one-sided battle of attrition in getting past Olmsted Falls 91-81 in a Division II regional final.

The Bulldogs were called for 34 fouls to 15 for the Rams.

Upper Sandusky will face Poland Seminary (22-3) in a state semifinal at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Value City Arena in Columbus.

"They do a lot of what we do, and it was going to be [a matter of] who did it better," Rams coach Keith Diebler said.

Upper's hopes of returning to Columbus, where it closed a 27-0 season with a D-II state title in 2005, seemed to be in doubt with 3:46 left in the game and the Bulldogs down 79-72.

Diebler, who led four Ram scorers in double figures with 32 points, sustained an apparent

broken nose while driving to the basket.

The contact, which did not draw a foul call on Tim Mansell, caused significant bleeding and a 20-minute delay while Diebler received medical attention near the Rams' basket.

"Obviously you've got to worry about the safety of the kids," Bulldogs coach Pat Donahue said. "But I will also say that was the longest delay I've ever seen in 25 years of coaching any sport, especially for bleeding."

If that play did not result in a foul, 34 others did for the Bulldogs, who saw five players foul out, including four starters and their top sub.

Upper Sandusky prevailed by hitting 10 of its 18 free throws in the final 3:25.

Olmsted Falls pulled within 81-79 on a 3-pointer from Tyler Sparks (17 points) with 2:24 to play.

Diebler - with his nose packed and wearing an old protective mask - returned at the 2:28 mark to help the Rams close out the win.

Diebler became the fifth player in Ohio history to reach 1,000 points in one season. He has 1,030 this year and a state record 3,136 in his career.

Rams sophomore Alex Falk had 24 points, and seniors Travis Bachtell and Jarryd Nelson added 16 and 11 points, respectively. Dave Pellerite topped the Bulldogs (22-3) with 24 points.

- Steve Junga

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