JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge
COLUMBUS In a game of streaks, Dayton Dunbar got hot at the right time to take home its second consecutive state title.
Joshua Benson scored 16 points and hit the game-tying and go-ahead shots late in the game and Dunbar defended its Division II state boys basketball title, overcoming a record-setting performance by Ohio Mr. Basketball Jon Diebler to beat Upper Sandusky 87-85 yesterday.
Benson s putback with 3:04 left started a six-point run to tie the game at 80. He followed that with a layup to put the Wolverines (24-4) ahead for good 82-80.
Diebler, bothered throughout the second half by a broken nose, scored 48 points to top the Division II record of 38 points set by Akron Manchester s Mike Phillips in 1974. The 48 points were the third-highest total in the state tournament, trailing only Jerry Lucas who had 53 in 1956 and Clark Kellogg with 51 in 1979.
Benson led a balanced attack that had eight players scoring at least eight points. Keith Rakestraw also had 16 and Daquan Walker added 15 for No. 6 Dunbar, which lost to the Rams 95-90 in the state semifinals two years ago when they won the state title.
I told our team it would be a game of runs, Dunbar coach Peter Pullen said. And we had to withstand the runs, keep it close and get some breaks at the end.
Diebler, who broke his nose in the regionals, had to leave the game with a few seconds to go in the first half after he was hit in the face a second time.
I don t know if it was so much a war, said Diebler, who will play at Ohio State this fall. This was a great game. Both teams left it out on the floor. It was very entertaining.
Diebler came out wearing a clear plastic mask in the second half, but took it off and proceeded to score seven straight points and 17 of the 10th-ranked Rams next 20 points to rally the Rams from a 59-52 deficit to a 72-68 lead in the fourth quarter.
Diebler, who later had tape on his nose for awhile, scored on a dunk with 5:14 left to give the Rams (23-4) a 78-72 lead and set off a thunderous ovation.
Aaron Pogue, who had 10 points for Dunbar, scored six straight points to tie the game at 80. After Diebler hit two foul shots to cut the lead to 84-82, the Rams had a chance to take the lead, but Alex Falk s 3-pointer was off the mark.
In the fourth quarter, you saw why this guy is as valuable as he is, Pullen said of Pogue, who also had 11 rebounds.
We knew we still had the bull s-eye on our back, Pogue said. We knew they would try to beat us because we were state champs and we would have to defend our title.
Diebler who recently broke Jay Burson s state scoring record and finished his high school career with 3,208 points began the game just 1-for-8 and finished 14-of-36 from the field and 15-of-19 from the foul line. He also had 10 rebounds, five assists, three blocked shots, seven steals and seven turnovers.
Diebler, whose grandfather died Wednesday, had been giving his grandfather a piece of the net after each title on the way to the state tournament. Dunbar, aware of that happening, gave Diebler a piece of its state championship net for Diebler s family to put in his grandfather s casket.
Dunbar, making its third straight appearance in the state tournament, ran off to a fast start, scoring the first 12 points of the game.
Unable to penetrate against Dunbar s big men, the Rams relied on their outside shooting, taking 42 of their 74 shots beyond the arc. But they made just 31 percent of their 3-pointers and Diebler was 5-of-21 as the Rams shot 38 percent for the game (28-of-74) to 51 percent (38-of-74) for Dunbar.
Brodman finished with 17 points and Falk had 14 points. Norris Cole and Anthony Oden, brother of Ohio State s Greg Oden, had eight points apiece for Dunbar.
The Wolverines controlled the glass, outrebounding the Rams 63-23. But they had 29 turnovers to 13 for Upper Sandusky.