Friday, Mar 23, 2018
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High School

Title eludes Kalida, Kortokrax


Kalida's Jordan Basinger beats Oak Hill's J.D. Hale to a loose ball in the second quarter. Basinger led the Wildcats with 19 points, but Kalida came up short in losing to the fourth-ranked Oaks.

Terry Gilliam / AP Enlarge

COLUMBUS - If it was in fact the final game for Kalida High School coaching legend Dick Kortokrax, Saturday's Division IV state boys basketball championship game was shaping up as the perfect ending.

His Wildcats twice looked like they had the title within their grasp as a possible sendoff for their 75-year-old leader and the all-time wins leader in Ohio prep history.

But the trouble with storybook endings is that games do not follow scripts.

Oak Hill's 6-2 senior forward Ryan Borden had an alternate finish in mind, and his fourth-ranked Oaks (25-2) walked off with a thrilling 48-43 double-overtime victory before a crowd of 13,582 at Value City Arena.

The loss snapped a 17-game winning streak by unranked Kalida (23-5), which was co-champion of the Putnam County League this season.

It was Borden (13 points) who twice saved his team from defeat, hitting two clutch 3-pointers - one that forced the first overtime and another that forced the second extra period.

"That was an unbelievable shot," Kortokrax said of the second Borden 3-pointer.

That one was a 22-foot heave Borden made while falling backward toward his team's bench. It knotted things at 38 with 29 seconds left in the first OT.

"I don't know if he got knocked down or his feet got tangled, but that was just huge," Oak Hill coach Norm Persin said. "Ryan's the type of kid that when he gets in a rhythm, he can make shots like that."

"When I caught the ball, I got bumped a little and that made my feet get out from under me," Borden said. "I kind of shot it falling down, but I got the shot off at the end of it."

The Wildcats' Matt Warnecke (seven points) missed on a 3-point try in the closing seconds of that period, and Oak Hill then nailed down its first state title by outscoring Kalida 10-5 in the second OT.

Kalida's last lead in the game came when Jordan Basinger (19 points) hit two free throws with

2:18 remaining in the second overtime to put the Wildcats up 43-42. But the Oaks' Kyle Ondera sank both ends of a bonus chance at the line, and Oak Hill pressured Kalida into an over-and-back violation 37 seconds later.

The Wildcats were forced to foul, and sophomore Westen Hale (13 points) calmly sank two bonus tries with 19.1 seconds to play. After a Kalida missed shot and subsequent foul, Ondera sank two more to seal the championship.

Kortokrax, completing his 49th season as a head coach (35 at Kalida), was coaching in his 1,100th career game (785-315 overall record). Two years ago he signed a two-year contract that the Kalida school board understood to be his last.

The school board has posted the head coaching position but recently told Kortokrax he could reapply for his job.

"If it happens to be my last game, what a place to lose," Kortokrax said. "If they don't hire me back at Kalida, I'm going to hang it up. If somebody who hires me says it's time for a change, well that's their right."

Kettering Alter's 71-year-old Joe Petrocelli, who is still active, has 772 career wins and could pass Kortokrax on the Ohio wins list next year if the Kalida veteran is not rehired.

"At first I thought, if I can't coach at Kalida, I'm going to coach someplace else," said Kortokrax, who has since decided against that option. "The reason is, I can't go out with a much better deal than what I had this year. I've got one state championship [in 1981]. There's a lot of coaches who never won any."

It was the first state title in his first final-four appearance for Persin, who ended his third year at Oak Hill. Persin has 575 career wins as an Ohio prep coach and took 12 prior teams to regionals, including seven previous regional finals, before finally reaching Columbus.

His matchup with Kortokrax featured the most combined wins (1,560) for opposing coaches in Ohio title-game history.

Scott Schnipke added nine points and a team-high seven rebounds for Kalida, which was 15-of-36 (42 percent) from the field and 8-of-12 from the line. Oak Hill was 15-of-40 from the field (38 percent), including 7-of-15 on 3-pointers, and was 11-of-15 at the line. The Oaks hit all six of their foul shots in the second OT.

"I feel good," said Kortokrax, who has survived bladder cancer. "I feel good about the game. I think I can help kids that want to play. With the success I've enjoyed this year, I'm really not going to go out looking for a job.

"If they want to change their minds and hire me back, I'll take a look at it. The cupboard's not bare. We have a beautiful gym and we have some fine ballplayers back. I would love to be a part of that. But, if I'm not, I wish whoever

follows me the very best."

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