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BOWLING GREEN - The chanting began near the end of Port Clinton's 66-55 win over Celina yesterday.
"Un-de-feat-ed!" screamed the black-and-red clad Redskin fans after their team won the Division II boys basketball regional final at Anderson Arena.
Then, believe it or not, the chant became even sweeter.
"Fi-nal Four!" was the sing-song shout, in honor of Port Clinton's first-ever berth in the state semifinals.
The Redskins (25-0) will play at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Value City Arena in Columbus against Zanesville, which downed Columbus DeSales 51-45 yesterday.
"I'm proud of our team, especially our seniors," Port Clinton coach Troy Diels said. "I'm proud of our community, especially the way it filled Anderson Arena.
"To hear 'Redskins' echoing in there gave me chills. It's something I'll never forget."
The game began at a break-neck scoring pace, with both teams reaching double figures in less than three minutes. Things slowed a bit after that, with Josh Francis scoring his eighth point of the quarter on a baseline layup at the buzzer to give Port Clinton a 16-10 advantage.
The second quarter was close throughout, with Cory Brown making a 3-pointer at the buzzer - his third 3-pointer in an 11-point quarter - to lift the Redskins to a 31-26 lead.
"It felt so good to light it up in a big game like this," said Brown, who finished with 18 points. "I've been off [with my shooting] for a while, so it felt great.
"Lately I've been feeling pressure because I was off, but this was different. When I made my first shot, all the weight fell off my shoulders and I thought I could hit anything."
Brown's fine shooting - he made 4 of 8 from behind the arc in the contest - gave Port Clinton a balanced attack Celina struggled to stop. The 6-4 Francis finished with 17, while 6-6 Ryan Hicks added 19.
The first of those points gave Hicks 1,000 for his career.
"We have to have inside-outside balance - that's a must for us," Diels said. "We count on our big guys to get theirs, and we've counted on our guards to get theirs as well.
"Cory's perimeter shooting, and then having Derek [Colston] pick it up late, really got us going."
In the third quarter Port Clinton pushed its lead to 43-29 behind Hicks, who scored nine of his points in that period. Celina needed a 10-2 finish to cut the advantage to 45-39.
But when the Bulldogs scored to start the fourth quarter, Francis responded with a basket and Colston made a 3-pointer to give the Redskins a 50-41 lead.
Soon after that Port Clinton pushed its advantage to double digits, and the Redskins made nine of their last 12 free-throw attempts to wrap up the victory.
Port Clinton won nearly all the statistical battles, shooting 53.3 percent from the field (24-of-45) while holding Celina to 44 percent (22-of-50). The Redskins also outrebounded the Bulldogs 32-23, thanks in part to 10 offensive rebounds. Francis completed a double-double with 11 boards, while Hicks and Allen Tigner each had six rebounds.
Tigner nearly had a triple-double for the Redskins, finishing with seven points and seven assists to go with his six rebounds.
John Homan scored 17 points, including 10 in the final period, to lead Celina (16-9).
Kahl LaRue had 10 while Darin Waterman, the Bulldog's leading scorer, had just 11 despite scoring eight in the first quarter.
"After [the first quarter] Colston got up on me," Waterman said. "They stopped my penetration so I couldn't get to the basket so easily.
"Then they had guys in the lane ready to stop me."
And that's why no one has been able to stop the Redskins. Or their chanting fans.
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