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Published: Friday, 3/26/2010

Big rally carries Port Clinton to state final

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

COLUMBUS - The final possession of Port Clinton's Division II boys basketball state semifinal game last night didn't go as planned.

The ball was bouncing free before landing in the hands of guard Allen Tigner.

Tigner drove to the baseline, then sank a jumper with four seconds to play to give the Redskins a 51-50 victory over Zanesville. The come-from-behind win, which came in front of 11,979 at Ohio State's Schottenstein Center, gives Port Clinton a berth in the Division II title game tomorrow.

The Redskins will face Dayton Dunbar, a 69-62 winner over Cleveland Benedictine in yesterday's first D-II semifinal, for a chance at the school's first state title starting at 2 p.m.

"We talk a lot about, if something breaks down, players have to go and get a shot off," Port Clinton coach Troy Diels said. "And that's what Allen did.

"And it's a shot I'll never forget."

The play was originally designed to go to Ryan Hicks in the low block, but Hicks' pass to Tigner on the wing instead bounced free before landing in Tigner's hands.

"We had a set play to go to Hicks because he had the hot hand at the time," Tigner said. "The play broke down, and I got to the ball first. I saw a lane, and I took it - and I rose up and hit the shot.

"I put it up there, and I just hoped that it would go in."

Tigner's basket capped a stirring comeback by the 26-0 Redskins, who trailed by as many as 12 points in the third quarter and were behind Zanesville (17-7)

48-41 with 4:20 left.

"You can't think that you can't win at any point in the game," Tigner said. "Early in the season we had games where we were down double digits.

"Our M.O. is that we're going to keep fighting to put ourselves in a position to win."

Tigner finished with 14 points and seven assists, while Hicks had 12 and seven boards. Cory Brown made five 3-pointers, four coming in the second half, to finish with 15.

The Redskins used an

11-2 finish over the final five minutes of the first quarter to build a 16-9 lead, with Tigner scoring seven.

But an offensive dry spell for Port Clinton allowed Zanesville to get back into the contest.

he Blue Devils scored 10 straight points to take a 19-18 lead with 2:25 left in the half.

The Redskins committed seven turnovers in the quarter and considered themselves lucky to trail just 23-21 at the break.

"Too many turnovers in the second [quarter]," Diels said. "I thought our posts weren't as aggressive as they were in the first quarter.

"I thought we could have attacked more in the block, but instead we were content to pass out of there. And when we did that, good things didn't happen."

The Blue Devils' Tanner Gibson scored eight points in the second quarter and had 12 of his game-high 26 at the half as Zanesville scored 12 points following the Redskins' eight turnovers.

Things got worse for Port Clinton early in the third quarter, committing four more turnovers in the first two minutes to fall behind 32-21.

Trailing 40-28 late in the quarter, the Redskins got a 3-pointer by Derek Colston to fuel a seven-point run by PC to end the quarter, cutting Zanesville's lead to 40-35.

"I was getting ready to call [a timeout] when Derek hit that three," Diels admitted. "That was a big one. It brought us back to a bit of a comfort level, since we weren't down by double digits.

"The momentum was swinging Zanesville's way, so that shot was big."

Then Brown nailed back-to-back 3-pointers from the left corner to start the final period - the first one grazing the backboard - to give Port Clinton the lead at

41-40 with 5:55 to play.

"After I banked that first one in, I knew it was my night," Brown said. "I didn't think I could miss after that one."

Port Clinton seemed doomed when Gibson got a rare four-point play with 4:21 on the clock. Gibson made a 3-pointer from the right wing, was fouled by Brown, and made the free throw to give Zanesville a 48-41 lead.

"At the time, I thought we were done," Brown admitted. "It was a stupid foul."

But the Redskins weren't done. Brown hit the last of his five 3-pointers on the night to make the score

48-46, then after a pair of Blue Devil free throws Tigner completed a traditional three-point play with 42 seconds left, setting up his winning play.

"Our kids never quit - they just kept battling all along, just like they have all season," Diels said. "We've had some special wins this season, but I think this one takes the cake."

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com or

(419) 724-6481.



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