KANSAS, Ohio — Maumee Valley coach Jim Robinson knows all about perseverance and his players reflected that resiliency Friday night.
The Hawks overcame a rough first half to rally past Toledo Christian 36-28 at Lakota High School and capture a Division IV boys basketball district championship, the first such title in school history.
Maumee Valley trailed 19-12 at the half, but then outscored the Eagles 24-9 over the final two quarters.
The Hawks advance to face Arlington in a regional semifinal Tuesday at Bowling Green State University.
Robinson, 68, suffered a brain stroke last May but dedicated himself to return to the sidelines to finish off a career that has covered 45 years at 10 schools. Robinson, in his fourth year at Maumee Valley, climbed a ladder and cut down the final string of the net to celebrate the title.
"It's the best feeling you can have," said Robinson, his voice cracking and tears welling in his eyes. "I can't talk right now. I'm so proud of these kids. It's all for them. It's not about me. They dug in at halftime. They made up their minds and I'm so proud of what they've done."
Maumee Valley guards David Brown and Rick Deichert each finished with 12 points. Brown kept his team in it with seven first-half points. Deichert did his damage in the third quarter when he scored eight points.
The Hawks opened the third quarter with a 9-4 run to pull within23-21. Deichert then nailed a 3-pointer with 1:10 left to put the Hawks ahead and they never trailed again.
"When we face adversity, we have to stick together. That's what coach Robinson preaches," Deichert said. "We've come together as a team and we play as a team."
The Hawks hit just 4 of 12 field goals (33 pecent) in the first half and Brown made three of them.
But TC struggled the same in the second half, making just 4 of 16 shots (25 percent).
"I love coach," Brown said. "We wanted to do this for him and for the school. We just stayed in it. We knew we were going to get the win at halftime. We knew we wouldn't lose this game. These feels awesome."
It was the third time the Hawks (22-1) defeated Toledo Christian (17-7) this season. MV won 43-42 on the road Dec. 13, then 59-46 at home Feb. 3.
The Eagles were paced by Josh Winzeler's nine points, while Eric Cellier had eight.
After Maumee Valley took a 6-4 lead on Brown's 3-pointer with 3:13 left in the first quarter, TC embarked on a 11-0 run.
The Eagles outrebounded the Hawks 10-3 in the first half. TC finished the opening quarter with a 6-0 run led by Ben Ivan's four points inside to seize a 10-6 lead.
Toledo Christian held Deichert, the Hawks' leading scorer, to just one field goal in the first half. Deichert knocked down a 3-pointer 54 seconds into the game and then was held without a bucket.
"They played really good defense in the first half. But in the second half we came alive and hit some really big shots," Deichert said.
Maumee Valley opened the final quarter with a 8-2 spurt to seize a 32-25 lead.
"I'm proud that they kept their poise," Robinson said. "We work on that every day."
TC coach Dave McWhinnie said Deichert's two 3 pointers in the third quarter changed the course.
"These district finals are a funny animal," said McWhinnie, who's team was playing in the title game for the seventh time in eight years "Momentum can get with you and then get against you. I thought we got some really good looks and we missed them in the second half. They just rimmed out."
Toledo Christian finished with a 20-12 advantage on the boards led by Craig Bridgeman's seven.
Maumee Valley held TC to one 3-pointer. Four of MV's 10 made field goals came from 3-point range.
"That's a real chore. Dave McWhinnie is a fine, fine coach," Robinson said. "We didn't execute well early tonight and you have to give Dave credit. He built a wall."
Maumee Valley won its first TAAC title since 2002 this season and only the second sectional championship in history. The Hawks are now one of the 16 teams alive in D-IV.
"This is the first [district title] ever," Deichert said. "It feels really good. It was one of our goals at the beginning of the season and a regional championship was one of our goals as well. So hopefully we can go down there and win one."
Contact Mark Monroe at: email@example.com, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.