Sunday, March 26, 2000

Title slips away from Purcell Marian

Cavaliers lose big lead, fall in OT

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Brandon Salamone, with the second-place trophy at his feet, is consoled by his mother, Jeanna.
(Steven M. Herppich photos)
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        COLUMBUS — It will go down as one of the most exciting Division II boys championship basketball games in state tournament history. But the game also will be remembered as the one that slipped away from Purcell Marian.

        Holding a 48-33 lead with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter, the Cavaliers wilted down the stretch and fell to Warrensville Heights 76-74 in overtime at the Schottenstein Center.

        The victory gives Warrensville Heights its first state basketball championship. The loss denied Purcell Marian a second title; the Cavaliers won the 1985 Class AAA state championship.

        “What makes it tough is that you're holding on to something, and it's taken away,” Purcell Marian coach Mike Gergen said. “All the kids were crying in the locker room.”

        Foul trouble proved to be one of the major factors in the loss. Four Cavaliers were on the bench at the end of the game: starters Jaime Cooper, Keith Jackson and Hewitt Cooper and substitute Doug Swann.

Jaime Cooper hugs assistant coach Steve Bittner.
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        “At the end, we had two starters on the floor and three kids who were scared,” Gergen said. “There wasn't much creativity because our hands were tied.”

        Gergen was referring to the final 20.6 seconds in overtime. Purcell Marian trailed 76-74 and had the ball. But three shots during the final 10 seconds were off the mark.

        “We were going either way (win or tie) at the end,” Gergen said. “We wanted to set a double (screen) for Brandon (Salamone) or get inside for the shot.”

        As it turned out, Salamone broke to his right and took a 3-pointer that was off the mark with 6.7 seconds remaining.

Salamone pr0tests a foul call.
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        Seldom-used Brandon Reid, a 6-foot-5 junior center, grabbed the rebound and passed to Mike Sanders who missed an eight-foot shot. Reid pulled off the rebound and put up a five-footer that rolled off the rim.

        “I thought I had an open look on the shot,” Salamone said. “I may have been hit, but I won't know until I look at the films.”

        Despite the fourth quarter run by Warrensville Heights, Gergen looked back at the second quarter as the turning point.

        “We executed what we wanted to do in the first quarter,” Gergen said. “Their de fense got to us in the second quarter, and they got back into the game.”

Keith Jackson
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        Shooting 8-of-11 from the field in the first quarter, the Cavaliers took a 23-7 lead. Keith Jackson had nine points.

        Purcell Marian made only 2-of-14 shots from the field in the second quarter. Fueled by a 13-2 run, Warrensville pulled to within 25-20 with 2:13 remaining and 29-22 at halftime.

        “We've been behind by 14, 15 and 16 points in many games,” Warrensville coach Dennis Chimes said. “Every time, the kids remained focused and got back into the game.”

        Although Purcell Marian led 56-44 with 5:01 remaining — and 63-56 with 1:52 left — the Cavaliers had two players on the bench with five fouls and two others with four.

        Warrensville's Julius Johnson, a 6-foot-5 forward who will play at Miami next year, then took over. He scored on a dunk (1:14 remaining) and made the game-tying (65-65) shot with 38 seconds left.

Doug Swann
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        A 3-point attempt by Salamone and a stick back by Doug Swann were off the mark, sending the game into overtime.

        Warrensville scored the first six points in overtime, two off Cavalier turnovers.

        A brief skirmish between the teams in the tunnel before the game set the tone for the spirited contest.

        “A lot of teams were intimidated by us,” Johnson said. “This told us that they weren't afraid of us and also told them that we wouldn't be intimidated by them.”

        The Cavaliers won the every statistical department except the final score. They shot bet ter from the field (41.3 to 40.3 percent) and free throw line, (71.4 to 52.6 percent).

        PURCELL MARIAN (74) — J. Cooper 10-25 5-6 25, Jackson 3-8 8-11 14, H. Cooper 2-3 0-0 4, Salamone 5-13 0-0 12, Fullman 2-4 2-2 6, Sanders 0-3 0-0 0, Fulks 1-2 3-4 5, Swann 3-5 2-5 8. Totals: 26-63 20-28 74.

        WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS (76) — Sanders 2-4 7-14 11, J. Johnson 10-25 5-9 28, Alexander 6-13 6-10 19, Brooks 4-14 2-2 12, Yancy 0-1 0-0 0, D. Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, L. Johnson 1-2 0-0 2, Moore 2-2 0-3 4. Totals: 25-62 20-38 76.

        Purcell Marian ....... 23   6  19  17   9—74

        Warrensville Heights ....... 7  15  14  29  11—76

        3-pointers: P 2-9 (Salamone 2). W (6-17) J. Johnson 3, Alexander, Brooks 2. Rebounds: P 45 (Jackson 10, Swann 10). W 37 (Sanders 10). Assists: P 12 (J. Cooper 4, H. Cooper 4). W 3. Turnovers: P 23, W 23. Blocks: P 1 (Jackson). W 3 (L. Johnson 2). Steals: P 9, W 10. Officials: Frank Vitt, Dennis Dyer, Jack Crain. Attendance: 12,656. Records: W 25-2, P 24-4.


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