Updated: Mar 17
Dayton, OH- The city of Akron is no stranger to OHSAA final fours. St. Vincent- St. Mary has represented the city with seven of the last 10 appearances. The names of T.K. Griffith, Dru Joyce, Keith Dambrot, and Harvey Sims have at least one trip to the last weekend in Ohio high school basketball attached to their name.
Friday afternoon the city can add Rayshon Dent to the list as the Akron Buchtel Griffins (22-6) are headed to the Division II State Championship game for the first time since 1997 after handing Columbus Bishop Ready (28-1) their first loss on the season.
"The west side community of Akron, I think we made them proud today." Dent said in the postgame conference. "I think our guys played up to the challenge against Bishop Ready who's extremely talented and well-coached."
The Griffs jumped out to an 11-2 lead early behind layups from seniors Khoi Thurmon and Marcel Boyce Jr, as well as a triple from sophomore guard Steven Diamond.
Back came the SIlver Knights with a 10-4 run to cap the quarter off behind five quick points from senior Kaleb Schaffer. Schaffer stepped on the foot of Boyce Jr, twisting his ankle and remained in for almost the entire of the game.
"You had to amputate or dislocate my ankle to forced me to sit down. The pain was bad but the magnitude of this game meant more."
Bishop Ready found themselves down 15-12 at the end of the first.
Both squads traded buckets throughout the majority of the second. Charlie Russell made three of his game high five made three-pointers, including one before the buzzer to electrify the Bishop Ready fans. The Griffs held a 30-26 half time.
Buchtel started the second half fresh and hungry with all eyes set on Sunday, jumping out to a 34-28 lead just short of two minutes into the quarter. Russell scored the next four points for Bishop Ready cutting the deficit to two.
Thurmon who's been praised for his scoring ability flashed his playmaking abilities finding his Griff teammates Steve Diamond and Amire Robinson for a layup and fast break dunk to end the quarter. The Griffs blew the lead open to nine to close the quarter. off a 6-0 run from Thurmon, Robinson and Diamond.
Any score by Luke Ruth, Kayden Schaffer and Charlie Russell in the fourth would be matched by Diamond, Robinson, Thurmon, and junior guard Diaire Pride Jr.
Boyce Jr. couldn't hold the excitement in making the final basket with two seconds on the clock to secure the win for the west side community that once produce a familiar guy named LeBron James.
"We're taking it one game at a time, but this one is sweet for the west side community. We gonna celebrate this one tonight, get locked in, and be ready for Sunday."
Buchtel will meet Lutheran West (25-3) Sunday at 10:45 a.m. at the University of Dayton Arena to see who takes home the Division II State Championship trophy.