Lower helps South Webster edge Lockland

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 3, 2006

COLUMBUS (AP) — This model of Jeeps is apparently good in rough terrain.

Jordan Lower made two foul shots with 12.8 seconds left and fifth-ranked South Webster played great defense on the final shot to beat No. 10 Lockland 61-58 Thursday in a Division IV state semifinal.

The Jeeps (25-2) put the clamps on the Panthers’ best shooters in the last seconds, crowding Sheldon Johnson and Dajuan Harris and forcing Antoine Wilhite to heave an off-balance 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded. It wasn’t close.

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Nick Aldridge, South Webster’s all-time leading scorer with 1,956 points coming in, led the Jeeps with 21 points despite battling early foul trouble and a bad shooting day. He hit 7-of-17 shots from the field, most in heavy traffic within a few feet of the basket.

Lower added 18 points, making all six of his free throws. First-team All-Ohioan Brigham Waginger, who played at state qualifier Ironton last year and then transferred to South Webster, mustered just 7 points on 3-of-14 shooting.

Harris, a second-team all-stater, had a brilliant game with 22 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for the Panthers (23-4). Mack Ogletree added 16 points and Wilhite 12 for Lockland, which was making its first state tournament appearance since losing to Upper Arlington in the 1937 championship game.

The teams traded the lead and traded baskets for much of the final period before 12,372 at Ohio State’s Value City Arena in the first game of the 84th annual tournament.

Aldridge lowered his shoulder and drove to the hoop for a basket with 3:49 left to put South Webster in front 51-49, then later added a free throw.

The teams swapped scores with the Jeeps maintaining a three-point lead until Harris hit two free throws to cut the lead to 56-55 with under a minute left.

With 23.9 seconds remaining, Aldridge took a pass just inside the free throw line and was fouled, then continued on up for the layup, with the official giving him the NBA-style three-point continuation play to push the lead to four.

At the other end, Johnson scored his only points of the game when he banged in a long 3-pointer with 16 seconds left.

After the inbounds pass, Lower was fouled and calmly hit both foul shots for a 61-58 lead with 12.8 seconds remaining.

Lockland hurried down the floor and made four passes but was not able to dent the Jeeps’ pressure. Johnson tried to get off a 3, but he was squeezed between two defenders and the sideline. With 3 seconds left he passed to Harris but he also had a defender in his face. He threw the ball to Wilhite with a second left, with Wilhite forced to jump, catch and shoot in one motion. The ball was wide of the mark.

South Webster is making its second trip to the final four in the last three years. The Jeeps lost to Holgate 31-28 in the 2003 semifinals.