Lima Catholic beats VASJ to win D-III championship

Published 1:31 am Monday, March 21, 2016

COLUMBUS (AP) — Tre Cobbs scored 24 points as Lima Central Catholic beat Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph 66-44 in the Division III state championship game Saturday at Value City Arena.

For Cobbs and his fellow seniors, it was the culmination of a yearlong wait to avenge a 63-50 loss to the same team in the same game.

“We worked for it as soon as we got back. We put in the time for it and the results are showing,” Cobbs said.

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This time around a crowd of 11,109 watched the Thunderbirds (28-1) dominate after halftime to beat the Vikings (23-6), their opponent in the title game for a third straight season.

Cobbs had 14 points in the first half as LCC led by as many as six.

LCC coach Frank Kill said he felt his team was tight early, but he liked what he saw after the intermission as the Thunderbirds outscored the Vikings 14-4 in the third quarter and 25-14 in the fourth.

VASJ was 1 for 9 from the field in the third quarter after going 11 for 22 in the first half. The Vikings shot 36 percent for the game.

“We talked about being lion-hearted the entire season, and we came out and just got stops,” Kill said. “We got rebounds. We contested every shot. We were then able to transition.”

Dantez Walton scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Thunderbirds while Ethan O’Connor added 11 points.

Higgins led VASJ with 15 points.

LCC won its third state title. The Thunderbirds beat VASJ 64-62 in the 2014 matchup and won the crown in 2010 over Orrville.

Vikings coach Babe Kwasniak said he saw many similarities between his team and the newly crowned state champs — with one key difference.

“I think they’re a lot like us,” Kwasniak said. “Except this year they’re a lot more talented.”

LCC’s only loss this season was to Lima Senior, which advanced to the Division I title game.