Columbus, Ohio- One. The number the Solon team said to their fans once the final buzzer went off inside the Jerome Schottenstein Center as Solon defeated Pickerington Central by a final score of 82-78.
Sincere Carry would lead the way for the Comets during the win as he had a team-high 29 points and 11 assists. Mike Bekelja added 17 points followed up with Trent Williams and David Marbury each scoring 10 points.
Before Solon outscored Pickerington Central 47-33, the Comets struggled to get ahead from the Tigers.
The first half was headlined by Pickerington Central senior Adrian Nelson. The Detroit Mercy commit scored all 21 of his points in the first half.
The length of the Tigers seemed to become a problem early on for Solon. The big bodies of Adrian Nelson and Coleton Landis inside created many opportunities for easy points at the rim.
Pickerington Central would hold a 26-14 advantage inside the paint at the half. Whenever the Comets would seem to find their rhythm behind the arc, Pickerington Central would respond right back with a couple of passes to break the zone defense they faced.
Solon would head into halftime facing a 45-35 deficit.
The Comets came out of the half with momentum to get right back into the game. A Trent Willimas 3-pointer with 6:40 left got them within seven points.
After a successful defensive stop on the other end, Trent Williams would get another open 3-point shot, this time from a ball screen set from Nick Close. The 3-pointer got the Comets within four points, 49-45.
Solon would get as close as two points with six minutes left, but Pickerington Central didn’t let the game get any closer from that point forward. A back-and-forth battle the rest of the way led to a 61-58 lead for Pickerington heading into the final eight minutes of play.
Sincere Carry would open up the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer, which would tie the game at 61. The Comets would then take their first lead of the game after two free throws from Mike Bekela.
The energy from senior Sincere Carry late in the game played a big part in keeping the momentum on their side.
“I was just trying to play hard and bring energy so my teammates can wake up,” Carry said.
For Pickerington Central, Adrian Nelson had a team-high 21 points. Javohn Garcia added 20 points with Juan Elmore adding nine points to round out the scoring for the Tigers.
The last couple minutes of the game would come down to Solon knocking down its free throws.
Carry played an imperative part late in the fourth quarter, finishing 14-17 from the charity strike. The Solon team would knock down 21 of 28 free throws on the night, ultimately sealing the Comets a trip to the state championship Saturday night.
“It’s a credit (to my players), it’s not anything we can coach or teach,” coach DeCesare said. “We can’t make guys good foul shooters. It’s guys who put in time and guys who have confidence in themselves, so that credit goes to my players.”
Solon will have less than 24 hours to prepare for Archbishop Moeller. A team that has a record of 26-3 and features a 6’10” senior in Jaxson Hayes.
“It will be a challenge,” coach DeCesare said. “We haven’t played against a 6-foot-11 kid this year so we’ll have to talk as a staff tonight a lot on how we will defend that.”