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Boys Basketball State Tournament

Lutheran East Defeats Columbus Wellington, 43-38, in Division IV State Championship

*Matt Medley and Don DiFrancesco co-scribed this article*

With both teams shooting only 34%, points were hard to come by, but Cleveland Heights Lutheran East pressured Columbus Wellington into committing 26 turnovers and the Falcons came away with a 43-38 victory in the Division IV final.

Lutheran East achieved a hard-earned 20-9 record on the way to bringing home the school’s second OHSAA championship trophy. Wellington finished the season at 22-8.

Jordan Burge scored a team high 13 points for the Falcons before fouling out with 3:19 to play. When Wellington’s Noah Berry split the resulting free throws, Lutheran East was only up by five, 34-29. But the Falcons were able to go out to a 9-point lead on baskets by Justin Motley and Kaylin Heard and held off the determined Jaguars in the final two minutes.

Wellington’s statistical leaders were their big men: 6’9” senior Dustin Harder (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Berry, a 6’7” junior (7 points, 9 rebounds). Outside of Burge, a 6’3” junior guard, Lutheran East received well-balanced contributions, as the team’s depth was on display for the final few minutes without their leading scorer on the court.

Tyler Powell, Travis Sanders, and Maurico Tate combined for 22 points.

Wellington had the game’s largest lead at 15-4, but a Burge layup just before the end of the first quarter ended an 11-0 run by the Jaguars.

Lutheran East promptly scored the first nine points of the second quarter to tie it at 15. Powell came through with a big three late in the second quarter to give the Falcons their first lead of the game.

The two sides entered halftime tied at 18 apiece. Burge led the way to start the second half.

Powell hit his second three of the game, as the second half started out as a back-and-forth battle.

After a Burge bucket put the Falcons up 25-24 halfway through the third quarter, Lutheran East never relinquished the lead.

Tate hustled his way for an offensive rebound and a big bucket to make it a three-point game.

Burge continued to pick the team up with much-needed baskets in a game where they were hard to come by.

Sanders hit his biggest field goal of the night early in the fourth quarter, stretching the lead to eight.

Senior center Justin Motley, who’s known for his defense and inside presence, scored his first points in Columbus, which certainly came in the clutch.

Less than a minute after Burge fouled out, Motley came through with a much-needed put-back to build the lead back up to seven, after Wellington had started to get on a mini-run.

Motley finished with four rebounds and three blocked shots.

Wellington managed to cut the deficit to three with less than a minute to play, but Powell and Sanders hit clutch free throws down the stretch to hold the Jaguars off.

The victory marks Lutheran East’s second state championship. The first one came in 2005.

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