COLUMBUS, Ohio - Bloodied but determined, Columbus Bishop Watterson's Cody Calhoun returned to the court with a plug up his left nostril and a championship within sight during the middle of the third quarter of the Division II final of the boys' state tournament at Ohio State's Value City Arena on Saturday.
Calhoun took a shot to the nose on the play that gave Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary the lead at 42-41. He then raced to the bench, with his nose bleeding, as officials stopped play.
He returned a short time later as teammate Bryan Jackson blocked a shot and Matt Lehman grabbed the loose ball. Calhoun broke the other way and after receiving the pass, he put his shoulder down and drove for a basket and foul.
The subsequent free throw made it 44-41, and the Eagles never trailed again in winning their first state title and the first for central Ohio in the division since Columbus De Sales in 1987.
"St. Vincent-St. Mary was starting to make a run," Calhoun sad. "I was trying to get my trainer to fix me up real quick. The crowd started cheering my name and I knew I had to take over from that point.
"It gave us a nice momentum boost and everybody stepped up."
Calhoun and Matt Hughes, who was saddled with foul trouble for much of the second half, had 14 points to lead the Eagles (28-1) and Bryan Jackson added 12.
St. Vincent-St. Mary (20-10) failed to win its seventh title to tie Middletown for the all-time Ohio record and was runner-up for the second time (2002).
Jalen Hudson had 17 points and Nick Wells 14 for the Fighting Irish.
"I lost the game for our team," SVSM coach Dru Joyce said. "I lost it because I didn't turn up the volume. I allowed them to dictate the tempo."
St. Vincent-St. Mary (20-10) went for the tie with four seconds left, but Fransohn Bickley missed a three-pointer. Wells got the rebound, but as he tried to set up another try from beyond the arc, Andy Grieser grabbed the ball and Watterson (28-1) won the title in its first trip to the tournament.
"We had a good look to get that extra period," Joyce said. "It just didn't fall. No one remember who finishes second. I hate to be that guy."
Watterson took a 26-17 halftime lead behind the 12 points of Hughes as the Eagles outscored the Irish 13-8 in the second quarter. A big factor was Watterson making six of nine free throws as it challenged inside, while SVSM missed its lone attempt.
"We pretty much do our thing," Watterson coach Vince Lombardo said. "We kept the tempo where we wanted it to be and things worked out well."