DAYTON, Ohio – Fifth-ranked Pickerington Central (26-2) upset top-ranked Centerville, 55-48, in the 2022 Division I State Championship at the University of Dayton Arena on Sunday night. The Elks (29-1) were riding a 45-game winning streak heading into the state championship tilt, which was one of the longest active winning streaks in the country. This marks the second boys basketball state title in school history for Pickerington Central (2012).
Centerville started off the game up by three points, 7-4, at the 4:49 mark before Pickerington Central went on a 6-2 run to end the first quarter and take the lead, 10-9. Centerville junior Gabe Cupps accounted for six of the nine points in the quarter while Pickerington Central junior Rasheem Biles had four points and three other Tigers had two points each.
The Elks took the lead back, 14-13, halfway through the second quarter when senior Cam Smith made a layup with 4:30 left in the first half, but Centerville did not hold onto the lead for long. Pickerington Central junior Andrew Hedgepeth gave the Tigers the lead back, 15-14, when he made a layup at the 4:12 mark in the second quarter. The Tigers held the lead the rest of the quarter and headed into the break in control by four points, 21-17. Cupps and senior Rich Rolf were the first half leading scorers for the Elks with nine and six points, respectively. Hedgepeth was the Tigers leading scorer at the with five points at the half while Biles, junior Devin Royal and senior Josh Harlan all had four points each.
Pickerington Central started the third quarter red hot when the Tigers rattled off a 10-0 run in under two minutes. The Tigers largest lead grew to 11 points when they led 33-22 with 4:02 left in the third quarter. However, Centerville closed the quarter on a 12-2 run to pull within two points of Pickerington Central heading into the fourth quarter, 36-34.
Pickerington Central maintained its lead through the early stages of the fourth quarter, but Centerville chipped away at it to pull within one point, 42-41, when Cupps made a jump shot with 4:17 remaining in the game. Pickerington Central increased its lead again to three points, 44-41, when senior Alex Styles made a basket with 3:55 left in the game. Centerville senior Tom House made a shot of his own to keep the Elks within striking distance, 44-43. Central made two consecutive baskets a minute a part with a Styles layup and junior Gavin Headings getting a fast break layup to go to increase their lead back to five points, 48-43, with 1:41 remaining in the fourth quarter. Centerville answered with a three-pointer from House to make it a one-score game, 48-46, at the 1:21 mark in the fourth quarter. House’s three-pointer caused Pickerington Central to call a timeout. On the ensuing possession, Centerville fouled Royal with 40 seconds left in the game. Royal put the game out of reach on his perfect trip (2-for-2) to the free throw line making it 50-46 in favor of Pickerington Central with 40 seconds to go in the game. The Tigers made five more free throws down the stretch to secure the win, 55-48.
The Tigers’ leading scorer was Royal who finished with 20 points, four rebounds, and two assists while Harlan had 11 points, and Headings added six points, three rebounds. Styles finished with four points, eight rebounds and six assists. Cupps led the Elks in scoring with 14 points and four assists. Rolf finished with 12 points and seven rebounds and House ended the game with 11 points.