By RUSTY MILLER
AP Sports Writer
COLUMBUS — It came down to one shot for the high school basketball championship.
Lima Central Catholic Coach Frank Kill hoped for a favorable outcome — and got it.
Martyce Kimbrough had 22 points — including all four of his second-half points in the final 93 seconds — to lead Lima Central Catholic past Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph 64-62 on Saturday in the Division III state boys final.
After VASJ (22-8) had cut the lead to a point on 6-foot-10 junior Carlton Bragg’s 3-pointer with 6 seconds left, two LCC players missed three consecutive free throws. But Brian Parker’s heave from midcourt was just short, touching the front of the rim.
“I believed the ball was bouncing our way today,” Kill said. “And hopefully that one shot wasn’t going to be a backbreaker.”
The title was the second for the seventh-ranked Thunderbirds (25-4).
Bragg had 23 for defending champ VASJ, denied its sixth title.
“This team has always found a way to win games like that,” said Vikings coach Babe Kwasniak. “It just didn’t happen.”
The Thunderbirds led by 14 midway through the third quarter. But the Vikings would not go away.
LCC, staked to a lead after Kimbrough went off in the first half, never let VASJ get the lead.
“Once I made my first couple, I knew I was feeling it,” said the first-team Associated Press All-Ohioan and co-player of the year in the division. “I just kept letting go.”
After Xavier Simpson, who had 18 points for LCC, hit a high-arching floater with 5:41 left, the Thunderbirds were on top 51-44. But VASJ ran off the next seven points — the first five by Dererk Pardon and the last two on free throws by Bragg — to tie it with 4:31 left.
Pardon ended up with 17 points and 15 rebounds.
Cory Stewart and Simpson — again on a looping shot over the outstretched arm of Bragg — gave the Thunderbirds a 55-51 lead.
Bragg hit two foul shots only to have Kimbrough — scoreless in the second half to that point — make two more to get the margin back to four points.
Kimbrough hit the first of two shots with 37.8 seconds remaining for a 60-57 lead, then was fouled after a huge offensive rebound by Dantez Walton and hit another free throw five seconds later to make it 61-57.
Simpson made a foul shot before Parker sank two foul shots with 13.8 seconds on the clock to cut the lead to 62-59. Simpson made another free throw with 11.5 seconds left before Bragg — one of the most highly recruited juniors in the Midwest — came off a pick and drained the 3 with 6 seconds left.
The Thunderbirds then missed two foul shots, had a follow shot blocked and were fouled again with 1.7 seconds remaining. This time Tre Cobbs hit the first of two shots.
When he missed the second, Parker dribbled to near midcourt and flipped a shot that was right on line but came up just short.
“It looked good, but I missed it,” said Parker, a first-team all-stater and also a co-player of the year, who finished with 15 points.
LCC’s players celebrated in a large pile.
Jake Williams, an undersized 6-3 center, was an unsung star for LCC, not only playing tough defense but scoring 12 points and grabbing seven rebounds against VASJ’s large (6-11 and 6-8) frontcourt.
Exactly 17 years earlier, to the day, Kill had led Lincolnview High School to a state championship.
Asked if his coaching title was an upset, he added, “Not in my heart.”
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