KETTERING, Ohio – The undefeated Deer Park boys’ basketball team is going to Columbus for the first time in school history.
“It means the world,” senior guard Jalen Rose said. “That was our goal from Day 1.”
Deer Park defeated Madeira 65-55 in a Division III regional final Saturday night at Trent Arena.
Rose had a game-high 20 points to lead the Wildcats (27-0), who will play Lutheran East (14-13) at 5:15 p.m. Thursday at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center.
Sophomore guard Mark Wise had 10 points while sophomore point guard Steven Gentry Jr. added 10.
“Any given night somebody can step up,” Deer Park coach Steve Gentry said. “Each night we have one or two guys that step up. Jalen Rose had a great game tonight. He knocked down some shots early and got us going. He made his free throws. It was a great team effort.
With 30 seconds left, Wise ran over the Deer Park side and shouted to the fans: ‘Let’s go. We’re going to Columbus."
Deer Park and its thrilled fans are indeed going north on Interstate 71 next week.
Deer Park will attempt to become the first undefeated area boys’ basketball team to win a state title since Georgetown (28-0) won in Division IV in 2007.
Other undefeated area state champions over the years include Badin (1988, Division III), Hamilton Taft (1962, Class AA), Middletown (1957, Class AA; 1956 and 1946 in Class A).
No area boys’ basketball team from Hamilton County has won a state title while going undefeated, according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association record.
Only one Deer Park team has ever won a state championship. The baseball team won the Class AA baseball title in 1977.
The boys' basketball team is certainly ready to become No. 2.
“It’s great,” Deer Park junior forward Joseph Hocker said. “It’s the first time in history. It’s a blessing.”
Madeira (19-8) completed a memorable season, which included a district title. The Mustangs won seven consecutive games leading up to Saturday.
Senior forward Jack Cravaack had 16 points to lead the Mustangs. Senior guard Adam Wieczorek had 12 points while junior center Eric Hoeffel had 12 and senior guard Kyle Johnson had 11.
Madeira coach Rick Rockwell thanked his players for their efforts and said they are ready to move forward in becoming young adults.
“Our staff and community could not be more proud of them,” Rockwell said.