COLUMBUS, Ohio — Purcell Marian senior forward Javonta Lyons extended his hand and placed it on the left shoulder of his coach in consolation early Thursday afternoon.
Purcell Marian boys’ basketball coach Scott Kerr wiped away the tears as he struggled with his emotions to answer a question in the postgame press conference about what he will remember about his team this season.
“These guys are really special to me,” Kerr said. “Not just getting here. We could’ve lost last Saturday night (in the regional final) or in the districts – I would have told you the same thing. We don’t really talk about winning and losing very much. We say we do what we do and it will take care of it self. These guys believed in it and bought into it. I couldn’t love them anymore regardless of today’s outcome.”
Purcell Marian completed its season as a Division III state semifinalist Thursday afternoon at the Schottenstein Center after a 48-41 loss to Canal Winchester Harvest Prep.
Yet, nothing will take away from the Cavaliers’ first trip to the state Final Four since 2000.
“Just working through day and night with my brothers literally blood, tears and sweat we left on the court,” said senior forward Bryan Warah.
The Cavaliers (24-5) were led by Lyons with 15 points and four rebounds Thursday afternoon. Warah had nine points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
“The last thing I went in and told them (in the locker room) was these guys are special to me,” Kerr said. “…It was the first class where I was there the whole time.”
Harvest Prep (27-2) advanced to the Division III state final at 10:45 a.m. Saturday.
The Warriors were led by junior guard Christopher Anthony who had 17 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Anthony was named the Division III state player of the year earlier this week.
With the game tied at 20 at halftime, the Warriors went on a 9-2 run to open the third quarter and took the lead for good.
“Obviously we got the lead and I think we have the best backcourt in the state of Ohio,” Harvest Prep coach David Dennis said. “...It was a great team effort.”
Lyons made a 3-pointer in the corner at the 3:14 mark of the fourth quarter to close the gap to 37-36 but Anthony made a transition layup and senior Raymond Robertson made a three and another jumper to extend the lead to five with under a minute left.
Purcell shot 43.6 percent from the field while Harvest Prep was 41.5 percent. Purcell was just 4 of 11 from the free-throw line and Kerr said the Cavaliers had been early 70 percent all season.
“Our guys fought like crazy,” Kerr said. “We weren’t just going to give it to them.”
Purcell Marian, which finished No. 5 in the state poll, was in its first state Final Four since 2000 when it was the Division II state runner-up. Purcell Marian won the Class AAA state title in 1985.