The Centerville Boys Varsity Basketball team took on Pickerington Central in the State Semi-Final game, and despite their best efforts, lost 57-53 in a game that will be remembered as an instant classic. The game featured the two most recent Mr. Ohio Basketball winners who went toe to toe in a battle that was nothing short of intense.
The game was tied 10-10 at the end of the 1st quarter, and Pickerington Central took the lead, 27-23, at the half. However, the Elks refused to give up, and the game remained incredibly close throughout the second half. The Elks showed incredible grit and determination, playing the way they have always done under coach Brook Cupps. Each team had moments where they looked like they were in control, only to have the other team come back.
The fourth quarter was especially exciting, even though it did not end the way the Elks wanted it to. The Elks were down 48-50 with 2:08 left, but were able to tie it up at 50-50 with 1:20 left. Pickerington Central went up 53-50 with 1:08 left, but Gabe Cupps was fouled with :52 left on a 3-point attempt and calmly sank all 3 free throws to tie the game at 53-53. With only five seconds left on the clock, Pickerington Central was able to inbound the ball and hit a runner in the lane for a 55-53 lead. The Elks had 1.3 seconds to try and get a winning shot off, but the Tigers stole the ball and laid it in at the buzzer to win 57-53 over the Elks.
The Elks finish the season with a record of 25-4, and an era comes to an end for the team. The seniors, Emmanuel Deng, Kyle Kenney, Matthew Wilkins, Gabe Cupps, Collin O'Connor, and Dulguun Gankhuyag, have had incredible careers and their acceptance of their roles were a key to the team's success. Gabe Cupps, in particular, has rewritten the record book at CHS and had an outstanding performance in the game, with a stat line of 7-9 for 2-point range, 3-5 from 3-point range, 5-5 from the FT line, 22 points, 7 assists, only 1 turnover, and of course, he took a charge.
The way Gabe Cupps plays the game and the way he carries himself and makes all of those around him better is truly a once in a lifetime experience. The Elks should be proud of their efforts and the way they represented their school and community. It was a tough loss, but they played with heart and determination until the very end. Well done, Elks, and congratulations on a great season.
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