Prep basketball: Badin’s postseason drive ends in district semifinal

MIDDLETOWN — The disappointing defeat couldn’t bring gloom to Badin High School’s boys basketball season.

Thurgood Marshall completed the Rams’ campaign with a 67-53 decision in a Division II district semifinal Saturday night at Middletown’s Wade E. Miller Arena, marking the end of the prep road for Badin seniors Justin Pappas, Joseph Walsh, Nathan Hegemann, Easton Scowden, Seth Hargis, John Berg and Ben Grawe.

“It’s a tough loss, but I’m glad I got to do it with my brothers,” said Pappas, who paced the Rams with 15 points and seven rebounds. “This group of guys is unbelievable. It really is a band of brothers, and the chemistry on this team was out of the building. It was really a pleasure playing with all the guys. We had a great season on and off the court.”

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Fourth-seeded Badin finished 17-7, collecting the program’s most wins since going 21-6 in 1997-98. The Rams’ two tournament wins represented the first time they’ve notched that many postseason victories since 2014-15.

“It’s a nice feeling that we’ve left a little bit of a legacy,” Pappas said. “We’ve kind of set the starting point for all the other grades behind us.”

Badin coach Gerry Weisgerber said the successful year gives him encouragement for the future.

“This last game doesn’t reflect this season, not at all,” he said. “The seniors have set the bar high for the future. We’ve got a good group of sophomores and juniors coming back, and I know they’re going to give me everything they can to improve upon this year.”

The Rams led only once Saturday … and the game hadn’t even started yet.

No. 2 seed Marshall (17-8) picked up a pregame technical foul and fell behind 1-0 when Pappas sank 1-of-2 free throws. The Cougars then started the game with a nine-point run.

“Our guys came out and split and ran around Badin’s side of the court,” Marshall coach Shawn McCullough said. “That’s an (Ohio High School Athletic Association) rule. You can’t do that.”

The one point may not have been a big deal, but the “T” had a significant impact on McCullough’s evening. Anytime a bench technical is called, the head coach has to sit the rest of the game. So McCullough was stuck on the bench all night.

“It was kind of a mediocre night for me because I couldn’t stand up,” he said. “I rallied my guys together and said, ‘You know what? You guys have prepared for this. I shouldn’t have to stand up and coach you because you’ve got everything necessary to do what you need to do to be successful.’ ”

The Cougars created some separation with a 14-4 surge to end the second quarter. That gave them a 32-19 advantage at the break.

Anthony McComb scored 19 points and Mekhi Elmore added 11 for Marshall, which shot 51.1 percent from the field. Byron Lanier had nine points and eight rebounds, and McComb snared six boards.

“Badin’s really tough,” McCullough said. “We played Alter and (Chaminade Julienne) this year, and we schedule those games so we can prepare for the tournament because we know we’re always going to end up seeing a (Greater Catholic League) team at some point.

“Right now, with the way we’re playing and everybody’s contributing, that’s how you win. I feel like we should make a run, and I’ve been saying it from Day 1 this summer. We spoke it into existence, and here we are in the district finals.”

The Rams shot 34.7 percent from the floor and converted 16-of-28 foul shots. They didn’t have an exorbitant amount of turnovers (13) against Marshall’s speed and pressure, but the pace wasn’t to Badin’s liking.

“To be honest, I wasn’t that concerned about their pressure because I know what this group can do to a press,” Weisgerber said. “They didn’t turn us over, but they got us playing more their speed than our speed. We were getting good shots, but they were hurried. Hurrying reflects in your shooting.

“It’s one of those games if you finish the way you’re capable of finishing, you wonder if you would have been on top of those guys. They’re good, without a doubt. They look for one another and have some quickness and speed to them.”

Josh Hegemann had nine points, six rebounds and three steals for Badin.

“We knew they were the higher seed, but we still expected to come out with a double-digit win,” Pappas said. “It’s pretty frustrating. Personally, I think the refs got a little too involved, but you can’t blame the loss on the refs. They’re a very nice team. They deserve whatever they get.”

It was the end of Weisgerber’s 21st year as the Rams’ head coach. He’s 312-173 and plans to return for season No. 22.

“There’s no reason not to come back,” Weisgerber said. “We’re going to keep working hard, and we’re going to get it right.”

Marshall will face Trotwood-Madison for a district title at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at the University of Dayton Arena.

Badin 13-6-17-17—53

Thurgood Marshall 16-16-18-17—67

BADIN (17-7): Justin Pappas 5 5 15; Nathan Hegemann 2 3 7; Alex DeLong 1 1 3; Donovan Watkins 3 4 11; Spencer Giesting 1 0 3; Ben Grawe 1 0 2; Bobby Young 1 0 3; Josh Hegemann 3 3 9. Totals: 17-16-53

THURGOOD MARSHALL (17-8): Travis Person 3 0 6; Byron Lanier 3 3 9; Michael Elmore 3 2 8; Anthony McComb 7 4 19; Mekhi Elmore 3 4 11; Eric Middlebrook 3 1 8; Tavell Sims 1 2 4; Jaylan Spann 0 2 2. Totals: 23-18-67

3-pointers: B 3 (Watkins, Giesting, Young), TM 3 (Middlebrook, McComb, Me. Elmore)

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