HAMILTON — The memory was a constant reminder for Lakota East High School senior Bash Wieland.
One year ago the Thunderhawks suffered a heartbreaking loss to Greater Miami Conference rival Princeton in the Division I district boys basketball finals, a memory Wieland said has driven him all year.
He made sure the outcome wsa different this time around, collecting a game-high 21 points and pulling down 10 rebounds as the Thunderhawks got their revenge 52-43 in front of a packed house Friday night in a district semifinal at the Hamilton Athletic Center.
FRIDAY BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT COVERAGE
» Franklin girls rally past Tipp, repeat as district champions
Second-seeded East (19-5) will return to the district finals at the University of Dayton Arena, facing either Wayne or Fairmont on Saturday, March 9. The starting time has not yet been determined.
“It feels great,” said Wieland, losing his smile for a second. “How we lost last year was a horrible feeling, but to beat them this year was phenomenal.”
Wieland was the key all night for East, scoring seven points in the fourth quarter. His three-point play gave the Hawks a 43-34 lead with 2:53 left, and he followed it up with another strong drive to put East up 45-36 with less than two minutes left.
“We battled adversity all year, but tonight we won. That is all that matters,” Wieland said.
“(Bash) does it in practice every day and in games every day,” East coach Clint Adkins said. “Early on they did a good job of denying him, but as the game wore on, he just kept moving. He wore them down and made huge, huge plays down the stretch.”
When asked how sweet revenge felt, Adkins couldn’t conceal his smile, nor his wet shirt from the bath his players gave him afterward, while describing his team.
“Our guys were ready from the get-go,” Adkins said. “There were no motivational speeches or anything like that. Anytime you have a league team that jumps into your bracket, that is all the motivation you need.”
While Wieland was stealing the show, East had numerous other standouts, including Kaden Fuhrmann and Nate Johnson.
Fuhrmann nailed a big 3 at the end of the first half, and his trey midway through the fourth quarter was key, according to Adkins.
Seconds after Princeton’s DeAirius Randle’s 3-pointer had cut the lead to 37-34, Fuhrmann nailed a triple to put East back up six with 3:53 left.
“Huge, just huge,” Adkins said. “He hit the big dagger that put us up six late. Huge turning point in the game.”
A sophomore, Johnson handled Princeton’s pressure all night, scoring nine points, pulling down five boards and only committing three turnovers.
“(Nate) has been phenomenal over the course of the last three weeks,” Adkins said. “He’s playing now like we always knew he could play. If we are going to continue to move forward, that has to be the Nate Johnson we have.”
“Great night,” said Johnson, adding that revenge was very sweet. “We have been preparing for this one. We knew the pressure was coming. There is nothing like game time.”
Princeton (16-9) led 31-30 entering the final stanza.
“We had three and-ones in the fourth quarter,” Adkins said. “Those were back-breakers for those guys. We did a great job spreading the floor and attacking.”
East outrebounded Princeton 26-14. Randle led the Vikings with 16 points, while Khalil Davis added 12 and Jahiem Thomas tossed in 11.
Lakota East 7-14-9-22—52
PRINCETON (16-9): Kaleb Crawford 1 0 2; Khalil Davis 5 1 12; DeAirius Randle 6 0 16; Micah Thomas 1 0 2; Jahiem Thomas 4 3 11. Totals: 17-4-43
LAKOTA EAST (19-5): Kaden Fuhrmann 2 2 8; Bash Wieland 8 5 21; Will Johnston 2 1 6; Grant Spicer 2 4 8; Nate Johnson 4 1 9. Totals: 18-13-52
3-pointers: P 5 (Randle 4, Davis), L 3 (Furhmann 2, Johnston)