William Shakespeare could not write a better script. In the final home game at the historic Brookhaven High School gymnasium, the Bearcats snapped Northland's 118-game Columbus City League win streak with a 67-66 upset win.
With the game tied at 66 and 35 seconds remaining, Brookhaven held possession and was gearing for a final shot to end the Viking steak. With the ball in the hands of senior guard Ronnie Williams, the Ohio Dominican commit broke through a double-team and was fouled with three seconds remaining.
Eight total points short of Northland in Brookhaven's last three meetings with the Vikings, Williams was intent on not letting history repeat itself. Hitting one of two free-throws, Williams gave Brookhaven its final lead of the game, 67-66, with two seconds to go. As Williams' second free-throw missed left, Northland secured a rebound and immediately called a timeout. Inbouding the ball on their own baseline, a halfcourt heave from point guard Shemar Waugh missed short, shutting the door on the Northland dynasty.
Jumping out to a 16-3 lead through the game's first five minutes, Brookhaven showed from the jump that the Bearcats were locked in and ready to play. While several Northland players had done their fair share of trash talking on Twitter in the week leading up to the matchup, the Vikings looked rattled early on.
Heading into halftime trailing 41-32, Northland faced its biggest halftime deficit in Columbus City League play in over a year. As senior guard Ty Hairston started to heat up in the third quarter, Northland went into the final frame trailing by just three, 55-52.
When it looked as if the same narrative between the City League North rivals was going to play itself out once again, Brookhaven responded stronger than the Bearcats have all season. With four close losses coming to Gahanna, Bishop Watterson, Dayton Thurgood Marshall, and Northland this season, the Bearcats had a choice; either allow themselves to fold in the final minutes, or play vintage Brookhaven basketball and come through in the clutch.
Leading by as much as six points, 64-58 with 2:54 to go, Brookhaven would give up a 8-0 run to the Vikings in the next minute, as two Derek McKeithen free throws tied the game at 64 with 1:36 to go. As he has all season, Williams refused to crumble. Hitting two major free throws to give Brookhaven a 66-64 lead with 1:35 to go, Northland responded quickly.
With a major offensive rebound and putback from senior reserve guard Kenny Sloan, Northland again tied the game, 66-66 with 53 seconds to go. Turning the ball over on the ensuing possession, Brookhaven looked to have given the Vikings the opportunity they had fought for all half. As Northland point guard Shemar Waugh was fouled with 35 seconds to go, it seemed as if the Vikings had their greatest shot to extend their win streak to 119 games, and again, put Brookhaven to bed.
Missing the first free throw, Waugh's second attempt from the charity stripe missed left and Brookhaven corralled their biggest rebound since the days of Jamelle Cornley. Holding for the final possession, Williams was fouled near the foul line with three seconds to go.
One of two Williams free throws secured a historic Brookhaven win, and the Bearcats' biggest since a state championship win in 2002.
Behind 16 points and nine rebounds from junior forward Rob Banks, Brookhaven received its most balanced-scoring game of the season, as four Bearcats scored in double-figures. Williams added 13 points, four rebounds, six assists and four steals, playing arguably his best game of his career on the biggest stage. Junior power forward J-Saun Davis added 14 points and six rebounds, while junior combo-guard Shad Kimble bounced back from a disappointing performance last Saturday vs. Dayton Thurgood Marshall, going for 13 points, five rebounds and three assists. While the Bearcats received anything but balanced scoring in their previous matchup vs. the Vikings, Brookhaven turned the tide in arguably the biggest win on their home floor in school history.
For Northland, junior center Doug Taylor and Hairston led all Viking scorers with 13 points. Sophomore forward Seth Towns added 13 points and four rebounds, but was unable to play the final two minutes, fouling out of the game with just under two to go. Senior forward Jaylen Tucker added 13 points and eight rebounds.
With the win, Brookhaven can secure a Columbus City League North championship with a win at Mifflin on Tuesday.
For Northland, a monumental 118-consecutive league winning streak in snapped, but the Vikings still have a ton to play for. With the top overall seed in the Central District Division-I bracket, the Vikings can make a run for their first state championship since 2008-09.Check out highlights of last night's thriller courtesy of Cap City Preps.
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