Dayton, Ohio — All of Shelby County has rallied around the run that Botkins has been on this season. After starting out 12-0, Botkins went on to become SCAL co-champs and have been a hot streak in the tournament. Behind big postseason play from senior guard Jayden Priddy-Powell, Botkins has defeated Fort Loramie, Fayettesville-Perry, Newark Catholic, and Cedarville en route to a state final four appearance.
What could be their toughest opponent of the season would come in the State Semi-final matchup against Richmond Heights. The Spartans play a lot of top competition in the Cleveland area as they had matchups against big schools like St. Edwards and St. Vincent-St. Mary’s. Richmond Heights star Josiah Harris is a highly touted prospect with an offer from Ohio State. The matchup between Harris and Botkins’ Jacob Pleiman would be something interesting to watch heading into this game.
Botkins opened up the game on an 11-5 run as Jayden Priddy-Powell controlled the game early on. Despite that early run and a mid-range jumper from Priddy-Powell, Richmond Heights took a 16-15 lead at the end of the first off of a corner three at the buzzer from Malikee Sonie.
Josiah Harris began to heat up in the second quarter as he hit a deep three over Pleiman and then made a pair of layups. One of which came right before the end of the half to cut Richmond Heights’ deficit to 27-24 at the break. Priddy-Powell and fellow senior Zane Paul both played well in the first half giving them the early lead.
Richmond Heights went on a huge run to begin the second half. Josiah Harris continued to go to work in the low post in the second half and Lorenzo Nettles capped off the Spartans’ run with a loud and-one. Richmond Heights led 35-30 going into the fourth quarter.
It felt like there was a lid on the rim for Botkins as nothing would fall. Priddy-Powell missed a pair of layups but the Trojans stayed in the game due to their defensive aggression. Jacob Pleiman finally ended the scoring drought as he brought Botkins within three with his turnaround shot over a defender.
Jameson Meyer then gave Botkins the lead when he hit a huge three to put the Trojans up 37-36 with 2:49 to go. After Richmond Heights responded with a basket to put them back up, Meyer decided one three was not enough. The junior hit a contested three with contact off of the inbounds pass from Carter Pleiman.
Josiah Harris backed down Pleiman and attacked with a layup to tie the game at 40-40. Jayden Priddy-Powell would continue his fantastic night as he drove past the Richmond Heights defender and took it to the hoop to give Botkins back the 42-40 lead. Priddy-Powell then came up with a huge steal which he dove on and called a timeout. Priddy-Powell was later fouled which sent him to the free-throw line. He made the front-end of the one-and-one to put Botkins up 43-40.
Richmond Heights’ Lorenzo Nettles missed the game-tying three and Jacob Pleiman pulled down the rebound and was quickly fouled. Pleiman would also make the front end of the one-and-one which sealed the win and that gave Botkins a 44-40 victory in the State Semi-final.
Botkins was led by Jayden Priddy-Powell who finished with a game-high 19 points. Senior Zane Paul had 9 points, while juniors Jacob Pleiman and Jameson Meyer each finished with 6 points. Josiah Harris had 16 points for Richmond Heights and the next leading scorer for them was Malikee Sonie who had 9 points. The Spartans were without a key starter for the entire postseason but as they return Harris next year their future is still bright.
Botkins will now advance to the State Final on Sunday at 10:45 am as they will face Columbus Grove who had their state title hopes ended last year due to COVID-19. This DIV state final game should be an exciting contest as Botkins looks to finish their best season in school history with their first State Title in boys basketball.