Dayton, Ohio — The Centerville Elks appeared in their first ever state final four in school history on Saturday evening as they faced an undefeated Mentor Cardinals team who came in at 25-0 on the season. Mentor, led by Senior and Youngstown State commit Luke Chicone can score in bunches as they scored more than 90 points 13 times this season. No doubt a tough matchup for the Elks in their first ever final four appearance, Tom House and Gabe Cupps stepped up big time in their chance to lead the team to the state championship game.
Tom House came out firing, opening up the game with a quick three point shot to give the Elks an early 3-0 lead which turned quickly to an 11-2 early lead for the Elks against a tough Cardinals offense. Gabe Cupps hit a driving floater as time expired in the first quarter to extend their lead to 15-7 at the end of the quarter. House scored an early 7 points as Cupps added 6 in the quarter.
The Elks defense came to play as they tightened up their defense on Mentor in the second quarter holding the Cardinals scoreless for a majority of the quarter. The Cardinals defense tightened up as well in the second only allowing two points in the first 6:30 of the quarter.
Mentor finally was able to remove the lid off the basket as Kyle Culler hit a corner three with 1:44 remaining in the half, cutting into the ten point lead to bring the Cardinals to within seven at 17-10. That opened up the scoring for both sides as the Elks went on a quick 5-0 run before Cael Gray hit a three at the buzzer to pull Mentor back within seven to close the half at 22-15.
The Elks came out of the break and went on a quick 8-0 run to open the second half to open their lead up to 15 within the first four minutes of the third quarter. The Cardinals offense again was quiet to open up the second half as they went nearly four minutes without a bucket until Steven Key hit a three to pull the Cardinals to within 12. Gabe Cupps picked up his fourth foul with 9.5 seconds remaining in the third, but the Elks remained strong both offensively and defensively throughout the quarter as they held a 36-24 lead going to the final quarter.
Gabe Cupps sat on the bench the majority of the fourth quarter, but in the end did not need much production from Cupps down the stretch as Tom House continued to lead the Elks offensively. The Cardinals full court press gave the Elks some problems a few times as it forced their offense to speed up, but every time the Cardinals would make a run, the Elks seemed to have an answer.
The Elks were up 54-39 when the Cardinals went on a quick 6-0 run forcing a few turnovers with the press on the defensive end of the ball and pulled to within nine points at 54-45. In the end, Tom House was too much as he finished with a double-double, finishing with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Cupps added 11 points as the Elks advance to the D1 state championship on Sunday evening at 8:30pm.