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March 13, 2008 - Seth Staskey
Well, The Times Leader has found its way to press row at the Jerome Schottenstein Center at The Ohio State University.
The opening game finds Ohio State recruit William Buford and his Toledo Libbey Cowboy teammates meeting St. Paris Graham, which comes to into the tournament with 26-0 record. St. Paris Graham won the state Division II wrestling title two weeks ago in this very venue.
It appears from watching warm-ups that Libbey could be a heavy favorite in this game. In case you are thinking of coming out to Columbus, better be prepared to pay heavy dollar to get into the building. While walking around the outside of Value City Arena, books for all 12 games were selling for as much as $350 per for the lower levels.
Well, there is less than three minutes to go until halftime, and the Graham Falcons and Libbey Cowboys are tied at 17. There is some defense being played by both teams to say the least. It's not that anyone is trying to slow it down. Both teams are challenging every shot and pass. Buford has six points, including an impressive conventional three-point play where he took the ball down the right side of the lane and laid the ball in gently off the glass. Trust me, it was impressive.
Libbey led by two at halftime thanks to a Buford layup just before the horn and the lead is now three at 26-23 with 3:47 to go in the third as we have hit the media timeout. Buford continues to display a bevy of methods to score. He's tallied via the drive, pull-up jump shot, on the block and from mid-range. Basically, he scores when he wants to, however he wants to.
Graham made a brief run in the latter stages of the third to take a three point lead, but Libbey closed with four in a row to make it a 29-28 reading after three periods. Could be a classic finish.
Libbey is starting to exert itself a little bit in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys have opened up a 37-28 cushion. Graham is having trouble containing the Cowboys on the boards and more of the Libbey players are starting to join Buford in the act. Graham is showing it didn't win 26 games by accident. Just when it looked as if Libbey was about to deliver the knock out blow, Graham has buried back-to-back treys and the score is now 43-41 in favor of the Cowboys with 96 seconds showing.
The clock now reads 25.3 and Graham is at the line shooting a pair after Libbey was whistled for a loose ball foul. The Falcons sank one-of-two, making it a 47-44 contest with 20.8 seconds to go. Libbey got fouled and sank one-of-two. Graham rebounded, but Buford raced the dribbler down and knocked the ball loose for a turnover. Libbey fouled again and misses the first again. Libbey gets an and-one and makes it 50-44 with just under seven seconds to go as droves of neutral fans head for the exits. Foul shot good.
Final: Toledo Libbey to play for the state championship Saturday morning at 10:45 a.m. against the winner of the next game after handing St. Paris Graham a 51-44 setback. Next tip: 2 p.m. Check back with us.
Stay tuned!!! \
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