Mark Wise started the game off with a personal 6-2 run for Deer Park and the Wildcats never looked back as they advance to the D-III state title game with a 66-48 victory over Cleveland Heights Lutheran East (14-14). It’s the first title game appearance for Deer Park (28-0) who will play the winner of Columbus Afrocentric/Harvest Prep Saturday at 2pm in Columbus.
It was a balanced attack for Coach Steve Gentry squad lead by 2018 W Jalen Rose and his 18-point performance while the before mentioned Wise (PHO #57) finished with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Junior center Joe Hocker also had a strong performance for the Wildcats totaling 10 points and 18 rebounds. Senior guard David Gulley III lead Lutheran East with 14 points with four three-pointers made.
Five Takeaways: Cleveland Heights Lutheran East vs. Deer Park
- Dare I say that Joe Hocker put on a “Ben Wallace type” of performance for the Wildcats. If you’re to young do your Googles. The big fella was the best defender/rebounder on the court and it wasn’t even close. He walled up when needed, blocked shots when able and made sure Lutheran was held to one possession while helping Deer Park secure numerous 2nd chance opportunities. What a time to have your best game of the season.
- The overall length and athleticism of the Wildcats was an issue for the Falcons all evening. They start a line-up listed at 5’10/6’3/6’3/6’5 and 6’6 and they all can cover a lot of ground quickly. And when Deer Park can use those advantages to turn defense into offense, they are as good as any team in the state.
- Smaller programs at the next level needing a facilitating point man that can knock down shots may want to look at Lutheran East 2018 G David Gulley. This young man can shoot the basketball with range. His 14 1st half points were the only reason the Falcons were within striking distance at the half.
- The rest of the state is finding out what was already known in Cincinnati; Jalen Rose can play. The 2018 wing put together another very good performance with 18 points on 7/12 from the field. He is showing programs at the next level not only can he score but he can help on the boards, can guard multiple positions and can help with ball-handling duties as well. Interest is building for this young man at the D-II/D-III level.
- With a win over Columbus Afrocentric Saturday Deer Park can become the 1st Cincinnati area program since Georgetown in 2007 to win a state title with an undefeated record. But that will be a tall task with Tre Baumgardner on the other side. Coach Gentry will use his press no matter who the opponent is. But Baumgardner is a cool cat, so it will be interesting to see if the press bothers the Minnesota St. signee.
***Photo courtesy of Cincinnati.com