BOWLING GREEN, Ohio -- The No. 2 ranked Columbus South Bulldogs survived a strong second-half effort by the Norwalk Truckers to win 61-54 in the Bowling Green Division II regional semifinal on Thursday night.
South (26-1) was led by the duo of junior sixth man Trevell Adams and junior wing Ta'Quan Simington who scored 22 and 15 points respectively to lead South to the win.
South played a tremendous opening quarter led by Simington whose early breakaway dunk gave the Bulldogs an early 10-6 lead. Adams came off the bench to hit a late-running floater and a layup at the buzzer to give South the 16-8 advantage after eight minutes.
A Simington jumper and layup early into the second quarter gave South its biggest lead of the game 22-10 with 6:54 left in the first half.
The Truckers (24-4) rallied over the final six minutes of the half to cut the lead to 28-25 at the half. Norwalk got four consecutive points from all-state candidate Brandon Haraway (Ashland signee) and then six straight points by junior forward Garrett Chapin including a buzzer trey to keep the Truckers alive and their huge crowd on their feet.
The second half continued with the Truckers seizing the momentum and the lead. After a Simington putback by South, the Truckers got four straight points from Haraway and a trey by Chapin in the first two minutes to grab a 32-30 lead that they stretched to 36-32 which capped a 26-10 run for Norwalk.
The Bulldogs hung tough with a quick 8-0 run aided by four points by Adamsm as South went into the final frame still up by three points.
A Marcus Johnson jumper and a floating runner and layup by Adams jumped South out to a 46-38 lead. Junior center Sam Barton then had a shot goaltended and converted a free throw to give the Bulldogs an 11-point lead 49-38 and capping a 17-2 run by South.
A Haraway bank shot from 10 feet and a Chapin putback cut the lead to 49-42 South and the final 2:31 would turn into Norwalk playing "hack a Bulldog" and sending South to the line nine times down the stretch with them hitting 10 free throws out of 18 attempts at winning time.
With the score 57-51, Garrett Obringer hit a trey for Norwalk to cut the lead to three points for South.
Johnson had a traveling violation in open court to give the Truckers a chance to tie with a trey, but star guard Haraway had a strong acrobatic layup roll off the rim and Johnson secured the rebound for South and made one free throw to jump the lead to 58-54. A jumpball was called off the missed free throw and the ball went to South via the possession arrow.
One free throw by senior guard Treohn Watkins and a pair of free throws by Adams iced the game for South's 61-54 win.
Norwalk got a stellar game from the 6-foot-3 junior Chapin, who finished with 25 points on 8-for-13 shooting with three treys to go with 15 rebounds, a block and two steals. Their all-state candidate Haraway ended with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
South got Adams 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting and 6 of 7 free throws. While junior wing Simington shot 6 of 10 from the field for his 15 points. Top rebounders were Adams and Johnson with eight and seven boards respectively. Johnson added 11 points. South's point guard Watkins was held to four points on 1-of-6 shooting.
South out shot Norwalk 45 to 35 percent from the field for the game. They had 20 more points in the paint, 13 more points off turnovers, five more second chance points, 10 more fast break points and dominated bench scoring 22-0 behind Adams eruption.
South advances to Saturday afternoon with a spot in the state final four at 2 p.m at Stroh Arena on the Bowling Green Campus against Lima Shawnee, who took down Cleveland Central Catholic in the nightcap on Thursday.
A win for South in Saturday's regional final would lead the Bulldogs to its first state final four since 1986.