CHILLICOTHE, Ohio -- With 4:19 to go in Wednesday night’s Division III regional semifinal against Wheelersburg, Worthington Christian was down 47-38, had just missed their last several shots, and saw star point guard DJ Moore pick up his fourth foul.
Things were not looking good for the Warriors as Wheelersburg had seized all control.
It was gut check time for Worthington Christian, and a gutsy effort it was as they rallied together and closed the game on a 12-0 run to complete the improbable comeback.
Thanks to a heroic late game effort by senior guard Drew Faieta and incredible performances from the rest of the Warriors, Worthington Christian defeated Wheelersburg by a score of 50-47, advancing to the Division III regional finals.
The first three quarters Wednesday night were very back and forth with tons of lead changes and high intensity.
Both teams came out of the gate hot as they combined to shoot 12-for-18 in the first quarter. Worthington Christian ended the first half on a 4-0 run, capped off by a Moore basket in the final seconds on a baseline out of bounds play that cut the Wheelersburg lead to 30-29 at the break.
The third quarter was more of the same as both teams traded scoring runs. Worthington Christian started the second half scoring four straight points and holding Wheelersburg scoreless in the first four and a half minutes. The Pirates would go on their own run to end the quarter and take a 40-37 lead into the fourth.
That’s when things began to go downhill for the Warriors. After a few minutes of ice cold shooting, Wheelersburg jumped ahead to a 47-38 lead with under five minutes to go in the half. In desperate need of a spark, Worthington Christian unleashed their secret weapon: Drew Faieta.
The senior guard came into the game and provided an immediate impact, triggering the Warriors 12-0 run to end the game. Faieta came up with a huge steal and assist in transition as he found senior Tyler Kindberg for an easy finish. Another Kindberg score cut the Wheelersburg lead to just one possession, 47-44.
On the ensuing possession, senior Kobe Buford was the first body on the floor to come up with a loose ball. After a long offensive rebound found its way perfectly into the hands of Faieta, Worthington Christian’s hero stepped up and hit a game-tying three with just over a minute left in the game.
That wasn’t the end of his heroics though. Worthington Christian would go on to come up with the biggest stop of the game when it mattered, securing the final possession with the score tied.
Coming out of the timeout, the Warriors got Moore in a high ball screen where he dragged it off to the right, drove down the lane, and found an open Faieta in the corner. BANG! Nothing but net for the cold-blooded senior as he drained the game-winning three in the regional semifinals.
Kindberg (17) and Moore (15) combined for 32 on the night, as Worthington Christian could not have completed the comeback without them. Faieta’s six points, Sam Johnson’s five, Isaiah Hazelwood’s four, and Buford’s three rounded out the Warriors’ scoring.
Wheelersburg was led by junior guard Matthew Miller, who poured in a tough 17 points for the Pirates. The dream run ends in the regional semifinals for the Pirates, much like in 2018 when Tanner Holden's huge night wasn't enough to overcome Harvest Prep.
Worthington Christian will now face Proctorville Fairland in the regional finals on Saturday, March 13 at 7 p.m. at Chillicothe Southeastern High School.