The fourth quarter of Friday night’s City Series boys basketball postseason final belonged to Buchtel.
More specifically, it belonged to freshman Chris Livingston and senior Jonathan King. The dynamic duo each scored 10 points in the final eight minutes to lead Buchtel to a 72-68 win over Ellet before a crowd of more than 1,800 at Firestone.
“Our guys showed an unbelievable amount of mental toughness,” Buchtel coach Matt Futch said. “They met Ellet on the battle of physical toughness, and I thought that proved to be the difference. Jonathan King and Chris Livingston both worked as a well-oiled machine together down the stretch. We had other guys step up too, like [sophomores] Martavien Johnson and Robert Young-Jones, and then [sophomore] Noah Peeples got relaxed later in the game and grabbed some big rebounds.”
Livingston led Buchtel (13-7, 11-0) with 28 points, 10 rebounds and two steals. King contributed 21 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks.
“People stepped up defensively and offensively,” said Livingston, who had two slam dunks in the fourth quarter. “We didn’t even have our starters in at the end of the game, but people stepped up and made plays to win the game.”
Ellet (11-7, 8-3) held leads of 16-11 at the end of the first quarter, 38-31 at halftime and 48-47 through three quarters. The game featured up-tempo play as both teams had multiple leads in each quarter.
Buchtel took control for good in the final four minutes with King, Livingston and Young-Jones providing the scoring. The victory was Buchtel’s third over Ellet this season following 72-61 and 62-55 wins in the regular season. The Griffins were also awarded the Coach Joe Siegferth Championship Trophy and cut down the nets
Senior Jarmond Hogg paced Ellet with 22 points and six rebounds. Junior Trevin Carter (15 points, seven rebounds) also reached double figures for Ellet along with seniors Jesse Nance (14 points) and Anthony Jordan (12 points, five rebounds, four steals).
“They came to play,” Futch said of Ellet, which is coached by Mark Fisher. “We knew they have championship pedigree.”
Buchtel’s victory Friday was its first in the City Series postseason final since 2014 when it topped Ellet. The Griffins lost in the final to Firestone in 2013 and 2016, and to Ellet in 2015, 2017 and 2018. Prior to that, Buchtel won 11 finals titles between 1996 and 2011.
“We stayed together in the fourth quarter,” King said. “We played tough, we pressed them and made them turn the ball over. We also went inside more and didn’t settle for 3s. We got to the basket, made layups, got fouled and made free throws.”
Peeples had six points, five rebounds and three steals, and Young-Jones and sophomore Ronnell Perie II each scored five points for Buchtel. Johnson had five assists, sophomore Juwan Coates contributed a 3-pointer, and freshman Cordell Livingston and sophomore Kyrese Smith both scored two points.
“This feels great,” Cordell Livingston said. “It feels like with this group of guys we can do anything.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org.