COLUMBUS — The Trotwood-Madison boys basketball team was as fast as advertised on Thursday night, much to the dismay of Buchtel.
Trotwood-Madison turned up the pressure on defense and scored quickly on offense to defeat Buchtel 102-72 in a Division II state semifinal at the Schottenstein Center’s Value City Arena at Ohio State University.
A crowd of 10,843 witnessed 6-foot-4 senior Amari Davis total 33 points, five steals and three assists to lead Trotwood-Madison (27-2) over Buchtel (20-8).
“Hats off to Trotwood-Madison,” Buchtel coach Matt Futch said. “Obviously, their third time being down here and having the experience and poise that they had to take care of the game, take care of the ball and force us into turnovers — you really can’t simulate that pressure in practice. One thing that was most impressive about them is that I thought they were in great shape.”
T-M coach Rocky Rockhold called Davis the Rams' “Mr. Everything” earlier in the week, and also praised his four-year starter for being able to “flat-out score” with his midrange jumper and at the rim.
Davis did both Thursday for a T-M team that entered averaging 101 points per game.
“I feel like we really came out and executed tonight,” Rockhold said. “We want to play that way. ... We play like there is a shot clock on offense and we want to try to swarm defensively. I love what our guys did tonight from an intensity perspective.”
T-M will take on Columbus South (28-1) in the state final at 2 p.m. Saturday. Alvin Byrd scored 18 points and Ta’Quan Simington added 16 to guide Columbus South to a 77-55 win over Thornville Sheridan (22-6) in Thursday’s other semifinal.
“I am excited,” Davis said. “This is my last year with my brothers. I am going to just leave it all on the court. I know it is going to be an emotional game.
“There is always room for improvement, but I felt like in the second half we really showed what we could do on the court.”
Junior Carl Blanton scored 21 points for T-M, junior Sammy Anderson had 15 points and nine rebounds and junior Keon’te Huguely scored 11 points. The Rams committed 10 turnovers, and with their pressure extending 94 feet, forced the Griffins into 30 turnovers.
“Our coach pushes us a lot to attack the rim,” Blanton said. “I believe our defense got us a lot of those  points [in the paint].”
Ronnell Perie II, a 6-2 sophomore, paced Buchtel with 16 points, and 6-5 senior Jonathan King and 6-3 sophomore Noah Peeples each scored 14 points.
“We are leaving a legacy for the next guys coming up, but it still hurts,” said King, who also had 11 rebounds. “We wanted to win and get a ring.”
Buchtel 6-6 freshman Chris Livingston picked up three fouls in the first five minutes of the game and was limited to 13 points.
“I was out for most of the game,” Livingston said. “I tried to come in and bring us some energy. The guys were trying to talk me up, but having to sit that long obviously disrupts your flow. I still tried to play hard and do what I could.”
The Rams never trailed, holding leads of 22-14 at the and of the first quarter, 50-37 at halftime, 72-46 through three quarters and 92-59 in the middle of the fourth quarter.
The Griffins opened the second quarter on an 11-3 run to tie the score at 25-25 with 5:40 on the clock, but the Rams responded and utilized their speed to take control.
Davis and Blanton tossed down slam dunks in the fourth quarter as the Rams extended their lead.
“He deserves to be player of the year in Division II,” Futch said of Davis. “He is a really good player. He is smooth with a great pull-up jumper. He plays the game at his pace. ... He is going to have a great career at Wisconsin-Green Bay.”
Griffins 6-4 senior Anthony Hunt Jr. contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“The tournament run has been unbelievable,” Futch said.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org.