ELIDA — Forget the fact that Celina led by 14 in the fourth quarter.
Elida’s Dakota Mathias brought his team back, and Louis Gray finished it off for the Western Buckeye League championship.
Gray’s 3-pointer with five seconds left lifted Elida to a 61-60 victory over Celina and a share of the WBL boys basketball championship Friday at the Elida Fieldhouse. Elida shared the WBL title with Defiance, both at 8-1.
It marked the third straight year Elida has owned a share of the WBL title.
“It’s amazing,” Mathias said. “All the blood, sweat and tears in this Fieldhouse and to go out the way we did, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Elida is 19-3, while Celina is 13-8, 7-2 in the WBL.
Mathias led Elida with 31 points, while Gray finished with 15.
Celina held a 60-58 lead with 35 seconds left and Elida had the ball. Without calling a timeout, Elida brought the ball and up and Mathias missed a 3-pointer with 23 seconds left. Marquevious Wilson gobbled up the loose rebound in the corner and fed the ball back to Mathias, who was double-teamed.
Mathias then fired the ball to an open Gray. Gray sank a 3-pointer from the right corner with five seconds to go to give Elida a 61-60 lead.
“I thought his (Mathais’) shot was going in, he’s Mr. Clutch,” Gray said. “The ball came back to Dakota, and I was open and he fed me the ball, and I knocked it down. I’m blessed to hit that shot. It’s crazy. I know I missed the previous two (3-pointers), but you have to let it fly.”
Elida coach Denny Thompson said he wasn’t planning on calling a timeout on his team’s final possession.
“I thought our best chance was for us to come down with them in a little bit of disarray because they were playing a defense that they really hadn’t played before,” Thompson said. “I think it was a diamond (and one). … Louis’ shot looked good to me.”
Celina would have two final shots after it called timeout with 4.6 seconds left.
Ryan Hoyng took the inbounds pass, went the length of the floor, and flipped up a 7-foot floater from the the left side of the lane.
As it was headed toward the basket, Mathias leaped from his back side and blocked it out of bounds.
With 0.3 of a second left, Celina’s Ryan Hoyng inbounded the ball to Caleb Hoyng, who tipped a shot at the basket. The ball strolled around the rim and dropped out.
That set off the celebration at the Fieldhouse.
“He’s (Ryan Hoyng) a great player, and I knew if he got it, with time, he was going to get to the hole,” Mathias said. “I kind of backed off and at the last second, he put it up with his left hand and luckily I got a good block.”
Celina coach Chris Bihn said, “We wanted to get it into Ryan’s hands and let him go. We had someone who would fill in behind him if he drew help and we had two guys on the blocks. We let him come down and get a read.”
Mathias added to his school career scoring record and now has 1,847 points. He hit 10 of 21 from the field and 6 of 15 on 3-pointers. He also had eight rebounds and five assists.
Ryan Hoyng led Celina with 18 points, while Caleb Hoyng had 14 points. Mason Ross had 11 points, all in the third quarter.
Elida led 15-2 early, but Celina came back and got within 15-14 in the second quarter. Elida led 24-22 at the half.
Ross took control down low for Celina in the third quarter, as it built up 37-26 lead. Celina’s lead grew to 14, 51-37, with 6:01 to play.
“This was my last game at the Fieldhouse and there was no way I was going to lose it,” Mathias said.
As soon as Elida fell behind 14, Mathias hit back-to-back, step-back 35-foot 3-pointers. Elida ripped off an 11-0 run to tie the game at 54 after Gray’s driving 8-footer.
“I’m a defensive guy at heart, and you have to defend, but whenever you’re shooting 35-footers over the top of you, with an outstretched hand, I don’t know how you can defend,” Bihn said.
In the final quarter, Mathias had 12 points on four 3-pointers, while Gray scored nine.
Celina won the boards, 40-32, with Caleb Hoyng getting nine boards. Wilson and Mathias both had eight rebounds.
“I don’t think there was a play or a person that did it,” Thompson said. “But as a group of young men, they did not want to lose that last game on their home floor. And I think that’s where they drew their energy from.”