WILLARD — The Cubs had to work overtime — again.
Riley Gossom scored a game-high 18 points as top-seeded Lucas won its first district title since 2000 with a 46-43 overtime win over No. 2 South Central in the Division IV Willard district championship game Friday at Robert L. Haas Gymnasium.
The Cubs (24-1) will play McDonald at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Canton regional semifinals at the Canton Fieldhouse. McDonald beat Salineville Southern 72-59 Friday in the Struthers district final.
It was the second straight overtime victory for Lucas. The Cubs needed an extra session to dispatch Sandusky St. Mary in the district semifinals earlier this week.
“I said after Tuesday’s game, going into overtime with (St. Mary) would help us down the road at some point. It just happened to be tonight,” Gossom said. “This is the greatest feeling. This is what we’ve been working for all season.”
It didn’t look like overtime would be necessary when the Cubs opened a 31-23 early in the third quarter on a Logan Niswander layup. The Trojans (21-4) responded with a 9-0 run and grabbed a 32-31 lead on a David Lamoreaux offensive rebound and putback with 4:25 to play in the third. Neither team would lead by more than three points the rest of the way.
“We knew it was going to be a battle. They are a great team,” said Lucas senior Carson Hauger, who had the unenviable task of guarding speedy South Central point guard Simon Blair. “Going into overtime, we felt pretty confident because we had just played an overtime game against St. Mary.”
Lucas reclaimed a 36-33 lead on a pair of Carson Hauger free throws with 1:59 remaining in the third, but the Trojans closed the quarter on a 4-0 run to take a 37-36 lead to the fourth.
Neither team could get much going in the fourth. A scrambling Niswander layup with 31 seconds to play gave Lucas a 43-41 advantage, but Isaiah Seidel connected on a pair of free throws with 17 seconds left to force overtime.
The Cubs scored the only three points of the four-minute extra period, all on free throws. Ethan Wallace split a pair of freebies with 3:11 remaining for a 44-43 advantage, while Gossom hit the front end of a one-and-one situation with 22.7 seconds left for a 45-43 lead.
South Central misfired on a potential game-tying jumper on its next possession and Hauger corralled the rebound and was immediately fouled. He hit the front end of a one-and-one for a 46-43 lead with 14.8 seconds remaining. Hauger missed the second free throw, but South Central’s desperation 3-pointer was off-line and the Cubs were able to collect the rebound and dribble out the final seconds to secure the victory.
“We got past this and it’s like a weight came off our shoulders,” Niswander said. “Coming into the season, people were telling us we were the team to beat and I don’t like that. I like when we play with a chip on our shoulder.”
Niswander backed Gossom with 12 points. Hauger had six, while Wallace and Ethan Sauder each had five.
“The difference in the game is Gossom got loose in the first half,” South Central coach Brett Seidel said. “We missed some assignments and he got loose and comfortable and every shot he took went down for him.”
Blair led South Central with 13 points. Lamoreaux added 11, while Evan Legg had eight and Isaiah Seidel had seven.
“Simon Blair is probably the toughest kid I’ve eve had to guard,” Hauger said. “He’s so quick, not only north and south but east and west. He can go anywhere and hit you with any move at any time.”