By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
By Angelica Leicht
And police officers were stationed outside both teams' locker rooms.
"We don't do a lot of talking, and I don't allow my players to talk like that," Wise says. "If you say something to us, you're not going to keep saying something. You might say something at the beginning of the game, because you think you're going to upset us, but as the game goes on, that'll die off."
The game started like most do for Yates, with the team jumping out to a big lead in the first couple minutes. But as the first half continued, Yates never got rolling the way it did in every other game. The Lancaster boys continually beat Yates's full-court press and got easy points off layups. Each time it looked like Yates was about to rip off a string of points, the Yates crowd would start to chant, "Oooo, ah, Third Ward High," but the momentum never lasted.
Just before halftime, a Lancaster player hit a shot to cut theYates lead to four points.
Yates couldn't get its game going in the third quarter, either. For close to five minutes, Peters was the only player to score, and he made only two shots. Lancaster kept playing strong, and the team took its first lead against Yates — the first time Yates had trailed all tournament — about halfway through the quarter, and in a span of about a minute, Lancaster pushed its lead to six points.
Yates, for maybe the first time all season, looked like a team out of sorts. A couple of steals and buckets by Peters and Gardner kept Yates close, but when the third quarter ended, Yates trailed 65-61.
Midway through the final quarter, the game, along with the entire season, looked like it could slip away. Yates senior starter Elton Roy, who led the team in its semifinal victory against The Colony, fouled out of the game. And with six minutes left and Yates losing by a point, Yates star Joseph Young missed a shot and took an elbow to the face from a Lancaster player.
Young collapsed on the court, and after a few minutes of trainers attending to him, Young tried to walk off. He collapsed again. The trainers carried him off the court to the tunnel that led under the stands.
For two and a half minutes, Yates couldn't score, and for the first time in a long time, the Yates crowd, packed in two sections of the arena, was quiet.
But with four minutes left in the game, the Yates fans erupted as Young ran back out of the tunnel. "They were trying to strap me down, to open my eyes to examine me," Young said after the game. "But I came to and had to get back in the game. So I just ran out."
Young immediately checked back in the game and hit back-to-back three-pointers. Peters scored five more points in 30 seconds, and Young made another three-point shot. With just under two minutes to play in the game, Gardner had the ball from what seemed like half court and lobbed it toward the Yates basket. Peters, flying in from the side, grabbed the ball out of the air and slammed it through the hoop.
The Yates crowd yelled as loud as it had all tournament. One Lancaster player, who had to be pulled away from the Yates team by a police officer the night before, kneeled down on the court and cried. Yates finished on a 22-3 run, winning the game 92-73.
As the Yates players huddled in a mid-court celebration, Peters broke from his teammates and bounced toward the Lancaster bench.
"Talk that shit now."
"The mainstream just doesn't get it." — Yates Principal Ronald Mumphery
At the postgame press conference, Wise broke down and cried, talking about his best friend and assistant coach for 17 years, Charles Phillips, who had died from cancer before the start of the season. "I felt like he was looking down on us."
Reilly was brought up, and Gardner answered the question: "Those things aren't true that they say about [Wise]. I'm a kid and I can't say anything about [Reilly] because I don't know him. When you say something about someone you don't even know, you're giving yourself a bad name."
Brandon Peters was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament and presented with a medal and trophy after the game by Perry. The Yates crowd booed the governor.
Young was admitted to the hospital and treated for a concussion.
The team traveled back to the Third Ward on Saturday night after the game and was in church service at 9 o'clock the next morning at Wheeler Avenue Baptist, still wearing the crimson and gold warm-up suits. The preacher spoke about the "Celebration of Discipline."
In national polls before the state tournament, Yates wasn't ranked the best in the country. A high school in Ohio held that position in USA Today and ESPN. But the Ohio team couldn't match Yates in its perfect season, losing a playoff game by nearly 30 points. The ESPN poll commented, "There will be no debate now."