Princeton Loses By 2 In Championship Game

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - If the poll voters were right, then they

were right in a photo finish.

Mr. Basketball Jared Sullinger hit two free throws with 2.7

seconds left as top-ranked Columbus Northland edged No. 2

Cincinnati Princeton 60-58 on Saturday night to capture the

Division I state championship.

It will go down as one of the weirdest finishes in the

tournament's 87 years. Players were fouled on 3-pointers twice in

the final 15 seconds.

Sullinger, a 6-foot-9 junior who has committed to go to Ohio

State in the fall of 2010, finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Xavier-bound teammate J.D. Weatherspoon had 18 points for

Northland (27-1), which edged Princeton for The Associated Press

poll crown.

Jordan Sibert, who also is headed to Ohio State in 2010, led

Princeton (25-2) with 21 points. Miami (Ohio) recruit Orlando

Williams went for 19 points and 10 rebounds.

The two-point difference will be particularly painful for

Princeton. The game also featured a basket scored by Northland when

no one was within 15 feet of the ball - it was tipped in by a

Princeton player.

With everyone in the arena screaming, Northland came out of a

timeout with 7.5 seconds left with the score tied at 58.

The ball was inbounded to Sullinger, who was near the midcourt

line. He took the pass, rolled to his right and began to drive to

the foul line when Princeton's Marcus Davis made contact with him

as he went up for a shot. Davis was called for the foul - on a

3-pointer - with 2.7 seconds left.

Sullinger, 5-of-8 at the line to that point, hit the first two,

with Williams grabbing the rebound on the third. His 60-foot shot

at the buzzer came up short.

How close were the teams? Princeton was ranked No. 15 and

Northland No. 16 in the USA Today's national prep poll.

Northland captured a title in its first trip ever to the state


Ahead by six at the half, Northland stretched its lead to 30-20

midway through the third quarter on Sullinger's dunk off a rebound

and a free throw. The Vikings, with Princeton getting in heavier

and heavier foul trouble, maintained a 10-point edge going into the

fourth period.

But Princeton wasn't done.

Turning up the heat on its full-court pressure, it picked up

points on Darrien Wilkins' shot inside, and Sibert, after tipping

the ball away from Sullinger, scored on a twisting layup with 3:51

left to cut the gap to 50-46. Princeton was already without Stefon

Johnson, one of its top players, who had fouled out.

Northland responded with a free throw by Sullinger and a vicious

dunk from Weatherspoon off an assist from Dimonde Hale to stem the

tide at 53-46.

After Williams hit two foul shots for Princeton, the stage was

set for one of the strangest plays imaginable: Sullinger was fouled

with 2:22 left and missed both shots, but Princeton's Marquis

Horne, an Ohio University signee, mishandled the rebound, and it

went into the basket. The bucket was attributed to the Northland


Still, Princeton drew to 55-51 on a Horne finger roll and a free

throw by Wilkins.

The teams traded free throws before Northland lost the ball when

freshman Jordan Potts could not get the ball in play in 5 seconds.

Princeton turned it into points almost immediately, with Williams

swishing a long 3-pointer in front of his own bench to cut the lead

to 57-56 with 41 seconds left.

Northland guard Trey Burke was fouled with 27.6 seconds left and

hit the second free throw to make it 58-56.

Princeton hurried the ball down the floor and, stunningly,

Williams was fouled by Burke - on a 3-pointer - with 14.4 seconds

left. Williams hit the first, the second dribbled off the edge of

the rim and then he made the tying shot.

That set the stage for the final wild seconds.

Princeton was making only its second appearance at the state

tournament, having lost in the Class AAA championship game in 1972

to Cleveland East Tech.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)