|Eagles win regional, Advance to state|
|Written by Gary Gregory|
|Wednesday, 20 March 2013 00:00|
The Troy Christian juggernaut continues to roll.
The Eagles earned a Division IV state berth after nipping Delphos St. John's 51-49 in the regional final played Friday at Trent Arena in Kettering.
More than 3,500 basketball fans watched the nip-and-tuck game that featured five ties and seven lead changes.
Down 32-22 midway in the third period, the resilient and determined Eagles battled back, outscoring the Blue Jays 27-17 and tying the game at 49-49. The Eagles surged to a 46-40 advantage down the stretch before a 9-3 Blue Jay run tied the game with 12 seconds left.
With three seconds remaining, sophomore point guard Grant Zawadzki was fouled on a 3-point attempt, giving him three free throws.
In the clutch, he made 2 of 3 attempts from the charity stripe for a two-point advantage. When a Blue Jay desperation shot misfired, the jubilant Eagles had sealed the regional win.
After all, their seventh straight tournament win has propelled them to the state final four, a dream come true.
More than three players described the regional win and trip to state as "incredible.
Four days earlier, Grant Zawadzki -- a Tipp City resident -- had connected on 7 of 8 free throws in overtime for a 48-43 regional semifinal victory over state-ranked Tri-Village.
Other Eagles who reside in Tipp City played key roles in the two regional wins.
Against the Blue Jays, Nathan Kirkpatrick (15 points), Christian Salazar (14), Spencer Thomas (6) and Holden Varvel (2) hit crucial buckets during the comeback.
Standing at 26-2 for the season, the Eagles are slated for a state semifinal game at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus on Friday at 10:45 a.m. against Cleveland Villa Angela St. Joseph, a team that stands at 23-4.
Incidentally, Coach Raymond Zawadzki's team has won more post-season games (7) this season than the school had compiled in the previous 12 seasons.