Lakota East Boys Basketball Advances to the "Elite Eight" for the First Time




In a surreal atmosphere at the Cintas Center on Wednesday night the stands were mostly empty for the Regional Semi-Final between Lakota East and Lasalle. In a historic move, the OHSAA had limited spectator attendance in response to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the US. 

That didn't deter the Thunderhawk boy's basketball team from defeating the Lancers 44-35 and advancing to the State Great Eight! A small, but vocal group of East parents and family got to witness a first for the Lakota East boys program as they advanced to the Regional Final for the first time, after losses in the same game in 2011, 2016 and 2019. 

Lakota East led, 31-29, going into the fourth quarter. Over the final stanza, the Thunderhawks held La Salle to just 2-for-11 shooting and finished with a 21-9 advantage on the glass. East won the game in the final minutes at the free-throw line going 9-for-10. 

Before they could ice the game at the charity stripe, Lakota East had to find its way out of a hole. The Thunderhawks trailed by as many as 10 in the first half but found an offensive spark behind Kaden Fuhrmann. 

With La Salle leading, 20-10, with less than three minutes left in the first half, Fuhrmann had a steal and walk-in lay-up as part of Lakota East's 7-0 run to end the half. The senior then had eight points in the third quarter, including a pair of three-pointers, to give the Thunderhawks a 31-29 advantage heading into the fourth. He capped the night with a 5-of-6 showing at the free-throw line over the final 35.6 seconds to tie a career-high with 17 points. Mangold added 10 after being held without a field goal in the district final. 

Junior guard Nate Johnson added nine points and sophomore Jadon Coles had five before leaving with a leg injury with 4:34 remaining in regulation. 

Lakota East will play two-time defending Division I state-champion Moeller in Saturday's regional final at Cintas. The Crusaders won their 21st consecutive postseason game Wednesday night, defeating Centerville, 54-42. Moeller ended Lakota East's season last March in the regional semifinals. 

Tipoff is slated for 7:30 pm. Attendance will once again be limited to parents, family and essential game personnel by order of the Ohio HS Athletic Association. The winner of Saturday's contest will advance to the State Final Four on March 20-21 at The Ohio State University Schottenstein Center.

Article content compliments of Dan Hilen, East Sports Information Director