South's players weren't sure what to make of a lady watching the team practice all week.
"She came up to me and said she was a (1967) grad and has been waiting more than 50 years for us to win another (state) championship," Bulldogs coach Ramon Spears said.
The wait may have become a little shorter Thursday for South, which steamrolled Thornville Sheridan 77-55 in a Division II state semifinal at Value City Arena. The Bulldogs' only state title came in 1965, when the aforementioned fan, Brenda Willhite, was a sophomore.
"I've heard more stories in the past week about 1965 than you could imagine," said Spears, a 1988 South alum. "I wasn't even born yet. This is a special moment for the South Side, our community, our students and the Columbus City Schools.
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"I stayed around both days when we were selling tickets just to see all the people coming around to support us. I really enjoyed it. It's been so crazy around here that I even had to turn my phone silent so I could focus."
The Bulldogs were zoned in during a 23-5 start in which they missed only one shot. Sheridan seemed reliant on three-pointers, which weren't falling, and it helped South get into transition.
"We always want to attack," South junior guard Trevell Adams said. "We were really playing good 'D', sharing the ball and driving down to the paint. We seemed to have a lot of openings to get to the basket."
The second-ranked Bulldogs (28-1), who will face Associated Press poll champion Trotwood-Madison (27-2) in the final at 2 p.m. Saturday, shot 57.1 percent from the field (32 of 56). That was aided by 58 points in the lane.
"From watching film, we thought our attackers would have a lot of space," Spears said. "We did a good job sharing the ball and getting easy layups."
Sheridan (22-6) did manage to chop the huge early deficit to six late in the second quarter. But Ta'Quan Simington scored on a putback and Adams converted a layup as time expired to make it 36-26 at halftime. South led comfortably the rest of the way.
Alvin Byrd led five players in double figures for the Bulldogs with 18 points. Simington added 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Adams (13), Treohn Watkins (12) and Marcus Johnson (10) also scored in double figures. And Sam Barton (eight points, seven rebounds) was a beast in setting screens to open up driving and passing lanes.
Watkins made the shot of the game while sitting on the floor after grabbing a rebound during the first-quarter deluge.
Generals coach Doug Fisher knew his team was in for a tough matchup.
"Their length was a problem and they've got a lot of weapons," he said. "The bottom line was we gave them too many easy buckets. A lot of them probably came off offensive rebounds and putbacks and transition baskets."
Ethan Heller and Landen Russell scored 15 points each for Sheridan. Heller, who came in averaging 22 points, went just 6 of 23 from the field, including 2 of 12 on three-point attempts. The left-hander also was an All-Ohio quarterback in football.
"Our plan was to send two at him, try to get him moving right and force him to shoot off-balance," Spears said. "We figured they would shoot a lot of threes, and if they make those it's a lot closer game. We did a good job of rotating."