Travis Foreman scored 19 points to lead East Palestine past Southern, 55-44.
By JOHN BUTERA
EAST PALESTINE -- It was as if the East Palestine High boys basketball team didn't want the Tri County League to end.
First, they scheduled a girls varsity game prior to the boys contest on Friday night.
Then it was senior night.
Then it was time to give final game gifts to the players and coaches from both teams.
After that, the cheerleaders got momentoes.
And finally Tom Bingham's crew turned back Southern Local 55-44 to win the TCL's final championship.
"Waiting around wasn't a factor," Bingham said. "What was at stake was."
What was at stake was the final title for one of Ohio's oldest conferences, one that began in 1932.
"Ever since our banquet last year we talked about this," Bingham said. "And now that we have it it's something they can never take away from these kids."
Foreman keys Bulldogs
Travis Foreman scored 19 points to lead East Palestine (14-4, 12-2 TCL), while Dan Hanolt added 13 points and Joe Thompson 10.
Dan DeSellum led Southern (13-7, 8-6) with 12 points.
"Southern did a great job of shutting down our three-point game," Bingham said. "So like we've done all year we adjusted and tried something else."
Ahead 41-31, the Bulldogs put the game away when Thompson cashed a free throw and Foreman went coast to coast.
Foreman came up big when it counted. He had a dozen points in the last session, including four of four from the foul line.
As a team, the Bulldogs made 17-for-27 charity tosses.
Thompson said, "We knew Southern would be tough. It wasn't as if we could take the night off and it took all eight of us.
"It was great. From the start of the year we knew we had a chance to win this but we had to treat every game as a championship game."
Bingham also win in 1997
Bingham, who is in his second tour of duty as the Bulldogs chief, was also at the helm the last time East Palestine won the title -- 1997.
"A lot of things had to go our way during the year," said Bingham. "We won every close game we had except the first game with Wellsville."
Behind three straight baskets from Chris Householder, Southern broke out to a 6-4 lead and again led 8-6 before the hosts ran off seven straight points to carry a 13-8 lead into the second stanza.
Twice, East Palestine built seven-point second quarter leads, but Southern was taking away the Bulldogs three-point game and in doing so they hung around to trail only by three at the half 26-23.
Dan Hanolt, who netted 13 points on the night scored seven in the period as the Bulldogs, held scoreless the entire night from three-point land, began to try their inside game.