COLUMBUS, Ohio — Andre Yates wasn't so certain, but thought he might have been chosen for this moment.
Yates' bank shot in traffic with 5 seconds left powered top-ranked Dayton Dunbar, which needed an 18-0 second-half run to get back in the game, to a dramatic 54-52 victory over Elida in the Division II state championship on Saturday night.
"I felt like it was in my hands," the senior guard said. "Afterward, you start to wonder if it was destiny. (Whether) it was your turn to close the game out for your team."
After Elida all-stater and co-player of the year Reggie McAdams tied the game with a free throw with 11.8 seconds left, Dunbar's Damarion Geter rebounded his second shot and passed to Yates.
Coach Peter Pullen considered calling a timeout. But he looked downcourt and saw that there were only three defenders back and Yates was heading up the court. He decided to let it ride on the one shot.
"He came here for a reason," Pullen said of Yates. "If he made it or missed it, it was going to be on him."
Yates considered pulling up and taking a jumper, but then decided against it.
Asked what was going through his mind, he said, "Just drive."
Yates went the length of the court, flipping a left-handed shot high off the glass from the left block. It set off a wild celebration by Dunbar (28-0) fans.
But there was still 3.2 seconds left.
After a timeout, the Bulldogs (24-4) inbounded to Dakota Mathias, but his 45-foot shot at the buzzer was wide of the mark.
"They pressured me pretty good," said Mathias, a sophomore. "I was trying to get an open shot. I did. But it didn't go down."
Deontae Hawkins had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the winning Wolverines, Geter 11 points and Yates and All-Ohioan and co-player of the year Gary Akbar each added 10 points.
McAdams finished with 24 points and Mathias had 16 for Elida.
Down by as many as 11 points, the Wolverines dominated the third period to not only catch but pass the Bulldogs.
Elida led 35-24 after McAdams hit a 3 from the left wing with 5:43 left in the third quarter. But the Bulldogs did not score again the rest of the quarter, going 0 for 4 from the field with seven turnovers over a drought that lasted 6:52.
"We knew coming in that we could have turnovers but we couldn't let their transition game turn them into points," Elida coach Dennis Thompson said. "In that situation, we had turnovers that led to points."
In the 18-0 run, the Wolverines had five players score. Akbar had six points, Geter five, Hawkins hit a 3 and Jarrod Clements and Amos Harris each hit baskets.
"The game changed when we were able to pick up the intensity," Pullen said. "We got back in it quick."
Harris, a freshman who had a miserable shooting night (2 of 12), hit the go-ahead basket when he stepped in front of a pass at midcourt and went the distance for the layup for a 37-35 lead.
Geter hit a foul shot and later scored on a slashing drive from the left wing, and Clements scored off a nice assist by D'Gary Wallace to close the third period with Dunbar leading 42-35.
It appeared the Wolverines would hang on, until Harris reached around Mike McDonald to try to slap the ball away and was called for a foul. Then he was hit with a technical for protesting the call. Elida connected on all four free throws to cut the deficit to 52-49.
McAdams made two foul shots with 31.2 seconds left to pull the Bulldogs within a point. Chris McGuire then missed the front end of a bonus situation with 28.7 seconds left.
McAdams missed a drive but was fouled with 11.8 seconds left. His first rattled in, but the second bounded out, setting up the crazy finish.
Elida was making its first appearance ever at the state's final four. The defensive-minded Bulldogs shut out St. Clairsville in the first quarter en route to an easy 61-27 win in the semis.
The title was the fifth for Dunbar, following earlier championships in 1987, 2006, '07 and '10.
Yates had scored 26 points in a 75-60 semifinal victory over Mentor Lake Catholic. Asked if he'd ever taken a bigger shot than the last one, he smiled and said: "State championship. That's by far the biggest shot."