CLHSA Schools Make Their Mark at 2023 OHSAA Boys' Basketball State Tournament

CLHSA Schools Make Their Mark at 2023 
OHSAA Boys' Basketball State Tournament

March 20, 2023

by Jessica Miller

The Cleveland Lutheran High School Association (CLHSA), which turns 75 this year, continues to make history.

For the first time in those 7+ decades, both of the CLHSA’s schools (Lutheran East in Cleveland Heights and Lutheran West in Rocky River) sent teams to the OHSAA men’s basketball state final four tournament. 

Held in March 17-19 at The University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio, the tournament games spanned three days and saw matchups in four divisions between the best men’s high school basketball teams in Ohio. Lutheran West (Division II) and Lutheran East (Division III) both qualified for the tournament, a historic occasion for the schools and the CLHSA. 

Lutheran West played Friday, March 17 at 10:45 AM, taking on hometown team Chaminde-Julienne Catholic High School (Dayton). A close back and forth game ended in a Longhorns 56-54 victory, sending Lutheran West to a state championship game for the first time in the school’s 65 year history.

Following the semifinal victory, Longhorns Head Coach Jordan Duke told, “The season has gotten us prepared for games like today,” Lutheran West’s Jordan Duke said after a Division II state semifinal win vs. Dayton Chaminade Julienne, “and because we play so many good teams it’s a testament to how good the coaches are in Northeast Ohio. It has given us an opportunity to play in a game like this.”

Spectrum News 1 Ohio’s article on the semifinal victory can be found here.

Lutheran East’s semi-final matchup, held Saturday at 2:00 PM, pitted them against Harvest Preparatory School (Canal Winchester). With a 65-44 victory, the Falcons secured their spot in the Division III championship game. 

For Spectrum News 1 Ohio's coverage of the Lutheran East vs. Harvest Prep semifinal game, click here.

On Sunday, March 19, both of the CLHSA’s two schools played in a state championship game for the first time in the history of Cleveland’s Lutheran high schools. 

Lutheran West played at 10:45 AM against a tough Buchtel High School (Akron) team, the score within a single digit differential for the entirety of the game. In the heartbreaking final seconds, Lutheran West delivered a layup to tie the game, hoping to send it into overtime, but the basket was reviewed and called off – a matter of tenths of a second. 

Lutheran West Athletic Director Ryan Miller says, “At this level of play, when you’re playing the best of the best for a state title, it’s truly anyone’s game. We fought hard and were in it all the way; it just didn’t end in our favor. I’m beyond proud of the team and the coaches. Ending the season as state runner-up is incredible. We have a lot of players returning next season, and our plan is to be right back in Dayton at this time next year.”

To view a video and/or article recapping the Longhorns vs. Buchtel state final game, visit Spectrum News 1 Ohio’s site here.

Lutheran East’s 5:15 PM game was a hard-fought battle with Ottawa-Glandorf High School. The Falcons came out on top 67-61 to clinch the win.

The state championship is the 4th for the Falcons men’s basketball program, which also earned the title in 2005, 2017, and 2021. Head Coach Sam Liggins was a player on the 2005 championship team. 

About the state tournament weekend, Lutheran East Athletic Director and Boys' Basketball Assistant Coach Anthony Jones says, "We did exactly what we set out to do this season -- capture another state title and bring it back here to Lutheran East. It's something special to see the hard work these kids put in all season pay off in such a huge way."

Spectrum News article on this game: click 

About the weekend, CLHSA Superintendent & CEO Chris Steinmann ’00 reflects: 

“It was a truly unbelievable experience to see both of our schools represented in a state championship game. While the Lutheran West game didn’t finish the way we had hoped, this was an incredible season for the Longhorns. What Coach Duke has done to take the program to this level in such a short time is remarkable. While we’d hoped to come home with two state championship trophies, we were thrilled to celebrate a 4th state title for the Lutheran East Falcons. Coach Liggins and team have built an undeniable powerhouse at East, and it’s so great to see their hard work and dedication pay off. All in all, I’m incredibly proud of both teams, coaches, and our school communities. Although Lutheran East and Lutheran West are competitors when they face off during the regular season, both teams came to support the other for their state tournament games, as did many faculty, staff, and families from both schools. That’s amazing to see and be a part of.”

When the weekend concluded, the state champions in all four divisions were teams from Northeast Ohio. Read more about the outcomes of all four divisions’ championship games here.

Photo Gallery of Lutheran East and Lutheran West at the State Final Four Tournament in Dayton:
(Photos by Vincent Rush Photography)

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