COLUMBUS - The doctor's orders for Cincinnati LaSalle coach Dan Fleming were pretty simple: Don't get too excited.
Fleming, who two weeks ago had an emergency angioplasty, probably wasn't the best patient at Value City Arena Friday. But if not for senior Matthew Woeste, he might have been worse.
Woeste tipped in a missed shot by Brandon Neel with three seconds remaining to give the Lancers a 48-46 win over Toledo Central Catholic in a Division I state semifinal.
LaSalle will take a 25-2 record into tonight's 8:30 p.m. showdown with second-ranked Columbus Northland for the championship. Northland (26-1) downed top-ranked Garfield Heights 67-59 to advance.
"He told me I can't be yelling or jumping up and down," Fleming said of the specific instructions from his doctor in order to be able to sit on the bench for Friday's game. "I didn't jump up and down, but I don't think I did so well on the yelling part."
Pat Goedde, a Fleming assistant for 20 years, served as the acting head coach. In the first half, the excitement factor was a non-entity. As has been the case in a few recent tournament games, Central took a methodical approach at the offensive end and this time didn't have a lot of success.
The Irish had nearly as many turnovers (nine) as they did shots (11) in the first half, which ended with the Lancers owning a 22-12 lead. Baskets by Neel, Trey Casey and a three-point play by Ryan Fleming helped push the margin to 29-15 with 4:48 left in the third period.
That's when Central, behind a shift in the pace and the scoring of sophomores Cliff Bussey and Deontae Cole, rallied and made life a little uncomfortable for Fleming.
"We knew they were very good defensively and we thought we might be able to fatigue them a little by being a little more conservative offensively and maybe even soften their press a little," Central coach Jim Welling said. "I was wrong on that one, of course. But then we played with a sense of urgency, we played a little inside-out and got things going,"
Bussey hit three jumpers, one of them a 3-pointer, and Cole added back-to-back treys, one from each corner as the Irish pulled to within 31-29 by quarter's end.
Woeste, who didn't take a shot in 11 minutes of first-half action, nailed a 3-pointer on only his second shot of the night after a Bussey drive had tied it early in the fourth. He added another score less than a minute later, but his biggest play was yet to come.
The lead changed hands five times and the game was tied twice in the final 4:40. The final tie came when Benjamin Dent hit the second of two foul shots to make it 46-46 with 19 seconds left.
Neel, who had scored the last 10 Lancer points, got the call when he was able post up Central's Drew Lehman. The shot was off the mark but ...
"I knew the ball was going to Neel because he had the hot hand," Woeste said. "I just went to the boards. Nobody boxed me and I got it. Then I just watched the clock hit zero."
Neel had 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting to lead the winners. Fleming added 11 points and Woeste scored seven, all in the fourth quarter.
Lehman had 13 points and three assists for Central, which hit 15 of just 29 shots. Bussey added 11.
TREY VS. TREY SHOW: The Northland-Garfield Heights game had a sidebar to it with Division I Co-Players of the Year Trey Burke of Northland and Trey Lewis of Garfield Heights going at it. Burke had the additional honor of being named Mr. Basketball.
Lewis won the individual battle in a big way by scoring 33 points with six rebounds. The Bulldog senior hit 11-of-21 shots, including 8-of-13 from 3-point range.
But a slow start did in the Bulldogs, who missed their first seven shots and didn't score until Lewis' foul shot with 2:20 left in the first quarter. By that time, Northland had a 9-0 lead and the Vikings never let Garfield get the upper hand.
"We've never played like this all year," Bulldog coach Sonny Johnson, a Mr. Basketball award winner himself from 1998, said. "I'm at a loss as to why that was the case."
Burke meanwhile struggled mightily with his shot. He managed just 4-of-17 while finishing with 15 points. He did have five assists and two steals.
Twice in the closing minute, Garfield Heights pulled to within six of the Vikings, but Burke, Jordan Potts (16 points, four assists) and Ke'Chaun Lewis combined to go 10 for 10 from the line to seal the win.
"We didn't play well but the young men played hard, so there was no reason for me to jump in there," Northland coach Satch Sullinger, whose son Jared was playing for Ohio State in the East Regional Friday, said. "They already had five guys against them. They didn't need me, too.
"They just needed to trust the system and they'd get things going right," he said. "And that's what they did."
Devon Scott led the Vikings with 17 points and 10 rebounds. He hit 8-of-11 shots and had two assists and three blocks. For Garfield Heights, Tony Farmer had 11, Mike David nine and Mike McQueen six. No one else scored.
CHECKING THE STOCK: Unlike the last three Mr. Basketball Award winners - Ohio State recruits Jared Sullinger, William Buford and Jon Diebler - Burke is taking his game to Michigan next season.
Wolverines coach John Beilein was in attendance for the Northland-Garfield Heights game, and he might be wondering if he went after the wrong Trey. Lewis' long-range game simply got longer and longer as the need developed.
"He played great and I told him so," Burke said of Lewis. "There was nothing we could do with him coming off screens. We had a hand in his face, but he kept hitting them."
While his player may have had the upper hand individually, Johnson saw a bigger picture on the game.
"When you get to this stage, you have to bring it. Everybody has to bring it, not just Trey Lewis," Johnson said. "Trey Burke didn't have a great game for them but everybody around him did. That was the difference."
NEEL GETS WELLING'S VOTE: Welling, who coached at Owens Community College before coming to Central three years ago, said the 6-foot-3 Neel has what it takes for the next level.
"Ten-of-16 and 23 points? He's a player," Welling said. "If I were a Division I coach, I'd be recruiting him. I hope somebody is because he can play."