When so much history and so much build-up collide in one game, it demands to be called the most anticipated game of the year.
Badin (20-5) meets Roger Bacon (23-2) for the Division II regional championship at 7:30 p.m. today at Wright State's Nutter Center. With a berth in the state Final Four at stake, the anticipation is multiplied by the fact these two teams met in last year's regional final, with Roger Bacon giving up an 11-point fourth-quarter lead and losing at the buzzer.
''This feels good, but I want that even better feeling on Saturday,'' said Roger Bacon guard Brian Schaefer after he scored 24 points in Wednesday's 75-63 regional semifinal win over Columbus Beechcroft. ''That's all we've been thinking about all season.''
Roger Bacon has already beaten Badin in two regular-season contests this year, winning 75-62 at Roger Bacon but by just 58-56 in the second meeting at Badin.
''Our kids want Bacon, especially after that last game when they beat us by two points at our place,'' Badin coach Gerry Weisgerber said after his team beat McNick 65-52 in a regional semifinal Wednesday.
''If we don't have foul trouble and if we stay healthy, I like our chances. We gained a lot of confidence in that game at our place.''
Badin's strength is its ability to execute on offense and hurt opponents by putting five players who are exceptional shooters on the floor at once. The Rams matched their season mark of 54 percent shooting from the floor in beating McNick on Wednesday.
But the Rams also had 23 turnovers.
''I imagine (Roger Bacon) will press us after seeing us turn the ball over like that tonight,'' Weisgerber said.
Roger Bacon has turned to a press in the final part of the season, and its effectiveness forced 12 first-half Beechcroft turnovers. Beechcroft battled back to make a game of it in the second half, but the Spartans never gave up the lead.
Besides the press, Roger Bacon will try to exploit a big size and strength advantage inside with 6-7 Eugene Land and 6-5 Brandon McIntosh, who both average 19 points per game. McIntosh is coming off a dominating 22-point, 14-rebound effort against Beechcroft. Roger Bacon will also try to hurt Badin from the outside, where Schaefer, Brian Lakes and Jared Niesen led the team to 46 percent three-point shooting on the year.
But Roger Bacon only hit 3-of-12 three-point attempts against Beechcroft.
Badin lost in the state semifinals last year to Akron Buchtel, but with a number of experienced players back from that team, the Rams would savor the chance to go back this year.
''Badin is very, very good,'' Roger Bacon coach Bill Brewer said with a smile. ''I know they want back to the Final Four. But it would be nice if they'd let us have our chance this year.''