The Olentangy Liberty boys basketball team used a 20-3 run in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter to run away from visiting Hilliard Davidson 64-45 in the first round of the Division I District Tournament Saturday night in Powell.
Nick Nakasian collected his own miss on the inside and kicked out to Mitchell Okuley on the left wing for a three-pointer to give Liberty a 47-42 lead and kickstart the game-closing rally.
“(Okuley) is a competitor … he’s a winner,” Liberty coach Greg Nossaman said. “That was the best game of his career there. He shot it well, he handled it well (and) he played good defense.”
Okuley scored a game-high 21 points on the strength of four threes and Nakasian added 15 points to lead the 14th-seeded Patriots (11-12).
“As a team – we moved the ball well,” Okuley said. “It was mainly our defense that gave us the lead.”
Liberty picked up its first win in the six games since top-scorer Ben Roderick’s season-ending knee injury.
“All of our sets, as I go through it … it starts with Ben,” Nossaman said. “Now, it’s something else. We’ve had to make some adjustments because of that.”
The Patriots held 16-point leads on four occasions in the second and third quarters, but Davidson was able to rally back and get as close as two in the final frame.
“It definitely hurts not having Ben,” Nakasian said. “But, we just have to work through it. We’ve had a lead (in the past five games) and let it slip. This time we finally recovered.”
Mitchell Kershner scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter flurry, which included a pair of threes.
Davidson scored 11 straight in the third quarter to cut a 16-point lead down to 39-34 late in the frame. Jacob Drees and Gage Keys had a pair of put-backs and Drees added a three-point play to key the run.
The run was stopped briefly by an Okuley three, but the Wildcats wouldn’t go away. Drees knocked down a three-pointer and followed with a feed to Caleb Stimmel to cut the deficit to two early in the fourth.
An M.J. Rasoul put-back cut Davidson’s deficit back to two after Nakasian had scored on the other end.
But, Liberty wouldn’t let Davidson over the hump.
Drees, Rasoul and Keys each scored 11 points to lead the 20th-seeded Wildcats (13-10).
Next up, Liberty hosts 23rd-seeded Northland in the second round Friday night at 7 p.m.
Olentangy 58, Hilliard Darby 55
Sean Marks poured in a game-high 24 points to set a new single-season scoring record and lead the Braves to a win over host Darby in the first round of the Division I District Tournament Saturday night in Hilliard.
Olentangy (14-9), which at one point owned an 18-point third quarter lead, managed just one field goal in the fourth. Instead, the Braves cashed in at the charity stripe, connecting on 15 of their 18 attempts to hold off the Panther (12-11) rally.
Marks, who eclipsed the program scoring mark set by Scott Donnelly in the mid-90s (502 points), made nine of his 10 from the stripe in the fourth quarter alone. He went 13 of 14 for the game.
“It’s good to see guys get rewarded for their hard work … and Sean works hard,” Olentangy coach John Feasel said. “He wanted the record when he found out he was close.”
Jerred Kinnaird backed Marks with nine points while Josh Govine had a team-leading 17 for Darby.
Next up, the 19th-seeded Braves will take on 17th-seeded Chillicothe in the second round Friday night in Chillicothe. Tip is set for 7 p.m.
Gahanna 77, Big Walnut 55
The Golden Eagles outscored the Lions by four points in the second half, but a slow start proved too much to overcome during Saturday’s Division I District Tournament game in Gahanna.
The Lions did their damage in the first half, outscoring Big Walnut 21-12 in the first quarter and 28-11 in the second.
Kegan Hienton led BW with 18 points while Nathan Montgomery added 12. Elijah Thomas had a game-high 19 for Gahanna.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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