MARYSVILLE – The rain Saturday brought many obstacles. But none of them slowed down the Olentangy Liberty boys basketball team.
Not a flooded road on the way in or a leaky roof or even the Marysville defense could stop the Patriots from a fast start in an 80-55 win.
It could be argued that Saturday’s most valuable player – if regular-season, non-league games had such a thing – could be handed out to the group of Marysville students charged with keeping the floor dry at every opportunity.
But Liberty’s Ben Roderick sure staked his claim … just by his performance in the opening quarter alone.
The senior scored 15 of his 28 points in the opening frame. He was in double figures by the time the Monarchs called their first timeout – trailing 15-5 with 3:42 left in the opening quarter.
Nick Nakasian was the only other Patriot in double figures with 11 points as 11 players found the bottom of the net in the win.
Mitchell Kershner buried a three-pointer off a Roderick assist and Roderick followed with a basket and two free throws to stake the Patriots (3-1) to a 7-0 start and they never trailed.
They ballooned the lead as high as 15 before a Jack Christian basket pulled Marysville within 25-12 at the end of one.
Bodie Eberhart buried a pair of triples sandwiched around a Nakasian bucket early in the second and Phillip Hughes scored underneath to dwindle the Patriot lead down to seven.
“We need to get more fundamentally sound defensively,” Liberty coach Greg Nossaman said. “We go for steals (and) we reach in … we just gotta do a better job. We’ve gotta play more consistently.”
It was similar to Liberty’s game at Westerville South Friday night. Only this time the Patriots remained in control when it got close.
“When they (South) get on a run – they’re really hard to stop. I was really proud of the way we battled back from that,” Nakasian said. “Tonight, we didn’t buckle when shots stopped dropping. We really went on a cold streak there. I’m just really proud of the way we bounced back and really took it to them at the end.”
The Monarchs got as close as seven four times in the second and third quarters. But Liberty had an answer each time.
“The big thing is – keep a blue jersey between the ball and the basket,” Nossaman said. “Make them make shot over top of us. Eberhart and (Jack) Christian are two good players … they can shoot it. But we can’t let them get wide-open looks.”
The last such occasion happened on a Trenton Siefring basket to cut it to 48-41 with 4:24 left in the third.
Henry Hinkle found Roderick for a three and Nakasian fed Kershner for a layup on back-to-back possessions and Marysville never threatened again as the Patriots went 32-9 the rest of the way.
Eberhart scored nine of his 12 points in the second quarter and Hughes added 10 points to lead the Monarchs (3-2).
Next up, Liberty hosts Westerville North in OCC-Buckeye play Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
“Starting Friday night with Westerville North – it’s a meat-grinder,” Nossaman said. “There’s a lot of really good teams coming up.”