POWELL – Cam Barcus caught fire with three three-pointers in the first quarter to put the Olentangy Liberty boys basketball team up early on its way to a 74-59 win over visiting Westerville South in OCC-Buckeye play Thursday night.
Barcus scored 11 of his 17 points in the first quarter and added eight rebounds and three assists for the Patriots (3-1, 2-0), who have won three straight games since a season-opening loss to Springfield.
“(I was) just playing within the offense,” Barcus said. “With (Henry Hinkle) running it – it’s easy to get open shots.”
Hinkle had a game-high 22 points and five assists, Andrew Wade had a game-high 16 rebounds and scored 17 points and Ty Foster added 10 points for Liberty.
“(Wade) is unreal,” Liberty coach Greg Nossaman said. “He kind of reminds me of a Kevin McHale-type player.”
Liberty is a little bit of a question mark despite the hot start.
“They’re all juniors for the most part – we’ve got a couple of seniors that play,” Nossaman said. “I think we have a lot of room to get better – especially defensively.
“We have three that started maybe a couple of games (in Hinkle, Kal Jayaraman and A.J. Rausch) last year. Ninety-seven percent of our scoring is gone. Barcus was unproven after coming off of 10 games in JV (because of a wrist injury) and Wade. We’ve got guys that have never played together before.”
Barcus and Wade scored all 15 points in a 15-4 run in the first quarter that ballooned the Patriot lead to 19-7.
Barcus started the run with a jumper on the left elbow, Wade scored on back-to-back possessions before Barcus knocked down three three-pointers on three straight possessions.
Keyton Kowalski connected on a three-pointer and Drey Carter converted three free throws with no time left on the first-quarter clock to cut the South deficit to 23-15.
Kowalski hit another three with 5:09 left in the half to cut Liberty’s lead to 32-29.
But Hinkle answered with one of his own to start a 7-0 run to push the lead back to 10.
“I think we ran our offense pretty well when they were in the man,” Hinkle said. “When they started trapping – we took care of the ball pretty well. We really got Wade going inside and that opened it up outside for us.”
Liberty led 40-32 at the break and the teams played evenly until Hinkle scored on consecutive possessions to highlight a 7-0 rally to extend Liberty’s lead to 15 midway through the fourth quarter.
“I think each game – we’re going to keep getting better – especially as we learn to play with each other,” Nossaman said.
Jaiden Guice had 15 points and four steals and Kowalski added 12 points – all on threes – for the Wildcats (1-3, 1-1).
Liberty has eight days off before its next contest when it travels to Westerville North in league play Dec. 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Hilliard Darby 38, Olentangy Berlin 31; Delaware Hayes 61, Dublin Jerome 15