Pacers punch ticket to district final


The Delaware Hayes boys basketball team is playing its best ball at the best possible time … just ask St. Charles and Pickerington Central.

The 18th-seeded Pacers led from start to finish en route to upsetting the 12th-seeded Cardinals 49-30 in a sectional final Friday night, snapping St. Charles’ 12-game winning streak in the process.

The question after that, though, was if they could do it again.

Well, they did it again … leading from late in the first quarter to the final buzzer to upset the fourth-seeded Tigers 57-45 in a Division I district semifinal Wednesday night at Worthington Christian Middle School.

Hayes, which outscored Central in all four quarters, showed what it can do when firing on all cylinders — when Addison Harvey creates chaos on the defensive end, Nabil Abdus-salaam makes powerful plays in the paint, Paul Burris drains three after three from outside and Nate Griggs runs the show with poise.

“We wanted to get it at our pace and not get up and down with them,” Hayes coach Adam Vincenzo said. “We have seniors who have been around the block and have been bought in for a long time. Any time you have seniors and great guard play, it’s a good recipe to have.”

Burris set the tone on the game’s first possession, drilling an open three off a feed from Griggs.

A Griggs layin and Abdus-salaam putback made it 7-7 early in the first and Sihr Sumner scored the final five points of the quarter, the last two on a tip-in at the buzzer as Hayes took a 12-9 lead into the second — a lead it never relinquished.

Burris hit three triples in the second quarter, the last of which ballooned the Pacer advantage to 35-23 four minutes before the break.

Griggs hit a pull-up jumper a minute later to cap a 7-0 run before the Tigers’ Tahleik Walker stopped the bleeding with a strong drive and layin.

Harvey converted a key three-point play midway through the fourth and, after Central’s Conner Maciag hit a three to make it a 42-34 game, Burris hit his fifth triple of the game to push the lead back to double digits.

A Sumner putback made it 50-38 with 3:13 left and a Harvey steal and Burris hoop in the final minute all but sealed the deal.

Burris connected on six threes on his way to a game-best 22 points. Griggs added 14 points while Abdus-salaam finished with 10 and Sumner chipped in seven.

Walker had 10 points to lead the Tigers while Garner Wallace finished with nine.

Next up, Hayes gets 13th-seeded Westerville Central, which upset third-seeded Columbus South 65-62, in Saturday’s district final. Tip is set for 5 p.m. at Ohio Dominican University.

Thomas Worthington 70, Olentangy Liberty 50

The seventh-seeded Cardinals led by a slim two-point margin after the first quarter, but outscored the ninth-seeded Patriots 15-2 in the second to take control on the way to a Division I district semifinal win Wednesday night at Westerville North High School.

Henry Hinkle, who scored a team-best 17 points for Liberty, had his team’s only points of the second quarter after hitting a pair of threes in the first.

When Thomas’ defense was dominating on one end, Joey Zalewski went to work on the other. Zalewski scored 11 of the Cardinals’ 15 second-quarter points to give them some breathing room. He finished with 13 points in the win.

Tyrese Hughey had a team-leading 17 points for Thomas while Isaac Settles had 16 and Jalen Sullinger finished with 14.

Kal Jayaraman had three threes on the way to a 12-point night for Liberty.

Delaware Hayes’ Nate Griggs puts up a shot between a trio of Pickerington Central defenders during the second half of Wednesday’s Division I district semifinal. Hayes’ Nate Griggs puts up a shot between a trio of Pickerington Central defenders during the second half of Wednesday’s Division I district semifinal. Ben Stroup | The Gazette
Upset fourth-seeded Tigers, 57-45

By Ben Stroup

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