Patriots nip Wolves in district semifinal


Worthington Kilbourne’s Ian Schupp scored inside to even things at 49 with 28.2 seconds left, but Cam Barcus calmly cashed in on a pair of free throws with 2.9 to go to lift the Olentangy Liberty boys basketball team to a thrilling 51-49 Division I district semifinal win Wednesday night in Powell.

After Schupp’s hoop, Cooper Davis got a good look at a three-pointer, but had it rim out. Barcus was there for the offensive rebound, though, and was fouled on his put-back attempt.

After both pressure-packed tosses found the bottom of the bucket, the Wolves got off a desperation three with a half-court heave, but missed the mark.

It wasn’t the Patriots’ sharpest game of the season — the shots didn’t always go down and turnovers hurt them at times — but they made plays when they had t0 … like at the start of the third quarter.

Down 26-18 at halftime and 30-20 early in the third, Liberty used a 17-2 run to get back into things. Davis started the surge with a jumper and, after a pair of free throws from Henry Hinkle, a layin by Ty Foster and a Davis three, the Patriots sliced their deficit to three — 32-29 with 4:22 left in the quarter.

Hinkle hit a turnaround fadeaway on the next possession and, after a Kilbourne turnover, Barcus scored inside to give Liberty a 33-32 edge with 2:42 to play in the third.

Andrew Wade got in on the act after that, scoring on back-to-back trips to extend the run to 17-2 before the Wolves’ Travis Mecklenburg stopped the bleeding with a pair of free throws to close the quarter.

Mitchell Abahazie hit a triple to get Kilbourne back to even, 37-all with 6:36 left, but Hinkle hit a driving layin and Davis connected for a corner three to balloon the lead back to five.

The Wolves never went away. Down 46-43 with 2:20 left, Mecklenburg scored inside and Ayden Parsons hit a pair of free throws to give Kilbourne a 47-46 lead in the final minute.

Davis hit a three with 40 seconds left, though, and after Schupp’s layin tied things up, Barcus’ free throws all but cemented the win.

Wade led Liberty with 14 points while Hinkle added 13, Davis chipped in 11 and Barcus added six.

Schupp had a team-best 14 for Kilbourne while Parsons added 13.

Next up, fifth-seeded Liberty will host 13th-seeded Newark in Saturday’s district final. Tip is set for 6:30 p.m.

Pickerington North 60, Olentangy Orange 54

The 11th-seeded Pioneers used an 18-14 third quarter to pull within a bucket by the end of the third quarter, and trailed by just two in the final minute, but the host and seventh-seeded Panthers were steady down the stretch en route to a Division I district semifinal win Wednesday in Pickerington.

Casey George finished with a game-best 19 points for North while Jerry Saunders added 17 and Corey Hudson finished in double figures with 10.

Orange got a team-best 15 points from Andre Irvin while Aidan King and Elias Lewis finished with 15 and 10, respectively.

Heath 56, Buckeye Valley 40

The Barons led 19-16 after a strong first quarter, but the host Bulldogs outscored them in each of the final three on the way to a Division II district semifinal win Wednesday in Heath.

Heath outscored Buckeye Valley 17-8 in the second to take a 33-27 lead into halftime before smoothing out the scoring summary with a 12-6 third and 11-7 fourth.

The Bulldogs’ Keylan Williams led all scorers with 16 points while Reece Huber and Brandon McLaughlin added 14 and 12, respectively.

Owen Osborne led the Barons, who played without one of their best players for essentially the entire game, with 10 points. Dylan Thompson left with a foot injury just 30 seconds in.

Jack Rotondo, Jake Radcliffe and Troy Scowden backed Osborne with nine points apiece.

Pickerington Central 62, Olentangy 34

The Braves hung around early, down just 22-14 at halftime thanks to solid work on the defensive end, but the host Tigers found their form in the second half on the way to a lopsided Division I district semifinal win Wednesday night in Pickerington.

Central outscored Olentangy 19-5 in the third to take control before a 21-15 fourth sealed the deal.

Olentangy Liberty’s Cam Barcus, right, drives past Worthington Kilbourne’s Mitchell Abahazie during the first half of Wednesday’s Division I district semifinal in Powell. Liberty’s Cam Barcus, right, drives past Worthington Kilbourne’s Mitchell Abahazie during the first half of Wednesday’s Division I district semifinal in Powell. Ben Stroup | The Gazette

By Ben Stroup

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