Pacers survive Raider rally


This time of year is all about surviving and advancing … which is exactly what the 10th-seeded Delaware Hayes boys basketball team did in its tournament opener against visiting and 20th-seeded Reynoldsburg.

The Pacers, up big early on, had to withstand a ridiculous Raider rally down the stretch, but did just that to hang on for a 76-73 Division I sectional final win in front of a full house on Friday night.

The Pacers looked like they were going to run away with things early, jumping out to an 18-4 lead by the 2:32 mark of the first quarter. Jesse Burris, who finished with a game-high 34 points, hit back-to-back buckets before Jake Lowman drilled a three to cap the early surge.

Thanks in large part to Burris’ 23 first-half points, Hayes still led big by the break … but things tightened up considerably down the stretch.

Burris opened the fourth with a hoop, but the Raiders’ Se’Ron Calloway drilled a deep three at the other end to make it a 10-point game, 60-50, with six minutes left.

A three-point play from Toby Nwokolo got Reynoldsburg a little closer and, after Hayes’ Hezekiah Russell calmly knocked down a corner three to momentarily restore order, Jordan Bowens scored inside to slice the deficit to six with 1:46 left.

The Raiders’ Jordan Fisher hit a three on the next possession, making it 68-65 with 1:17 left, and Calloway hit a pair of free throws to make it a one-point game, 68-67, with 57.1 to play.

Back-to-back turnovers set up Reynoldsburg’s quick 5-0 run, but the Raiders couldn’t get any closer than that as Burris, Russell, and Carter Piatt-Brown went a combined 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the final minute to cement the win.

After Piatt-Brown hit a pair to make it a three-point game with 18.2 seconds left, Reynoldsburg got back to within one with a quick hoop by Noah Smith with 6.3 left. Burris then hit two from the charity stripe.

The Raiders’ Zazen Bivens got a contested look at a game-tying three at the buzzer, but left it just short as the Pacers, well, survived and advanced.

Burris had the big scoring night, but he got plenty of help in the win. Lowman finished with 13 points, Piatt-Brown had 11 and Russell finished with 10.

Smith led the Raiders with 14 points while Fisher and Bowens chipped in 14 and 13, respectively.

Next up, Hayes will square off against seventh-seeded Pickerington North — a 45-39 winner over Thomas Worthington in its sectional final — in a district semi Wednesday night. Tip is set for 7 p.m. at a site to be determined.

Olentangy Liberty 72, Lancaster 30

The second-seeded Patriots didn’t have any trouble with the 29th-seeded Golden Gales Friday night in Powell, cruising to a D-I sectional final win thanks to a balanced offensive attack and plenty of defense.

Liberty led 29-12 at halftime and, thanks to a 22-11 third quarter, took a commanding 51-23 edge into the final eight minutes of action.

Matt Wilson, who hit a game-best four threes, led the charge with 16 points while Nick Metzger had 14, Jackson Mikola chipped in 10 and James Hummell added eight.

The win sets up a showdown with 17th-seeded Dublin Coffman in Wednesday’s district semifinal set for 7 p.m. at a site to be determined.

Olentangy Berlin 49, Big Walnut 40

The Golden Eagles won the second quarter 10-2 to take a 20-18 halftime lead, but the host Bears outscored them 16-9 in the third and 15-11 in the fourth to put the finishing touches on a sectional final win Friday night in Delaware.

Derek Goodman had a game-best 18 points for Berlin while Big Walnut’s Trent Minor had 17 points in the setback.

With the win, Berlin gets top-seeded Pickerington Central in a D-I district semifinal Wednesday night. Tip is set for 7 p.m. at a site to be determined.

Olentangy Orange 76, Chillicothe 25

Mikey McCollum drilled a pair of first-quarter threes on the way to eight early points as the third-seeded Pioneers parlayed a 22-12 first-quarter lead into a lopsided sectional final win over the visiting Cavaliers Friday night in Lewis Center.

Elias Lewis beat the first-half buzzer with a dunk to make it a 37-17 game at halftime before a 23-5 third all but sealed the deal.

Next up, Orange will take on 18th-seeded Grove City in Wednesday’s district semifinal at a site to be determined. Tip is set for 7 p.m.

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