Pioneers, Pacers, Patriots punch tickets to district finals


Third-seeded Olentangy Orange started fast and pulled away in the second half to put the finishing touches on a 64-54 Division I district semifinal win over 18th-seeded Grove City Wednesday night at Upper Arlington.

Mikey McCollum hit a corner three to open the game’s scoring and the Pioneers never looked back.

The Greyhounds had some success throwing the ball to Campton Williams down low, but couldn’t keep up once Orange got going. Williams went 3-for-4 from the free throw line to even things up with 4:55 left in the first, but Dylan Joy and Elias Lewis answered with back-to-back triples to bump the lead to 9-3 with 2:12 left in the quarter.

Grove City went back to Williams, who scored five first-quarter points on the way to a team-best 13, to get within a bucket at 10-8, but Lewis’ second three of the quarter just before the buzzer made it 13-8 after one.

Another Lewis three bumped the lead to 18-10 a minute and a half into the second quarter and, after two quick hoops from Levi Davis — the second of which was set up by a nice no-look find from Jordan Edwards — Orange had a 23-14 advantage midway through the quarter.

Down 28-20 at the break, the Greyhounds got as close as five on hoops from Graydon Hutchinson and Williams, but the Pioneers used an 11-0 run toward the end of the quarter to take a comfortable 51-36 cushion into the final eight minutes of action.

After McCollum hit a couple free throws, Edwards finished off a three-point play to make it a 41-30 game with 3:16 left in the third. McCollum and Edwards then scored on hard drives to the hoop to add to the edge before a Devin Brown dunk punctuated the big quarter and made it a 15-point game heading into the fourth.

Grove City hit a couple late threes — the second from Kraig Gilbert made it a 57-47 game with 2:21 left — but that’s as close as things would get.

Lewis finished with a game-high 18 points while McCollum and Edwards finished with 16 and 13 points, respectively. Brown was also solid in the win, nearly cracking double figures with nine points.

Delaware Hayes 44, Pickerington North 40

Jesse Burris scored a team-best 13 points, Jake Lowman added 11 and Carter Piatt-Brown chipped in eight as the 10th-seeded Pacers punched their second ticket to the district finals in the last four years with a hard-fought win over the seventh-seeded Panthers Wednesday night in Centerburg.

Hayes, which won its 20th game for just the third time in school history, led throughout.

Jeremiah Russell hit a three-pointer and Lowman added three free throws as the Pacers built a 10-8 lead by the end of the first quarter.

An 11-8 second made it a 21-16 game at the break and, after both teams scored nine points in the third, Hayes sealed the deal with stops and free throws in the fourth.

The Pacers, who went 14-for-19 from the charity stripe, made 10 of those in the fourth quarter alone. Burris was 4-for-4 in the fourth while Lowman hit four from the charity stripe as well.

Arness Lawson led North with a game-high 19 points while Jeff Amapps added 11 in the setback.

Hayes, headed back to the district finals for the first time since the 2019-20 season, will take on third-seeded Olentangy Orange in the first of four title games Saturday at Ohio Dominican University. Tip is set for 11 a.m.

Olentangy Liberty 35, Dublin Coffman 33

Jackson Mikola scored off a feed from Alex Okuley with 6.5 seconds left to lift the second-seeded Patriots to their second straight district final appearance with a thrilling win over the 17th-seeded Shamrocks Wednesday night at Jonathan Alder.

It was just Liberty’s third field goal of the fourth quarter, but it was more than enough.

James Hummell, who finished with a team-best 11 points, scored eight in the first quarter as the Patriots built a 13-12 lead after one. They led 22-19 at the break and 29-27 heading into the final eight minutes of action.

Tyler Kropp backed Hummell with eight points while Mikola closed with seven.

Chase Kern had 11 to lead Coffman while Colin McClure finished with nine in the setback.

Liberty will get 11th-seeded Newark, which knocked off sixth-seeded Gahanna Lincoln 41-38, in Saturday’s district final at Ohio Dominican. Tip is slated for 2 p.m.

Pickerington Central 71, Olentangy Berlin 39

The 12th-seeded Bears battled, but the top-seeded Tigers were too much in the end as Devin Royal and company cruised to a Division I district semifinal win Wednesday night in Westerville.

The Ohio State commit poured in a game-best 22 points to lead Central, which outscored Berlin 15-7 in the first quarter, 16-11 in the second, 20-12 in the third and 20-9 in the fourth to seal the deal.

Noah Gamble led the Bears with 11 points while Derek Goodman and Jason Inbody finished with 10 and nine, respectively.

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