Orange tops Hayes for 1st district title


Adaptability, balance and chemistry are strengths that have served the Olentangy Orange boys basketball team well all season. And they were three strengths that helped the third-seeded Pioneers to the program’s first district championship on Saturday at Ohio Dominican University’s Alumni Hall.

Jordan Edwards, Elias Lewis and Mikey McCollum each scored in double figures to lead Orange to a 54-39 victory over 10th-seeded Delaware Hayes in a Division I district final.

The Pioneers (23-3) face Newark in a regional semifinal Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Alumni Hall.

“Chemistry was a lot this year,” Edwards said. “Our guys love each other. We’re hanging out all the time at each other’s houses. We just enjoy each other. So, I think that translates well on the basketball court.”

Orange was without starting forward Nick Chapman, who suffered an ankle injury in the district semifinal game, a 64-54 win over Grove City. But the Pioneers are accustomed to playing without key players, most notably, McCollum, who missed 15 games throughout the season with hip and ankle injuries.

“We’re kind of built that way,” Orange coach Anthony Calo said. “Mikey missed 15 games and we went 13-2 without him, but it was super tough. The other guys just really stepped up. We were used to other guys stepping up in the absence of a player. We have playmakers on the bench and we’ve got guys that work incredibly hard — young, talented guys that aren’t afraid of the big moment.”

Edwards was the spark in the early going for the Pioneers, scoring eight of his 14 points in the first quarter. His steal and subsequent layup with 1.4 seconds remaining gave Orange a 13-11 lead.

“I was just getting downhill really easy,” he said. “They were staying really tight to Mikey and Elias, which really helped me out. I feel like, on my one-on-one’s, I can win a lot of the time.”

Jake Lowman found Hezekiah Russell for a 3-pointer to give the Pacers (20-5), who were seeking their first district title since 1986 and second overall, their only lead at 16-15 midway through the second quarter.

“In the first half, there’s always that feeling out process,” Delaware coach Adam Vincenzo said. “I felt like we settled in after that initial run. But in the second half, I felt like if we hit a shot, they answered with one. We just couldn’t chip away like we hoped to. That’s a credit to them.”

Devin Brown’s basket with 4:32 left in the first half gave the Pioneers the lead for good and started a 7-0 run. Dylan Joy’s 3-pointer gave Orange a 24-20 lead at the break. Brown finished with nine points, six rebounds and a pair of assists.

Lewis scored nine of his 13 points in the middle two quarters and McCollum scored seven of his 12 points in the fourth quarter. Lewis had five rebounds and McCollum had four assists for the game.

Jesse Burris went for 21 points, 14 rebounds and two steals to lead the Pacers, but it didn’t come easy. That was by design.

“He’s tough,” Lewis said. “Really, it was just making him make tough shots. I think we did that.”

Russell had seven points, Lowman finished with six points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals and Chase Griggs added five points and five boards for Delaware.

“We struggled to get what we wanted at times,” Vincenzo said. “They’re physical and when they switched on screens, that took us out of some of the stuff we do. We made some adjustments — we just didn’t make shots. And we took some tough shots … they forced us to take a lot of tough shots. We made some, but we just got to be a little better with the execution.”

Contact Michael Rich at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy.

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