Bears fall to Warriors in district semifinal


The Olentangy Berlin boys basketball team started slow and never recovered as Westerville North used an early 9-0 run to set the tone on the way to a 57-43 Division I district semifinal win Wednesday night at Highland High School.

The sixth-seeded Warriors came out of the gates strong, showcasing a rough-nosed, full-court press, forcing a few turnovers.

After three early giveaways, Berlin coach Donovon Barrett was forced to call an early timeout.

Senior forward Vari Adams, who was a force on the defensive end all night, blocked two attempted layups on two straight possessions, letting out a roar of triumph following his second.

The 27th-seeded Bears got their first field goal of the game with four minutes remaining in the first quarter, with senior guard Noah Gamble scooping in a layup. Attempting to stop the bleeding, Gamble collected a three the old-fashioned way, finishing hard at the rim while fouled.

It helped, but the Warriors still led, 17-5, after one.

Berlin made a push in the second quarter, stocking up stops and even taking two charges. Gamble managed to score five straight to get his team back into the game, but Adams continued his defensive dominance by blocking yet another shot and gobbling up a handful of rebounds.

The momentum shifted a bit in the second quarter as the Bears outscored the Warriors 12-7 to trail by nine heading into the break.

At the start of the second half, Berlin tried to mix up its defense, switching from man to zone to try and catch Westerville off-guard. It did not seem to faze them in the slightest, though, as southpaw junior Micah Young went on a 9-2 scoring run by himself, attacking the rim at will.

The Warriors got out in transition often, taking it to the tin almost every possession in the third. Gamble scored two more field goals in the quarter as the Bears scratched and clawed to bite at their deficit.

Trailing by 16 as the fourth period began, Berlin did everything it could to go on a run of its own. Unfortunately, with North staying aggressive on the defensive end, it struggled to gather buckets in bunches and, with 3:30 left, Adams threw down an emphatic jam to extend the lead to 17.

At that point, all the Bears could do was trade baskets with the Warriors, who eventually dribbled the clock out to put the finishing touches on the win.

“The difference today was we didn’t rebound like we should’ve,” Barrett said. “We knew it was going to be a problem and they got too many second-chance points to widen it. When they widen the lead they can turn up the pressure. They earned it and made some key shots when they needed to extend or keep the lead.”

After a Cinderella-like run, upsetting both Watkins Memorial and defending state runner-up Pickerington Central to get to the semifinal, Berlin bids farewell to five of its seniors.

Barrett had high praises for Gamble, Brady Meyers, Nick Dye, Andre Dowdy, and Derek Goodman.

“I think the biggest part is that we got to hang around more together as a group. All of our seniors are great kids. As with the seniors before them, they set the tone for the young guys.”

Young led the way for North with 15 points. Adams, who finished with seven, showed his activity and defensive prowess throughout play, gathering numerous blocks and bringing down hard-fought rebounds.

Freshman wing Tyson Perkins scored eight.

Gamble ended his high school career with a game-high 25 points. Sophomore Colton Less and Goodman scored seven each.

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