Pacers, Pioneers win district championships


For the first time since 1986, the Delaware Hayes boys basketball team can call itself a district champion.

At times, the second-seeded Pacers made it look easy, too, scoring at least 20 points in all four quarters on the way to a 90-76 Division I district final win over 22nd-seeded Walnut Ridge Saturday afternoon at Ohio Dominican University’s Alumni Hall.

“I was born in October of ’86, so I wasn’t around for the first one, obviously, but it’s a great feeling. I think the whole town was here today,” Hayes coach Adam Vincenzo said. “Orange was better than us last year, but we used the experience … being on this stage, we weren’t fazed at all. We were ready. I had a great feeling about us today and we’ll try and keep it rolling next week.”

Jesse Burris had a team-best 28 in the win. All but six of his points came in the first half.

“We’re not done yet, but it feels good to get here and break though,” Burris said. “I feel like we play our best when we start going up and down … they were going fast, so that’s what we did.”

Hayes (25-1) couldn’t have asked for a better start.

Carter Piatt-Brown broke the scoring seal with a put-back bucket and, after Walnut Ridge (17-8) turned the ball over at the other end, Jeremiah Russell hit a corner three before Burris scored back-to-back hoops, the second a dunk to make it a 9-0 game, bring the Hayes faithful to their feet and force the Scots to call a timeout.

Walnut Ridge’s Marquis Lucas, De’yaire Adams and Dominique Aekins all hit threes to keep their team within striking distance, but Hayes still led by double digits, 25-14, after a quarter.

The Pacers swelled the lead to 45-33 by halftime and, thanks in part to a trio of third-quarter threes by Jake Lowman, led 68-47 heading into the final eight minutes of action.

“I didn’t think we’d score 90, but I knew they liked to run and we’re at our best when we’re up and down,” Vincenzo said. “I was comfortable going there and letting them play. We talk about being fearless all the time and I didn’t want to hold them back.”

Lowman backed Burris with 18 while junior Landon Vanderwarker had 21 in the win.

“We had a lot of guys sacrifice a lot, whether it be minutes or stats, whatever it is, but this is a group that gets it and that’s why we’re having success,” Vincenzo said. “That sacrifice and unselfishness … that’s what we are.

“We’ve earned two more practices and another game together, so we’ll keep cherishing it.”

Aekins finished with a game-best 34 points while Lucas had 17 in the setback.

Olentangy Orange 60, Reynoldsburg 40

It’s nice when a game plan comes together.

For the top-seeded Olentangy Orange boys basketball team, a solid plan, coupled with even better execution, translated into a convincing Division I district final with over eighth-seeded Reynoldsburg Saturday afternoon at Alumni Hall.

“So, before the game … keys to the game … we had three on the board,” Pioneer coach Anthony Calo said. “The first key, which was originally valuing the ball, we changed to getting quality shots on every possession … which includes valuing the ball. The second key was to keep the ball out of the paint and the third key was no second-chance points.

“At halftime, they had one offensive rebound, we only had threee turnovers and we kept the ball out of the paint the whole stinking half. They executed that beautifully.”

Orange (25-1) dominated from the start. The Pioneers led 18-12 after a strong first quarter and, thanks to a 20-2 second, seemingly had their second straight district championship all but wrapped up by the break as a 34-9 surge over the course of the final quarter and half gave them a 38-14 halftime advantage.

Dylan Joy had a trio of three-pointers in the first half while Levi Davis, who punctuated the first half dominance with a baseline dunk in the final seconds, Devin Brown and Keegan Knupp also had three hoops apiece in the early going.

The Raiders (19-7), meanwhile, never found their form. Noah Smith, who finished with a team-high 10 points, had Reynoldsburg’s only hoop in the second quarter.

Orange won a back-and-fourth third 20-17 before smoothing out the scoring summary with a 9-2 fourth.

“We heard different stuff about why they chose to play us … like they didn’t want to play certain teams that were really disciplined,” Calo said. “But, what we told the guys was, ‘You’re disciplined.’ We have skill, athleticism and discipline — a combination of all of them — and we showed all of that today. I’m very proud of them.

“The kids were amazing.”

Knupp led Orange on the offensive end, finishing a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor on the way to a game-best 18 points. He also had a team-high eight rebounds.

Other standouts included Joy, who finished 4-for-4 from three-point land with 14 points; Brown, who had 10 points, five boards and three assists; and Davis, who chipped in seven points and three assists in the win.

Jordan Fisher and Toby Nowokolo backed Smith with seven points apiece for Reynoldsburg.

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