LEWIS CENTER – Olentangy boys basketball coach John Feasel wasn’t too confident before Friday night’s game against Westerville Central.
His lack of chest-pounding has less to do with the quality of his team, but the quality of other teams in the OCC-Buckeye this season. There are no gimmies in the league.
“(Westerville Central) beat Westerville North – a team that took us to the brink,” he said. “You can’t come out here every night and think that you’re just gonna walk over somebody – that’s not the way it is. You’ve gotta come out and battle every night.”
And for one quarter, it played out just as Feasel had feared – a back-and-forth, one-possession game.
Then, Olentangy used a 17-0 run – scoring 14 of those points to open the second – to cruise to a 71-47 win over the visiting Warhawks.
“Hold a team to 47 points – I don’t care who you’re playing in varsity boys basketball – you’re playing some defense,” Feasel said. “I thought if we played good, solid basketball we could win this game.”
Jake Elmore hit a three off an Austin Brown feed with 54 seconds left in the first quarter to tie it 15-15.
Then, Sean Marks found Alex Sieve for three on Olentangy’s first possession of the second quarter to take the lead.
Caleb Steele followed with an old-fashioned 3-point play, Marks added three free throws and Noah Gossett added another and-one and a basket to push the lead to 29-15 … and Olentangy barely glanced back from there.
“The second group brought energy the whole time,” Steele said. “We weren’t as strong (in the first). The second quarter – we knew we had to.”
Olentangy (4-2, 2-1) did it with a balanced offense and a solid defense. Four players hit double figures – led by Marks with 17.
Gossett hit three of Olentangy’s 10 three-pointers and finished with 16 points, Steele added 11 and Sieve hit a pair of triples and finished with 10 points and also led with six rebounds.
“Everybody on the court can shoot,” Steele said. “Anyone can score on a given night.”
Steele had a steal turn into a Marks layup and then followed with his own three as Olentangy pushed the lead to 15 before a Tyler Combest runner cut it to 35-22 in the final seconds before the break.
Marks assisted on a Sieve 3-pointer and followed with back-to-back baskets to push the lead to 21 in the third. Olentangy led 55-37 at the end of three.
Gossett buried back-to-back threes to start a 9-0 run in the fourth to help Olentangy put it away.
Chaz Dixon had 13 points and four rebounds and Will LeMaire added 11 points on the strength of three threes. LeMaire and Tyler Beckel had five rebounds apiece to lead the Warhawks (3-3, 1-2).
Olentangy is off until next Friday when it travels to southeast Columbus to face Walnut Ridge in non-league play. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at [email protected]