POWELL – Sophomore Henry Hinkle sparked a 7-0 run in the first quarter that gave the Olentangy Liberty boys basketball team the lead for good in an 80-56 win over Huber Heights Wayne in non-league action Saturday night.
Joey Thatcher found Hinkle in the right corner for a three-pointer to give the Patriots the lead and Ben Roderick had a steal before feeding to Hinkle for a layup to push it to 9-4. Llwyatt Hofer closed the run with a put-back a couple of possessions later.
“(Hinkle is) playing with a lot of confidence,” Liberty coach Greg Nossaman said. “He’s cocky – which is good. You need that … he’s very sure of himself. He’s a great penetrator and has added to it with his three-point shooting. He didn’t shoot it well his first five or six games, but he’s starting to come into that a little bit and that gives us another weapon.”
Liberty caught fire in the second quarter, knocking down eight three-pointers. Hinkle hit a pair and Jack Metzger added a third to highlight a 15-5 run to close the half.
Metzger added the final tally to the run with a basket in the lane off a Thatcher feed to give the Patriots a 49-31 lead at the break.
“We just shot the ball well,” Nossman said. “That’s two nights in a row. We can put five guys on the floor that can really shoot the three and when you have a really good player like Ben Roderick – where we can put inside … and post him up. Sometimes – we just play off of him.”
Roderick scored 14 of his game-high 27 points in the second half as the Patriots pushed the lead as high as 28 late in the fourth quarter.
Roderick added five rebounds and four assists to his stat line.
Hinkle finished with 18 points and six rebounds; Thatcher added 12 points – all on threes – and three assists; Nick Nakasian pitched in 11 points, six boards and four helpers; and Hofer had six rebounds, four assists and three blocks for the Patriots (8-2).
“They play within each other and they know where each other is going to be,” Nossaman said. “They play together … we moved the ball and kept it our pace.”
Liberty has been without one of its top players – Mitchell Kershner – since suffering a season-ending toe injury in the Westerville North game Dec. 21.
“We’re really coming together and moving the ball well,” Hinkle said. “We have to step up defensively because Kersh is one of our best defenders.”
“It hurts us,” Nossaman said. “I just feel bad for him because he’s worked so hard in the offseason on his game.”
Cam Fencher had 17 points, Rashad McKee added 14 points and four assists and Ronnie Hampton chipped in 10 points and four assists to lead Wayne (6-5).
Next up, Liberty hosts Gahanna Lincoln in non-league play Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at [email protected]