LEWIS CENTER – Olentangy and Olentangy Orange did something a little out of the ordinary Friday night. The two boys basketball teams played a ho-hum game.
There were no overtimes, no last-second shots and no crazy half-court buzzer-beater. An Olentangy 14-2 run to end the first half ended all of the drama.
Austin Brown scored 19 points and added eight rebounds to lead Olentangy to a 72-57 win at Orange to knock the Pioneers out of OCC-Buckeye title contention.
The logic is simple for Olentangy coach John Feasel. Good things happen when Brown is on the floor, sporting a plus-144 coming into Friday night’s action.
“Austin is playing better and better,” Feasel said. “We need to play him because when he’s in – we’re plus. He does the little things – he finds layups, he plays defense – he just does the little things we need to win games.”
Sean Marks scored five points and Brown added four to help Olentangy open the game 11-2.
Bryson Lane scored 10 points as the Pioneers worked their way back to within 18-16 early in the second quarter.
“We maintained our composure early,” Orange coach Anthony Calo said. “(Olentangy) shot it better than us and sometimes that’s what basketball is all about. We were 5 of 25 from 3. We didn’t shoot the ball well and we need to be stronger as a team.”
Brown and Luke Riedel traded baskets before Alex Sieve found Jack Hennegan for a layup as Olentangy ran off 10 quick points.
“They like to switch men (on defense) a lot,” Brown said. “So, when I got the smaller guy on me – I (went) to the post and our guards got it down to me for easy layups. It worked really well for me.”
Riedel added a 3-pointer from the left corner off a Sieve feed and Brown found Marks, who beat the buzzer to give Olentangy a 32-18 lead at the break.
“We had a good start to the game and kept it going,” Feasel said. “We made layups and played good defense. We held them to 18 points in the first half.”
Brown added a put-back on Olentangy’s first possession of the second half before Orange found its touch again.
Marks scored seven of his 15 points in the fourth quarter for Olentangy (11-8, 4-5), which led by as many as 19 in the second half. Marks also had three steals.
Riedel had 12 points, Sieve added 10 points, seven boards and four assists and Caleb Steeled chipped in seven points and seven rebounds to back Brown’s effort for Olentangy, which has won three straight games.
Lane did his best to keep the Pioneers in it. He scored a game-high 20 points and added four assists and four rebounds.
Ryan Cutler and Luke Ballinger had 10 points apiece for Orange, which got as close as 11 in the fourth quarter, but Olentangy’s free-throw shooting was too strong.
“We are a shooting team and we’re going to continue to shoot the ball,” Calo said. “I believe in our shooters and I continue to believe in them regardless of what happened tonight.”
Nik Brannon added eight points, five boards and a pair of blocked shots for the Pioneers (12-7, 6-3), who will finish second in the league behind rival Olentangy Liberty and ahead of Olentangy and the three Westervilles.
“We’re going to move forward because we’ve got a lot to play for right now,” Calo said. “It’s OK to be frustrated, but we can’t let our emotions effect our actions.”
Both teams face non-league competition next. Orange hosts Urbana tonight at 7:30 p.m. and Olentangy is back in action Tuesday at Marion Harding at 7:30 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at email@example.com.