Golden Eagles, Braves, Patriots all advance


By Ben Stroup - bstroup@aimmediamidwest.com



The Big Walnut boys basketball team notched its first Division I district tournament win in program history, and first postseason victory since the 2014-15 season, with Friday’s 59-52 quarterfinal win over host Gahanna.

The game was tight most of the way through. The 26th-seeded Golden Eagles led 18-13 after one, but the 15th-seeded Lions bounced back with a 15-12 second to close the gap to two points, 30-28, by halftime. The two-point spread held up through three, with both teams scoring 13 points in the third, but BW outscored Gahanna 16-11 in the fourth to keep its season alive.

“We just fought like heck defensively and we shared the ball and made shots on offense,” Big Walnut coach Brett Bartlett said. “Really unselfish and gritty (win).”

Kegan Hienton poured in a game-high 20 points to lead the Eagles. Nathan Montgomery and Brody Lawhun were solid as well, scoring 14 and 13 points, respectively.

The win sets up a showdown with third-seeded Pickerington Central in Wednesday’s district semifinal at a site to be determined. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Olentangy 78, Northland 47

The Braves got off to a fast start and never looked back, rolling to a Division I district tournament win over the visiting Vikings Friday night in Lewis Center.

Sean Marks used the first quarter to set the tone for what turned into a 38-point outburst, netting 16 in the first eight minutes of action. Austin Brown backed Olentangy’s senior standout with 14 points while Tavian James added 10.

“We started pretty fast and kinda got it rolling,” Braves coach John Feasel said. “We had a good couple weeks of practice — focusing on defense and playing against pressure.”

Sixteenth-seeded Olentangy, up 24-11 after one, outscored 19th-seeded Northland in each of the final three quarters to pull away. The Braves won the second 14-9, the third 16-14 and the fourth 24-13 to smooth out the scoring summary.

Next up, Olentangy will take on sixth-seeded Hilliard Davidson — a team it beat 61-54 a month ago in Lewis Center — in Wednesday’s district semifinal at a site to be determined. Tip is set for 7 p.m.

Olentangy Liberty 89, Licking Heights 52

The Patriots posted their second straight lopsided win to start the tourney Friday, cruising past the visiting Hornets 89-52 in Powell.

Ben Roderick punctuated the win with a 27-point performance. Mitch Kershner (16), Joey Thatcher (14) and Nick Nakasian (13) also finished in double figures for Liberty. Thatcher hit four of the team’s eight triples in the win.

Liberty led 21-14 after the first quarter and only added to the spread from there. The Patriots won the second 21-16 before breaking things open with a 30-12 third. They outscored the Hornets 17-10 in the fourth to seal the deal.

Tyrese Hughey led Licking Heights with 17 points in the setback.

Fourth-seeded Liberty will look to keep things rolling in Wednesday’s Division I district semifinal against 22nd-seeded Westerville North. Tip is at 7 p.m. at a site to be determined.

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By Ben Stroup

bstroup@aimmediamidwest.com