DELAWARE – Buckeye Valley boys basketball coach Andy Gast stood in the hallway at Jonathan Alder about as disappointed as he’s ever been after his Barons ended last season with an almost 40-point loss in the second round of the Division II district tournament.
Flash forward 272 days later and Gast stood in the hallway at Delaware Hayes after his Barons beat their rival 52-45 in overtime to open the season.
“Our kids have worked hard,” Gast said. “We had a lot of growing pains last year. We had games where we played really well and then we had games like that Alder game where we didn’t play well.”
One of the most highly-touted of Gast’s 2022 class, Troy Scowden had an up-and-down freshman season and a lot of it had to do with conditioning.
“I think all of our kids dedicated themselves to this year,” Gast said. “They got in the weight room … and got themselves in great shape.”
So, Scowden and Jake Radcliffe joined Dylan Herbert on the cross country team to help with endurance.
The work paid off for Scowden, who scored 19 points and added 11 rebounds – both game-highs to lead the Barons.
“That helped me a lot,” Scowden said. “Especially in practice doing sprints (and) it helped me (tonight).”
He stepped in front of a pass at the top of the key and took it the rest of the way for a layup to give BV a 40-38 lead with 2:31 left in overtime.
The Barons never trailed again as they made just enough free throws to build an eight-point lead before Hayes’ offense finally got going again.
“I knew it was going to be a dog fight,” said Hayes’ Adam Vincenzo, who made his debut as a head coach in the game. “They’re good. I thought we were mirror images of each other. Physical on the defensive end, some skill and a lot of guys that can shoot it.
“Honestly, I didn’t think it would be 38-38 at the end of regulation. I thought we’d be up and down a lot more. But that’s what you get in this game.”
BV trailed by nine early in the second half before Scowden knocked down a pair of three-pointers.
Ryan Smudz scored seven of his 15 points in overtime to keep Hayes close.
Paul Burris scored nine of his 15 points in the first half, including a basket that gave the Pacers their biggest lead at 21-10 with 4:45 left before halftime.
Owen Osborne finished with eight points and a pair of assists, Dylan Thompson had seven points and nine rebounds and Herbert added six points and two assists for the Barons.
Nate Griggs took knee-to-knee contact in the first quarter and played sparingly over the remainder of the game. He scored all four of his points in the opening quarter and added six rebounds and a pair of assists for Hayes.
“It’s bruised pretty bad,” Vincenzo said. “We had some other guys that we thought were capable of stepping up and they did in spurts. But we just didn’t make the plays when we needed it.”
Addison Harvey had eight points, six rebounds and three assists and Nabil Abdul-salaam had 12 rebounds for the Pacers (0-1).
“I don’t think we were as crisp as we needed to be on the offensive end,” Vincenzo said. “I thought they were very physical on the defensive end and took some of our cut-action away. We just have to find a way. It came down to making plays and they made one or two more than we did.”
Both teams return to action Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. BV plays its first game in the Mid-State League at home against Wellington and Hayes travels to Olentangy Orange in non-league play in a rematch of last season’s Division I district tournament second-round game won by the Pioneers 66-59.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.