PICKERINGTON – There are a lot of new faces in the Olentangy Liberty boys basketball team’s lineup. But, for one half, it didn’t seem to matter as the Patriots held a three-point lead.
Springfield ran off 49 points in the second half, though, defeating Liberty 76-65 in the season opener at the Nike All-Ohio Shootout Saturday at Pickerington North.
“We talked about (at halftime) being a little tougher,” Springfield assistant coach Matt Yinger said. “We let them beat us up on the offensive glass a little bit. They got a lot of second-chance opportunities. We gotta makes sure they earn everything.”
Henry Hinkle, the only returning starter, scored a game-high 26 points and added five rebounds and four assists for the Patriots.
“Henry played basically the whole game and (Springfield’s Larry Stephens) was into him the whole time,” Liberty coach Greg Nossaman said. “I thought Henry did a nice job.”
Andrew Wade, Kal Jayaraman, A.J. Rausch and Cam Barcus all started for the first time for Liberty, replacing mainstays Ben Roderick, Nick Nakasian, Mitchell Kershner, Llwaytt Hofer, Joey Thatcher and Jack Metzger – all key players lost to graduation off last season’s Division I state semifinal team.
“It’s a new team,” Nossaman said. “Four of the five guys that started were making their first varsity start and they looked like a deer in the headlights a little bit. But, I’m proud of them. They hung tough. We didn’t shoot it extremely well.”
Wade made the biggest impact of the group with 21 points and a game-high 16 rebounds and Jayaraman added eight points and five boards.
“(Wade) is long and athletic,” Nossaman said. “He went 9 of 13 from the line. He’s not normally a great free-throw shooter, but he did a nice job.”
Springfield had four players in double-figures and used a swarming defense that led to 15 steals in the win.
“We had a lot of steals,” Yinger said. “We try to create a lot of havoc and pressure teams to be uncomfortable. We knew they wanted to play a certain way and we wanted to play our tempo. It was important for us to ball pressure, extend the court and not let them get comfortable in the half court.”
“We won’t see that type of pressure in the league or against any of the other teams on our schedule,” Nossaman said.
Raymans Cole scored 21 points and added 11 rebounds and five steals to lead the Wildcats (1-0), who went on an 8-0 run to take the lead for good in the third quarter. Cole scored on back-to-back possessions to lead the rally.
Josh Tolliver added 19 points, nine rebounds and three steals for Springfield. He scored 15 points in the second half as Cole kept the Wildcats close early.
Stephens, Jeff Tolliver and Jalan Minney were less than 24 hours removed from playing in the Wildcats’ 31-24 loss to Cincinnati Elder in a Division I state semifinal in football. Stephens and Jeff Tolliver scored 10 points apiece and Minney added six points, four steals and four assists.
“They came in and gave their all,” Yinger said. “In the second half – I think they felt more basketball-comfortable.”
The duo combined for 14 points in the second half after finally getting their legs.
DELAWARE CHRISTIAN 49, ELGIN 47 (2OT)
Nathan Stewart hit a pair of three-pointers and scored eight of his game-high 22 points in the second overtime to lead the Eagles to a non-league win at home Saturday night.
Stewart, who hit six triples in the game, hit a three to send it to the second overtime and then another to keep DCS on top for good.
The Eagles (1-0), who trailed early in both extra frames, got 14 points from James Vasek, eight from Dayne Johnson and five from Pryce Johnson.
Ryan Sheridan scored 26 points to lead the visiting Comets (0-1).
MIFFLIN 53, OLENTANGY 45
The host Punchers used a 7-0 run in the second quarter to gain control and held Olentangy to 11 points in the middle two quarters.
Olentangy (0-1) scored 20 points in the fourth quarter, but came up short in a season-opening loss Saturday night.
Josiah Seymour had 14 points, Gideon Alabi had 11 and Austin Brown added 10 to lead Olentangy.
Jakai Watts scored six of his team-high 12 points in the second quarter to lead the host Punchers (1-0) and Kennden Tyson had 11 and Kendrick Frempong added 10.
Carson Jankowski scored a goal and assisted on another to lead Olentangy Berlin to a 3-0 victory over Cleveland Benedictine in the Red Division championship of the Chiller Thanksgiving Classic Sunday afternoon.
Nick Piccioni and Luke DeChristopher also tallied goals and Andrew Rogers got the first assist on Piccioni’s goal for Berlin against the Bengals.
The Bears defeated Cleveland Heights 8-1 Friday night, Olentangy 8-2 Saturday morning and Garfield Heights Trinity 6-1 Saturday night to get to the title game.
Olentangy fell 5-1 to Thomas Worthington in the third-place game Sunday.
Also: Olentangy Liberty 4, Toledo St. John’s 3 (Cold Turkey Championship in Sylvania)
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.