Dylan Thompson scored all 14 of his points in the second half and Troy Scowden, who had a game-high 16, hit a three-pointer with 1.4 seconds left to lift the Buckeye Valley boys basketball team to a thrilling 48-47 win over host Olentangy in Saturday night’s season opener.
Not bad for a team that had to quarantine for the first two weeks of the season due to positive cases of COVID-19.
“I can’t be more proud of our guys tonight,” BV coach Andy Gast said. “Really big win for us … especially after only five days of practice. I think we’ll only continue to get better as we are still working our guys into game shape. We showed a lot of toughness tonight.”
After the Braves went up 46-42 on two Luke Elmore free throws, Thompson hit a crucial three-pointer from the left corner to make it a one-point game with 14 seconds left.
Forced to foul, BV sent Ethan Smith to line. The junior, who led Olentangy with 11 points, split his two free throws to set up the final sequence … which ended with the dagger three from Scowden.
“What a big shot,” Gast said of Scowden’s game-winner. “As a coach, you want to have your best player be able to win the game for you when it’s on the line … and that’s what he did.”
Neither team was able to get much separation in the first half as Olentangy took a 20-18 lead into the intermission. The third quarter featured more of the same. Every time the Braves (0-1) built a bit of a cushion, the Barons (1-0) came up with a clutch hoop … several of the long-range variety.
After hitting two three-pointers from the right wing earlier in the quarter, his first two hoops of the game, Thompson hit a third from virtually the same spot to give the Barons a 31-29 lead with less than three minutes left in the frame.
“Dylan had a huge second half,” Gast said. “I thought he did a good job of letting the game come to him and not forcing shots since he didn’t score in the first half.”
Gideon Alabi got Olentangy back to even with a reverse layin after Thompson’s triple, and Smith scored to make it 33-31, but Owen Osborne hit a three late in the third to give BV a 34-33 lead heading into the final eight minutes of action.
Thompson scored off a half-court pass from Jack Rotondo to swell the Baron lead to 39-34 with 6:14 left, but the Braves didn’t blink.
Caleb Gossett had a three-point play on Olentangy’s next trip down the floor and, after Scowden cashed in on a pair of free throws, Austin Sizemore banked in a three-pointer to trim the BV lead to 41-40 midway through the fourth.
Tavian James tipped in a Smith miss on the ensuing possession to give the Braves a slim one-point lead with 3:16 left and, after Osborne split a pair at the line, Matt Kennedy hit two clutch free throws to give his team a lead it maintained until the final seconds of the game.
Despite the loss, Olentangy coach John Feasel liked a lot of what he saw from his guys … especially on the defensive end.
“Good players are going to make tough shots … and they (the Barons) have good players,” he said. “We made them work, though, and I thought we did a pretty good job defensively.
“In the past, when we’d have a bad night on offense, we’d lose … by a lot. Now, we’re getting to the point where our defense is keeping us in games. It’s a process. We’re starting to realize what kind of defense it takes to win tough games … and we’re getting tougher.”
Osborne — who had 10 points — Scowden and Thompson combined to score 40 of Buckeye Valley’s 48 points while James and Alabi finished with eight and seven, respectively, to back Smith for Olentangy.
Next up, the Barons are slated to host Granville Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. while the Braves will travel to Fremont Ross for a non-league showdown Saturday at 4 p.m.