The Big Walnut basketball team started fast and finished strong on the way to a 73-56 non-league win over visiting Buckeye Valley Thursday night in Sunbury.
Both teams were in attack mode right off the bat.
Six of the Barons’ eight first-quarter points came from the free throw line. Owen Osborne was fouled driving to the hoop twice in the early going, connecting on all four tosses from the charity stripe, and Troy Scowden scored inside, but the Golden Eagles got a driving layin from Ryan Tripp and a triple from Carter Imertreijs to take a 10-6 lead midway through the first quarter.
Troy Musser and Garrett Stover provided some juice off the bench for Big Walnut (4-1), scoring almost immediately after being inserted into the game … and they kept it up. A Musser three-point play ballooned the Eagles’ lead to seven and, after BV’s Jack Rotondo hit a pair of free throws, Stover scored a put-back bucket and then drained a pull-up jumper to give Big Walnut a 19-8 lead after one.
Jagger Barnett and Scowden traded threes to start the second, but the Eagles ballooned the lead to 15 shortly after that, getting a pair of free throws from Musser and a driving layin from Barnett to make it a 26-11 game two minutes into the quarter.
Big Walnut kept the pressure on, too, adding to its edge with a pair of transition hoops from Musser and a Barnett three following a Buckeye Valley (6-1) turnover to bump the cushion to 35-17 with three minutes left in the half.
The Barons ended the half on a 7-0 run, getting a steal and hoop from Lucas Osborne, a bucket from Jake Radcliffe and a three from Rotondo, but still trailed 35-24 at halftime.
BV played well in the third quarter, maintaining some of the momentum from the final few minutes of the second, but Big Walnut withstood the push and pulled away late.
Scowden followed up a miss to pull his team within six, 49-43 late in the third, but Owen Wilhelm answered with a three-point play at the other end. Brendan Stalf, who gave BV excellent minutes off the bench, hit a three on the next trip down the floor, but Tripp answered with a three-point play with 1.3 seconds left in the quarter to make it a nine-point game, 55-46, heading into the final eight minutes of action.
Stalf hit another three early in the fourth to close the gap to six, but Barnett canned his second triple of the quarter to push the margin back to nine — as close as things would get the rest of the way — with 5:39 left.
Tripp closed with a game-high 19 points while Barnett, Caleb Conard and Musser chipped in 14, 12 and 11, respectively.
Scowden led the Barons, who were playing without starting guard Dylan Thompson, with 14 points. Stalf and Owen Osborne added 13 apiece. Thompson was in quarantine due to close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
Both teams return to action Saturday. Big Walnut will take on host Columbus Academy at 1 p.m. and Buckeye Valley will travel to Wellington to open league play at 7:30 p.m.