The Olentangy Berlin boys basketball team shook off a slow start and made just enough plays down the stretch to pick up its first tournament win in program history — a 48-45 Division I sectional semifinal victory over visiting Hilliard Darby — Tuesday night in Delaware.
The 29th-seeded Bears were clutch down the stretch. After the Panthers’ Gio Roberts drilled a deep three to even things at 33 late in the third quarter, Mathios Abenet buried a corner three at the buzzer to give his team a 36-33 lead heading into the final eight minutes of action.
Berlin never trailed again, getting clutch hoops and timely stops throughout the fourth quarter to cement the win — the first in three tries this season against their OCC-Cardinal foe.
Abenet found Derek Goodman for a corner three, almost from the same exact spot as his, to open the fourth. Then, after Roberts hit a triple to make it a one-possession game, Austin Corley hit two free throws and Jason Inbody connected on a triple to balloon the lead to 44-36 with 2:44 left.
Darby, the No. 31 seed, didn’t go down quietly. Roberts was fouled shooting a three, and hit all of the ensuing free throws, Matt Sech hit a pair from the charity stripe on the next possession and Blake Horvath split a pair after collecting a steal near mid-court to make it a one-possession game, 44-42, with a minute to play.
Inbody scored a key hoop off a nice find from Corley on the Bears’ next trip down the floor, though, making it a 46-42 game with 21 seconds to go and, after a Darby turnover, Adrian Stone calmly cashed in on a pair of free throws with 5.5 seconds left to seal the deal.
The Panthers got a three at the buzzer from Cam Gilkerson, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
Things didn’t start nearly as well as they finished for Berlin, which fell into a 9-0 hole to start the game. Horvath scored off a steal and Roberts hit a three and scored in transition to push Darby’s early edge to 7-0 and force a Berlin timeout less than three minutes into the game.
The timeout helped, too. Darby made it 9-0 on a couple free throws, but Inbody got the Bears on the board with a hard drive, Corley answered a Panther triple with one of his own and then scored off a steal to slice the deficit to two, 15-13, by the end of the first quarter.
It was 19-19 at halftime before Berlin started to create some separation in the second half.
Corley led the way with 19 points while Inbody added nine for the Bears, who finished 9-for-10 at the free-throw line, including a 4-for-4 effort in the fourth.
Roberts led all scorers with 24 points in the setback.
With the win, Berlin will take on ninth-seeded Dublin Coffman in Friday’s sectional final. Tip is set for 7 p.m. in Dublin.
Marion Harding 45, Delaware Hayes 43
The 40th-seeded Pacers finally found their form in the second half, but, by then it was too late as their comeback bid fell a bucket short in Tuesday’s Division I sectional semifinal against the host and 32nd-seeded Presidents.
After winning the first quarter by a slim 9-8 margin, Harding outscored Hayes 18-2 in the second quarter to take control.
The Pacers never quit, outscoring the Presidents 14-7 in the third and 19-11 in the fourth, but simply ran out of time.
Jesse Burris led Hayes with 18 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, while Ryan Smudz chipped in 17. Smudz hit three triples as part of the Pacers’ 14-7 third quarter.
Harding’s Caden Morris led all scorers with 19 points in the win.
Big Walnut 49, Logan 47
The 26th-seeded Golden Eagles fell into an early 16-7 hole, but outscored the visiting and 42nd-seeded Chieftains in each of the final three quarters to rally for a Division I sectional semifinal win Tuesday night in Sunbury.
Caleb Conard led BW with 17 points while Jared Kreager added 11 in the win.
Next up, Big Walnut will take on 11th-seeded Olentangy Orange Friday night in Lewis Center. Tip is slated for 7 p.m.