The Olentangy Orange boys basketball team started fast and finished with a flourish en route to a 66-56 win over Linden-McKinley during the second day of the Gussler Invitational Tuesday afternoon at Thomas Worthington.
Elias Lewis scored his team’s first seven points as the Pioneers (4-3) raced out to a 7-2 lead less than three minutes into the action.
The Panthers, thanks to a pair of early buckets from LA Walker, clawed back to within a hoop, but Mike McCollum drilled a three-pointer to extend the lead back to seven, 14-7.
Orange led 17-9 by the end of the first quarter and built a 33-24 lead by the break. Walker buried a step-back three to make it a 26-18 game midway through the second, but McCollum, who finished with 14 first-half points and a game-best 26 by the time all was said and done, connected on a clutch triple just before the halftime horn.
The Panthers put the pressure on the Pioneers in the second half, trimming their deficit to four, 47-43 heading into the fourth, but Orange responded when it needed to most.
LB Towns, who had a team-leading 23 points, got Linden (6-4) back to even with a mid-range jumper at the 4:25 mark of the fourth quarter. He also finished off a three-point play the old-fashioned way at the end of the third to help the Panthers creep back within striking range.
Orange answered Towns’ game-tying hoop with a 6-0 run to take control, though, getting a couple buckets from Lewis and another from McCollum to make it a 57-51 game with 3:04 left.
Walker got Linden a little closer from the free-throw line, but Eddie Brown scored inside to stretch the Orange edge to 59-52 with 2:18 left. Orange only added to its lead from there.
Lewis backed McCollum with 16 points while Aidan King finished with 10 for the Pioneers.
The Panthers, meanwhile, got 15 from Walker and 14 from Malakhi Armistead in the setback.
Next up, Orange is slated to host Hilliard Bradley next Thursday. Tip is set for 7:30 p.m.
Olentangy 59, American Collegiate 53
Jack Huskey scored 11 of his team-leading 25 points in the fourth quarter as the Braves rallied to a win on the second day of their holiday trip to Orlando on Tuesday.
Olentangy trailed 48-42 heading into the final eight minutes of action, but outscored American Collegiate 17-5 down the stretch to secure the win.
Ethan Smith backed Huskey with 11 points while Andrew Boyle smoothed out the team’s top three with nine.