The Big Walnut boys basketball team threw everything it had at Delaware Hayes in the third quarter, flipping a 25-17 halftime deficit into a late lead, but the Pacers were poised down the stretch en route to a 49-42 Division I sectional final win Friday night in Delaware.
The 23rd-seeded Golden Eagles looked to be in trouble after Hezekiah Russell hit a three-pointer to give the 18th-seeded Pacers a 28-19 lead one minute into the third.
Rickey Bessinger, who closed with a game-high 17 points, hit back-to-back three-pointers to get BW off the mat, closing the gap to 31-27 midway through the quarter. Will Baden scored inside on the next trip down the floor and, after the defense got a stop at the other end, Baden converted a three-point play the hard way to give his team a 31-29 lead with 1:28 left in the quarter.
Hayes regrouped in a hurry, though, taking a 32-31 lead into the fourth after Jake Lowman stopped the run with a deep jumper just before the third-quarter buzzer.
The hoop also took some momentum from the Big Walnut bench … momentum the Eagles never got back.
A Ryan Polter put-back bucket put Hayes in front early in the fourth and, after Bessinger hit his third three of the night to even things at 37 with 5:30 left, Polter scored again to put his team in front for good.
The Pacers scored 12 of the final 17 points to seal the deal, including jumpers from Lowman, Anthony Wilson and Jesse Burris to make it a 45-38 game with less than two minutes to go.
Lowman led Hayes with 14 points while Burris had 13 and Polter closed with eight.
Baden backed Bessinger with 12 points in the setback.
Next up, the Pacers will take on top-seeded Pickerington Central in Wednesday’s district semifinal. Tip is slated for 7 p.m. at a site to be determined.
Olentangy Liberty 60, Dublin Coffman 56
The host and 10th-seeded Patriots finished with a flourish, outscoring the 21st-seeded Shamrocks 23-14 in the fourth quarter to rally for a Division I sectional final win Friday night in Powell.
Trey Majidzadeh and Cooper Davis, who finished with 13 and 15 points, respectively, each hit threes during the fourth-quarter comeback.
Ajay Sheldon led Coffman with a game-best 32 points.
The win sets up a rematch with eighth-seeded Olentangy Orange in Wednesday’s district semifinal. Tip is set for 7 p.m. at a site to be determined.
St. Charles 59, Olentangy Berlin 57
The 35th-seeded Bears nearly pulled off their second straight upset to start the tournament, but fell one bucket short in Friday’s Division I sectional final against the host and 15th-seeded Cardinals.
Berlin trailed 31-20 at halftime, but outscored St. Charles 14-10 in the third and 23-18 in the fourth before simply running out of time.
Isaiah Brown led a trio of Bears in double figures, closing with 16 points while Derek Goodman and Jason Inbody had 14 and 12, respectively.
St. Charles’ Chase Walker led all scorers with 25 points in the win.
Upper Arlington 56, Olentangy 37
The 34th-seeded Braves hung around into the second half, trailing by two points after one just six at halftime, but the host and seventh-seeded Golden Bears dominated down the stretch to notch a D-I sectional final win Friday night.
UA’s Nick Heath led all scorers with 18 points in the win.