After three quarters that couldn’t have been closer, it’s no surprise Thursday’s MOAC showdown between Buckeye Valley and visiting North Union came down to the wire.
Ronnie Rayburn, who led North Union with 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists, hit a free throw with five seconds left to put his team up five. Buckeye Valley’s Dylan Herbert answered with a three-pointer at the buzzer, but it wasn’t enough as the Wildcats won the battle of second-place teams 51-49.
The first quarter was one of runs. The Barons (4-8, 3-3 MOAC) opened 6-0 out of the gate, but the Wildcats (11-2, 4-2 MOAC) answered with a 9-0 surge to go on top early. They led 13-11 after one.
Things were nip-and-tuck the rest of the way. Both teams scored 13 points in the second, 12 in the third and 13 more in the fourth to account for the final margin.
Buckeye Valley won the rebounding battle 40-33, and played pretty good defense, but never quite found its touch on the offensive end. The Barons made just 19 of their 53 shots from the floor, including a 3-for-16 effort from deep.
North Union didn’t shoot the ball well, either. The Wildcats missed 1o of their 23 free throws, but still managed to make just one fewer than BV attempted (14) from the charity stripe.
Ethan Crawford had a big game for Buckeye Valley, finishing with a game-high 20 points to go with seven rebounds. Herbert finished with eight points while Aaron Watson had seven in the setback.
Liberty shook off a tough second quarter with a dominant second half, maintaining its spot atop the OCC-Buckeye Division standings with a 51-42 win over host Olentangy Thursday in Lewis Center.
The Patriots (11-4, 5-1 OCC) looked poised to run away with things early, racing out to a 17-9 lead after the first quarter.
But the Braves (6-7, 3-3 OCC) answered in a big way, showing they weren’t going to go down easily with a 22-9 second to take a 31-26 lead into halftime.
Liberty outscored Olentangy 10-5 in the third, evening things up heading into the final frame — a period the Patriots won 15-6 to seal the deal.
Teegan Pifher and Katie Harrop led the way with 16 and 14 points, respectively.
The Braves, meanwhile, were led by Olivia Margolies’ 14-point performance.
Brystin Coldiron (106), Emmett Cain (145), Corbin May (152), Carter Davidson (182), Max Wright (220) and Liam Rush (285) all had pins to lead Hayes to a solid 66-12 OCC dual-meet win over Thomas Worthington Thursday night.
James White IV (138) and Jake Henley (160) also picked up wins for the Pacers.
Big Walnut 39, Canal Winchester 21
Josh Halbakken (152), Carson Dearth (160) and Philip Roberto (170) won back-to-back-to-back decisions to help the Golden Eagles earn a solid league win over the Indians Thursday night.
Maxwell Lenz (195) and Bailey Munday (126) padded BW’s point total with pins.
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.