By Michael Rich
Julius Brown hit two three-pointers during a 13-4 run to start the fourth quarter, including the one that started the run, and Westerville North ran away from Olentangy Liberty 63-53 in boys basketball action Saturday night in Powell.
The Patriots were tied with North at 38 until Brown’s three-pointer from the right wing gave the Warriors the lead for good. Brown finished with 14 points to lead North.
“You win with guards, and they did a nice job of attacking and scoring,” Liberty coach Greg Nossaman said. “At that point in the game, it’s about making shots.”
Liberty (0-2) had cut the lead to 51-46 on two free throws by Michael Bass and a Brendon White basket when Josh Moyler pulled down an offensive rebound on a missed free throw and was fouled. He sank both free throws and the Patriots never got the lead below six again.
“Those are the little things,” Nossaman said. “We work on that every day, but they can’t put themselves in a game situation to realize this rebound right now in practice is big. They’re great kids — unbelievable students, but they have to have that will to win sometimes and we just haven’t gotten there.”
Liberty used a 12-0 run, which started on a three-pointer by Jack Barnett, to close out the first quarter with a 16-8 lead. Spencer Mitchell scored six points in the first quarter to spark the fast start.
“We did better than we did last night, so that’s a positive,” Nossaman said. “We can’t let this thing spiral out of control. We’re not a high-powered offense like we’ve been before.”
Julian Malone scored 11 points and pulled down six rebounds for North (2-1). Corey Benton scored 12 points and Jeremiah Keene added 10.
White led the Patriots with 21 points, including 16 in the second half, and also had five rebounds. Mitchell finished with 15 points.
“They are probably our two best penetrators,” Nossaman said. “They attack the basket pretty well.”
Freshman Ben Roderick, who Nossaman described as a shooter, hit his first varsity three-pointer in the setback. He also pulled down a game-high seven rebounds.
“We started a freshman and he hit his first three,” Nossaman said. “He lights it up in practice, but just hadn’t gotten one in the game yet (until Saturday). He hits the boards hard. He’s only 14, so he’s going to be a good one.”
Two of Liberty’s key players are out with injuries. Drew Rosi, out with an ankle injury suffered in the football playoff game at Solon, isn’t expected back until around Christmas and Ethan Novy is out until January recovering from an ACL tear.
“(Rosi) is a big piece to the puzzle,” Nossaman said. “(Novy) is probably the best shooter. So, we’ve got some guys in the wings and we’ll see. It doesn’t guarantee anything.”
Liberty and Westerville North will both be a part of the new OCC-Buckeye when the conference realigns at the beginning of the next school year. The division will be made up of the three Olentangy schools and the three Westerville schools.
The Patriots were just 24 hours removed from a 50-48 overtime loss at home to OCC-Central foe Central Crossing.
“I thought our effort was better than last night,” Nossaman said. “I’m not happy that we lost, we gotta be able to win, we gotta do a lot of different things — be a little more efficient offensively. But, it was better than last night and Tuesday needs to be better than (Saturday night).”
The Patriots are back to league play Tuesday night at Marysville.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.