By Ben Stroup
Eight hours after being cleared to play for the first time this season, Hayes guard Will Yoakum did just that … and then some.
The junior, who had been in a walking boot through the season’s early stages, returned to score 28 points on the strength of six three-pointers to lead the Pacers to a 64-53 non-league win over host Watkins Memorial Monday in Pataskala.
“He just seemed to be all over the place,” Hayes coach Jordan Blackburn said. “I didn’t expect him to have 28, but he’s a gym rat … he just plays.
“We knew we needed his scoring, and he’s a welcomed addition … our four-guard offense works better with four guards.”
The return couldn’t have come at a better time for the Pacers (3-6), who had lost four straight.
Zach McIntire finished with 18 points, Terin Kinsway closed with eight and Jake Bourget finished with a season-high eight assists for Hayes, which led by as many as 25 points in the fourth quarter, 64-39, before clearing off the bench.
“It’s kinda like our family is back together,” Blackburn said. “With Will coming back, it puts everyone back in their spots. Jake can facilitate and Terin will get the fourth-best defender on the other team.”
Yoakum was the headliner in Monday’s win, which Hayes took control of with a 10-5 second quarter and 21-7 third — a quarter in which Yoakum buried four threes — but Blackburn couldn’t say enough about the other seven guys who held down the fort in his absence.
“I’ve been doing this for 14 years, and the seven guys we’ve had for the first eight games … I don’t think I’ve ever gotten more effort from anyone,” Blackburn said. “It’s hard without Will, but we had chances to win six of our first eight games. I’ve asked a lot of those guys.”
Hayes returns to action Wednesday, hosting Hilliard Darby in the Eberst Classic at 7 p.m.
Also: Hartley 55, Big Walnut 47; Olentangy 50, Logan 43.
Kelsey Shearer collected a key steal and assist while Morgan Scowden hit a clutch three-pointer in the fourth quarter to help Buckeye Valley pull away for a 45-41 win over visiting Elgin Monday in Delaware.
“The girls did a nice job executing,” BV coach Landon Fraker said. “It was a good win. The girls played well, but, more importantly, they played together. They seemed to have fun playing with each other.”
Down 12-8 after one, the Barons (6-4, 4-2 MOAC) outscored the Comets 16-6 in the second to take a 24-18 lead into halftime — a lead they maintained the rest of the way.
Buckeye Valley was dominant on the defensive end, limiting Elgin to just 30-percent shooting (12-for-39), but the visitors used the free throw line to stay in the game. The Comets made nine more from the charity stripe (14) than BV shot all night (5).
Scowden and Shearer led the way with 12 points apiece, Scowden adding a team-best five assists and Shearer chipping in a team-leading four steals.
Tess Hughes was also solid, closing with seven points and seven rebounds, while Megan Veneman had six points to go with seven boards. Logan Hatcher finished with a game-high eight rebounds in the win.
Alana Wiseman led all scorers with 13 points for Elgin.
Owassa (OK) 54, Olentangy 52
Grace Pennington drilled a three-pointer to tie the game with 30 seconds to play, but Terryn Milton hit a jumper in the lane with 12 ticks to go to lead Owassa (OK) to a 54-52 win over Olentangy on the opening day of the KSA Holiday Classic Monday in Orlando, Florida.
The Braves (6-2) had a look in the end, but missed a potential game-tying shot with two seconds left to cement the outcome.
Kelly Meade finished with four three-pointers and 14 points to lead Olentangy. Olivia Margolies was also solid, closing with 11 points, while Allison Raiff and Pennington finished with six and five, respectively.
Also: Tri-Valley 46, Big Walnut 42.
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.