By Ben Stroup
With Hayes boys basketball coach Jordan Blackburn coaching with a heavy heart, his Pacers showed as much heart as they have all season, using a dominant defensive effort to post a convincing 54-38 upset win over visiting New Albany in OCC-Capital Division action Tuesday in Delaware.
“I’m so proud of the kids,” Blackburn said. “We held New Albany to four second half field goals. I thought that was the key. It always starts on the defensive end for us. Holding a team that’s 14-1 coming in to 38 points was the biggest factor. It’s something the kids can really hang their hats on.”
The thrilling win came just a day after Blackburn lost his grandmother.
“My grandma passed away last night and I thought about not even coming to school today,” Blackburn said. “But I could hear her saying, ‘you have to be there for the boys.’”
Needless to say, he was … and they were there for him.
New Albany led 12-11 after the first quarter, but Hayes won the second 14-13 to send the teams into halftime knotted up at 25. That’s when the Pacers made their move, outscoring the Eagles 14-5 in the third to take control. They won the fourth 15-8 to smooth out the scoring summary.
“We made an emphasis to take care of the ball and get on the defensive glass,” Blackburn said. “I thought Derrick Buford had another big game — he only took four shots, but had nine rebounds, four on the offensive end. He also guarded their best scorer, Joey Rolwing, and held him to two field goals. Will (Yoakum) also stepped up, holding (Toby) Mayle to four.”
Offensively, Blackburn said Zach McIntire and Yoakum read screens well en route to big nights. McIntire finished with 22 points and eight rebounds while Yoakum closed with 16 points and six boards. Buford, meanwhile, did a little bit of everything in the win, finishing with seven points, nine rebounds and four steals.
The Pacers’ win marked the eighth straight time the home team has won in the series.
Hayes returns to action Friday against host Orange. Tip is set for 7:30 p.m.
Orange 65, Mount Vernon 35
The Pioneers outscored the host Yellow Jackets 15-2 in the second quarter and 21-6 in the third to climb back into title contention Tuesday in Mount Vernon.
The lopsided win, coupled with Hayes upsetting New Albany, moved Orange into a three-way tie for first place in the OCC-Capital Division. Kilbourne, which beat Big Walnut Tuesday, is also atop the league standings.
Colin Shepherd poured in 17 points in the win while Grant Gossard and Zack Stablein finished with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Olentangy 78, Franklin Heights 59
Carter Kinnaird scored 15 points, Jason Sieve added 13 and Sam Hyburg chipped in 10 as the Braves rolled to an OCC-Capital Division win Tuesday in Columbus.
Marion Harding 72, Buckeye Valley 62
Nick Hyatt scored 26 points, but it wasn’t quite enough as host Harding handed the Barons their first league loss of the season Tuesday in Marion.
Also: Marysville 57, Liberty 47; Delaware Christian 39, Tree of Life 28.
Olentangy 85, Franklin Heights 21; Liberty 58, Marysville 42; Worthington Kilbourne 42, Big Walnut 20; Mount Vernon 51, Orange 41; New Albany 64, Hayes 40.
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.