Senior Grace Pennington’s hot shooting in the second half helped the Olentangy girls basketball team overcome a slow start on its way to a 49-38 non-league victory over Richfield Revere Saturday afternoon in Lewis Center.
It followed a 59-49 OCC-Buckeye win against Westerville Central Friday night.
“It’s so hard to come in and play back-to-back games – especially a late one and then an early one – against two quality teams,” Olentangy coach Mike Daniels said. “They’ve done a great job of (following our game-plan), and that keeps us in games.”
Sophomore Jessica Nation kept Olentangy in the game and finished with a game-high 16 points.
“She’s made so much progress since last year,” Pennington said. “She’s really learning to use her length … she really hits the short corner shots really, really well. I’m really proud of her.”
But, it was Pennington’s three three-pointers in the fourth that got Olentangy over the hump. She finished with four overall and 14 points.
Revere had a distinct size advantage with a pair standing at 6-feet (Grace Hete and Jessica Vari) and another at 5-foot-9 (Taylor Rinn).
Revere scored five points in the final minute of a low scoring first frame, highlighted by an Adison Novosel three-pointer at the buzzer to give Revere a 9-3 lead at the end of one.
Olentangy (6-4) used an 8-2 run early in the second to tie the game 11-11 — a run capped by a Nation steal that turned into a Lauren Biehl layup off Grace Pennington’s assist.
But, Revere followed with a 6-0 run on a pair of Hete free throws and two Vari baskets.
Nation followed with her second three-point play of the half, but Olentangy trailed 19-13 at the break.
“Jess is one of those good silent scorers,” Daniels said. “She’s really good at penetration … she’s got a great mid-range jump shot. (She’s) tough to beat.”
Olentangy turned up the pressure in the second half.
“Defense wins games … it did last night and today,” Daniels said. “It’s definitely helping our cause because we’re long and we’re quick.”
Molly Delaney knocked down a three-pointer and then fed Nation for a basket to give Olentangy a 26-25 lead with 3:20 left in the third.
It was brief, though. Taylor Kenna fed Hete on Revere’s next possession and Novosel followed with a pair of free throws to push the lead back to three.
Pennington’s basket gave Olentangy the lead again with 1:28 left in the third a couple of possessions after a Delaney bucket had cut it to one. The score remained 30-29 at the end of the third.
Olentangy scored 11 of the first 14 points in the fourth quarter on the strength of three Pennington three-pointers to push the lead to nine.
“(Revere) went zone for a while and that really opened up our outside shots,” Pennington said. “So, I made a couple in a row and once they went back to man, we realized that when we drive, they really crash. We got a bunch of kicks and we were just knocking them down.”
“We’re not very good at set shooting, but when we shoot off of a pass – we’re pretty darn accurate,” Daniels said.
Olentangy closed it out at the line by going 6-for-6 to finish 9-for-10 for the game.
Delaney had 12 points, including nine in the second half.
Hete finished with 12 points, Novosel added 11 and Rinn chipped in eight points for Revere (1-6).
Next up, Olentangy travels to Mansfield to take on Buckeye Central in the Mansfield Christian Holiday Classic Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
BEXLEY 61, BUCKEYE VALLEY 54
Clark Newland had 16 points to lead Buckeye Valley, which suffered another close loss. The Barons fell 61-54 Saturday night at Bexley in Columbus.
Shannon Stanley had a game-high 22 points and Damian Davis chipped in 16 points for the Lions (4-3).
BV led 46-45 at the end of the third quarter after being tied 32-32 at the half. But, Stanley and Davis were too strong – particularly in the fourth quarter where the duo combined for 15 of the Lions’ 16 points.
Elijah Jackson finished with 11 points and Luke Lucas added eight for the Barons (1-7), whose seven losses have all come by 12 points or less, including four by seven points or less.
BV used eight three-pointers to give Bexley problems all night, led by Newland’s three. Jackson and Lucas knocked down a pair of triples apiece.
BV closes the year out at Centerburg in non-league action Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
OLENTANGY ORANGE 50, ST. CHARLES 34
The Pioneers put up 35 points in the second half to run past host St. Charles 50-34 Saturday night in Columbus.
Jalen Bethel had a game-high 16 points to lead Orange and Luke Ballinger added 15 points on the strength of five three-pointers.
Orange’s second half offensive onslaught came after it held a 15-14 lead at the break.
The Pioneers (8-1) are enjoying their best start since the 2015-16 season when they also started 8-1. They lost at St. Charles in their ninth game that year.
Spencer Martin led the Cardinals (3-5) with 11 points.
Next, Orange is back in non-league action hosting Marion Harding Friday at 3:30 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at [email protected]