By Ben Stroup
Hayes coach Jordan Blackburn wasn’t thrilled with the way his guys played early on in Tuesday’s loss to New Albany.
Friday against host Big Walnut, the start wasn’t a problem as the Pacers rolled to a 47-33 OCC-Capital Division win.
“We thought (the start) was a big part of why we lost last game,” Blackburn said. “This time, we wanted to get off to a good start and make sure everyone was ready to do their job.”
Hayes (2-2) did just that, especially on the defensive end, limiting Big Walnut to just three first half field goals. The Golden Eagles shot 3-for-19 in the opening half as the Pacers built a 25-11 lead by the break.
“The guys did a nice job tonight,” Blackburn said. “Several guys contributed … it was just a good team win.”
Big Walnut (0-5) answered with a 12-5 third quarter, but Hayes won the fourth 17-10 to smooth out the scoring summary.
Pacer standouts included junior forward Derrick Buford, who was active on the defensive end, making 13 deflections; Zach McIntire, who finished 9-for-10 at the free throw line on his way to a 15-point, nine-rebound performance; Terin Kinsway, who had 10 points and five rebounds; and Sam Midura, who finished with seven points and 10 boards.
Upper Arlington 65, Liberty 41
Liberty’s Spencer Mitchell finished with 16 points and Brendon White had nine, but it wasn’t nearly enough as host Upper Arlington cruised to a 65-41 OCC-Central Division win Friday night.
The Golden Bears (3-0, 3-0 OCC) outscored the Patriots (0-4, 0-3 OCC) 21-11 in the first to set the tone. Liberty battled back a bit with a 12-11 second, but UA won the third 15-9 and fourth 18-9 to cement the outcome.
Senior wing Kelly Meade poured in a game-best 18 points, tying Morgan Horvath for first on the team’s all-time scoring list with 1,090 points, and Olentangy cruised to a 55-21 OCC-Capital Division win over visiting Orange Friday in Lewis Center.
The Braves (4-1, 4-0 OCC) started fast, racing out to a 28-4 lead after the first quarter. The Pioneers (1-4, 1-3 OCC) bounced back with a nice second, limiting the hosts to just four points.
“We got the tempo up to the pace we wanted it and, when we play like that, we’re going to beat a lot of teams,” Olentangy coach John Feasel said of the early run.
Molly Delaney backed Meade with nine points while Olivia Margolies and Chelsea Moore finished with eight apiece.
Lena Mancini led Orange with five points.
Liberty 51, Upper Arlington 40
The Patriots picked up a key OCC-Central Division win Friday, pulling away from visiting Upper Arlington 51-40.
Liberty (5-0, 4-0 OCC) won each of the first three quarters, but only led 36-32 heading into the final eight minutes of action. A 15-8 fourth changed that, though, ballooning the gap to the final, semi-comfortable spread.
Starting guards Alexa Fisher and Bre Yashko combined for 35 of Liberty’s points. Fisher finished with a game-best 19 while Yashko closed with 16.
Lauren Hofer was also solid, finishing with nine points, seven of which came from the free throw line.
Big Walnut 34, Hayes 32
Kelsie Imertreijs played the role of hero Friday, hitting a layup with four seconds left to lift Big Walnut to a thrilling 34-32 OCC-Capital Division win over host Hayes.
In a game characterized by big runs — the Golden Eagles (3-3, 2-2 OCC) started with an 8-2 first quarter only to see the Pacers (1-5, 0-4 OCC) win the third 9-4 — BW had the final say.
The Eagles, thanks to back-to-back three-pointers from Taryn Hammond, erased a seven-point deficit in the fourth.
Imertreijs finished with 11 points to pace the Eagles while Brandy Bauer and Jessica Walker led the Pacers with nine and eight points, respectively.
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.