By Ben Stroup
Seth O’Neal split a pair of free throws to bring Olentangy within seven, 52-45 with less than a minute to go, but Cam Barron’s three-point play on the ensuing possession all but ended things as Orange notched a solid 59-47 OCC-Capital Division win Friday in Lewis Center.
Barron finished with 13 points for the Pioneers (12-3, 7-2 OCC), 10 coming in the first half, while teammate Colin Shepherd led all scorers with 20 in the win.
The Braves (6-6, 5-4 OCC) got the start they were looking for, taking an early 9-4 lead when Seth O’Neal found an open Derrick Wyche for an easy hoop in the paint.
Barron answered with his second mid-range jumper of the game and, after Grant Gossard cashed in on a pair of free throws, Alex Eha hit back-to-back threes to lead Orange to a 14-11 lead after one.
That’s when the Pioneers really went to work, outscoring the hosts 21-12 in the second quarter to take a 35-23 lead into halftime.
The Braves cut into the lead in the third, getting it to 40-34 when Brandon Mazzeo hit a three with 1:30 left in the period, but Zack Stablein’s triple just before the buzzer gave Orange a 43-34 lead heading into the final frame.
Gossard backed Shepherd and Barron with 11 points while Eha finished with six.
Olentangy was led by Jason Sieve and O’Neal, who finished with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
Hayes 37, Big Walnut 34
Will Yoakum hit a clutch three-pointer with 33 seconds to go and host Hayes held on for a thrilling OCC-Capital Division win over visiting Big Walnut Friday in Delaware — the 100th win of coach Jordan Blackburn’s career.
Yoakum, a junior, hit the key bucket, but Blackburn said his seniors and their leadership made the difference for the Pacers (6-9, 3-6 OCC).
“I thought our senior leadership was the difference,” Blackburn said. “(Jake) Bourget played a really poised floor game, finishing with five assists and just one turnover, (Zach) McIntire had several big plays for us down the stretch — a bunch of good rebounds in traffic — and (Derrick) Buford had eight rebounds total, four offensive rebounds, and two of those came in the last three minutes, which I thought was important to kind of get us going.”
McIntire finished with a team-best 15 points in the win while Yoakum had 14 for Hayes.
Big Walnut (3-13, 1-8 OCC), which led 11-6 after the first quarter, was led by Austin Becker’s eight-point effort. Alex Kelso and Kaleb Phillips both finished with seven points in the setback.
Buckeye Valley 65, Galion 57
The Barons started slow, falling behind 17-11 after one, but used a huge middle two quarters to more than make up for it en route to a solid MOAC win over the visiting Tigers Friday in Delaware.
BV (11-4, 9-0 MOAC) outscored Galion (8-6, 3-6) 17-9 in the second quarter and 22-14 in the third to take control.
Jesse Tomlinson led the Barons with 18 points while Grant Kelly and Mitch Rotondo also scored in double figures, finishing with 15 and 12 points, respectively.
Upper Arlington 46, Liberty 44, OT
The Patriots had the visiting Golden Bears right where they wanted them Friday in Powell … then the fourth quarter happened.
Up 36-24 through three, thanks to a 12-6 first quarter and 18-10 third, Liberty (8-8, 4-5 OCC) was outscored 18-6 in the fourth as UA (13-2, 9-0 OCC) forced overtime — an extra session it won 4-2 to account for the final margin.
Spencer Mitchell led the Patriots with 13 points while Drew Rosi finished with 11.
The Bears were led by Dane Goodwin’s 13 points.
Big Walnut started the game on a 17-2 run and never looked back, rolling past visiting Hayes 61-35 Friday in Sunbury.
The Golden Eagles (8-10, 4-6 OCC) outscored the Pacers (4-13, 1-9 OCC) 20-14 in the second, 9-6 in the third and 15-13 in the fourth to smooth out the scoring summary.
Three players — Ellie Jindra, Erin Boehm and Kelsie Imertreijs — finished with 12 points for Big Walnut.
Brandy Bauer led Hayes with nine points in the setback.
Olentangy 60, Orange 41
Kelly Meade poured in a game-best 25 points as the Braves cruised to an OCC-Capital Division win over the host Pioneers Friday in Lewis Center.
Orange (6-11, 4-6 OCC) outscored Olentangy (14-2, 10-0 OCC) 12-8 in the second quarter to make it a 23-21 game at halftime, but the Braves outscored the Pioneers 37-20 in the second half to seal the deal.
Schae Lilley led Orange with 13 points.
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.