By Ben Stroup
Sometimes it’s not all about how you finish; the start will be just fine … if it’s good enough.
The Buckeye Valley boys basketball team used an early run to set the tone Friday, parlaying a 23-4 first-quarter lead into a solid 56-39 Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference win over visiting Pleasant.
The first-place Barons (14-5, 11-1 MOAC) came out on fire, racing out to an 11-2 spread when Braxton Wells buried a three-pointer from the corner with 4:36 left in the first. Wells had five of his team’s first 11 points, with Jesse Tomlinson adding four more thanks to a pair of driving layins.
Thing got worse for the Spartans (8-10, 5-7 MOAC) before they got better. BV’s Nick Hyatt connected on a deep triple and Grant Kelly added a pair of free throws stemming from a steal in the backcourt to make it a 16-2 game. A Tomlinson three-point play ballooned the edge to 19-2, Mitch Rotondo hit from downtown minutes later and Tim Schilling split a pair from the line to make it 23-4 after one.
Pleasant bounced back by winning the next two quarters, outscoring BV 14-9 in the second and 13-11 in the third, but it wasn’t nearly enough to offset the Barons’ early barrage.
Buckeye Valley, which shot 48 percent from the field (19-for-40), was led by Tomlinson’s 17 points. Hyatt also had a nice game, closing with 12 points in the win.
Hayes 68, Franklin Heights 46
The Pacers dominated Friday’s OCC-Capital Division showdown against visiting Franklin Heights, opening up a 44-16 lead in the third on the way to the convincing win.
Hayes (9-10, 6-7 OCC) finished 9-for-19 from three-point range, and got one of its most balanced offensive outputs of the season. Zach McIntire (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Terin Kinsway (15 points, 10 rebounds) each finished with double-doubles while Will Yoakum led the way with 17 points. Jake Bourget and Max Hendrix were also solid, finishing with nine and eight points, respectively.
Orange 57, Big Walnut 51
The Pioneers survived a late push from the Golden Eagles, maintaining their spot atop the OCC-Capital Division standings with Friday’s league win in Sunbury.
Orange (17-4, 11-2 OCC) led 48-29 before Big Walnut (4-16, 2-11 OCC) won the fourth 22-9 to smooth out the scoring summary.
Grant Gossard led the Pioneers with 15 points while Cam Barron added 11.
The Golden Eagles were boosted by Hayden Bowmar’s 18 points, Alex Kelso’s 12 and Austin Becker’s 10.
Dublin Coffman 63, Liberty 53
The Shamrocks (18-3, 11-2 OCC) used a 20-5 second quarter to break open what was a tied game after one, and went on to post an OCC-Central Division win over the Patriots (10-11, 5-8 OCC) Friday in Powell.
Liberty bounced back with an 18-6 third-quarter spurt, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
Brendon White led the Patriots with 15 points.
Olentangy 50, Mount Vernon 39
Jason Sieve finished with 13 points, Seth O’Neal added 12 and Derrick Wyche closed with 10 as the Braves (9-8, 7-6 OCC) posted a solid league win over the Yellow Jackets (7-13, 5-8 OCC) Friday night.
Mount Vernon 40, Olentangy 39; Hayes at Franklin Heights, late.
Orange picked up a signature win Friday night as Hunter Shepherd scored with 13.1 seconds left in the third period to lift the Pioneers to a thrilling 2-1 win over St. Charles.
Shepherd scored both Orange goals, the first coming on a power play to give his team a 1-0 lead in the first. Caleb Green and Josh Rochon were credited with assists on the play. The Cardinals, ranked first in the district and third in the state, answered quickly, evening things up a few minutes later.
The game stayed knotted at one until Rochon sprung Shepherd on a mini-breakaway in the final seconds.
Ryan Suroweic was a wall in the Orange goal, stopping 32 of the 33 shots he saw.
Olentangy 2,229, Orange 2,124, Liberty 2,006 at Olentangy Challenge. Medalist: Palmer (Orange) 417.
Liberty 2,559, Olentangy 2,405, Orange 2,286 at Olentangy Challenge. Medalist: Foust (Olentangy) 502.
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.