COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With an excellent slate of both 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. games taking place on Saturday, we saw several great matchups in the Division II and III sectional finals.
Let's take a look at the day's action.
Just over two years ago, it looked like we wouldn’t get to see the great Grandview and West Jefferson rivalry for a while after the Roughriders left the MSL-Ohio. With the two matching up in the sectional finals on Saturday, Grandview picked up right where they left off in the rivalry, taking down the Riders 55-37.
After West Jefferson opened up the game by scoring the first four points, Grandview responded with a quick 6-0 run of their own, helping them tie the game at 10-10 heading into the second.
Showing heavy help every time junior Luke Lachey touched the ball in the post for Grandview, West Jefferson was intent on making the Bobcats supporting cast beat them. Behind a big nine point second from senior wing Ben Casey, the Roughriders were in great shape, ahead 22-18 with around a minute left in the half.
Not so fast. Behind two big steals from Brian Collier and Aaron Cincione, Grandview sparked a 6-0 run to end the half, helping them take a 24-22 lead and all of the momentum into the break.
After going back and forth for the majority of the third, Grandview found themselves ahead 33-30 with 3:24 left in the game. This is where they made their run.
Shutting down Casey for the majority of the half, Grandview exploded onto a 15-2 run, moving their lead to 48-32 with 5:20 to go after a tough basket from Lachey.
Despite some late life from Casey, West Jefferson was done for after this point.
Leading the Riders with 15 points and nine rebounds, Casey capped off a breakout senior season in the loss. An unsigned senior who can score from all three levels, has good athleticism and is a great kid off the court, Casey would be a major pickup for a Division III program needing a wing.
Fellow seniors Scotty Hunter (nine) and Joe Thompson (eight), both unsigned and quality Division III looks, combined for 17 points for the Riders as well. They did not have any other player finish with more than two points.
Combining for 45 of their teams 55 points, Manny Day (16), Lachey (15) and Collier (14) showed why they’re one of the best trios in the area once again today.
Grandview Heights moves on to the district semifinals where they will match up with No. 2 Worthington Christian for the third time this season. The Bobcats split both matchups with the Warriors, winning the first contest early in the season on the road, while dropping its home matchup with Worthington Christian in February.
Tuesday's district semifinal will be play at Dublin Jerome.
Harvest Prep advances to the district semifinals to take on No. 11 Amanda-Clearcreek on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Pickerington North.
Worthington Christian advances to play No. 6 Grandview Heights in the district semifinals on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Dublin Jerome.
No. 3 Johnstown advances to the district semifinals where they will take on No. 8 Pleasant on Tuesday at Olentangy Berlin.
Columbus Academy advances to the district semifinals to play No. 7 Africentric on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Westerville Central.
No. 7 Africentric advances to the district semifinals where they will take on No. 4 Columbus Academy on Tuesday. at Westerville Central.
In a game of big runs between No. 8 Pleasant and No.10 Bishop Ready in the sectional finals on Saturday, the Spartans struck the final blow, using a 21-9 fourth quarter on the back of five three-pointers to take down Ready 63-47.
With both teams coming out guns blazing behind a barrage of triples, Pleasant took a 15-12 lead into the second.
However, sophomore wing Darius Parham was dominant in the first for Ready, finishing the quarter with seven efficient points.
With Pleasant’s Ethan Warner scoring eight in the quarter, it looked as if we might have an excellent matchup on the wing all night, and that proved to be true.
After a three from senior Gage Williams put Pleasant up 20-12 with 6:12 left in the half, Ready went on their own sizeable run.
Exploding onto an 18-4 run to end the half behind the excellent play of Parham, the Silver Knights took a 30-24 lead into the locker room at half.
After the teams traded buckets to start the second half, Pleasant went on a run of their own.
Behind knockdown three-point shooting, the Spartans went on a 22-6 run from the middle of the third until the 2:14 mark in the fourth, leading 59-42 late in the game.
Thanks in large part to two triples from senior Patrick Blubaugh and one from each Warner and senior Nick Kimmel, the Spartans ran away with this one in the fourth.
Finishing with 19 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, Warner was excellent on the wing and the block tonight for Pleasant. Showing off the ability to knock down perimeter shots and score through contact, Warner was the Spartans go-to option all night. He was also a force on defense, where he blocked three shots in the first half.
Williams also finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and four steals on a night where his motor never stopped. He was all over the floor, showing a great will to win and tremendous hustle throughout the contest.
Kimmel also scored 12 points to go along with seven rebounds, as he played solid in the lead guard role for the Spartans all night.
Parham finished with a game-high 28 points for the Silver Knights in the contest. A player who always gives everything he has, Parham’s hustle combined with his skill level helped him dominate tonight.
Consistently beating guys off the dribble, he was a tough matchup for anyone on the Pleasant roster. He also hit three triples in the contest and grabbed seven rebounds. Parham is one of the most promising two-way prospects in the sophomore class and I am excited to track his development.
Pleasant advances to the district semifinals to play No. 3 Johnstown on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Olentangy Berlin.
Amanda-Clearcreek advances to only its fourth district semifinal ever to take on No. 1 Harvest Prep on Tuesday at Pickerington North.
South jumped out to a 26-5 lead after one on their way to a big 35 point win over City League South foe Marion Franklin.
Taquan Simington and Marcus Johnson each scored 14 points for the Bulldogs while Tre Watkins and Alvin Byrd each scored 12 a piece.
Unsigned senior Tronny Keaton led the Red Devils with 17 points.
No. 1 South advances to the district semifinals to take on No. 9 Bexley on Tuesday at Westerville North.
Jonathan Alder jumped out to a quick 18-5 lead in the first quarter and never looked back, beating Buckeye Valley 71-32.
Alder’s backcourt trio of Jackson Izzard (21pts, 11rebs), Jack Santa-Emma (9pts, 7rebs, 6ast, 2stl), and Jacob Koenig(9pts, 3rebs, 1ast) once again led the way for the Pioneers.
Juniors Daniel Heinig (11pts, 7rebs, 3ast, 1blk) and Logan Stevens (10pts, 3rebs, 1ast, 3stl) played at a high level as well. Both Heinig and Stevens shot over 70% from the field and didn’t turn the ball over much at all.
Jonathan Alder advances to the district semifinals to play No. 4 Bishop Hartley on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Olentangy Orange.
No. 3 DeSales advances to the district semifinals to take No. 5 Granville on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Pickerington Central.
Morgan Safford was Morgan Safford today, going for a game-high 29 points in Hartley's win over Eastmoor. However, he was not alone as junior Colby Rankin also contributed 18 points.
Senior Duane Gordon led Eastmoor with 17 points on five threes.
Hartley advances to the district semifinals take on No. 2 Jonathan Alder on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Olentangy Orange.
In a game where the final score resembled more closely a noon Big Ten football game than a playoff basketball game, the offensive lull produced by both teams did not do anything to take away from the overall excitement and energy seen in Granville’s win in their hotly contested sectional final matchup with London.
The Blue Aces used their stifling defense throughout the whole game and converted on many of their clutch free throw attempts down the stretch to pull out the victory in this low scoring affair, winning 37-24.
The game started off with complete dearth of offense, especially from London, who did not find an even remotely easy look until there was less than a minute left in the quarter. Granville utilized a rock-solid and crazy-active half court trap to rattle the Raider attack and hold them to only one bucket in the first period.
However, the Aces had offensive woes of their own, making the decision to stay consistent with their typically methodical offensive approach and hold the ball for long stretches of the game. Granville gained some momentum towards the end of the quarter when a last-second putback from senior Ben Blanchard put the Aces up 8-2 at the end of the first.
A similar pace was kept in the second quarter, and early on it became apparent that this would be a game of zone-busting, the winner being whoever could do it best.
London cut the lead to a single possession at 8-5 early in the period, but two slashing lay-ins by Granville juniors Brody Ley and Jake Stone put the Aces well ahead and kept them there the rest of the half.
London became stagnant on the offensive end and carried their frustration to the other end of the court, fouling at a high rate and putting the Aces in the bonus shortly into the quarter.
Typical London star sophomores Trey Woodyard and Naz Cameron were held scoreless in the first half and the Raiders trailed 14-5 going into the break.
Granville looked like they were going to pull away at the start of the second half, scoring five quick points on a Ley three and a lay-in by Blanchard, but the Raiders responded with seven of their own to keep it a single digit game for much of the the the third quarter. The scoring then stopped yet again for both teams and the score kept at 19-12 for the rest of the third quarter after Granville held the ball for nearly two minutes only to miss the last second attempt.
It looked like, at long last, there would be some offensive showing in the game, with Woodyard finally getting going with five quick points to open the fourth, but overall the game was still defined by defense and defense only. The sophomore Woodyard scored on a tough lay-in and then hit a highly contested three on the next possession to make it a three point game, but Blanchard responded with a three of his own to push the lead back out to six for the Aces.
The Red Raiders maintained their penchant for fouling throughout the second half and were in the double-bonus with over four minutes left in the game.
The Aces never let up after that point, making stops on the defensive end and converting on nearly all of their free-throws down the stretch, putting the game out of hand. Granville rode a hot streak to end the game and pulled out the victory in decisive fashion by the score of 37-24.
London could not get anything going offensively at any point in the game, and even when it looked like they were going to, the Aces responded every time. Trey Woodyard scored all of his team-high 13 points in the final quarter and added three rebounds. Senior Jake Andrich chipped in four points to go along with three rebounds, and Naz Cameron had two points and nine boards.
Granville put together an absolutely incredible defensive performance in their sectional final win and will look to carry the momentum felt in the gym on Saturday to a possibly deep district run. The Aces were led by Blanchard with 14 points and seven rebounds, followed by Ley and his eight points that included two threes. Sophomore Will Skerbetz had six points and four boards.
Granville advances to the district semifinals to play No. 3 DeSales on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Pickerington Central.
No. 6 Beechcroft advances to the district semifinals to take on No. 7 Bishop Watterson on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
No. 7 Bishop Watterson advances to the district semifinals to take on No. 6 Beechcroft on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Hamilton Township.
Bexley jumped out to a 13 point halftime lead and never looked back in taking down Centennial on Saturday.
No. 9 Bexley advances to the district semifinals to take on No. 1 South on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Westerville North.