DUBLIN, Ohio -- If you would have told Canal Winchester at the end of Tuesday's matchup against Dublin Scioto that its senior front court duo of Bilal Sow and Cole Metzler would have only combined to score 17 points, the Indians likely would have thought they'd be heading back to the complete opposite side of town with a loss.
However, its senior quarterback and sharp-shooting guard Jack Beeler had other plans, scoring a career-high 25 points on seven (!!!) three-point field goals to power the Indians to a 55-49 victory. In a game that was back and forth for most of the first half, Beeler erupted in the final 16 minutes, scoring 18 points after heading into the locker room at the break.
Knotted at 29 midway through the third quarter, Canal Winchester turned defense into offense on a 7-0 run that broke the game open, scoring all seven points on forced turnovers in transition. Heading into the fourth quarter holding a 40-34 lead, Canal Winchester needed more from Beeler to pull off the victory.
While Scioto senior Benni Lombardo cut the deficit to three points with 4:39 to go, Beeler came up clutch moments later, knocking down back-to-back threes in a self-made 6-0 run to push the Canal lead to nine at 51-42 with 2:29 remaining.
Scioto couldn't get any closer than five points the rest of the way, as Canal ground the Irish out in the final two minutes to notch its first win of the season.
Beeler led all scorers with a career-high 25 points, coming alive at the right time to help the Indians avoid a second-straight loss. Sow added 11 points and a handful of rebounds, while Metzler had an unusually quiet night, making just two field goals to finish with six points.
For Scioto, Lombardo led the Irish with 16 points in a showing where he played with elite effort. Senior forward Drew Bryant added 12 points in the paint, while senior guard Jayden Prince (11 points) and junior guard Jayden Pearson (nine points) combined for 20.
Canal Winchester will open up OCC-Capital play on Friday as the Indians host Big Walnut. For Dublin Scioto, the Irish will hit the road and pay a visit to Olentangy Berlin to kick off OCC-Cardinal action.
Jack Beeler (6'1 G / Canal Winchester / 2020): Coming off the bench all last season to spare the Indians' starting backcourt, Beeler steps into a starting role this season with the graduation of program great Brady Snyder. With Snyder's high-level production now gone and Canal needing to find scoring to fill the void, Beeler did an oustanding job of serving that need with his performance on Tuesday. The 6-foot-1 wing who doubles as a standout quarterback that led the Indians to the state football playoffs this fall, Beeler was a deadly catch and shoot threat against Scioto, hitting seven threes, five of which in the second half. We loved the energy and confidence that Beeler played with, as he constantly sought his shot and was not afraid to let it fly. With Scioto keyed in on stopping Metzler and Sow underneath, Beeler made the Irish pay and will need to continue to play at a high level for this team to fulfill its title aspirations in the OCC.
Benni Lombardo (6'2 WG / Dublin Scioto / 2020): We are big fans of the way that Lombardo plays the game. Providing elite energy and motor all game, Lombardo was Scioto's most impactful player on Tuesday, getting his hands on everything, scoring both inside and out and creating a few second chance opportunities for the Irish. Lombardo is a physical guard with quality size, a go-to post game against smaller guards and a reliable outside shot. Lombardo made things happen simply with his effort and will be a key part of this Scioto team that should be able to compete in the middle of the pack in the OCC-Cardinal.
Bilal Sow (6'5 PF / Canal Winchester / 2020): In what wasn't his best scoring night, Sow still found a way to be productive, as he was the game's top rebounder and made Scioto think twice about coming down the lane against him. The 6-foot-5 big has broad shoulders and a gangly frame, things he uses to be a rim deterrent underneath and a knockdown outside shooter who rarely gets his shot blocked. Sow showed some versatility on the offensive end, scoring with toughness underneath and stretching the floor with his jumper. The senior big has a serviceable handle, can switch onto forwards and protect the rim underneath with his wingspan and strength. Most impressive is Sow's rebounding ability, as he grabs everything in his area and outworks guys inside.
Jayden Prince (6'2 PG / Dublin Scioto / 2020): With a handful of Division III programs in attendance for Prince on Tuesday, the 6-foot-2 guard had a solid showing, running the show for Scioto and making plays off the bounce. We like the feel that Prince has, as he plays at a good pace, can change speeds and knock down shots off the dribble. While Canal was able to slow the game down and force the ball out of Prince's hands, the senior guard still had an efficient showing and helped set his teammates up for scoring opportunities. While he has the ability to score it when he needs to, Prince might have to step into a larger scoring role to help this Irish team put up points, as Scioto had a handful of very long possessions where they struggled to find good looks on Tuesday. Prince is a leader at the point guard spot who plays with maturity and confidence, as we look forward to watching him more this season as he missed most of the 270 Hoops Fall League with an injury.