LONDON, Ohio -- Jonathan Alder (9-2) wouldn't let history repeat itself tonight.
While the Pioneers dropped a heartbreaker to London (8-4) last season where they let a 16 point lead slip out of their hands late in the game, they refused to see the same result tonight, answering an 18-4 third quarter from London with a dominant fourth of their own to take down the Red Raiders 49-37 in front of a sold out crowd on the road.
The game began with an extremely slow pace as the Pioneers were adamant on getting good looks and forcing long possessions on the defensive end.
After they jumped out to a 7-2 lead with 3:37 left in the first, senior guard Jackie Santa-Emma came up with a huge and-one in transition to extend the margin to 14-4 with 30.5 seconds left in the frame, a lead they took into the second.
Absolutely locking London down on the defensive end, the Pioneers didn't allow the Red Raiders to score a single bucket in the second until Ethan Minner finished a lay-in to trim the deficit to 16-6 with 4:53 left in the half.
Jonathan Alder headed into the lockeroom ahead 18-8 at the half as they controlled the pace of the game, took good shots and most notably held London star junior Trey Woodyard to zero points in the first 16 minutes.
London then came out in the third quarter a different team, getting to the rim for some tough finishes and playing a lot more physical on both ends of the floor.
After junior Jainaz Cameron finished a tough layup inside to trim the deficit to just 22-19 with 2:21 left in the quarter, senior wing Isaiah Hatem hit a huge three, tying the game at 22 with 1:22 to go in the third.
Cameron then finished an up-and-under inside and Woodyard threw down a huge dunk just before the buzzer, causing the gym to go berserk and capping off a 13-0 run for the Red Raiders that helped them take a 26-22 lead into the final quarter.
Fortunately for Jonathan Alder, the Pioneers never wavered.
Following back-to-back three's from junior Jackson Izzard, they took a 28-26 lead with 5:58 to go. He then hit three shots at the line, pushing the margin to five at 31-26 with 5:08 to go.
While Woodyard hit two at the line to trim it back down to 31-28, Jonathan Alder went on a 6-0 run capped off by a tough finish from senior Logan Stevens and claimed a 37-28 lead with 3:02 to go.
That was all she wrote tonight, as London cut the lead to as little as six with 1:25 to go but the clutch free-throw shooting of Izzard, Santa-Emma and Grant Welsch sealed the deal for Alder.
Izzard led them with 21 points, 15 of which came in the fourth, showing up when it mattered most late in the game. Santa-Emma added eight, while Stevens scored seven and senior Henry Walker added six of his own.
The Pioneers remain atop the CBC after the win as they move to 9-2 and will be back in action next week when they host Bellefontaine on Friday.
For London, Cameron led the way with 12 while Woodyard scored nine points, all coming in the second half. Hatem added eight of his own and Minner also scored six.
They fall to 8-4 after the loss and will be off until Tuesday when they host North Union in another big CBC matchup.