DELAWARE, Ohio -- The vibe around Olentangy Berlin basketball is different this year. Coming into the 2020-21 season, the Bears had seven wins in its two seasons of existence.
After Monday's 3 p.m. matinee matchup against Delaware Hayes, Berlin now has five wins in the current season alone, along with its first-ever OCC win in program history after taking down the Pacers, 43-42.
The Bears took another huge step in the right direction as a program when sophomore Jason Inbody scored a tough inside bucket on a brilliant sidelines out of bounds play with just a few seconds remaining. With the buzzer sounding before Delaware was able to inbound the ball, Berlin notched its first-ever win against an OCC opponent and improved to 5-3 on the year.
Inbody led the Bears with 21 points, providing Berlin with a huge presence on the interior. Senior guard Austin Corley added 15 huge points, as the duo combined for 12 points alone in the fourth quarter. Inbody and Corley carried the offensive load as leading scorer and freshman Derek Goodman was limited to three points.
While Berlin started off 4-0 on the season before most of the OCC returned to play, the Bears dropped three-straight over the last 12 days. However, Berlin competed at a level that they hadn't in years prior, losing games to Newark and Dublin Jerome by a combined seven points.
Monday's victory might just do something for the Bears going forward, as they're quickly learning how to win and now have a huge notch on their belt with their first OCC win in 35 tries.
For Delaware Hayes, freshman guard Jesse Burris had an impressive showing with 22 points, powering the Pacers offensively. The 6-foot-2 freshman hit an array of tough shots and knocked down a three before the buzzer in the third quarter which put Delaware up 33-28.
Senior guard Ryan Smudz added nine points, while senior Jack Rodgers contributed six points and a handful of tough hustle plays.
Two teams led by young, talented players, Olentangy Berlin and Delaware Hayes will be tough for years to come. Monday's thriller was just another step in that process as star underclassmen rose to the occasion with the game on the line.
Jason Inbody (6'4 PF / Olentangy Berlin / 2023): Inbody is a throwback post who bangs inside and provides Berlin with great toughness on the interior. The sophomore went to work early and often on Monday, going for a team-high 21 points and finishing through contact at will. Inbody is a tough forward that can really defend the rim, as he was the source of a handful of blocked and altered attempts from Hayes at the basket. A strong, physical sophomore, Inbody has really improved since last season and could help lead Berlin to new heights with the talent in the backcourt.
Jesse Burris (6'2 WG / Delaware Hayes / 2024): Burris has a chance to be really, really good. The 6-foot-2 guard is a deadeye shooter who was the best player in the gym on Monday. Knocking down five threes, both off the dribble and off movement, Burris showed off a pure shooting stroke that will translate to the next level, despite him only being a freshman. Handling a large bulk of ball handling and creation duties for Hayes, Burris did a great job of decision making and shot creating on Monday. The 6-foot-2 freshman has a tight handle that helps him change speed and pace, Burris kept defenders off balance and got to his spots whenever he wanted. Scoring 22 of the Pacers' 42 points, Burris handles a major load for only being a freshman, but looks more than capable of filling that role, as he played with supreme confidence and assurance on Monday. His older brother Paul Burris is a 6-foot-6 freshman forward at Ashland and helped lead Hayes to a district final appearance just this past season. With that in mind, Jesse Burris has big upside and could end up being the next scholarship basketball player in the family.
Austin Corley (5'11 PG / Olentangy Berlin / 2021): Corley is an athletic lead guard that provides Berlin with scoring off the bounce. The 5-foot-11 senior stepped up in a big way in the fourth quarter, going for eight points on three big buckets attacking the rim. The top lead guard in the Berlin program since his sophomore season, Corley has improved every year and helped lead the Bears to their biggest win yet with clutch plays in the fourth quarter on Monday.
Ryan Smudz (5'9 PG / Delaware Hayes / 2021): Tough, gritty guard that made plays on both ends of the floor all night. Smudz is a shifty, explosive guard that can get to the rim despite not being the biggest player on the floor. When Delaware needed offense in the fourth quarter, Smudz delivered, scoring or assisting on their final five points of the game. Defensively, Smudz is a physical perimeter defender who takes pride on that end of the floor. If you're a Division III program looking for a hard-nosed guard who will give it his all, give Smudz a look.
Derek Goodman (6'2 WG / Olentangy Berlin / 2024): While Goodman only had three points, we were really impressed with his toughness and composure throughout the game. Matching up with Burris, Goodman did an outstanding job on the defensive end of the floor in the fourth quarter, denying the fellow star freshman and limited what he could do offensively. Goodman's defensive pressure and IQ on and off the ball contributed greatly to the win, while the threat of his three-point shooting opened up the floor for Inbody to score on the interior. The 6-foot-2 guard is a dead-eye shooter who can fill it up both off the bounce and off movement, as he has added a huge amount of confidence to this Berlin team. Goodman is a quality ball handler that relieves pressure off Corley and can really get the Bears going when his outside jumper is falling. Keep an eye on Goodman for years to come, as he will have a chance to score 1,000 points before his senior year.