COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With conference realignment taking place before the season, perhaps a change in division with new opponents would halt Hilliard Bradley’s dominating OCC play.
If Wednesday night’s game against Olentangy Orange was any indication, don’t hold your breath, as the Jaguars defeated the Pioneers 66-50 in an OCC-Central clash.
After a slow start that saw an uncharacteristically high amount of Bradley turnovers and a hot-shooting Orange team, the Jaguars found themselves in an early hole, trailing the Pioneers midway through the second quarter. The Jaguars then went on an 11-3 run to finish the half with a four point lead and never looked back.
Bradley benefited from balanced scoring production with senior AJ Mirgon leading with 17 points. Freshman Cade Norris was right behind at 16, while older brother Keaton Norris pitched in 15 points.
After the Jaguars settled down with the turnovers, it was another trademark win for Bradley who once again dictated the game flow. Bradley’s defense was disciplined and allowed for minimal easy Orange baskets. Not only did the Jaguars hold the Pioneers to 21 points in the second half, but they did so by barely committing fouls.
Bradley had only five fouls the entire game and just one in the second half. The Pioneers didn’t reach the free throw line all night. Meanwhile, Bradley was excellent getting to the stripe, making 13 of their 17 attempts.
In addition to their top scorers, Bradley’s junior Peyton Murphy had one of his best games of the season. He led all Jaguars rebounders with eight and also dished off two beautiful assists to freshman Jeb Bischoff, who had seven of his nine points in the second quarter.
The Orange were led by junior Aidan King with 16 points followed by senior point guard Andre Irvin’s 11 points and three assists.
The Pioneers took advantage of the early first half Bradley turnovers with great shooting from deep. Orange made five three-pointers from four different players in the first half, but connected only once in the second.
While Orange received some additional production from players such as junior Joel Addo (seven points) and senior John Stearns (six), the Pioneers could have used the services of senior forward Jason Foster who did not dress tonight.
This marks two straight losses for Olentangy Orange (3-3), after losing to Westerville Central New Year’s Eve. The Pioneers schedule does not get any easier as they travel to undefeated Dublin Coffman next Tuesday.
Bradley’s (7-0) next opponent is an intriguing non-conference matchup as they host DeSales this Saturday.
Yet when it comes to the OCC, it looks like the Central division will have to go through the Jaguars.
While senior Keaton Norris was undoubtedly one of the evening’s best performers with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists, we wrote about the Wright State commit earlier this week. Check out that report here.
Below, we’ll highlight prospects that college scouts of all levels should keep an eye on.
AJ Mirgon (5’11 PG / Hilliard Bradley / 2021): He’s not flashy, he’s not the biggest guard, but you can almost always guarantee AJ Mirgon will put forth a winning effort. The experienced senior was tremendously efficient tonight. He led all scorers with 17 points, while also adding four rebounds, two assists and two steals. He rarely makes mistakes, which is also evident on the football field as Mirgon was selected 2nd Team All-Ohio quarterback. Coming off a recent offer in football from Valparaiso, Mirgon is a gifted two-sport athlete that has the ability to play at the next level in whatever sport he choses.
Cade Norris (6’2 WG / Hilliard Bradley / 2024): Once again, we were really impressed with the performance from the freshman Norris tonight. The six-foot-two wing that mostly plays in the post does a tremendous job of frustrating defenses and getting to the foul line. For the second straight game we’ve covered him, Norris went 8-of-10 from the stripe. Despite giving up several inches to Orange’s forwards, Norris added eight more points in the paint and brought in six rebounds. It’s hard to believe that a player so young can be such a contributor for a well-run and disciplined team like Bradley. Cade not only contributes, he is a significant difference maker.
Andre Irvin (5’9 PG / Olentangy Orange / 2021): Irvin played the most well-rounded game for the Pioneers. Despite being just five-foot-nine, Irvin did a little bit of everything. He scored from range, he made lay-ups, he forced turnovers and led his team in assists. Irvin was mostly responsible for disrupting the Bradley offense in the first half. The senior who has had multiple years of varsity experience was the clear leader for Orange tonight and will continue to assume that role for the duration of the season.
Jeb Bischoff (5’10 PG / Hilliard Bradley / 2024): It is difficult to earn minutes in Coach Brett Norris’ system, so it says a lot that the freshman guard has already earned a starting position. Bischoff is a mature player for his age and possesses a really smooth shooting stroke that we saw once again tonight. He has the ability to get hot, as he scored seven quick points in the third quarter. While a bit undersized compared to his fellow varsity counterparts, Bischoff is next in line of talented scorers in the Hilliard Bradley system. As he continues to grow and improve his overall game, Bischoff should be one of the top guards in his class.
Aidan King (6’6 WF / Olentangy Orange / 2022): King had a breakout game this evening, leading Orange in scoring with 16 points. On a night that Olentangy really needed baskets, King was consistent all game. Knocking down a couple three-pointers and showing off a nice mid-range game, King appeared a natural scorer tonight. With a nice six-foot-six frame, King runs the floor and moves well for his size. We’d like to see him get a little more aggressive on the boards, but if King can build on Wednesday’s performance, he can be a solid contributor for Orange this season.