PATASKALA, Ohio -- In a LCL-Buckeye matchup between last year's league champion, Watkins Memorial, and red hot Licking Heights, the Hornets came out on top 54-51 on Tuesday night.
Tonight’s uptempo game got started with a three pointer by senior Jaivon Miller. Miller is the LCL’s leading scorer on the season and he did not disappoint tonight, scoring a team-high 19 points. Despite the strong start by Miller, sophomore Trace Hartman put on a scoring display for Watkins Memorial, scoring 11 points in the first quarter. The Warriors handled the Hornets pressure early in the game, giving them an 18-12 lead after one quarter.
Licking Heights started the second quarter strong by going on a 7-0 run, led by an and-one conversion and a pair of steals by Miller. Despite the Hornets strong start to the frame, sophomore Sam Johnson gave Watkins Memorial a spark off the bench, pitching in seven points in the quarter. Watkins Memorial went into halftime with a 32-26 lead.
Hartman continued his strong showing with back to back triples to start the third quarter for Watkins Memorial to put them up 10. With 4:55 left in the third quarter, Miller exited the game with four fouls. The Hornets turned up the pressure, resulting in a 9-0 run led by a strong team effort. Watkins Memorial’s junior Caleb Wheeler halted the Hornets run with a fast break layup to end the third quarter with a 40-37 lead.
Like the entirety of tonight’s game, it was back and forth to start the fourth quarter until senior big man Dennis Gilmore-Holley got a putback layup to give Licking Heights their first lead since 5-4. Senior Caleb Bodin was very active for the Warriors down the stretch, tying the game at 48 with 1:38 left in the game.
Clutch free throw shooting by Miller, going 6-for-6 in the final frame was the difference maker for Licking Heights. This win secures the Hornets sole possession of first place in the LCL-Buckeye with a 6-1 league record, as well as an eight game winning streak.
Miller filled up the stat sheet tonight for Licking Heights with a team high 19 points, nine rebounds and four steals. Senior Lionell Moses Jr. pitched in eight points, whereas juniors Dante Collier, Yara Conde, and senior Sean Harper Jr. added six points.
Hartman had a stellar showing tonight, dropping a double-double for Watkins Memorial by contributing 19 points and 12 rebounds. Bodin tallied 10 points and a game high six assists, whereas Wheeler added nine points.
Both teams are back in action against LCL opponents this week, when the Hornets (8-4) face Northridge (5-5) next Tuesday, and the Warriors (4-6) take on Zanesville (2-6) this Friday.
Jaivon Miller (6’1 PG / Licking Heights / 2021): The LCL‘s scoring leader continued his strong season by leading the Hornets with a game high 19 points. Miller is a creative scorer, getting his points in a variety of different ways. He has good range, hitting one three tonight, but is most impressive when getting to the rim. Miller is a big guard with great instincts on the defensive end of the floor. The senior is on the front of the Hornets relentless pressure, creating multiple deflections and steals.
Trace Hartman (6’2 WF / Watkins Memorial / 2023): The sophomore wing was impressive tonight against one of the better teams in the LCL. He was very active on both ends of the floor, showing a nice all around game for a young player. Most of his damage early on came in the paint where he played much bigger than his listed height. Hartman showed that he could rebound with the bigs tonight, where he seemed to out work his opponent to a game high 12 rebounds. Hartman showed perimeter skills as well, helping handle the ball against pressure and dropping three triples on the night to a team high 19 points.