LEWIS CENTER, Ohio -- In an Olentangy battle, Andre Irvin Jr, Jason Foster and the Olentangy Orange defense led the Pioneers to a hard fought 77-63 win over Olentangy on Saturday. Irvin Jr. and Foster combined to score 41 total points.
Olentangy jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead that was followed up with an 11-4 run by Orange to give them an 11-8 lead early, and they never looked back after that. Foster and Irvin Jr. got going as they combined for 14 of the team’s 19 total points in the first quarter. The Braves’ Matt Kennedy came off the bench with some needed spark and added five points in the quarter.
A Kennedy bucket early, a Jack Huskey three-point shot, and three free throws late from Kennedy was all the offense Olentangy mustered the entire second quarter once the Pioneers began to crank up the defensive pressure more. Orange went into halftime with a 31-21 lead.
Kennedy paced the Braves with 10 points off the bench in the first half and Irvin finished the half with nine and a nice assist as well.
After a scoreless first half, Ethan Smith came out and buried a jumper from the volleyball line early in the third quarter to try and kick start the comeback for the Braves. Smith’s play, along with some key shots from Tavian James, Caleb Gossett and Zach Wieging cut the lead to 43-40 going into the final frame.
Olentangy got it to a 49-49 ball game but then Orange hit some free throws and after a bucket and free throw from Joel Addo, Orange extended its lead to 56-49 with around four minutes left in the game.
The Pioneers got enough stops down the stretch while knocking down enough shots in big moments to come away with the victory.
Smith led the Braves in scoring with 20 points. James and Wieging both finished with 11 total points.
Andre Irvin (5’8 PG / Olentangy Orange / 2021): The clear leader of his team, Irvin was spectacular in the victory as he showed off a little of every area of his game. He drained multiple three-point shots, including one that spun him around as it dropped in the bucket. Irvin Jr. also added three assists and showed great anticipation on his passes. His ball pressure on defense was impressive as well, getting up into ball handlers and making it difficult for the Braves to get into their offensive sets for most of the game. The 5-foot-8 guard got into the lane consistently, making things happen for himself and his teammates. Irvin Jr. scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and they were all from the free throw line, hitting clutch shot after clutch shot. Irvin has been enjoying a really solid season for Orange this year and would be a solid addition to program’s needing a hard-working two-way guard.
Jason Foster (6’5 F / Olentangy Orange/ 2021): Foster was instrumental in kick starting the offense and defense early in the game. His length in the paint made it difficult for Olentangy to score in the paint and his energy was unmatched early. Foster’s defense was great as he controlled the back end of the full court press and was using his quickness to do so. He got to the free throw line early in the game and knocked down some early ones then he ended the game with a huge rebound and putback basket that extended the lead and put things out of reach for Olentangy. In the paint, Foster showed a nice touch around the rim as he finished with style and grace. His 17 points were second on the team and the way he cleaned up the glass was impressive.
Johnny Stearns (5’9 G / Olentangy Orange / 2021): His 11 points weren’t even the most impressive part of his game. Stearns was all over the court for the entire game, wreaking havoc in the half court and hitting big shots on offense. He corralled in two steals, showing nice awareness while the ball was in the air, and got his team into transition offense and they took advantage in the open court. The ability to stay in front of his man on defense was really good, he slid his feet smoothly and made it tough on anyone he was guarding. Stearns’ red face after the game was a perfect symbol of his game, non-stop action and movement while he was on the floor.
Ethan Smith (5’9 PG / Olentangy / 2022): Despite not scoring in the first half, Smith came out of the locker room and shifted the game with his playmaking and scoring. The junior put up six points, two assists and a rebound in the third quarter to help Olentangy trim the deficit. Smith scored 14 in the fourth quarter as he tried to rally his team. He was money at the charity stripe and hit some tough shots, including a deep three. Showing good body control and the ability to get in the lane at any given moment, Smith absorbed continuous contact on his way to the rim. Smith played his heart out in a game he could have easily packed it in, displaying the heart he plays with.