COLUMBUS, Ohio -- You don't have to be in the starting lineup to be the best guy on the floor.
Coming off the bench and dropping 26 points on Wednesday night, Walnut Ridge senior wing Tae'Von Bush led the Scots to a 60-49 league win over Independence.
While both teams struggled to get things going early on offensively, a score inside from Aamir Carter with 4:30 left in the first gave Walnut Ridge their first field goal of the game and seemed to put them in a groove on that end of the floor.
Increasing their lead to as much as 20-4 late in the frame after a mid-range jumper from Leon Douglas, the Scots caught fire for the entire second half of the frame and took a 20-6 lead into the second.
Independence did not back down, however, cutting the Walnut Ridge lead to as little as six points in the second after a lay-in finish off a lob from Ibrahima Dia made it 30-24 with two minutes left in the half.
However, a couple of scores inside from freshman Na'Varion Adams helped the Scots push the lead back to double digits as they headed into the locker room ahead 36-25 at the break.
Despite Independence finding a little bit more of a rhythm in the second half offensively, they simply fell too far behind in the first half to mount a comeback.
Answering nearly every Sixer bucket, Bush, Zion Blevins and company propelled the Scots to this win late.
Outside of 26 points from Bush, Walnut Ridge also received 10 from Adams, nine from Blevins and eight from Douglas.
They move to 4-2 following the win and will travel to Marion-Franklin on Friday.
For Independence, Keshawn Harris led the way with 10 and Dia scored eight.
They now shift their focus to a road showdown on Friday at West.
Tae'Von Bush (6'4 WG / Walnut Ridge / 2021): Turning in a fantastic performance on Wednesday, Bush came off the bench and propelled Walnut Ridge to this win with 26 points. Scoring from all three levels with efficiency, the senior nailed a triple, hit a couple of mid-range jumpers off the bounce, finished through contact and put a soft touch floater on display twice as well. Bush has good positional size and length on the wing at 6-foot-4, plays with a good pace and makes good decisions. We like how he allows the game to come to him as even when he was missing shots on Wednesday they were not forced, but rather good looks. The senior also made the most of his looks at the free throw line, going seven-for-eight from the stripe including a few big ones late. Defensively, Bush has the foot speed to defend on the perimeter and the length to disrupt ball handlers in trapping situations as he did against Independence. After transferring to Walnut Ridge this season from West, Bush is a prospect to keep an eye on in the City League as he seems to have found the right fit on Livingston Avenue.
Na'Varion Adams (6'5 WF / Walnut Ridge / 2024): In one of our first viewings ever of Adams on Wednesday, we came away impressed with the Walnut Ridge freshman. Adams pairs a great combination of size and athleticism with a motor that allows him to get the dirty work done inside. The freshman cleaned up the glass on Tuesday and also had a couple of tough finishes through contact inside on his way to 10 points. Adams also has the tools to be an elite defender on the defensive end as he is both quick and strong and when paired with his length, that allows him to really disrupt things in an up-tempo setting. While we did not really get a chance to see him handle the ball or shoot it against Independence, we really like the game of young Walnut Ridge stock riser as he has a chance to be a stud on both the basketball court and on the gridiron in years to come.
Leon Douglas (6'3 WG / Walnut Ridge / 2021): Turning in a solid all-around showing on Wednesday, Douglas made an impact on both ends for Walnut Ridge. Offensively he showed off his ability to score from all three levels as he hit a triple, a mid-range off the dribble and finished off a tough euro in transition. He also showed improvement as a passer with a few nice dump offs during the contest. We were really impressed with Douglas defensively, however, as the senior does a great job on the perimeter on that end and is lengthy enough to force some problems in full court pressure situations. After playing a key role on last year's district champion team, Douglas is now a leader for Walnut Ridge and seems to be comfortable in that role. Small school programs in the region should be all over Douglas as he is an excellent 3&D prospect who will only continue to improve.