UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio -- In the OCC-Central, every single game is a challenge. For Olentangy Orange, the Pioneers are using the difficulty of the league slate to put together an impressive late regular season run.
Senior forward Jason Foster dominated with 22 points to power Olentangy Orange (10-7, 3-4) to a big 61-39 win over Upper Arlington (6-7, 1-6) on the road on Friday.
From the opening tip, Olentangy Orange came out with terrific energy and toughness as a three from senior Andre Irvin gave the Pioneers a 3-0 lead, one they would not give up for the entire game.
Jumping out to a 13-4 lead fueled with three-point jumpers and tough defense, the Pioneers went into the second quarter leading 16-8 after a late run by Upper Arlington.
In the second quarter, Olentangy Orange began to open the game up as a three from sophomore Elias Lewis extended the Pioneers lead to 31-19 at the break.
The second half was all Jason Foster, as the 6-foot-5 senior scored all 11 Olentangy Orange points, dominating Upper Arlington around the basket. The Golden Bears had nobody to check the physical forward, as Foster had his way with strong post ups and interior finishes.
Foster's dominant quarter helped Olentangy Orange push its lead to 42-26 after three, as Upper Arlington got no closer than that the rest of the way with the Pioneers cruising to a 22-point victory.
For Olentangy Orange, Foster led all scorers with 22 points. The senior forward was a physical mismatch around the basket, as Upper Arlington had nobody near his physicality to contend with him.
With tomorrow's seed deadline for the district tournament looming, Olentangy Orange has done themselves many favors as of late, winning six of their last seven games including big league wins over Dublin Coffman and Upper Arlington.
For Upper Arlington, the Golden Bears have really struggled in league play and have yet to win two games in a row all season.
Jason Foster (6'5 PF / Olentangy Orange / 2021): Friday was one of Foster's better showings in the last few years, as he was extremely efficient attacking the basket and showed great strength and toughness finishing. Not even attempting a jumper in the game, Foster went to what worked time after time, as his interior scoring ability was the difference in the game, as he either scored, got his own rebound or was fouled each time he made his way to the left block. Foster is a really good rebound who cleans up the defensive glass, as he helped the Pioneers turn most of Upper Arlington's offensive trips into one and done possessions. The 6-foot-5 forward has a reliable handle, is a capable outside shooter but is best served as an undersized big man who uses his chiseled frame to finish through lesser developed defenders. Foster impacts winning, as he brings it on both ends of the floor and doesn't try to play too pretty, as he sticks to what works which was the key in Friday's game.
Andre Irvin Jr. (5'9 PG / Olentangy Orange / 2021): Irvin comes out and competes hard every single night, as he had a strong game on both ends of the floor on Friday. Irvin has a shifty handle and a bag of tricks with the ball in his hands. The 5-foot-9 senior is a tough customer on the defensive perimeter, as he defends the ball at a high level and is a really good rebounder for his size. Irvin is a consistent three-point shooter, as he can knock them down both off the bounce and off movement. As an initiator, Irvin can get places off the dribble, has good vision as a passer and has really cut down on mistakes over the last few years. When Irvin is in attack mode and dialed in, he is a very good hybrid guard that can score, facilitate and initiate at any time. The senior guard has invested a ton of time into his game and has been one of the most productive guards in his class over four years.
Drew Graves (6'2 WG / Upper Arlington / 2022): On an Upper Arlington team that is quite literally all juniors, Graves doesn't get as much publicity as classmates Quinn Corna and Nick Heath. However, in our three viewings of the Golden Bears this year, we've grown more and more impressed with Graves. The 6-foot-2 junior is very efficient and one of the best finishers on the team. He had the most consistent game of anyone on the roster on Friday, scoring it at will around the basket when opportunities were created for him. While this has been a tough season for the Golden Bears, look for Graves and the rest of this junior class to come out with more consistency and success next year as seniors.
Elias Lewis (6'3 G / Olentangy Orange / 2023): The 6-foot-3 sophomore is one of the most talented guards in his class, as he is a pure combo guard that can do a bit of everything on the defensive end. Lewis is a special scorer with tons of natural ability, as he was a huge threat to bury jumpers off movement tonight with his quick release and great elevation on his jumper. Lewis is a very good ball handler, slasher and passer, as he can do a lot more as an initiator than what you may see for Orange, as Irvin handles most of the point guard duties. Look for Lewis to break out over the next two years as he is a high-level competitor that brings it every single time we watch him.