COLUMBUS, Ohio -- We caught a Saturday double header on the east side of town at Whitehall and Reynoldsburg - and no it was not an All-Ohio AAU event.
In the opener, No. 2 Whitehall (11-9) hosted No. 7 Grandview Heights (4-8) in the first round of the inaugural MSL-Ohio tournament. The Rams took an early run from the underdog Bobcats before senior guard Teddy Brown fueled a massive 21-2 run in the middle quarters to blow the game open.
Brown's 20 first half points were the difference as Whitehall cruised to a 58-44 win to advance to the conference semifinals. Brown finished with 24 and was the most consistent player on the floor for the entire game.
The Rams will host No. 3 Bexley on Tuesday. If Whitehall wins, they will take on the winner of No. 1 Worthington Christian and No. 5 Buckeye Valley on Friday for the conference title.
Making the 20 minute drive east down Main Street, we caught a non-conference battle between Reynoldsburg and unbeaten Jonathan Alder. Despite leading for the entirety of the game, Alder (16-0) nearly saw its perfect streak snapped in a 57-55 nail biter of a win over the Raiders (9-5).
The Pioneers showed exactly why they've mowed down all 16 opponents this season when they came out swinging in the first half. Relying on sharp three-point shooting, crisp ball movement, excellent team defense and high-level play from senior Jackson Izzard, the Pioneers outscored Reynoldsburg 19-9 in the second quarter to take a 31-17 lead into halftime.
In the third quarter, it was much of the same as Alder stretched its lead to as high as 18 points when they took a 39-21 lead late in the third quarter.
It was here where Reynoldsburg began to make its run, first with an 8-2 spree to end the third that cut the deficit to 12 points at 41-29 going into the final frame.
In the fourth quarter, Josiah Mobley came alive for Reynoldsburg, scoring 15 points in the period to cut the deficit to two points in the final 10 seconds. Mobley got a good look to possibly win the game, however, his game-winning attempt just missed right, allowing Alder to escape with a 57-55 victory.
Izzard led all Pioneers scorers with 19 points and a handful of assists. Playing most of the second half with three fouls and most of the fourth with four, Izzard managed to keep himself from fouling out, which was critical since Alder was without starting guard Grant Welsch.
Junior forward Joey Walker added 13 important points while freshman guard Peyton Heiss stepped in to run the point and hit three big triples in the second quarter to finish with 10 points.
Mobley's 23 points were a game high, 15 of which coming in the fourth quarter alone. The senior knocked down a barrage of jumpers, showing off his scoring capabilities. Fellow senior Zaveon Croff added 19 points for Reynoldsburg, as he and Mobley provided the bulk of the scoring for the Raiders.
Jackson Izzard (6'3 WG / Jonathan Alder / 2021): Something tells us that Izzard will not be denied this season. After falling short of a district title in back-to-back seasons in heartbreaking losses to Bishop Hartley and DeSales, Izzard and Jonathan Alder are hungry to finally notch the program's first district championship since 1979. The 6-foot-3 guard is a physical freak show that plays a tough two-way game. Izzard scored it efficiently on Saturday, getting to the rim and finishing through contact while showing off a really smooth pull up game in the mid-range. When he wasn't scoring, Izzard was dropping dimes all game long, as he can really pass it and is as vital to this Alder team as any player anywhere in the area. Izzard has been putting up major scoring numbers all year, however , that should not discount the ability that he has to create offense with his passing and ball handling, as he is one of the most well rounded players in the area. While he has several FCS football offers as a wide receiver, Izzard wants to play college basketball and should be a target of Division II and NAIA programs with scholarships looking for bigger wing guards that will be ready to compete physically from day one.
Teddy Brown (6'0 PG / Whitehall / 2021): Brown is an absolute warrior. The 6-foot senior plays with insane toughness and competitiveness, as he sets the tone for this Rams team. While classmates Royal Sibley and Kievon Wiggins get most of the headlines for the Rams, Brown is just as important as anyone on the team as they would not have won on Saturday without him. Going for 20 points in the first half alone, Brown fueled an 8-0 run by himself toward the end of the first and then went on a 10-0 self spree in the second quarter after Grandview Heights took a momentary four-point lead. Brown can hit three point jumpers with consistency, something that he's really improved on over the last year, but is also a creative finisher who can get to the rim with great quickness and speed. Defensively, Brown applies great pressure on the ball and is a major point of attack disruptor. With a high GPA, Brown should be a high priority for small college programs looking for gritty guards who can score and defend.
Josiah Mobley (6'1 G / Reynoldsburg / 2021): Mobley is a microwave scorer. The 6-foot-1 senior got hot in a hurry on Saturday, having one of the highest scoring quarters that we've seen all year. Going for 15 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter alone, Mobley nearly did enough to power Reynoldsburg to a massive win over one of the state's top Division II programs. The 6-foot-1 senior is a dead-eye shooter that can knock down jumpers off movement, off the bounce and in catch and shoot scenarios. Mobley can play both on and off the ball, as he began his high school career running the point for Reynoldsburg but has been shifted off the ball the last two seasons due to his outside shooting ability. When Mobley is picking his spots and dialed in, he can really score it at a high level, however, he's also a smart decision maker that doesn't make a lot of mistakes. Small college programs should give Mobley a look, as he is one of the hardest working players in the area and will only continue to elevate his game over the next few years.
Ian Roediger (6'4 PF / Grandview Heights / 2023): Watching Grandview Heights without a duo of Brian Collier and Luke Lachey for the first time since 2016, it was nice to take a look at the next generation of the Bobcats program. The 6-foot-4 sophomore Roediger is one of those important players in the youth movement for Grandview, as he had a very efficient performance in the loss to Whitehall. The sophomore is a strong interior finisher that was able to go up through Whitehall's physical and athletic front line. Coming off the bench and showing no fear, Roediger provided the Bobcats with consistent offense on a day where that was tough to find for large stretches. Look for Roediger and the Bobcats to have a chance to repeat as Division IV district champions as Grandview's potential run to the state tournament was halted by COVID-19 last March.
Peyton Heiss (5'10 PG / Jonathan Alder / 2024): With Jonathan Alder's starting point guard out on Saturday, Heiss was forced to step into the most important role on the floor against a physical and scrappy Reynoldsburg backcourt. Judging by Jonathan Alder's 57-55 win, we'll say that Heiss passed that test, as he played a gutsy game and helped make winning plays when they mattered most. Handling the bulk of Alder's ball handling duties, Heiss showed the ability to handle pressure and get the offense into motion. We like how composed Heiss is as a freshman already, as he knows how to make plays for others and is a deadly three-point shooter that shows no hesitation in pulling up. The Pioneers have had great point guard play the last few years and Heiss seems to be next in line, as he certainly earned his stripes on Saturday in helping Alder win a tough game on the road.
Jaiion Lowe (6'8 C / Whitehall / 2021): Lowe has improved as a post prospect drastically over the last two years, as he is a legitimate college post prospect that has intriguing upside. At 6-foot-8, Lowe is one of the biggest players anywhere in the area and has gotten into better shape which has allowed him to remain on the floor in Whitehall's up-tempo system. Lowe has become a better finisher around the basket, has the capability to step out and knock down mid-range jumpers and is a big-time rim protector that blocked and altered a ton of shots on Saturday. While he's going to need a patient coaching staff that will continue to develop his game, Lowe has size and athleticism that is just hard to find in large quantity.
Zaveon Croff (6'2 WF / Reynoldsburg / 2021): One of the hardest-playing seniors in the area, Croff has continued to improve his game and that was evident on Saturday in his 19 point showing. The senior has added some perimeter skills to go along with his toughness around the basket, as he knocked down two threes and showed to have a more serviceable handle. Croff attacks the glass hard, can defend guards, wings and bigs and has become a reliable scorer as a senior. For small college programs looking for motor and toughness, Croff would be a great look.