GAHANNA, Ohio -- Despite missing star forward Bella Ward and being hampered by a slow start, Gahanna was able to outlast Westerville North 46-36 on Wednesday night on the heels of a 13-2 fourth quarter.
After a back and forth first quarter, freshman Malaya Collins pulled up from deep to drain a three just before the first quarter buzzer sounded, giving the Warriors a 15-11 lead after one.
Halfway through the second quarter, North boasted a 28-19 lead but sophomore Kyla Jordan made sure the buck stopped there. She rattled off six straight points to pull the Lions within three. Although it felt as if the second quarter was dominated by the Lions, Westerville North went into halftime with a 28-25 lead.
Kayla Curry-Brown and E’Moni Finch helped North stretch their lead to seven to open the second half before the Lions started to take over. Gahanna managed to reduce the Warriors lead to just one thanks to buckets by Clarke Jackson and Laila Marshall. Headed into the fourth, Westerville North was led 34-33
Westerville North’s zone defense proved to be a challenge for the Lions until they managed to take the lead. Once they had the lead, Lincoln elected to stall, forcing North out of the zone. The Lions outscored the Warriors 13-2 in the decisive fourth quarter. Jackson scored six in the quarter, including a three late to seal the game.
In the victory, the Lions were led by Jackson with 19 and Marshall with 10. Westerville North was paced by Curry-Brown and Collins with 13 each.
Clarke Jackson (G / Gahanna Lincoln / 2023): Jackson was by far the most consistent player on the court Wednesday. She is a poised ball handler, tenacious defender and can score in a variety of ways. Her first step is hard to defend and she’s a great offensive rebounder. Jackson pushes the tempo and loves to play fast. A great next-level prospect.
Malaya Collins (5’8 G / Westerville North / 2025): Not only was Collins the best freshman on the floor, she was one of the best overall players. She has a next play mentality and doesn’t hang onto mistakes. She has a NASTY crossover and a high motor. She scores at all three levels, has a beautiful mid range jumper and she hit a deep three to end the first quarter. It’s hard to believe she’s only a freshman… watch out for this young star.
Laila Marshall (G / Gahanna Lincoln / 2023): With Bella Ward on the bench, Marshall had to play a flex position. She was a monster on the offensive boards and made a major impact inside. The junior struggled from the line but found her groove towards the end of the game. She commands a tremendous amount of attention when she has the ball and makes great decisions. She is the clear leader of the Lions right now.