COLUMBUS, Ohio - - It was championship time at Ohio Dominican University as the Central Ohio High School Fall League, powered by Nova Village, had its final matchups of the fall and determined its champion on Sunday afternoon. Plenty of these young men have gotten better over the past month and with the high school basketball season on the horizon, this was an excellent opportunity to get seen by college coaches and get better. The teams were separated into Class A, B, and C, with C being the more inexperienced, B being players with varsity experience and class A being mostly seniors and more experienced players. What team rose above the rest and captured a Fall League championship? Check out what happened on Sunday and some players that helped impact their teams below:
In the opening match-ups of the afternoon, Caleb O’Neil (Bishop Hartley), Thomas Campana (Big Walnut) and Drew Roland (Northland) of the Hawks survived a furious rally from the Bulls that was being led by Tyler Kerner. The lead was in double-digits for the Bulls before Kerner turned it up a notch and Caden Shearn finally gave them a one-point lead. The Hawks answered with a score and ended up winning the game 37-34 to advance to the next round. On the other court there was another thrilling close as the Jazz and Warriors played an even game throughout. The athleticism of Jazz players Christian King (Bishop Hartley) and Jamarcus Jones (Harvest Prep) combined with the post presence of Brandon Bell (Westerville North) gave their team enough to overcome the Warriors by a score of 39-35.
The next slate of games featured four teams that flat out got after each other on the court, with a little bit of trash talking and physicality galore. The pace quickened as both teams were loose and in rhythm early which led to plenty of exciting action including a self-thrown alley-oop and Noah Gamble (Olentangy Berlin) also catching one himself. Preston Steele (Africentric) and his maniacal ways on the inside, Derek Goodman (Olentangy Berlin) and Brandon Ivery helped their Cavalier team stretch the lead late and win by a commanding score of 51-36. While that game was coming to a close, the Laker-Heat match went into overtime. Braxton Baker (Colonel Crawford) tied the game at 47 to send it into overtime then had the game-winning putback layup as time expired to give his Heat team a one-point victory.
Once the third set of games rolled around, the intensity in the gym was through the Ohio Dominican ceiling. In a rematch of a week 1 trounching, the Bucks looked to get revenge on the Mavs while the scrappy Pistons took on the highly athletic Timberwolves team that knocked off the defending champs last Sunday. Both games were packed with exciting play, big time shots and energy on the defensive end.
The revenge that was sought after was gotten as the Bucks took down the Mavs behind the spectacular play and shooting of Devin Martin (Westerville Central) who continuously drained triples on his team’s way to a three-point victory, 41-38. The Pistons pulled away late from the Timberwolves squad, with top tier performances from Grant Burkholder (Newark) and Davion Bridges (Northland) to advance onto the Grade A championship game.
In the Class C championship, some of the youngest players in the building fought hard. 30-29 was the final score as the Hawks outlasted the Jazz on a missed triple at the buzzer.
The Jazz included a mix of talent, starting with Jack Lamb (Big Walnut), Thomas Campana (Big Walnut), Philip Jemison (Bexley), Jackson Moxley (Bishop Hartley), Jordan Hudson (St. Charles), Logan Tharp (St. Charles), Braylon Lopez (Olentangy Berlin), Malachi McDonald (Bishop Hartley) and Caleb O’Neil (Bishop Hartley).
The Class B championship game was cut short early because of the domination of the Cavs team. The best team in their class the entire fall, they capped it off with a Fall League title. This team played together and made life tough for their opposition. Noah Gamble (Olentangy Berlin) was as efficient as it got, not taking many shots but making the majority of the ones he took. Derek Goodman (Olentangy Berlin) controlled the pace and Brandon Ivery displayed some amazing athleticism.
The Cavs featured a mix of juniors, Derek Goodman, Noah Gamble, Isaiah Brown (Westerville Central), Ray Walker (Franklin Heights), Micah Germany (Bishop Ready), along with senior Preston Steele (Africentric) and Brandon Ivery.
Finally, in the Class A championship game, Devin Martin started out continuing his hot shooting by draining three’s and getting his Bucks team off to a steaming start. The Bucks got out to a double-digit lead, but it evaporated over the course of the game and once the Elam Ending began, the Bucks were down 50-45. Once the official time stopped, the Pistons went on a tear and finished the game off at the free throw line, winning by a score of 58-45.
The senior laden team of Grant Burkholder (Newark), Davion Bridges (Northland), Carter Reese (Westerville North), Evan Adair (Liberty Christian), Charlie Heywood (Columbus Academy) and junior Na’Varion Adams (Westerville North - added as a substitute to give depth) took home the Central Ohio Fall League championship for Class A.
Carter Reese (Westerville North) stood out during the course of the ballgame, being in attack mode in the entire game and impacting the game on both ends of the court. Reese was aggressive, constantly lowering his shoulder and getting to the rim where he was able to finish in traffic. The senior stretched the defense as well by knocking down jump shots to get his team back into the game and even hit the three that tied the game at 31 after his team was down double-digits. Reese was also the one who swished the final, game-ending free throw, shutting down the gym and giving his team the Fall League championship.