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5 Keys: Newark handles Reynoldsburg with ease

By Greg Glasser, 12/09/22, 10:30PM EST

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Wildcats keep it simple and win with defense in 45-30 win

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio -- In an early season OCC-Buckeye duel, Newark delivered a defensive-focused effort in a 45-30 win over Reynoldsburg.

The Wildcats hopped out to a 13-3 lead on a trio of three-point attempts to start the first quarter and took charge in a game that never felt out of their control.  

Junior guard Ethan Stare led all scorers with 13 points, 11 of which came in the second half. Sophomore guard Braylon Morris had an excellent game shooting the ball, as he connected on three triples and finished with nine points and led the Wildcats with four rebounds. 

Senior Grant Burkholder played the role of floor general well and led the team with three assists, along with eight points. Junior Steele Meister added eight points of his own.

For most of the game, Reynoldsburg played hard and with an effort that would have indicated a closer outcome. However, after the Raiders made two three-point attempts in the first quarter, Reynoldsburg missed nearly every shot from outside the paint for the remainder of the evening.

Sophomores Toby Nwokolo and Jordan Fisher were co-lead scorers with six a piece. The Raiders had nine players score, but only senior Joe Spann had more than one made field goal, as he had four points. 

The Raiders (2-3, 1-1) will look to get back on track when they visit Lancaster next Friday. 

Newark (5-1, 1-1) has now won three straight and will attempt to extend their streak against Central Crossing next Friday.

Let's now take a look at the 5 Keys to the Game

1. Count On Newark: There's only a handful of area programs that you can count on to make a run in March. Despite having a rare early exit last season in the district semifinals, the Wildcats should once again be a contender to win their first district title since 2019. As expected, coach Jeff Quackenbush has a team that excels in long-range shooting, strong defense and that makes minimal mistakes. While they may struggle against a team that has top-end talent and greater size, such as Pickerington Central, the Wildcats should make for a tough opponent against most area programs. 

2. Shots Matter: There's dozens of ways to analyze a basketball game, but at the end of the day, a team needs to make shots. There's no gentle way to put it; Reynoldsburg was dreadful shooting the ball. Credit the Wildcats defense as they contested most attempts and disrupted the Raiders from running an efficient offense. But Reynoldsburg was never able to get in rhythm and struggled to get over the 20 point mark until late in the fourth quarter. 

3. Stop and Stare: By now, most fans should be familiar with senior guard Grant Burkholder. It's now time to get familiar with junior guard Ethan Stare, who led all scorers with 13 points. Stare got most of his production off the dribble, as he finished well on both sides of the hoop and went a perfect five-for-five at the charity stripe.  The 6'1 guard has increased his build and put forth a physical effort that we'll highlight more in the upcoming Prospect Scouting Report.

4. Don't Count out the Raiders: It was not a pretty night for Reynoldsburg, but had the Raiders connected on even a third of their midrange and outside attempts, this could have been a more competitive game.  Yet despite having a handful of players from last season's district runner-up team, the Raiders still seemed to lack the necessary experience and efficiency to match Newark. That said, Reynoldsburg played hard and showed potential at various moments. With a relatively young roster, I'd expect the Raiders to look the part of a better team in a couple months. 

5. The Potential: The bulk of Reynoldsburg's playmaking appears to be in the hands of underclassmen. Sophomore Toby Nwokolo was the Raiders best player Friday and although he only scored one field goal, he was active on both ends and is developing into an intriguing athlete with his 6'5 frame. Jordan Bowens, a 6'6 freshman forward, on a couple occasions outmanned the Wildcats on the boards and has the look of a high quality prospect for the 2026 class. Although Jordan Fisher had trouble asserting himself on Friday, he along with Nwokolo and Bowens display promising talent. As the season progresses, they should only grow more comfortable, confident and effective on a nightly basis. 

MVP: Ethan Stare (Newark junior guard)

Hustle Player of the Game: Grant Burkholder (Newark senior guard)

Top Scorer: Ethan Stare (13 points)

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