COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Another basketball heavy weekend is behind us, as we move into the second half of January. Let's take a look at the latest power rankings in Division I.
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1. Pickerington Central (10-5)
Last Week: No. 2 | 60 strength of record points | L vs. Cathedral, vs. #8 Newark (8), vs. #1 (D3) Africentric (9)
Very rarely do we have a five-loss No. 1 team this late in the season, however, the Tigers still have not lost an area game, which no other team below them can say. A 22-point third quarter lead against defending Indiana state champion Cathedral was blown in a matter of minutes, as the Tigers lost that game by four yesterday. Central has two tough home games this weekend which can help them bolster their resume and get them back going in the right direction.
2. Pickerington North (13-2)
Last Week: No. 4 | 67 strength of record points | @ #11 Westerville Central (8)
North picked up a big OCC win over previously No. 5 Gahanna last Friday, but proceeded to lose to Dayton Dunbar the very next day. The Panthers have a ranked matchup on the road against a Westerville Central team that has been up and down all year.
3. Olentangy Liberty (12-2)
Last Week: No. 1 | 74 strength of record points | @ Dublin Coffman (8), vs. St. Charles (7)
The Patriots had their 11-game win streak snapped at the hands of Dublin Jerome last Tuesday, but bounced back in a major way with a win over rival Olentangy Orange, who came in at No. 3. Liberty has a two-game lead in the OCC-Central and will look to keep it that way when they hit the road to take on Dublin Coffman, who dealt a loss to red-hot Hilliard Bradley last Friday.
4. Olentangy Orange (12-2)
Last Week: No. 3 | 76 strength of record points | @ Hilliard Davidson (6), @ Olentangy (5)
Orange lost a tough road game against Liberty in which it led for most of the contest. The Pioneers got great news that night, however, with the return of Mikey McCollum, who led the way with 18 points. The return of McCollum is huge for this team since Elias Lewis is playing big-time basketball at the moment. The Pioneers bounced back with a key win over Toledo Whitmer on Saturday. Orange has two winnable games away from home this week.
5. Dublin Jerome (10-4)
Last Week: No. 7 | 55 strength of record points | @ Thomas Worthington (5), vs. Reynoldsburg (6)
Dublin Jerome picked up a huge win at No. 1 Olentangy Liberty last week, but then was handled by what might be the best team in Division III, in Lutheran East on Sunday. The Celtics have been up and down all year, and will need to show that they can win against highly athletic teams, so Saturday's Reynoldsburg matchup will be an interesting one.
6. Westerville North (12-2)
Last Week: No. 10 | 50 strength of record points | W vs. Marysville (6), @ Franklin Heights (2)
Westerville North has flown under the radar for most of the year, which I think this team prefers. The Warriors have just one game left on the schedule this week, which will be good for them to recover after a thrilling win over Marysville on Monday. At full strength, this team can compete with the best of the best.
7. Gahanna Lincoln (11-3)
Last Week: No. 5 | 58 strength of record points | vs. Westland (1), vs. Thomas Worthington (4)
Gahanna had a major oddity in Friday's game against Pickerington North. The Lions only surrendered 27 points, and somehow, they still lost. Those offensive woes carried over to Sunday's game against Medina, however, the hot shooting of Luke Murry and above the rim athleticism of Brandon Ivery helped this team pick up a much-needed overtime win. The Lions can bounce back with two winnable games this week.
8. Newark (11-4)
Last Week: No. 11 | 51 strength of record points | @ #1 Pickerington Central (11)
Newark is 11-0 against teams not named Pickerington Central, Pickerington North, Olentangy Liberty and Olentangy Orange, the top four teams in these rankings. The Wildcats have just one game this week, which unfortunately, is at top ranked Central. An upset road win would really boost Newark's postseason resume.
9. Hilliard Bradley (9-4)
Last Week: No. 6 | 49 strength of record points | @ Upper Arlington (6)
Bradley was rolling with as much momentum as anyone last week, but all of that came to a screeching halt with a road loss at Dublin Coffman. The Jags will be on the road again this Friday, taking on Upper Arlington, who is winless in the division. Fortunately for Bradley, in most games, Cade Norris is the best player on the floor which will always give them a great chance to win.
10. South (12-2)
Last Week: No. 8 | 35 strength of record points | @ Eastmoor Academy (4), @ Marion-Franklin (1)
South is a buzzer beater and a few missed free throws away from being 14-0. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, their wins haven't carried a ton of weight in Division I. South nearly upset Africentric last week, leading by four points with a minute left, however, poor free throw shooting allowed the Nubians to force overtime where they won. South has two winnable road games in the City League this week, however, they need to be on upset watch at Eastmoor, who knocked off Walnut Ridge last week.
11. Westerville Central (8-5)
Last Week: No. 9 | 47 strength of record points | vs. #2 Pickerington North (9)
Central rose as high as they have all year last week at No. 9, but lost to St. Charles on Saturday, which knocks them back. They can get back into the top 10 if they are to beat No. 2 Pickerington North at home on Friday.
12. Westerville South (10-3)
Last Week: No. 12 | 47 strength of record points | vs. Dublin Scioto (4)
Westerville South has floated around the top 10 all season long, with three quality losses on its resume. The 'Cats should be able to improve to 11-3 this week and remain in the heap in the OCC-Capital. As it stands, South, North and Delaware Hayes are all gridlocked in first place.
13. Olentangy Berlin (11-3)
Last Week: No. 13 | 48 strength of record points | vs. Olentangy (4)
The best season in Olentangy Berlin basketball history is rocking and rolling. The Bears have been one of the better rising teams in the area and should be able to improve to 12-3 when they host Olentangy on Friday. There was a time when Berlin could not win an OCC game, but those days are long gone.
14. Delaware Hayes (10-3)
Last Week: No. 14 | 50 strength of record points | vs. Olentangy (4), vs. Big Walnut (5)
Early in the year, Delaware Hayes had a wide lead in strength of record. However, over their last four wins, those have only netted them 13 points. The Pacers have two home games that are winnable and are must-win in order for Delaware to stay in the hunt for an OCC title.
15. Dublin Coffman (8-5)
Last Week: NR | 41 strength of record points | vs. #3 Olentangy Liberty (9), vs. Beechcroft (3)
A four-game win streak, including last Friday's upset of Hilliard Bradley, has Coffman back in the top 15. The Rocks can deliver another upset of major proportion when they host Olentangy Liberty on Friday. The Rocks picked up a Saturday win against Eastmoor Academy and will take on the City League again when Beechcroft visits Rock Arena this weekend.