COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Championship day arrived on Sunday at the Central Ohio High School Fall League live from Alumni Hall on the campus of Ohio Dominican University. The winners of the championship, gold and silver brackets were crowned in three different types of games. Check out how the games were won and what players made plays throughout them as we break down the action.
In the silver medal bracket, the Bucks battled the Mavs and the Cavs took on the Nuggets, and both games were highly competitive and came down the wire. Freshman Brody Larrison (Upper Arlington) tied the ball game at 24 with 11:15 remaining in the ball game, in a contest that up to that point was a back-and-forth matchup with no team being able to up more than three and the biggest lead all game being five before the final buzzer. Joe Zeyen (Bishop Watterson) grabbed an offensive rebound off a free throw and scored to essentially put the game away. The activeness and playmaking on both sides of the court from freshmen Albee Moore (Pickerington Central) and CJ Kent (Hilliard Darby) helped the Mavs pull away with a 48-41 win. The second semi-final match, the Cavs got off to a hot start and kept up the good play as they crept out to a 35-25 lead early before stretching it to 40-28 seconds later. A full team effort from only five players gave the Cavs a 54-37 victory and secured their spot in the finals for the silver bracket.
In the championship game of the silver bracket, the Cavs controlled the game the entire time and finally escaped with a three-point win. They jumped out to a 7-0 lead before it got to 12-5 and a timeout was called by the Mavs to regroup. After a 28-17 lead, a 9-4 run ensued and it was cut to 32-26 after a jumper from Luke Mitchell (Upper Arlington). A triple from Mitchell with under a 1:20 on the clock cut the deficit to 34-32 and once the Cavs could not close the deal at the charity stripe, it gave the Mavs a chance to win it as a three from Charlie Freiburger (Upper Arlington) was halfway down before popping out, securing the 37-34 win and silver bracket championship for the Cavs.
The gold bracket semi-finals began with the Suns completing a comeback over the Rockets by a score of 60-54. With 17 minutes on the game clock, the Rockets led 24-20 and extended it with a 7-2 run to go up 31-22. But the fight did not leave the Suns, they not only got back into the game but they also used a 12-2 spark to take a 34-33 lead with 11:50 left in the ball game. Once the Suns took the lead, they did not look back and took a 10 point advantage themselves as time rolled down to the seven minute mark. Behind the play of Jaden Smith (Mansfeild Senior) and Jakob Legron (Lexington), the Suns pulled off with a ticket to the finals and a 60-54 win. There was a nailbiter in the other semi-final game, as the Pelicans and 76ers put on a show before a tough 76er team was able to come away with the win. The hoop with the harm from sophomore Owen Laury (Bishop Hartley) extended his Pelican’s lead to 25-16 with under 14 minutes remaining in the ballgame. From that moment, the Pelicans only scored six more points while giving up 18 to the 76ers. Jay Agrawal (Olentangy) drained a huge three and Carson Murphy (Granville) scored five points between them to tie the ball game at 31. Nohah Nichols (Tri-Valley) hit a layup and got the foul with 24 seconds left to give his team the deciding three-point win. Murphy, Agrawal and Nichols were consistently getting to the rim and knocking in shots from the perimeter to carry their team to the finals of the gold bracket.
With the championship of the gold bracket on the line between the 76ers and the Suns, an early 6-6 tie turned into a 28-16 76er lead after Luke Burns (DeSales) buried a three-pointer. The 76ers went on an extended run, with transition baskets and a huge dunk from Lakin Rex (Upper Arlington), and went up by a score of 42-25. A total team effort helped quell a potential comeback attempt as the Suns got the game to a 50-43 deficit with 55 seconds remaining and that would be the final score of the game as the 76ers took home the championship of the gold bracket.
The championship bracket only had one semi-final, as the Lakers and the Nets squared off for a chance to play the Celtics in the final game for a shot at the championship. The Nets jumped out to a 17-11 lead with just under 23 minutes on the clock as time ticked away. Trey Cady (Marion Harding), Alex Quinlan (Northridge) and Logan Thrapp (Olentangy) helped their Nets team create turnovers and get easy scores in transition to keep increasing their lead, getting it to 23-13 with about 21 minutes remaining. After going up by a score of 38-17, the Lakers responded with a quick 8-0 run to try and get back into the contest and shredded the score to 38-25. The Laker trio of Alex Smith (Upper Arlington), Chase Griggs (Delaware) and Charlie Hinkle (Olentangy Liberty) continued to chip away at the lead, cutting the lead to 43-33 with 8:23 still remaining. After taking their opponents best shot, and withstanding it, the Nets bounced back with a dominant 13-6 stretch to all but end the game, taking it by a score of 56-39.
Hanging in the balance was the championship of the championship bracket for the winner of the Celtics-Nets final game at the Central Ohio High School Fall League. Jovon McBride (Hamilton Township) was sensational the entire game, dropping a game high 14 points in what turned out to be an easy win. McBride scored six of the Celtics first eight points, helping his team jump out to a 12-0 lead before anybody knew what happened. This game got chippy in moments throughout, with the competition and energy overflowing, thankfully nothing went overboard between the young men and everyone continued to play on. One of the most talented sophomore point guards, Jahki Calloway (Bishop Hartley), was out there shutting things down defensively and getting his team involved in transition as well, scoring five points and racking up three steals. Uthman Sherif (Bishop Ready) was also really good in the championship game, scoring 10 points, and showing his ability to finish at the rim and pull the defense out on the perimeter and score as well. Calloway’s score put his team up by 20, 48-28, and for circumstances sake, secured the championship in the championship bracket for coach Alex Lemon and his team.
The final day of the Central Ohio Middle School Fall League came and went in a huge way on Saturday. The payoff of the last month has arrived and the champions of every division were crowned. With the league now in the books, the young men will now look ahead and get ready for their own middle school basketball season. Let’s take a look at how everything shook out on championship Saturday at the Central Ohio Middle School Fall League.
On court 1, it was Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech, two teams led by great guard play and balanced attacks on the offensive end. Pitt got out to a rocky start and fell behind 28-6 after Luca Filia (Olentangy Berkshire) carried their team to what looked like was going to be a blowout. But Evan Allgood (school), who performed as well as any player in the entire league, and his shooting along with his playmaking helped his team slash the lead. Pittsburgh cut the lead to six, 38-32, with under five minutes remaining and looked to be poised to complete the comeback. The scoreboard read 39-34 with 1:31 on the clock and Pittsburgh had a chance to cut it to 3 as a floater rimmed out the basket, Filia came down the court with an up-and-under layup that made it 42-35 with around 40 seconds left and essentially ended the comeback bid. Virginia Tech advanced to the final game by a score of 43-38.
Meanwhile, on court 2, a heavyweight slugfest was taking place. Both Florida State and Louisville came to play and did not give an inch, with this game going into overtime. Jordan Wagner (Groveport Madison MS) and Jimmy Braima (Licking Heights) took over early as Florida State jumped out to an early 6-1 advantage. Xavier Jones (Heritage MS) helped get his team back into the game with his ability to score and make plays for his team. With seven lead changes and three ties throughout the ball game, this was a thriller in every sense. Mysean Pollard (Millenium) put his Florida State team up 39-33 before a 7-1 run from Louisville capped off with a bucket from Evan Draher (St. Matthew) tied the game at 40. Free throws from Wagner and #79 once again evened the score, this time at 41 as the game went into a one minute overtime. Louisville’s Cooper Wagner (Liberty MS) drained a free throw to go up by a point early in OT, but the clutch dagger triple from Jordan Wagner with 10 seconds on the clock followed by a forced turnover gave Florida State the win and the shot at the championship.
In the main event of the morning, the two most talented teams squared off in an intense battle for the Central Ohio Middle School Fall League championship. A double overtime classic that left the court dripping with passion. Filia and #38 got their Virginia Tech team out to a hot start, having an early 14-4 advantage. After a timeout and some words from their coach, Florida State went on a 15-4 run to take the 18-17 lead after a steal from Mark Pinkston (Gahanna West) and finish from Rashad Perry (Reynoldsburg Baldwin). From that moment, Florida State controlled the game and even got up by as many as five points. Luca got his team out of the five-point hole with his own 5-0 run capped off by sinking two free throws to tie the game at 23 and send it the first overtime. A traveling violation along with a foul call on a free throw helped aid the comeback and get the game to overtime.
The game looked to be in doubt in the opening overtime minute as Florida State got a bucket from Pollard then two free throws from Ethan Stewart to go up 27-24 with about 7 seconds on the clock. As the time ran off the clock, Trey Bentley (Jonathon MS) threw up a prayer from three that was answered on a Saturday morning, the ball swished through the net and after some time to talk, it was counted as good and a second overtime was played. Once again Pollard scored the only basket, which turned out to be the game winner. Virginia Tech had a chance to tie the game but missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but Florida State left the door open as they missed back-to-back front ends of 1-and-1 attempts. In the final seconds, Filia got a really nice look from three that just rimmed out to give Florida State the victory by a score of 29-27 and gave coach Woo Wagner and his team the championship of the Central Ohio Middle School Fall League.