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Division I District Semifinals: Mount Vernon stuns Pickerington North, Bradley rolls, and more

By 270 Hoops Staff, 03/07/18, 9:45PM EST


In a wild night across the Central Ohio landscape, top-seed Pickerington North is eliminated

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- March is here, and it certainly delivered on its share of madness on Wednesday night, as the Central District's Division I district semifinals took place. No more introduction is necessary, let's get into the action:

Mount Vernon pulls off stunner, takes down top-seeded Pickerington North

GRANVILLE, Ohio -- In arguably the biggest tournament upset in the last decade, No. 16 Mount Vernon (18-7) shocked No. 1 Pickerington North (20-5), 61-58 in Division I district semifinal play.

Leading by double figures for a great deal of the second half, Mount Vernon executed its game plan to perfection in front of a packed crowd that was heavily pro-Yellow Jacket. The heavy underdog on Wednesday, Mount Vernon sat in a zone and made it tough for Pickerington North to score, holding the top-seeded Panthers to 30 points through three quarters.

It was a 19-8 third quarter that made the difference for the Yellow Jackets, as Mount Vernon entered the final frame with a 43-30 advantage. While Pickerington North scored 28 points in the fourth quarter, it was too little, too late as Mount Vernon completed an absolute shocker.

Senior forward Jeffrey Rucker had a breakout game, leading the Yellow Jackets with 23 points. Mount Vernon's leading scorers, senior guards Kaden Daniels and Collin Barteau, each added 12 points. The hero of an overtime win in the sectional semifinals against Dublin Scioto, senior guard Cole Rapp also finished in double figures with 10 points.

Advancing to the district finals, Mount Vernon will face No. 10 Reynoldsburg on Saturday at Ohio Dominican. Rolling with great momentum after winning an Ohio Cardinal Conference title in the regular season, Mount Vernon will look to follow up Wednesday's mega upset with a district championship.

Despite being the top-seeded team in the district and fresh off a regional runner-up finish a year ago, Pickerington North's state title dreams were cut short. In his final game in a Panther uniform, Jerome Hunter led the way with 18 points. Senior guard Corey Baker also added 18 points, playing his best game of the season.

Graduating a vast majority of its production, Pickerington North will start anew next winter.

-Zach Fleer (@ZachFleer270)

Mt. Vernon's Kaden Daniels

Nelson and Lipscomb's big fourth-quarter plays key as Pickerington Central sweeps Gahanna

PATASKALA, Ohio -- After a late third quarter run cut the margin to just two points, it looked as if ninth-seeded Pickerington Central and seventh-seeded Gahanna were just getting set for yet another instant classic down the stretch.

Adrian Nelson and Jaidon Lipscomb had other plans.

The two seniors combined for all but two of the Tigers (15-8) points in the final eight minutes as they knocked off Gahanna 51-41 on Wednesday night. Both finished with 13 points on the night, but it was their fourth quarter effort that was the difference, outscoring the Lions 14-6 in the frame. Lipscomb, the sharpshooter, knocked down two big threes to help put the game away for good.

With 4:30 left in the game, and up just three at 42-39, Lipscomb spotted up and knocked down a three off a Coleton Landis pass. That play sparked a dunk from Nelson on the following sequence, putting in motion a 9-2 run that would prove to be the difference in the end.

Gahanna certainly fought their way through some adversity earlier in the game to be in that moment, however. An 8-2 run to close the first half tied the score at 24, and senior David Miller was instrumental, leading the Lions with five points.

After Pickerington Central opened the second half with a 12-2 run, Gahanna's Elijah Thomas and Mike Reeves scored on back-to-back possessions to bring the margin down to five, eventually setting up for the decisive fourth quarter. Reeves finished with a team-high 10 points for the Lions in his final game.

With the win, the Tigers close out a sweep of their OCC-Ohio division rival Gahanna, and now set their sights on a return to the district final on Saturday, matching up with fourth-seeded Westerville North at 10 AM.

-Jason Morrow (@JasonMorrow270)

Hilliard Bradley locks down Chillicothe in convincing win

GROVE CITY, Ohio -- No. 3 Hilliard Bradley's suffocating defense and excellent ball movement proved to be too much in a 45-30 win over No. 17 Chillicothe in the Div. I district semifinals on Wednesday night. Senior guard Braden Norris led the Jaguars in scoring with a game-high 14 points.

Locking down the Cavaliers from the opening tip, Bradley jumped out to an early 15-4 lead after the first quarter. Along with timely three-point shooting from Norris, the Jaguars were able to force several early turnovers and cause the Cavaliers to take bad shots all night.

After senior forward Kory Taylor pinned a Chillicothe shot off the backboard, he then found Norris on the other end, knocking down a three pointer to give Bradley their largest lead yet, as they led 27-11 with 1:30 to play in the half. Bradley took that lead into the half, primed to win a second straight district semifinal at Central Crossing.

Chillicothe was able to mount a fraction of momentum early on in the fourth after senior guard Brandon Maughmer had two quick steals and a transition dunk. This was able to cut the lead to 40-27 with 4:06 to play, but Hilliard Bradley junior forward Zach Hummel proved to be a spark plug for the Jaguars. Diving on several loose balls and grabbing three offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter, Hummel gave the Jaguars the energy they needed to close this one out.

After Bradley senior forward Isaiah Speelman knocked down a three from freshman forward Jack Pugh with four minutes to play the Jaguars were able to wrap up the win, advancing to the district finals this Saturday at Ohio Dominican where they will take on Westerville South. For the Jaguars, sophomore guard Matt Allocco added in 11, Speelman finished with seven points and Hummel grabbed eight rebounds.

For Chillicothe, Maughmer led the way with 10 points on a night where the Cavaliers only had four players contribute in the scoring totals. Maughmer's younger brother, sophomore forward Jayvon also chipped in with eight points, knocking down two three pointers in the second half. Finishing off a satisfying season in Div. I, Chillicothe will look to reload as they will lose four starters from this year’s team.

-Jake Spegal (@jakespegal)

Hilliard Bradley's Braden Norris

Westerville South uses big second-half to race past Logan

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The Logan Chieftans (23-3) narrowly led at the half behind the one-two punch of Bo Myers and Caiden Landis but couldn't hold on in the second half against a small and scrappy Westerville South lineup. The Wildcats would come out on top 59-47 in a Div. I district semifinal game on Wednesday night at Pickerington Central High School before a sold-out crowd.

A huge and vocal Logan crowd that included basketball legend Katie Smith packed the house, firing up their team and helping them jump out to leads of 11-7 and 19-18 at the end of the first quarter and half respectively. Myers, a junior wing, and Landis, a 6-foot-7 senior center led the Chieftans to their one-point halftime lead behind their 17 combined points. Wildcat 6-foot junior guard Jordan McMillan would score five first half points to keep Westerville South close.

Scoring would pick up in the second half as the Wildcats would take their first lead at the end of a quarter 34-31, behind big scores from forward Manny Sunnyway, who would score seven points in the quarter. The Wildcats defensive intensity which was solid for 32 minutes began to force more turnovers the final 16 minutes, leading to their first easy buckets in the game scoring in transition. Despite their increased defensive pressure, the shorter Wildcats struggled to stop the 6-foot-5 Myers who scored 10 more points in the third quarter to have 20 points going into the final period.

Unfortunately for the Chieftans, foul trouble began to mount as they lost two starters to fouls in the fourth quarter and were still unable to find a third scoring threat to help out Myers and Landis who would end the game with 27 and 15 points respectively, totaling all but five of the Chieftans' points in the game.

The Wildcats who are only two years separated from their 2016 title, played smart and took great care of the ball in the final eight minutes forcing the Logan defense to foul and send their army of guards to the charity stripe.

The Wildcats were led by Ryan Greggs who finished with 16 points, Sunnyway who would add 14 and McMillian who finished with 11. Guard Hafiz Turay put on a ball-handling clinic in the closing minutes and made five clutch free throws to hold off Logan.

Disappointed after the tough loss in a memorable season, head coach Chris Ryder of Logan, who is a veteran of many OCC wars while coaching at Reynoldsburg took the loss with his head held high.

"Unbelievable season," said Ryder after the game. "I want to take my hat off to the Chieftan nation that came out in force tonight and have supported us all season. We had a great year and with Landis being our only senior...we will be back next year. I want to congratulate Westerville South who hit some big shots tonight and always play great defense. They were able to take us out of some things we wanted to do tonight and I give them credit. They played a great game."

Westerville South, led by veteran coach Ed Calo now has a mountain of a challenge this coming Saturday, as they face Hilliard Bradley for the district title. Bradley finished strong and has their lineup healthier than it has been all year, is a strong threat to advance to the final four in Columbus in two weeks. 

-John Stampe (@johnstampe1)

Fort, Goliday and Williams help Reynoldsburg to big second half, pushing past Westerville Central

WORTHINGTON, Ohio -- Guard Ben Fort scored it from all levels on Wednesday night, totaling a game-high 22 points as Reynoldsburg was able to roll past Westerville Central 68-49 in a Div. I district semifinal win. The junior showed flashes of just how special he can be, scoring in a variety of ways. The one-two punch of seniors Tre Williams and Jamiel Goliday were good for a combined 33 points  as well in the win.

Early on the game was back and forth, as Westerville Central managed to hang tough with the absence of senior leader Thomas Hickman, as he sat a majority of the timedue to early foul trouble At the half Reynoldsburg led by one, up 26-25, despite the strong play from Warhawk senior Josh McDaniel, who had 11 in the opening two quarters.

In the second half ,Reynoldsburg was able to elevate its level of play on the defensive end. The Raiders were very aggressive, and made sure every look Westerville Central took was heavily contested Hickman remained  the focal point for of the defense, and Reynoldsburg was able to limit him to just six points on the night.

Turning their stout defense into offense on the other end, the Raiders would close the final two quarters with a 43-23 margin.

With Mount Vernon’s upset win over Pickerington North, Reynoldsburg moves on to face this year's Cinderella team in the Yellow Jackets on Saturday at 5:00 pm at Ohio Dominican for a district championship.

-Darkell Curry (@dc_270)

Reynoldsburg's Ben Fort and Tre Williams

Third Time's a Charm: Upper Arlington eliminates Northland in the district semifinals for the third-straight year

MARYSVILLE, Ohio - For the third straight year, Upper Arlington beat Northland in the district semifinals, this time by a score of 61-44 on Wednesday at Marysville.

Dane Goodwin and Max Martz combined for 46 points, as Upper Arlington shut down the Northland offense to move on to yet another district final.

Goodwin scored the first eight points of the game for the Golden Bears, but Northland junior Will Mfum nearly canceled it out with a pair of threes. At the end of the first quarter Upper Arlington held on to a 13-11 lead.

The two teams struggled almost the entire second quarter, not scoring until the final two minutes when Upper Arlington went on a 9-2 run to head into the locker room with a 27-20 lead.

In the first three minutes of the second half,  Upper Arlington extended its lead with a quick 7-0 run to go up 34-20. By the time Northland was able to score again (two free throws by Jejuan Weatherspoon), there was only three and a half minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Weatherspoon ended up scoring six of Northland’s eight points in the quarter, but Upper Arlington still led 41-28 going into the final frame.

In the fourth quarter, Northland tried speeding up Upper Arlington, but to no avail. Martz and Goodwin found easy finishes under the bucket on fast breaks the entire fourth quarter as Upper Arlington coasted to a 61-44 win.

Advancing to its third-straight district final in its third-straight matchup against Northland in this round, Upper Arlington will take on Dublin Coffman for a third time this season in the district finals.

Leading the charge for Upper Arlington was Goodwin who finished with 26 points and 15 rebounds, while Martz added 20 points and five rebounds.

For Northland, Weatherspoon led the way with 15 points and three rebounds, while Mfum finished with six points and and five rebounds, but did not score after the first quarter.

- Luke Stacy (@ekulYcats)

Jeremiah Keene and Julius Brown combine for 58 points as Westerville North races past Canal Winchester

LEWIS CENTER, Ohio - In a track meet of a basketball game, Westerville North received huge contribution from its backcourt of junior Jeremiah Keene and senior Julius Brown in an 89-78 win over Canal Winchester.

Combining for 58 points, the duo was led by Keene's 31 points and Brown's 27 as Westerville North used a 51-point first half to get out to an early lead. Knocking down seven of North's nine threes, Keene and Brown were on their A game to lead the Warriors to a district final.

Advancing to take on Pickerington Central on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Ohio Dominican, Westerville North comes in as the prohibitive underdog against the powerhouse Tigers. However, the play of Keene and Brown has been key all season, as this duo could be due for yet another monster showing. 

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