COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Hilliard Bradley did what they do best Wednesday night, locking down on defense and hitting shots from outside in a commanding 56-44 win over Reynoldsburg in the D-I regional semifinal at Ohio Dominican. Senior guard Braden Norris led all scorers with 18 points in the contest, while fellow senior Isaiah Speelman had 13 for the Jaguars.
After a slow start with both teams playing stellar defense out of the gates, all it took for the Jaguars to get going was a pair of threes from Norris followed up by a buzzer-beating shot from just beyond half-court to grab a 13-9 lead and a load of momentum.
After knocking down the three triples in the first, Norris hit another three with 6:22 left in the second to put the Jaguars up 18-12. This sparked an 11-0 run for Bradley, but Reynoldsburg senior guard Jamiel Goliday came up with a big time and-one to halt the run. Shortly after the basket from Goliday, Bradley sophomore guard Matt Allocco knocked down a three pointer to help the Jaguars take a comfortable 29-17 lead into the half, shooting the Raiders out of their 2-3 zone.
The Raiders began the second half with a pair of triples of their own from senior guard Elijah Thurston and junior Ben Fort, but after a scoreless first half from Bradley senior Isaiah Speelman, he was bound to contribute for the Jags in the second half. Speelman knocked down a smooth fade-away jumper, followed up by a corner three off an assist from sophomore forward Chris Mayfield to give the Jags a 38-25 lead at the 1:38 mark in third.
Trailing by 11 points heading into the final frame, Reynoldsburg moved to a full-court pressure defense and began to force some turnovers. Thurston and Fort provided most of the scoring and pressure for the Raiders in the quarter, but it proved to be too little too late.
After two pairs of free throws were knocked down by Allocco and Speelman, the Raiders would provide another surge. Starting with an and one from Fort then followed up by a corner three from Thurston, Reynoldsburg was able to cut the margin to 52-40 with 1:30 to play. These buckets provided momentum for the Raiders, but it would not be enough to rebound from their sloppy first half shooting.
Reynoldsburg came to close on a stellar season in 2018, finishing with a record of 19-8 and a third place finish in the gauntlet of the OCC-Ohio. The Raiders were also able to capture their first district title since 2012, and will have to reload, as they will lose four starters from this years team. They were led in scoring tonight by Thurston with 16, followed up by 13 from Fort and nine points from senior Tre Williams.
For Bradley, Allocco also finished in double figures with 14, and with the win they advance to the regional finals where they will take on the winner of Dublin Coffman and Pickerington Central on Saturday at ODU.