POWELL, Ohio -- Back for its third year, Battle for the City was worth the price of admission on Wednesday at Olentangy Orange. With the Just Hoops Senior Showcase tipping off, the night offered two great matchups involving more than 40 top seniors from Central Ohio.
In two years of Battle for the City in its current format, the OCC has lost just one game to opponents in both the Underclassmen Challenge and Senior Showcase.
That loss came to the City League's 2018 class last year.
In a revenge match between the two leagues, the OCC got the best of the City League in an entertaining 136-133 victory.
Reynoldsburg senior guard Jamiel Goliday stole the show in the opening half, knocking down nine threes and scoring 28 points to help the OCC build an 81-74 lead at the half.
In classic City League fashion, its seniors did not back down, battling and taking a few leads in the second half.
The OCC struck back behind Pickerington North senior Jerome Hunter and Reynoldsburg senior Tre Williams, as the two punished the City around the basket in the final few minutes.
With several attempts to tie Wednesday's game, the City League was not able to convert from three, as the OCC held on to a 136-133 victory.
Goliday's 28 points were a game-high, as the unsigned senior knocked down the three ball with great precision and gave the OCC the momentum it needed to take control of Wednesday's game.
Westerville North senior guard Julius Brown added 19 points, knocking down two triples and proving to be a tough cover on the perimeter. Brown capped off an incredible senior season, which included an OCC title and first team all-district honors, by knocking down two free throws that all but iced Wednesday's contest.
Hunter, an Indiana signee and Nova Village x 270 Hoops' 2017-18 Senior of the Year, added 19 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. Never afraid of a challenge, Hunter went at it with several opposing players and showed why he is one of the country's elite prospects.
Williams pitched in 18 points and five rebounds, finishing several powerful slams and earning the well deserved nickname "Mack Truck Williams." Central Ohio's best unsigned big man, Williams showed off his powerful explosiveness that helped him garner first team all-district honors this year.
Westerville Central's Thomas Hickman pitched in 12 points and eight assists, as the unsigned guard showed the full arsenal of his offensive game. Central Crossing senior guard Mike Woods also pitched in 12 points, while Gahanna seniors Mike Reeves and Chase Rankin each finished with 10 points, with Rankin adding eight assists.
Olentangy Orange senior center Jalen Bethel, a Lawrence Tech signee, added eight points and seven rebounds, while Lancaster senior guard Jaycob England added two points.
At 14-1 all-time in Battle for the City, the OCC will face a different challenge with its senior class next season in the form of the Central Ohio All-Stars team, which has swept the City League in the 2019 class the last two seasons.
For the City League, senior forward Elijah Bishop had arguably his best performance of his career, finishing with 24 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Playing engaged on both ends for the entirety of the game, Bishop knocked down four threes, finished well at the rim in traffic and showed off his defensive versatility.
The top unsigned wing forward in Central Ohio, Bishop did well for himself in his last time wearing a Beechcroft uniform.
Africentric senior Jah Bennett, a Kentucky State signee, added 17 points and 11 rebounds, scoring 12 of those points in the first five minutes. An intriguing 6-foot-8 post with quality upside, Bennett capped off a senior year that included a state runner-up finish.
Beechcroft seniors Therron Jennings and Datrey Long and Mifflin senior James Watkins all finished with 12 points, providing great energy on both ends of the floor. Northland senior Jejuan Weatherspoon and Africentric senior Tre Baumgarnder, a Minnesota State signee, each added 10 points.
East senior guard Mike White, Centennial senior guard Sean Tyson and Linden senior wing Faizon Tucker all added nine points in a balanced overall scoring effort for the City League. Walnut Ridge senior guard Rohshawn Reaves rounded out the scoring effort with six points on two three-point field goals.
Going 0-7 this year in Battle for the City, the City League looks to regroup next year with more key players returning for action.
The 2018 class is one of the deepest in recent memory for the City League, as this lengthy list of talented players will be missed when the season tips off next winter.
POWELL, Ohio - Knocking down 11 threes in the first half of Wednesday's opener for the Just Hoops Senior Showcase, the Mid-State League's talented group of seniors looked to be in business.
However, the Central Ohio All-Stars, which was composed of seniors from the Central Catholic League, Licking County League, Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference and East Central Ohio League, responded with a furious rally in the second half.
Trailing 56-47 at the break, Central Ohio trailed more most of the second half before its rally began. With the MSL holding an 80-74 lead with 10 minutes remaining, Central Ohio responded with a 14-3 run over the next three minutes to take a commanding 91-83 lead with 6:25 to go.
Grinding out the MSL in the final minutes of a 113-104 victory, the toughness and grit of the Central Ohio group paid dividends in the victory.
Johnstown senior Carson Carter was the catalyst for Central Ohio, scoring 16 of his team-high 21 points after halftime. Carter put pressure on the defense with his ability to knock down threes and get to the basket.
Bishop Hartley senior Garrett Tipton, a Bellarmine signee, added 20 points, scoring 13 after the break. Tipton capped off his performance with a big dunk and bone crushing three in the final minutes. Licking Heights senior Matt Dugue, a Cincinnati Christian signee, added 17 points, with no two more resounding than the powerful tip slam that he finished in the first half.
Zanesville seniors Aronde Myers and Cameron Brooks-Harris, a Marshall signee, combined for 23 points in the final game for 'The Duo.' Granville senior Jack Lonzo, a Marietta signee, had a solid all-around performance, adding 12 points.
The Northmor group of seniors, which included Meechie Johnson, Brock Pletcher, Kyle Kegley and Tyler Kegley, all received the start and made winning plays down the stretch for Central Ohio. Kyle Kegley committed to Lourdes University less than 24 hours after the event concluded.
In his first game back in Columbus since the 270 Hoops Fall League, Kingston Prep (Thomas Worthington) guard Curtis Clinger added seven points, three rebounds, two assists and two blocks for Central Ohio.
For the MSL, Air Force signee Solomon Pierre-Louis was the best player on the floor, finishing with 25 points, six rebounds and three steals. Pierre-Louis played one of his most confident games, knocking down four threes, finishing several tough drives at the rim and never turning his motor off on defense.
Wellington senior Bob Faller pitched in 18 points while Liberty Union senior guard Corban Schrock added 16 points. Two of the area's top scorers in Fairfield Christian senior Caleb Collins (14 points) and Millersport's Zane Purvis (12 points) had impressive performances, knocking down seven combined threes.
Worthington Christian guard Collin Kimbrough, an Ohio Wesleyan commit, added seven points and four assists, while Fairfield Union senior Lucas Thompson (6 points) and Grove City Christian senior Noah Tomlinson, a Muskingum commit, (5 points) rounded out the scoring for the MSL.
Despite the loss, the MSL showed off its incredible shooting ability by knocking down 20 threes in the game.
Central Ohio All-Stars
2017-18 Senior of the Year
Jerome Hunter (Pickerington North)
Senior Showcase MVP
Jamiel Goliday (Reynoldsburg)
High School Achievement Award
Tre Baumgardner (Africentric)
Solomon Pierre-Louis (Wellington)
Tre Baumgardner and Solomon Pierre-Louis