OBETZ, Ohio -- In a matinee thriller to begin MSL-Buckeye play on Saturday, Hamilton Township defended home court against visiting Circleville in overtime, 59-56.
Neither team was able to get much separation for the entirety of the afternoon, as there were dozens of ties and lead changes in the second half. Circleville looked to be in business late, as senior forward Jay Styers knocked in his fourth three of the game to give the Tigers a 51-49 lead with 3:05 remaining.
Unfortunately for Circleville, the Tigers did not score again for the rest of regulation, as Hamilton Township junior guard Marquis Moore's strip and score tied the game at 51 with just over two minutes remaining.
Circleville held possession for nearly a minute and a half to end regulation, missing a handful of chances to win the game, sending Saturday's MSL opener into overtime.
Hamilton Township senior center Corey Hise opened overtime with an offensive rebound and up and under finish that put the Rangers ahead 53-51 with 2:53 to go. Moments later, Hise connected with senior wing Tyler Block for a transition layup, putting the Rangers ahead 57-54 with 1:46 remaining.
Circleville forced back-to-back turnovers in the ensuing minute, cutting the deficit to 57-56 with 35 seconds to go. The Tigers were not able to convert on the offensive end, as Hamilton Township junior guard Ato Forson iced the game with two free throws, sending the Rangers home with a 59-56 victory.
Circleville started off fast on Saturday but could not hit the shots they needed down the stretch. Styers led the way with 19 points, while sophomore guard Riley Gibson had a great showing as the Tigers' primary ball handler, finishing with 18 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Senior forward Darcell Pickett provided Circleville with plenty of hustle plays, adding 11 points and a game-high eight rebounds. No other Tiger player scored more than four points on Saturday, as Circleville struggled to find consistent shot makers outside of Gibson and Styers.
For Hamilton Township, Block had a solid showing, finishing with 15 points, four rebounds and four assists. Moore did what he usually does, attacking the basket and drawing fouls to finish with 15 points as well. Forson was key in the second half, scoring seven of his 10 points after halftime and providing the Rangers with two of the five three pointers that they hit on the afternoon.
Hise was key off the bench in the second half, serving as a rim protector, denying Gibson on two attempts at the rim late in the game, while adding six points and three blocks.
Marquis Moore (6'1 CG / Hamilton Township / 2020): Moore had a solid showing on Saturday, finishing with 15 points, five rebounds and two assists. Moore is a physical guard who plays with an aggressive style. While not much of a perimeter shooting threat, Moore still finds ways to be productive off the drive, getting into the lane and creating. On the defensive perimeter, Moore puts great pressure on opposing ball handlers, creating a few turnovers on Saturday, none bigger than his steal and score to tie the game in the fourth quarter. If Moore can become a consistent shooter, everything will begin to open up for him off the bounce.
Riley Gibson (6'0 PG / Circleville / 2021): In his first game starting at the point for Circleville, Gibson looked like a veteran in running the show for the Tigers. Gibson plays with a great pace and has a nice feel. We were impressed with the tightness of his handle, as he was able to get by guys with a combination of dribble moves. The 6-foot guard is a knockdown shooter who puts great rotation on the ball. As he continues to get stronger and improve off the bounce, Gibson will develop into one of the top scoring point guards in the class. However, Gibson is also a talented passer who knows how to set up his teammates for shots. One of the very best lead guards outside of Franklin County in the 2021 class. Smooth lefty who knows how to play.
Tyler Block (6'2 WG / Hamilton Township / 2019): While Thomas Worthington has Kyler Block, Hamilton Township has Tyler Block. A 6-foot-2 wing guard with decent size, Block is a reliable outside shooter who can also score it at the rim. Block was especially good in transition on Saturday, finishing a couple nice drives at the rim. Look for Block to continue to put up solid numbers for a Rangers team that needs him to produce.
Jay Styers (6'2 WF / Circleville / 2019): Styers had his best game of the season on Saturday, knocking down four threes and finishing with a game-high 19 points. Styers is a tough forward with a sweet shooting stroke who was also able to mix it up on the interior at times on Saturday. While Gibson has been the team's top scorer through four games, continued performances like what we saw on Saturday will really help the Tigers going forward in an MSL-Buckeye conference that is tough from top to bottom.