NEWARK, Ohio -- In day one of the Newark Holiday Classic tournament, two central Ohio foes were able to pull out big wins, setting up an intiguing championship Saturday. Let's take a look at some of the nights action involving Newark and Licking Heights taking on unfamilliar opponents.
Licking Heights outlasts Clark Montessori behind a dominant performance by sophomore big man Tyrese Hughey
In what was an incredibly sloppy and foul-laden game between the two squads, the Hornets of Licking Heights used a strong offensive start led by junior Markeece Brown and a great finish by sophomore Tyrese Hughey to hold on against an fast, pressing Clark Montessori team, winning 51-43.
The athletic wing Brown attacked the rim confidently in the first quarter and scored nine of his teams first 11 points on high-flying finishes as well as a made three-pointer for the Hornets, as Licking Heights edged the Cougars in a hectic, turnover ridden quarter that set the tone for the entire game.
However, Clark Montessori was able to use their quickness and aptitude to get the ball out in transition, allowing them to head into the half up 23-21. This was thanks in part to the guard-post tandem of seniors Myles Faison and Marlin Lyons, who each had eight points heading into the half.
The third quarter was a breakout stretch of the game for Hughey, who thoroughly dismantled the Clark Montessori paint defense and would finish the third with a near double-double of 16 points and nine rebounds coming off of the bench. The strong 6-foot-7 Hughey provided an exclamation point for the Licking Heights second-half run with a big two-handed slam and pushed the Hornets to a 35-31 lead heading into the fourth.
The fourth quarter started evenly between the two squads, with Brown and Hughey trading baskets with the high-flying Cougar guards down the stretch, and the game would remain at a four point margin with 1:40 left to play. However, the Cougars would soon be forced to turn up the pressure at the expense of easy buckets and fouls for the Licking Heights attack that would eventually lead them to a 51-43 win.
The young Hughey closed out the game in dominant fashion and would finish with a 20 point, 15 rebound statline to go along with four blocks. The junior Brown would also finish strong with 15 points, and senior Josh Osei put together a nine point, four rebound game as well. Licking Heights climbs over .500 at 4-3 with the win.
Newark pulls out win over Mount Healthy with complete team performance
In a game where it seemed like there may be a lid on their home rim at times due to the inability for Newark to make shots, the Wildcats pulled away from the visiting Mount Healthy squad with persistence and timely playmaking, winning by a score of 56-52.
Newark could not seem to find an answer to the Mount Healthy pressure in the first quarter and did not see their usual outside looks fall in to start the game, resulting in a failure to reach the double-digit mark at the end of the first. The Owls of Mount Healthy had similar offensive issues, but managed to hold a 12-9 lead going into the second quarter.
The second quarter was much of the same, as both teams mixed in players off of the bench in attempts to infuse an offensive spark, but to no avail, as Mount Healthy narrowly maintained their lead going into the half at 22-21. Senior Chris Simmons and standout freshman point guard Kollin Tolbert led the way for the Owls with eight and six points, and senior Keshawn Heard would head into the break with eight points and five boards for Newark.
The offensive production would really pick up for both teams after halftime, as Heard, as well as juniors Jaden Woods and Bobby Crenshaw would put rim-to-rim offensive pressure on the Mount Healthy defense, resulting in easy buckets for the Wildcats. Newark would ride this offensive momentum to a 43-38 lead heading into the fourth.
The final frame would include a valiant comeback attempt by Mount Healthy, but the steady hand of sophomore point guard Kade Bafford and his leadership would allow the Wildcats to breathe easy during the final stretch of the game. Newark held on to win 56-52 after some dicey free throw shooting and late-game possessions.
The Wildcats were lead in scoring by the junior Woods with 18 points to go along with his six rebounds. Heard had a great game in the post with a 12 point, 11 rebound double-double. Crenshaw and Bafford also finished with 10 points a piece. Newark moves to 7-1 on the season with the win.
Tyrese Hughey (6’7 F/ Licking Heights/ 2021): Hughey interestingly enough did not start the game against Clark Montessori, but that just made his performance even more impressive as he put up Shaq-like numbers, posting 20 points and 15 rebounds. The sophomore cleaned up nearly every contested rebound down the stretch and at 6-foot-7 has legit college-level size at the post position. Hughey also showed a diverse offensive game that included post moves, athletic putbacks, and even some face up and turn around jumpers that fell in crucial moments for the Hornets. The young Hughey will and should get serious attention as his career continues and showed exactly why that is on Friday.
Markeece Brown (6’2 WG/ Licking Heights/ 2020): The high-flying Brown was able to get to the rim right from the opening tip tonight, and showed why he is the focal point of the Hornets wing attack throughout the game. Brown is entrusted to break the press, set up the offense, and be instant offense off of the dribble for the Hornets. He also plays with a bounce and energy that cannot be ignored. The junior will be an important piece of the Licking Heights attack as they attempt to take control of the LCL this season.
Keshawn Heard (6’7 F/ Newark/ 2019): The West Georgia commit and Wildcat vet, even when he wasn’t seeing his shots fall, was able to make a significant impact on the game with his length and persistence in the paint and from the outside. Heard showed his versatility and drive to improve his outside game, which will translate well to the next level. Look for Heard to be a leader of this Newark squad that is lacking in senior leadership and be their only true inside presence.