GRANDVIEW HEIGHTS, Ohio -- For the second-straight year, Johnstown took down Grandview Heights to take home the Bobcat Holiday Classic championship. The Johnnies took down two tough teams in Jonathan Alder and Grandview in back to back games, as senior forward Owen Hazelbaker won MVP of the event.
Let's take a look at the top performers from the two days of action.
Owen Hazelbaker (6'7 WF/PF / Johnstown / 2019): The West Liberty signee has developed into one of the elite players in Central Ohio's 2019 class as Hazelbaker put it all on display in Saturday's title game victory. Going for 23 points, five rebounds and six assists, Hazelbaker put together a dominant two-way showing, commanding Johnstown's stellar defense on the back side of the zone, while also knocking down five threes and scoring from all spots on the floor. While some may have thought that Hazelbaker might not be able to play to West Liberty's tempo, that is clearly not the case, as he was stellar in transition tonight, knocking down two threes in that setting, while also knocking down his other three in the half court off movement. In the post, Hazelbaker has great footwork, strength and finishing ability, as there is really not much he can't do on the floor. For big men prospects, it's a slow cook when it comes to their development (in the words of Kurt Stubbs) and Hazelbaker is a guy that has continued to add more layers to his game and is now a complete player on both ends of the floor. He's the type of senior leader to lead this team to a district title. And the scary part is that Hazelbaker won't be 18 until after he graduates. West Liberty got a very good player in the Johnstown senior.
Manny Day (6'3 WF / Grandview Heights / 2019): With Luke Lachey out for the weekend due to mononucleosis, Day was expected to step up, and step up he did. Going for a career-high 31 points in a win over Grove City Christian on Friday, Day was solid once again in Saturday's matchup, scoring 14 points for a short handed Grandview team against Johnstown. Day is a hard-working forward who is the glue guy for the Bobcats and with Lachey out, he was able to show off some of his scoring abilities. Day, while a soccer standout, is a skilled scorer who can make shots from all over and has an ability to finish through contact at the basket. Day knocked down two threes and hit a few tough mid-range shots in the loss to Johnstown.
Henry Walker (6'6 PF / Jonathan Alder / 2020): Walker was very impressive In Alder's last two games. In Friday's matchup against Johnstown, he was key on defense holding West Liberty commit Hazelbaker to 10 points and made Johnstown go to their second and third option most of the night. He also led the Pioneers in scoring, finishing strong inside. In Saturday's win over Grove City Christian, Walker dominated on the interior with 20 points, scoring most of his points inside the 2-3 zone of the Eagles. The 6-foot-6 junior also showed an impressive ability to pass out of the zone, opening up shooters for Alder. Aside from his 20 points, Walker also added eight rebounds and five blocks in a great all-around showing. The junior big man will be key for the Pioneers in the second half of the season as they look to compete for a district championship in Division II.
Brayden Holbrook (6'3 WG / Grove City Christian / 2020): The 6-foot-3 guard has a smooth jump shot and is a deadeye shooter from behind the three-point line. Grove City Christian heavily relies on Holbrook's ability to create his own shot and score in volumes on offense. Holbrook is an efficient scorer that led the Eagles in scoring in both games on the weekend, scoring 18 points against Grandview Heights, following that up with a 17 point performance against Jonathan Alder. While most teams opt to face guard Holbrook and force GCC's supporting cast to beat them, the 6-foot-3 junior has continued to put up good numbers and should be a player to keep an eye on in Division III for the next year and a half.
Jake Lusk (6'3 WF / Johnstown / 2021): While an all-state football player, Lusk is a talented hooper that has been a key component to Johnstown's attack the last two years. On Saturday, Lusk had a great first half, scoring six of his eight points and locking down the glass. Luks is a physical forward who plays with a ton of aggression, while having the footwork in the post to score with grace and finesse. Lusk has a reliable righty hook shot that he hits at a high level around the basket. On the defensive end, Lusk forms a tough back end alongside Hazelbaker, which has been a key part to Johnstown's unbeaten start to the year.
Brian Collier (6'0 PG / Grandview Heights / 2020): As we've written about previously, Collier has been one of the most improved players in the junior class to begin the year. With Lachey out this weekend, Collier stepped it up and showed why he's capable of leading a team on his own. A talented shooter that can fill it up from all over, Collier has improved his scoring ability off the bounce and can serve both as a point guard who can facilitate, and also a 3-and-D guy capable of filling a vital role. With Lachey out for what could be an extended period of time, look for Collier to put up big numbers in his absence as Grandview will need everything they can get out of the junior guard.