COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Challenge returns for a third year on Saturday at Africentric. Take a look at all the matchups below!
In the opening game of The Challenge, Pickerington North's talent and depth was too much for Centennial to overcome, as the Panthers rolled to an 85-56 victory.
North (8-1) opened up a 28-13 lead after the opening quarter and never looked back. Centennial (5-2) fought back in the second quarter, however a 26-16 North third quarter broke the game open, as the Panthers rolled to a 29-point win.
Sophomore forward Jack Sawyer paced North with 16 points, scoring 14 of those in the second half. Junior wing Chris Scott added 12 points and four rebounds, while junior Hunter Sheldenhelm pitched in 10 points and two blocks.
North's top six scorers on Saturday were underclassmen, as the Panthers have a deep collection of young talent. Sophomore point guard Casey George received the start and played a great two-way game, finishing with nine points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Freshman wing guard Jerry Saunders knocked in three triples and finished with nine points, while fellow freshman guard Dior Conners pitched in eight points.
For Centennial, the Stars were led by senior forward Myles Martinez, who was stellar throughout, finishing with 15 points. Martinez, at 6-foot-7, was the only Star capable of scoring on North's size and length on a consistent basis.
Junior guard Cameron Kates played a great second half, scoring 12 points all after halftime, as he was the only scorer outside of Martinez in double figures. Sophomore forward Jaylen Gilbert added nine points, while junior forward Kelvin Gilliam added six points and six rebounds.
With the win, Pickerington North moves on to an intriguing matchup against unbeaten Dublin Coffman at home on Tuesday. The Panthers and Shamrocks played an all-time classic last season, going into three overtimes where Jerome Hunter scored a career-high 48 points.
For Centennial, the Stars will look to get back to its winning ways in City League action against Whetstone and Linden-McKinley, before hosting Dayton Stivers on Saturday.
In a game that went down to the wire, Northland (5-3) struck the final blow in defeating Westerville North (4-6), as senior N'Keeley Elmore knocked down one of two free throws with 6.3 seconds remaining to lead the Vikings to a 55-54 victory.
Northland shut down Westerville North in the fourth quarter, holding the Warriors to nine points. The difference was made on the interior, as junior Isaiah Ingle came in and impacted the game immediately, blocking four shots and making Westerville North think twice about going to the basket.
With that advantage, Northland seemed to gain some momentum, as Elmore helped the Vikings took control of the game in the final four minutes. While Westerville North tied the game at 54 on a steal and score from Philip Alston with 32 seconds to go, Northland opted to play out the final possession instead of calling a timeout.
Putting the ball in the hands of its senior leader Elmore, the 5-foot-9 guard delivered on a strong drive to the rim in which he was fouled. Knocking down the go-ahead free throw, Elmore gave Northland all the advantage it needed, as Westerville North senior guard Jeremiah Keene missed a potential game-winning three on the final possession of the game.
Elmore led the Vikings with 19 points, adding four rebounds and four assists. The senior guard played all 32 minutes, giving Northland everything he had on both ends of the floor. Elmore especially shined on the defensive perimeter, making Keene work for all 12 of his points.
Sophomore wing Makhale Massey also finished in double figures for Northland, adding 14 points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Massey hit two corner threes in the first half and made his impact on the defensive end in the final 16 minutes.
Freshman guard Robert Dorsey and sophomore forward Jason Foster each finished with six points. Dorsey was clutch in the second half, knocking down four-of-four free throws in the fourth quarter.
Ingle played in the second half only, finishing with two points and four important blocks, as the 6-foot-8 junior made a big impact on the game.
For Westerville North, Alston was the top Warrior, finishing with 16 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Alston was stellar in the second half, using his physical 6-foot-6 frame to disrupt Northland's interior offense, while attacking the boards and finishing inside.
Junior forward Charles Perkins was solid throughout, adding 13 points and nine rebounds. Keene was the only other player in double figures, adding 12 points and four assists, but was held to zero three-point field goals, as Elmore and the Vikings did a good job of pressuring him.
With the win, Northland will look to keep rolling in City League North divisional play. The Vikings will travel to East on Tuesday before hosting Mifflin on Friday.
For Westerville North, the Warriors have lost four of their last five games and will host Marysville on Tuesday before heading to Olentangy Orange on Friday.
In an ending unlike what we have come to expect from Upper Arlington basketball, poor free throw shooting and turnovers allowed Eastmoor (3-5) to mount a rally late in the third game of The Challenge.
However, Upper Arlington (7-1) executed late, grinding out a 56-54 victory.
While Eastmoor trailed 49-40 with 6:20 to go, the Warriors put together an 8-0 run over the next four minutes, cutting Saturday's deficit to 49-48. Upper Arlington struck back on the next possession, as a three-point play from senior CJ Karsatos extended the Upper Arlington lead to 52-48.
Eastmoor got as close as two points in the final seconds, however, the Warriors were not able to tie or take the lead in the second half.
With Max Martz out with a back injury, Upper Arlington received big production from junior Jake Warinner, Karsatos and senior Sammy Sass. The trio combined for 41 points, with Warinner scoring 13 of his game-high 19 points in a first half where the Golden Bears took a 30-28 lead into the break.
Sass played an excellent all-around game, as the Wright State baseball commit finished with nine points, three rebounds and five assists. Against an athletic Eastmoor backcourt that kept great pressure on UA ball handlers, Sass was solid throughout, helping the Golden Bears get into their half court offense.
The 6-foot-8 Karsatos built on a career-high 22-point scoring performance on Friday against Marysville by going for 13 points an six rebounds. The senior post showed off his impressive footwork in the post, putting Eastmoor defenders on his back and scoring at the rim.
Outside of the UA trio, sophomore guard Kobe Buford pitched in seven points while senior guard Josh Rushin added six points, four assists and four steals.
For Eastmoor, junior guard Julian Binford and senior forward Isaiah Kelley led the way with 12 points each. Binford lit up the first quarter, knocking down three of his four three-point field goals. While he only scored three points in the second half, Binford had his fingerprints all over the game, showing off his elite-level ball handling on offense and cat-like quickness on the defensive perimeter.
Kelley continued his breakout senior season by going for eight of his 12 points in the second half, while adding four rebounds. The 6-foot-4 Kelley showed an ability to work in the post, scoring over the much taller Karsatos.
Outside of Binford and Kelley, senior wing Gicobi Massey added nine points and six assists while senior forward Jamal Buttrum added nine points on three triples.
With the win, Upper Arlington moves on to a challenging week where the Golden Bears will host Olentangy on Tuesday and undefeated Dublin Coffman on Friday.
For Eastmoor, the Warriors should pick up some momentum with its performance on Saturday. EA's road doesn't get much easier, as the Warriors will take on Walnut Ridge and Pickerington Central on back-to-back days next weekend.
When it comes to beating Hilliard Bradley, two things must happen. You must score more than 50 points and you must knock down perimeter shots to space out a stalwart Jaguar defense.
Those two things did not happen for Walnut Ridge, which combined with Matt Allocco's 28 points led to a 54-44 Hilliard Bradley win.
The Jags set the tone early, holding Walnut Ridge to 15 points in the first half, as Bradley led by three at the break. Holding the area's leading scorer in Von Cameron Davis to four points in the first half, Bradley had Walnut Ridge right where they wanted them.
In the third quarter, Bradley struck early and often, as a three from sophomore Keaton Norris set the tone for the period. Outscoring Walnut Ridge 18-8 in the period, Bradley and Allocco built a 36-23 lead going into the final frame.
Going to Allocco to close out the game, Bradley received the biggest performance from its junior floor general, as Allocco scored 10 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Jags hold on to 54-44 victory.
The key for Bradley was the stout team defense it played on Davis. Coming into the game averaging 34.2 points per game and not scoring less than 27 points in any game, Davis was stifled by Bradley's defense, as the Jags sent two and sometimes three defenders his way.
Shooting 4-of-13 from the field and not getting any easy looks, Davis was limited to a season-low 11 points, as Walnut Ridge really struggled to get him the ball in good spots. Walnut Ridge knocked down just three triples, the final one coming from Davis at the buzzer, which played a huge role in the win for Bradley.
Allocco's 28 points came in important spots, as the 6-foot-4 guard dominated from inside the three-point line, using his wide frame and excellent post footwork to punish Walnut Ridge inside. The junior guard was the best player on the floor, making 10 shots from the field and not turning the ball over much. Allocco also finished with five assists, three more than Walnut Ridge had as a team.
Outside of Allocco, senior forward Zach Hummel played an excellent game, serving as the defensive anchor on the weak side any time Davis looked to go to the rim. Hummel, a Cincinnati football signee, finished with eight points and five rebounds, while sophomore guard AJ Mirgon added eight points as well.
The sophomore guard Norris knocked down two threes to finish with six points, while junior forward Chris Mayfield added two points and nine rebounds.
For Walnut Ridge, senior guard Meech Coble led all scorers with 12 points. Coble knocked down two of the Scots' three triples, while adding three scores at the rim.
Davis finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds, as he did a great job on the defensive glass despite his offensive struggles. No other player scored more than seven points for the Scots, who got as close as six points with under a minute to go.
With the win, Bradley knocks off two top seven teams on back-to-back nights. Riding a 34-game OCC conference win streak, the Jags will look to keep winning on Tuesday against Dublin Scioto and on Friday at Hilliard Darby.
For Walnut Ridge, the Scots will look to get back to its winning ways with two home matchups against Africentric and Eastmoor next week.
In the nightcap of The Challenge, Thomas Worthington stole the thunder of host Africentric. Relying on 61 points from the trio of Jalen Sullinger, Isaac Settles and Ben Wight, Thomas Worthington blew past the Nubians, 72-57.
Sullinger was the star of the night, breaking out for 25 points on a balanced offensive output. The 5-foot-10 sophomore knocked down three triples, finished difficult layups at the rim and added five rebounds, five assists and four steals to his stat line.
The fellow sophomore Settles impressed nearly equally as well, going for 20 points. The 6-foot-5 wing is as physically developed as any at his position in the 2021 class, using that to power past Africentric defenders to the rim.
And finally, the 6-foot-8 senior Wight was just too much to handle around the basket, finishing with 16 points, seven rebounds, two assists and three blocks.
Africentric got as close as six points in the second half, however, Sullinger knocked down back-to-back threes and finished a tough transition layup in the later stages of the third quarter, pushing the Thomas Worthington lead to 49-35 with 1:33 to go in the period.
From that point forward, Africentric did not get any closer, as Thomas rolled to its fifth-straight win. The Cardinals are rolling at 8-2 and have two potential confidence boosting games next week, with Hilliard Darby and Worthington Kilbourne on the schedule.
For the Nubians, junior guard Cali Davis led all scorers with 15 points. Freshman guard Dan Wagner came off the bench and added 13 points, showing an ability to score it with either hand and from different spots on the floor.
Africentric got a great showing from senior forward Lyheem Hilliard, who excelled in his matchup with Wight, finishing with eight points, eight rebounds and two blocks, despite giving up five inches to the Ohio University signee.
For Africentric, the road does not get any easier, as the Nubians have to play at Walnut Ridge on Tuesday and at South on Friday in City League play next week.