Photo Credit: Central Ohio Photo (Mitch Brown)
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Playing one of the tougher schedules in all of the area, Pickerington Central (20-1) has needed production from a cast of different players this season in order to maintain their dominance as a program.
Tonight, they got exactly that and took down yet another elite OCC program, beating Newark (15-6) in convincing fashion, 51-38. Senior big man Coleton Landis had his best game all season, dominating the paint on his way to 21 points and 13 rebounds.
With the Newark defense disrespecting Landis as a perimeter threat, he opened up the game with a three-pointer to help the Tigers jump out to a quick lead. Despite Newark answering the basket immediately, the Tigers jumped out to a 10-4 lead after the first. This was large in part due to seven points from Landis.
After Newark senior Keshawn Heard picked up his second foul less than three minutes into the game, the Tigers Took advantage immediately and started pounding the ball down low. Struggling to find any good looks in the paint, the Wildcats were forced to shoot from the perimeter a lot in the quarter. Struggling to hit shots, they could not get any offense going.
After Landis continued to dominate by scoring the first five points of the second, Pickerington Central started the quarter on a 10-0 run. After a three from senior Jaidon Lipscomb extended their lead to 20-4 with 2:25 to go in the half, it looked as if they would continue to roll into the half.
Not so fast. After Newark sophomore Drew Ballinger hit one of his four three-pointers on the night, Jaden Woods converted an and-one and just like that, Newark was on a 6-0 run of their own.
After a bucket on the other end from Pickerington Central, Woods sent up a prayer from halfcourt at the buzzer. The contested shot went straight through, giving Newark all of the momentum heading into the half only down 22-13.
Despite being dominated for most of the first half, this was a spot that Newark had to feel good about considering that they could have been trailing by a lot more. With Heard inserted back into the lineup late in the half, their play started to look solid once again.
Showing off his smooth perimeter flick once again, Ballinger hit back-to-back three’s early on in the third to cut the Pickerington Central lead to 24-21 with 5:56 left in the third.
A lefty with a quick shot who is comfortable shooting from all areas of the floor, the sophomore put on an excellent showing from beyond-the-arc tonight. He hit three triples, one off of movement curling to the top of the key, and was very efficient.
After the two big shots from Ballinger, Pickerington Central knocked down a trio of their own three-pointers to extend the lead to 33-23 with four minutes left in the third. A testament to their excellent all-around talent, these triples came from three different players. Landis hit another, his third, Javohn Garcia knocked down a triple and Tahleik Walker hit a three-pointer.
Despite playing their best basketball all night in the third quarter, Pickerington Central answered every blow from Newark, heading into the final frame ahead 36-27.
After Landis hit his fourth three of the game to extend the lead to 39-29, Garcia took over and the Tigers were in cruise control for the rest of the night. With the two combining to score 40 of their 51 points, they found a way to get it done again.
Other than the dominant outing from Landis, Garcia also contributed 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals. In another dominant showing, Javohn was relentless in getting to the rim all night tonight and showed off an excellent ability to finish with both hands through contact. If you’re a low-major or mid-major program who needs another guard, don’t miss the boat on Garcia.
Newark struggled all night to find a consistent scorer, as Woods led them with just 10 points. Ballinger had nine on his three triples and Heard added seven points to go with seven rebounds.
Rolling at the right time, Pickerington Central continued to prove tonight that they are amongst the top three teams in the area even without seniors Jay Rodgers and Sam Towns. The Tigers are feeling great going into the Central District seeding draw tomorrow.
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