COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Tournament season is upon us. With the bulk of Division I sectional semifinal matchups tipping off on Saturday, let's take a look at each matchup.
In an overtime thriller, Canal Winchester edged Dublin Jerome, 60-59 in a tightly contested sectional semifinal at home.
While Jerome had the momentum following a game-tying three from Dan Lee that sent Saturday's game into overtime, the Celtics were in a great position to take home a win leading 57-56 with 45 seconds to go.
Struggling to knock down key free throws in the late stages of the game, Jerome also had a difficult time getting the ball in against pressure. This came back to bite them one final time, as the Celtics turned the ball over on an inbound pass at mid court, allowing Canal to make a go-ahead bucket on a steal and assist from junior Avery Musick to Canal senior Brady Snyder.
Lee struck back on the next possession with a cold-blooded mid-range jumper, giving Jerome a 59-58 lead with 20 seconds to go. Canal was not fazed, however, as Snyder found junior Jack Beeler under the hoop for the go-ahead bucket as Jerome fell asleep on defense with 13 seconds remaining.
On its next possession, the Celtics missed two inside scores near the rim, as Canal Winchester ran away with the sectional semifinal victory.
Junior forward Bilal Sow led the Indians with 18 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Snyder added 11 points and seven assists while junior Cole Metzler pitched in 11 as well. Musick had a great showing with 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
For Jerome, Lee was the key in the late stages of the game, finishing with 18 points, five rebounds and five assists. Senior forward Matthew Montgomery was terrific as well, adding 19 points, five rebounds, three assists and three blocks.
No other Celtics added more than eight points, as senior Joey Pickering hit a few big threes including a go-ahead triple late in regulation.
Jerome led by as much as seven points in the third quarter, as the Celtics opened up a 39-32 lead with 3:52 remaining in the period. Canal stormed back and cut the deficit to 41-40 heading into the final frame.
In the fourth quarter and overtime, neither team led by more than three points, as Saturday's semifinal offered up a high stakes, high pressure matchup between two well-coached units.
With the win, Canal Winchester moves on to host No. 25 Tri-Valley in the sectional finals next Friday at 7 p.m.
Saturday’s sectional semifinal matchup between Delaware Hayes and Westerville Central did not disappoint. Coming right down to the wire, Delaware needed all 27 points from senior Terin Kinsway to come with a 56-55 thrilling win.
The first quarter got off to a slow start with score at 6-6 with 2:57 remaining. Westerville Central was able to get some open looks that they took advantage of. Their 2-3 zone caused Hayes some problems as well and they held a 13-9 lead after one.
Hayes switched its defense to a 1-2-2 trap falling back into a 2-3 zone. Hayes was able to speed the Warhawks up and in the half court Central settled for three point attempts. After just a two point first quarter, Kinsway got it going. His three point shot with 5:27 remaining in the first half gave Hayes its first lead at 16-15. He didn’t slow down as he scored 10 points in the quarter. Nate Griggs added 10 first half points for the Pacers. Hayes outscored the Warkhawks 19-5 in the second quarter and took a 28-18 lead into halftime.
Hayes extended their lead to 39-27 with 3:47 remaining in the quarter and looked to be in complete control. However, the third quarter quickly turned into the the Chaz Dixon show as the senior went on a 7-0 run while scoring 11-consecutive points for the Warhawks. Thanks to this, Central cut the lead to 39-34 with 2:21 remaining in the period. As was the case all night though Kinsway offered a swift response with five points and Hayes took a 44-34 lead into the final frame.
The fourth quarter produced an instant classic.
Dixon knocked down a three cutting the lead to 46-39. On the ensuing possession Tyler Combest came up with a steal that resulted in two free throws at the other end. After the free throws were split Westerville Central trailed 46-40. Seemingly having Hayes in a corner Westerville Central came up with another stop followed by a huge three from junior Tyler Beckel making it a three point game with 5:30 seconds remaining.
After baskets were exchanged, Griggs knocked down a big three giving Hayes a 51-45 lead. That shot was immediately answered on the other end with another huge shot from Beckel.
After a stop, Dixon scored another basket, cutting the score to 51-50. After another stop, Central scored a basket that would’ve given them the lead, however, that shot was instead called as an offensive foul, which brought a swift change of momentum.
Griggs scored on the next possession, followed by a stop and monster slam in transition from Kinsway, which increased the Hayes lead to 55-50 with 1:55 to go.
Momentum was again shifted after Kinsway was called for a questionable technical foul for hanging on the rim. Dixon went to the line and split the technical shots. On the ensuing possession, Dixon knocked down two more free throws after being fouled to cut the deficit to 55-53.
Westerville Central got a stop but lost possession after a big time steal from Griggs who was fouled and sent to the line for a crucial one-and-one. Griggs missed the front end and Dixon made his way to the rim drawing another foul, and again knocked down both free throws to tie the game at 55 in the final minute.
Hayes held the ball until under ten and let their season be decided by their senior leader Kinsway. He drove to the basket and got fouled with four seconds left. Kinsway split the two giving Westerville Central one last shot to win the game.
On the final possession, Dixon bobbled the ball but quickly recovered. With time ticking down, Dixon’s last second prayer hit nothing but net, however, the shot was released a split second late. With his potential game-winning bucket being waved off, Dixon and the Warhawks went down on the road in a big-time battle.
Kinsway led all scorers with 27 points and four rebounds for the Pacers. Delaware needed every single ounce of production from its 6-foot-5 senior on Saturday. Griggs added 19 points, six rebounds and three steals for Delaware, who will now head to No. 13 Olentangy Orange in the sectional finals next weekend.
For Westerville Central, Dixon had a tremendous showing, ending his career with 25 points in a gutsy performance. Beckel provided the Warhawks with ample production, going for 15 points on three triples that helped Central stay in it late.
Despite holding just a 13-11 lead after a quarter of play, Dublin Coffman blew the doors off Whetstone the rest of the way, cruising to a 69-29 sectional semifinal win.
Coffman senior Luke Bartmes knocked down three triples and led all scorers with 15 points, while junior point guard Dominiq Penn pitched in 12 points.
With the win, Dublin Coffman will host No. 47 Franklin Heights next Friday in the sectional finals.
Marion Harding came out in Saturday's sectional semifinal with a unique game plan of stall ball. Allowing Hilliard Bradley to only have three offensive possessions (they scored on all of them), Marion Harding's strategy helped the Presidents only trail 20-10 going into halftime.
From that point forward, Bradley dominated, cruising to the sectional finals with a 53-28 win. The Jags used a 25-4 third quarter to break Saturday's game open.
Bradley was led by a cast of sophomore guards, as Keaton Norris and AJ Mirgon combined for 28 points.
For Marion Harding, junior guard Mitch Myers led the way with eight points.
With the win, Bradley advances to play No. 37 Lancaster in the sectional finals next Friday.
Jumping out to a 52-16 halftime lead, Pickerington Central was never in trouble in an 85-33 sectional semifinal win over Westland.
The Tigers had four players in double figures, as senior guard Javohn Garcia continued a Mr. Basketball type season with 23 points. Senior forward Coleton Landis (15 points), sophomore wing Garner Wallace (14 points) and junior guard Tahleik Walker (11 points) rounded out the Tigers in double figures.
Westland junior forward Eric Panning led the Cougars with 12 points.
With the win, Pickerington Central moves on to play No. 44 West in the sectional finals next Friday.
With arguably the best player in Central Ohio, Olentangy Liberty will have a great chance to win every game it plays. On Saturday the Patriots got 26 points from senior Ben Roderick as Liberty rolled over Hilliard Darby in the sectional semifinals, 74-41.
Roderick and senior Nick Nakasian combined for 41 points as Liberty jumped out to a 36-18 halftime lead.
Darby sophomore Andrew Patrick, who recently committed to Wright State for baseball, led the Panthers with 13 points.
Liberty advances to the sectional finals to take on No. 39 Licking Heights on Friday. With No. 11 Logan going down to No. 28 Grove City on Saturday, Liberty has a more favorable path to a district final now with no seed below 22 in its way.
Sophomore forward Jack Sawyer continued a big-time season with 29 points as Pickerington North cruised by Watkins Memorial in the sectional semifinals, 56-36.
Leading 35-15 at half, the Panthers were never in trouble on Saturday. Sawyer and junior wing Hunter Shedenhelm scored in double figures for the Panthers, combining for 39 points.
For Watkins, Bryce Small led the Warriors with 11 points.
With the win, Pickerington North advances to take on No. 41 Briggs in the sectional finals on Friday.
New Albany played spoiler for the first eight minutes in Saturday's sectional semifinal at Hilliard Davidson, outscoring the Wildcats 8-2 in the first quarter. However, in the middle quarters Davidson pulled away, outscoring the Eagles 27-11 to hang on to a 46-38 victory.
Davidson was led by junior forward Gage Keys, who led all Wildcats scores with 10 points, while seniors Jacob Drees and Ethan Royer added nine points each.
For New Albany, juniors Dillon Masters and Keegan Schaub each finished in double figures, combining for 22 points.
With the win, Davidson advances to play No. 29 Teays Valley in the sectional finals on Friday.
Forcing Mifflin into more turnovers than points in the first quarter, Reynoldsburg was far too much for the visiting Punchers in the sectional semifinals, cruising to an 85-43 win.
In what ended up being a dunk show for the Raiders, seniors Ben Fort (20 points), Xavier Prince (12 points) and Sahmi Willoughby (12 points) provided for plenty of above the rim highlights while also combining for 44 points. Junior guard Nick Wallace had one of his better games of the season, finishing with 11 points.
For Mifflin, Jakai Watts paced the Punchers with 19 points, while going 8-of-10 at the line.
Reynoldsburg moves on to the sectional finals where it will host No. 27 Westerville South next Friday.
In March, errrr February, anything can happen. That phrase has never been more true than it was on Saturday night in the sectional semifinals at Logan.
Storming back from a 14-point fourth quarter deficit, No. 28 Grove City upset No. 11 Logan on the road, 60-58.
While nobody gave Grove City a chance (us included, we will admit it), the Greyhounds believed in themselves and that made the biggest difference in Saturday's upset win.
While Logan took its largest lead of the game early in the fourth quarter at 51-37, Grove City never backed down and Logan never scored again in regulation. Responding with an insane 14-0 run the rest of the way, Grove City found a way to shut Logan down and come up with timely shots.
Junior forward Cole Crager tied the game on a beautiful in bounds play in front of the Grove City bench, sending Saturday's game into overtime.
In overtime, it was all GC as the Greyhounds struck first and never relinquished its lead. Despite free throw struggles, Grove City found a way to hold off the Chieftains, as the Greyhounds ended the game on a 23-7 run after trailing 51-37.
With West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins in the house on Saturday, Walnut Ridge junior forward Von Cameron Davis got straight to business in the Scots' 77-58 sectional semifinal win over Marysville.
Scoring the first seven points of the game and dropping 20 in the first half, Davis dominated from the opening tip. Proving to be too strong and too good for anyone else on the floor, Davis powered Walnut Ridge with 28 points in another terrific showing.
The 6-foot-4 junior was not a one-man show however, as Walnut Ridge got great production from junior big man Kaveon Ross, who added 20 points and seven rebounds. Senior guard Meach Coble continued his breakout season with 15 points, six rebounds and three assists, as the trio combined for 63 points on Saturday.
Junior point guard Qian Magwood set the tone early for the Scots, applying great pressure on both ends of the floor as he finished with seven points and seven assists. Magwood helped Walnut Ridge get into its half court sets where the Scots played disciplined basketball, making the correct reads to get easy looks.
For Marysville, the Monarchs never really were in it on Saturday, trailing 21-7 after a quarter and 44-18 at the half. The second half was a little better, as Marysville came out with good energy and confidence, finding better looks at the basket.
Monarchs senior guard Bodie Eberhart led all scorers with 17 points while sophomore guard Garrett Taylor had a terrific showing with 13 points and seven rebounds. The 6-foot-7 Taylor knocked down a three and two mid-range jumpers, while finishing strong through contact around the basket.
Senior center Phil Hughes, who figured to be the x-factor in the matchup against Davis, got into foul trouble early and missed most of the first half. By the time Hughes got back in the game, Walnut Ridge led 35-10, as it was all but over at that point.
With the win, Walnut Ridge advances to the sectional finals where the Scots will host No. 14 Chillicothe. In what could be the very best sectional final matchup, Walnut Ridge will look to again run things through the super junior Davis, who has one of the best motors that you'll find anywhere in Ohio, while being an unstoppable force around the rim.
While letting Dublin Scioto hang around the a majority of Saturday’s sectional semifinal matchup, Gahanna used a big 10-0 run to start the fourth to avoid the upset, taking down Scioto 61-53 in the sectional semifinals on Saturday.
While Gahanna looked to be in control of the game early on after jumping out to a 12-5 lead on the back of sophomore Maceo Williams, Scioto quickly proved they came ready to play. After a big three from junior Benjamin Lombardo at the buzzer, they went into the second trailing just 14-13.
With several lead changes taking place in the second, a quick six points from Gahanna before the half capped off by a steal and score from freshman sensation Sean Jones gave them a 30-27 lead at the break.
Carrying this momentum into the third, Jones used a great nine point quarter to help the Lions take a comfortable 45-38 lead into the final frame.
Going on a 10-0 run from the 1:56 mark of the third to the 5:15 mark of the fourth, Gahanna turned up their defensive pressure to create easy points. With the trio of Jones, Zane Leitwein and Elijah Thomas forcing a plethora of steals, the Lions put away Scioto late by coupling this excellent defense with great free throw shooting.
Finishing with a game-high 19 points for the Lions, the freshman did an excellent job of creating offense all night for his squad. With an elite handle, quick combo moves and a great finishing ability, Jones is a threat to any defense, even as a freshman.
Thomas also finished with 16 points and four steals, as he did a great job of hitting open shots all night and came up with several big steals. Williams scored 12 points, all in the first half, as he was a great presence inside for the Lions. He hit a few tough post shots that are very promising to see out of a young big.
Gahanna will take on Big Walnut next Friday at home in the sectional finals.
For Scioto, Dapreis Owens led the way by scoring 16 points in a solid showing off the bench. Hitting shots from all three levels, Owens looked like a wing who should definitely fill a solid role at the Division III level.
Lombardo also scored 12 points and knocked down a couple of big three’s. Junior forward Drew Prince also has a nice showing inside by scoring nine points to go along with seven rebounds. He used his strong frame to his advantage all night long and created easy looks.
Ending the season on a tough loss, Scioto will look to keep improving next year as they return a cast of talented juniors.
In Saturday's early afternoon matchup at 4 p.m., Groveport held home court in a rematch against St. Charles, shutting the Cardinals down in the second half of a 50-40 win.
While the Cardinals had the advantage early behind freshman wing Jared Frey, Groveport locked up on the defensive end, holding the 6-foot-3 Frey without a field goal after halftime.
Groveport had a great showing from beyond the three-point line, as senior Javon Miller scored 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, while knocking down four threes. Miller was joined in the backcourt by senior Nakhi Taylor who added nine points and five assists, while locking down on the defensive perimeter as Frey's primary defender.
Senior forward Martez Knight added nine points while sophomore guard Scotty Lomax came off the bench and knocked down two pretty threes.
For St. Charles, offense was hard to come by in the second half, as the Cardinals were held to just eight points in the fourth quarter. Junior center Victor Searls led all scorers with 12 points in an efficient showing, while Frey added 10 points as the focus of Groveport's defensive game plan.
No other player added more than six points, as St. Charles struggled to stretch the floor to create space for Searls inside.
With the win, Groveport advances to the sectional finals to take on No. 17 Thomas Worthington. The Cruisers have been notorious for being tournament spoilers in recent years, which will make next Friday's matchup on the road an interesting one.