Experience has taught Olentangy High School boys basketball coach Chris Kelly that in playing an uptempo style, like his team does, there will be times when his team goes on a run and times when the opponent goes on a run.

Experience has taught Olentangy High School boys basketball coach Chris Kelly that in playing an uptempo style, like his team does, there will be times when his team goes on a run and times when the opponent goes on a run.

Kelly emphasizes to his players that when the latter occurs, it is imperative to maintain composure and counter with a run of their own. That's why he was not surprised that the Braves defeated host Olentangy Liberty 68-57 last Saturday in an OCC-Cardinal Division contest despite squandering a 15-point lead.

"I have a lot of confidence in my team and I think they have confidence in themselves," Kelly said. "I think they know with the way we play that there are going to be some good runs and some not-so-good runs, but if we stay after it and keep playing our game, we'll be OK.

"I don't think I saw any fear in their eyes. I think they just knew that Liberty made some great shots and it was time for us to answer."

Olentangy, which improved to 3-1 all-time against Liberty, led 32-17 in the second quarter but took a 35-26 lead into halftime after the Patriots closed the half on a 9-3 run.

Liberty continued its comeback in the second half, outscoring the Braves 21-11 in the third quarter and taking a 47-44 lead -- its first -- on a 3-point shot by guard Tyler Yazrombek with 1 minute, 23 seconds left in the quarter.

But Olentangy went on a 12-0 run over the next seven minutes to take a 56-47 lead and regain control.

"It hurts to see them come back from a lead like that, but we knew we just had to stay confident and take care of it," Braves guard Alex Tracy said. "Pulling out a close game is definitely good for us. It gives us confidence. It's good to see us do something like this."

Tracy and guard Mitchell Girberd scored 20 points to lead the Braves, with forward Matt Huter adding 10. Forward Cody Persinger led the Patriots with 13 points and center Matt Napier scored 10.

The victory was Olentangy's fourth in a row since opening with a 73-59 loss to OCC-Cardinal Division-rival Dublin Scioto on Dec. 9.

"We knew we had a tough (game) starting out the season," Kelly said, referring to Scioto. "We hoped to get the upset. It didn't happen for us, but I think we felt like we were going to be a good team and surprise some people. It's great to run off four straight victories."

"Hopefully, (the winning streak) will put us on the right path," Tracy said. "We've got a hard schedule coming up. We mainly play in our (league) and our (league) is really good. We're going to have to play really well."

Liberty coach Greg Nossaman said his players are continuing to adjust to the offensive and defensive systems he installed in the offseason when he took over. He believes the Patriots will be significantly better by the time they travel to Olentangy on Jan. 31 in the second round of league play.

"I really like our team, we have good kids," he said. "We've only played five games. We're still doing some different things with some different rotations.

"I think we can improve more than (Olentangy) can. I don't know if that's an accurate statement, but I just feel that they're a veteran group with a lot of seniors É and we're still learning some things and learning to play with each other."

•PIONEERS LOOK LIKE CONTENDERS -- One of Orange's primary goals is to win the OCC-Capital. That appears to be an attainable goal as the Pioneers were 3-1 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Capital before playing Watkins Memorial last Tuesday.

"There are 12 (league) games and that's three down," coach John Betz said. "We're off to a really good start, but we have to keep playing hard. We like where we are, but we have a lot of really hard work ahead of us."

Orange had won three in a row before facing Watkins Memorial. After opening with a 62-54 loss to Beechcroft on Dec. 5, the Pioneers defeated league rivals Mount Vernon 54-50 on Dec. 9, Big Walnut 57-50 on Dec. 12 and New Albany 55-42 last Friday.

"I think things are going well," Betz said. "The train is heading in the right track. The kids are buying into what we're trying to do in practice and in games."

Betz said the key to his team's fast start has been its defensive play, but the Pioneers also are getting offensive contributions from multiple sources. Guards Zack Joseph and Taylor Rieger are the scoring leaders, averaging 16.8 and 15.5 points through four games. Forward Jalen Davis was averaging 8.5 points, with guard Bryce Agler and forward Jason Hoskins averaging 6.0 and 5.8.

"Obviously, Zack and Taylor are going to lead the way, but each night someone else steps up," Betz said.

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Liberty, Olentangy and Orange boys basketball teams:

LIBERTY

*Last Saturday -- Lost to Olentangy 68-57. Cody Persinger scored 13 points and Matt Napier scored 10.

*Last Tuesday -- Played Westerville North

Saturday -- Home vs. Delaware in Delaware County Classic (6 p.m.)

*Jan. 6 -- At Dublin Scioto

Of note: The Patriots were 3-2 overall and 1-2 in the OCC-Cardinal before last Tuesday.

OLENTANGY

Dec. 16 -- Defeated Delaware 62-44. Mitchell Girberd scored 24 points.

*Last Saturday -- Def. Liberty 68-57. Girberd and Tracy scored 20 points and Matt Huter scored 10.

*Last Tuesday -- Played Dublin Jerome

Saturday -- At Liberty vs. Beechcroft in Delaware County Classic (4 p.m.)

Tuesday -- At Big Walnut

*Jan. 3 -- Home vs. Westerville Central

Of note: The Braves were 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Cardinal game

ORANGE

*Last Friday -- Def. New Albany 55-42. Zack Joseph scored 16 points and Taylor Rieger scored 10.

*Last Tuesday -- Played Watkins Memorial

Saturday -- At Liberty vs. Buckeye Valley in Delaware County Classic (2 p.m.)

Tuesday -- Home vs. Columbus South

*Jan. 6 -- Home vs. Franklin Heights

Of note: The Pioneers were 3-1 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Capital before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Capital game