Contrasting styles will be featured when the Olentangy Liberty High School boys basketball team plays at Olentangy on Saturday, Jan. 29.

Contrasting styles will be featured when the Olentangy Liberty High School boys basketball team plays at Olentangy on Saturday, Jan. 29.

While Liberty likes to push the ball up the court, Olentangy prefers to control the tempo and work the ball inside to 6-foot-8 junior center Stephen Walczak.

"Olentangy plays a lot of zone (defenses) that have bothered some teams and they want to slow down the pace and play to their strength," Liberty junior guard Jake Bischoff said. "We want to get out and run and have the score in the 60s or 70s and they would like the score to be in the 40s or 50s."

The Patriots won their first eight games, but had lost three of their last four before playing Dublin Jerome on Jan. 25.

"We sometimes get hurt in zones when we don't attack the gaps that are in all zones," Bischoff said. "We can't sit back and throw up outside shots, which plays into their game. We have to be aggressive and attack the zone."

Olentangy coach Chris Kelly said Liberty is a solid team.

"Liberty has kind of a complete team with (Nick) Archer inside and (Jake) Bischoff and (Andy) Yazrombek as guards, and they have several other role players who step up when they need to," Kelly said. "They have a very, very good high school team and they have all of the pieces they need to get wins."

Kelly said his team needs to play consistently with the ball and on the defensive end.

"At times we have been pretty outstanding on defense and we are capable of making things happen on offense," he said. "That's both inside with big men and outside with perimeter shooting. We can do that against anyone if we take care of the basketball."

Walczak's game has progressed in recent weeks. In a 64-56 loss to Westerville North on Jan. 14, he was 10-for-13 from the field and scored 20 points while grabbing 10 rebounds.

"Stephen has been getting better all the time and had a tremendous game against Westerville North," Kelly said. "The kids have been working hard to get the ball into Stephen because he has done such a great job of finishing."

On Dec. 17, the host Patriots defeated Olentangy 52-31 as Yazrombek led with 12 points. Bischoff had nine points and Archer added eight. Walczak scored 11 points to lead the Braves, Lew Staum had eight points and Seth Clark added five.

The teams split last season's games, with each winning at home. Liberty won 83-49 and Olentangy won 59-58 in overtime.

"It's an important game for us, not only because they are our cross-town rival, but because we still remember losing in overtime over there last year," Bischoff said. "When Olentangy and Liberty play, it's big for the team and the school. ... A lot of students from both sides will be there. Whether you are home or away, everyone from around the district will be there, so you want to play your best."

In the OCC-Cardinal Division before Jan. 25, Liberty was in second place at 6-2 behind unbeaten Westerville South (8-0). Westerville Central and Westerville North were tied for third at 5-3, Dublin Scioto was fifth at 3-5, Jerome and Marysville were tied for sixth at 2-6 and Olentangy was eighth at 1-7.

Orange will play its biggest game of the season on Friday, Jan. 28, at home against New Albany.

Before Jan. 25, New Albany led the OCC-Capital at 8-0, followed by Orange and Mount Vernon at 6-2. Delaware was fourth at 5-3, followed Big Walnut and Hilliard Bradley at 3-5, Franklin Heights at 1-7 and Watkins Memorial at 0-8.

On Jan. 21, Orange beat Mount Vernon 56-48 to avenge a 52-39 loss to the Yellow Jackets on Dec. 13.

"We played well as a team; it wasn't just one player," said junior guard Blake Hoskins, who had eight points. "We worked hard all week on their zone and we were finally able to get through in the fourth period when it was most important."

Coach John Betz said New Albany provides a different test from the deliberate offense and zone defenses of Mount Vernon.

"(The Eagles) will come after you and want to play man (defense) and push the ball," said Betz, whose team lost to New Albany 50-45 on Dec. 17. "It should be a very physical game and we want to be able to stay with them and do what we can in the fourth quarter."

Jordan Combs said playing at home may be the difference. The Pioneers have won 13 consecutive home games.

"It's always great to play at home and the crowd really gets into it. You saw that (at Mount Vernon) in the fourth quarter," Combs said. "(The fans) get louder with every game."

AT A GLANCE

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

LIBERTY

*Jan. 21 - Lost to Marysville 48-47. Andy Yazrombek had 19 points and Jake Bischoff added 11.

*Jan. 25 - Played Dublin Jerome

*Jan. 29 - At Olentangy

*Feb. 4 - At Westerville North

Of note: The Patriots were 9-3 overall and 6-2 in the OCC-Cardinal before Jan. 25.

OLENTANGY

*Jan. 21 - Lost to Dublin Scioto 57-39. Seth Clark had 13 points with three 3-pointers and Stephen Walczak added eight points.

*Jan. 25 - Played Marysville

*Jan. 29 - Home vs. Liberty

*Feb. 4 - At Jerome

Of note: The Braves were 4-9 overall and 1-7 in the OCC-Cardinal before Jan. 25.

*OCC-Cardinal game

ORANGE

*Jan. 21 - Defeated Mount Vernon 56-48. Andy Bosley scored 17 points, Jordan Combs had 12 points with three 3-pointers and Matt Kurelic added 11 points with three 3s.

Jan. 22 - Def. St. Charles 56-55. Combs scored 19 points with three 3-pointers, Kurelic had 14 points and Blake Hoskins added 10 points.

*Jan. 25 - Played Big Walnut

*Jan. 28 - Home vs. New Albany

Feb. 1 - At Thomas Worthington

*Feb. 4 - Home vs. Watkins Mem-orial

Of note: The Pioneers were 10-2 overall and 6-2 in the OCC-Capital before Jan. 25.

*OCC-Capital game