Top-notch competition from across the country awaits the Olentangy Liberty High School boys basketball team in Florida.
For the second time in three seasons, the Patriots will play in a KSA Events Holiday Tournament at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.
Liberty opens Friday, Dec. 27, in the Gray Bracket against Johnson City (Tenn.) Science Hill and plays Coral Gables (Fla.) on Saturday, Dec. 28. It closes the competition Sunday, Dec. 29, against Lake Forest (Calif.) El Toro.
"We looked at the teams that we play and they are pretty good," said coach Greg Nossaman, whose team is 4-1 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Central Division. "We play a team that plays the tough (Los Angeles)-area teams. Coral Gables is always good ... and we have a school from Tennessee who has a good program. It will be tough all-around."
After play last weekend, Coral Gables was 8-2, El Toro was 8-1 and Science Hill was 12-4.
"It's just part of what we aim to do with non-league games," Nossaman said. "We want to play as tough of competition as we can. We played Westerville North (65-47 loss Dec. 14) and that's a good team. It's not as much about getting wins as it is growing and learning as a team and being ready for the postseason."
Two years ago, the Patriots won the KSA tournament White Bracket title by defeating Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic 66-52, Mobile (Ala.) McGill-Toolen Catholic 74-55 and Butler (Pa.) Area 68-57. Nick Archer, a 2012 graduate who plays at Hillsdale (Mich.) College, was named Most Valuable Player, averaging 17.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 4.3 blocks in the three games.
"Our No. 1 goal is to win the league and then to get to a district final and (the KSA tournament) can help us get there," Nossaman said. "If you do those two things, you have had a pretty good season. If you can be one of the top six of 42 teams (by reaching a district final), you've done well."
The Patriots defeated Westland 88-56 on Dec. 20 in a league game as Mike DeLeon had 33 points and 10 rebounds and Zach Nice scored 15 points. Nate Wilke had eight points and Law Jones, A.J. Kullman and Jacob Wiseman all scored seven points.
DeLeon scored 35 points to lead Liberty past Marysville 77-51 on Dec. 21 in a league game. Jones had 11 points and Wiseman added eight.
The Patriots' league game Jan. 3 at Hilliard Davidson has been moved to 6 p.m. so it doesn't conflict with Ohio State playing in the Orange Bowl later that evening.
Braves look to learn from early setbacks
Olentangy was 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Capital before playing Big Walnut on Dec. 23.
The Braves lost to Dublin Jerome 65-57 on Dec. 14 for their first loss.
"We played a tough Jerome team, which had long players who hurt us on the boards," coach Chris Kelly said. "We played a decent game, but Jerome played well. We played well on the road and we had a chance to win it in the last minute.
"We learned that every game is going to be tough, especially against OCC teams. We put a lot of energy in our (59-48) win over Orange (on Dec. 13). We didn't have the legs (Dec. 14 against Jerome) that we had against Orange."
Through four games, Jimmy Gundling led Olentangy in scoring at 18.5 points per game. Ryan Sieve was averaging 12.8 points, followed by Seth O'Neal (9.0 ppg) and Derrick Wyche (5.5 ppg).
The Braves lost to New Albany 61-51 on Dec. 20 in a league game as Gundling had 20 points and O'Neal added 12.
Olentangy's league game Jan. 3 at Worthington Kilbourne has been moved to 6 p.m. because of the Orange Bowl.
Pioneers looking for first win
Orange was 0-4 overall and 0-3 in the OCC-Capital after losing to Mount Vernon 59-50 on Dec. 21.
Orange also lost to Delaware 57-37 in a league game Dec. 20. Jay Joseph had 11 points, Colin Shepherd scored eight and Haydn Audsley and Dave Dawson both scored seven.
Gossard scored 12 points against Mount Vernon. Will Phillis had 11 points and Dawson added nine.
Orange's home league game Jan. 3 against Franklin Heights has been moved to 3 p.m. because of the Orange Bowl.