Justin Zielinski is trying to reassert himself as an inside scoring presence for the Pickerington High School North boys basketball team.

Justin Zielinski is trying to reassert himself as an inside scoring presence for the Pickerington High School North boys basketball team.

The 6-foot-6, 215-pound senior had a season-high 15 points during a 65-24 OCC-Ohio Division victory over Groveport on Jan. 21. That was just his third double-digit effort of the season, but second in four games. He and guard Jake McCullough had 10 points each when the Panthers held off Newark 43-41 in a league game on Jan. 7.

"He's a two-year starter for us and he lettered as a sophomore, too," coach Pete Liptrap said of Zielinski. "He's a capable offensive scorer with a nice left-handed hook shot.

"When we're playing our best offensive basketball our inside guys complement the outside shooters. Hopefully, this will springboard Justin into a strong second half."

Zielinski, who also scored 11 points in a 46-40 win over Reynoldsburg on Dec. 17, was averaging 6.7 points through 12 games. He got into foul trouble early against Groveport but came back to score 13 points in the second half.

"When we're open, our point guards get us the ball," Zielinski said. "Groveport made some silly turnovers and we capitalized when the ball handlers found me underneath."

Zielinski, who also benefited from several putbacks following offensive rebounds, said he isn't feeling any pressure to carry the scoring load.

"We're definitely more spread out this year. Last year, we had three guys who did most of the scoring," he said. "We're getting more people involved offensively this year. It's someone different every night stepping up."

The Panthers were 11-1 overall and 7-1 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Pickerington Central on Jan. 25. They entered the game without having a player averaging double figures in points. Tyler Kelly was the leading scorer at 9.5 points per game.

Trent Waybright was averaging 8.6 points, McCullough 8.8 and Michael Klamo 8.3. Seven players had led the team in scoring or shared it through 12 games.

"It's pretty hard (for opponents) to lock down on any one player," Zielinski said.

Zielinski is hoping to play at the next level. He is looking at smaller colleges, including Mount Union and Muskingum.

"He'll be a good fit somewhere," Liptrap said. "We think he can play at the Division III level."

The Panthers led Groveport 31-11 at halftime and were well en route to their sixth consecutive victory.

North played Central on Jan. 25 and will travel to battle Reynoldsburg on Jan. 28. The Panthers won the first-round meeting against Reynoldsburg 46-40 on Dec. 17, with Tyler Kelley scoring a team-high 14 points.

North made nine of 13 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter.

The Panthers will play at New Albany on Jan. 28 in a game rescheduled from Jan. 11 because of snow.

The Eagles were 10-1 overall before Jan. 25, including 8-0 in the OCC-Capital Division. Their only blemish was a 61-51 decision to unbeaten Upper Arlington on Jan. 22.

AT A GLANCE

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Central and North boys basketball team:

CENTRAL

Jan. 22 - Defeated Hilliard Davidson 58-51. Caris Levert scored 15 points, Jae'sean Tate had 14 and Zach Beaver added 10, as the Tigers won their third in a row.

*Jan. 25 - Played Pickerington North

*Jan. 28 - At Gahanna. The Tigers dropped the first-round game 78-53 on Dec. 17 as the Lions made 31 free throws. Levert and Kris Strange scored 11 points.

*Jan. 31 - At Lancaster. Rescheduled from Jan. 20 because of snow.

Feb. 1 - Home vs. Delaware

Of note: The Tigers were 5-5 overall and 4-3 in the OCC-Ohio before Jan. 25.

*OCC-Ohio game

NORTH

*Jan. 21 - Def. Groveport 65-24. Justin Zielinski scored a season-high 15 points.

*Jan. 25 - Played Central

*Jan. 28 - At Reynoldsburg. The Panthers won the first-round game 46-40 on Dec. 17 behind Tyler Kelly's team-high 14 points.

Jan. 29 - At New Albany. Rescheduled from Jan. 11 because of snow. The Eagles were 10-1 before Jan. 25.

Of note: The Panthers were 11-1 overall and 7-1 in the OCC-Ohio before Jan. 25. Gahanna was first at 8-0. The Lions play host to North on Feb. 4.

*OCC-Ohio game