Division I district final
Westerville South boys eliminate New Albany
The top-seeded Westerville South High School boys basketball team hit the throttle at the opening tipoff and rarely let up while beating New Albany 69-54 in a Division I district final March 11 in the Fairgrounds Coliseum.
"We thought it was critical. We thought we had to go up and down (the court)," said Wildcats coach Ed Calo, whose team improved to 23-1. "We feel most comfortable when we're pushing the ball."
The Wildcats, who captured their third district title and first since 2008, have outscored four postseason opponents by an average margin of 37 points. They will play either Cincinnati Princeton or Liberty Township Lakota East in a regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 17, at the Fairgrounds.
The eighth-seeded Eagles finished 18-5.
"We worked on transition all week (in practice)," New Albany coach Sam Davis said. "We held three guys back, but that doesn't work when they're stealing the ball."
Keyed by Traevon Jackson's passing, the Wildcats went on a 25-6 run over parts of the first and second quarters to take a 27-11 lead with 5 minutes, 8 seconds remaining in the first half.
Jackson scored 13 points and Ben Jones contributed a game-high 23 off the bench with five rebounds. Jones went 7-of-12 from the floor and 8-of-10 at the free-throw line. Stephen O'Daniel, also coming off the bench, had nine rebounds and scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half behind a trio of 3-pointers.
The Eagles, who got 22 points from Tommy Smotrich and 12 from Ryan Mayle, had trouble matching South's pace. Still, they pulled to within 46-41 with 37.2 seconds left in the third quarter thanks to an 18-7 run. The Wildcats outscored the Eagles 23-13 the rest of the way even as Jackson missed more than three minutes after committing his fourth foul early in the fourth quarter.
"He's a great player," Calo said of Jackson, a Wisconsin recruit. "Great players make other players great."