There weren’t any buzzer-beating shots, or even a matchup that came down to a few big plays at the end during the Jared Sullinger Ohio Scholastic Play by Play Classic on Jan. 27 at Ohio Dominican.
The lack of drama, though, doesn’t mean there were no eye-opening moments.
For the boys basketball teams involved, the late regular season six-pack of games proved to be a good litmus test for the coming postseason.
Here are five things we learned from the Play by Play Classic:
1. Upper Arlington might have central Ohio’s best defense.
Everyone knows about the Golden Bears’ Dane Goodwin, a Notre Dame signee who scored 16 points as his team beat Eastmoor Academy 45-30 in the finale of the Play by Play Classic.
What UA continues to show is that its defense is something special — or golden, if you will.
The Bears aren’t especially tall, with Goodwin and junior Max Martz being the biggest regulars at 6-foot-5, but their team defensive approach has held nine opponents below 40 points during a 14-1 start.
2. Julius Brown and Ben Roderick are explosive offensive threats.
Roderick, a 6-5 junior wing player who has emerged as one of central Ohio’s top scorers, made three 3-pointers and scored 32 points as Olentangy Liberty upset Dublin Coffman 62-54. The Patriots, who led 28-14 by halftime, are just 9-7 but could fill the role of sleeper in the Division I district tournament.
Brown is a 5-11 senior guard who came in averaging 15 points but made seven 3s and scored 29 points in Westerville North’s 57-46 victory over Reynoldsburg.
3. Newark just might be for real.
The Wildcats compete in what appears to be the weakest of the OCC’s five divisions, the OCC-Capital, and have thrived.
Their 15-2 record now includes a 63-50 victory in the Play by Play Classic over Northland, which is one of the City League-North’s stronger teams.
The Wildcats showed their power in the fourth quarter when they scored 24 points. Senior forward J.T. Shumate and senior guard Antonio Watson, who scored 20 and 17 points, respectively, are talented players, and there might not be a better coach in central Ohio than Jeff Quackenbush.
4. Africentric and Hilliard Bradley reaffirmed their status as district title contenders.
Sure, Bradley played a Pickerington Central team that still is without its top player in junior guard Jeremiah Francis because of an injury, but its 54-33 victory was impressive nonetheless.
The Jaguars are shorthanded as well, with injured senior guard Braden Norris expected back soon.
The Nubians, meanwhile, will be a tough out in Division III. They jumped out to a 10-0 lead against Gahanna and held a double-digit lead for much of their 61-46 victory.
It’s a reminder that Africentric won’t be intimidated in its move up from Division IV.
5. There are reasons to hope for the big-school teams that lost in the Play by Play Classic.
Outside of Pickerington Central, which slipped to 7-8 and lost for the third time in four games, the other four Division I programs that lost in the Play by Play have a combined winning percentage of .712.
UA and Pickerington North might be the top two teams in central Ohio in the big-school division, but there are plenty of opportunities for others to emerge.
Coffman, Gahanna, Northland and Reynoldsburg all had moments where they looked like contenders to go deep into the district tournament.
Finding consistency will be the task for each over the coming weeks.