Javohn Garcia and Adrian Nelson each scored 14 points and the third-seeded Pickerington High School Central boys basketball team relied on its defense to hold off fourth-seeded Westerville North 59-57 in a Division I district final March 10 at Ohio Dominican.
It marks the third consecutive district championship for the Tigers, who improved to 16-8 and will play Dublin Coffman in a regional semifinal March 15 at Ohio Dominican.
Central trailed 29-25 at halftime, but Garcia scored 11 of his points and Nelson scored 10 in the second half. The Tigers used an 8-0 run spanning the third and fourth quarters to pull ahead for good.
Josiah Fulcher and Nelson scored on consecutive possessions with less than two minutes to left and Nelson’s fourth dunk of the day sealed the outcome with 59 seconds left.
The Warriors, who finished 21-5, pulled within two points on Jeremiah Keene’s 3-pointer with 54 seconds remaining but could not get off a final shot.
“They did a good job scouting us, so a few times (in the second half) we ran some ball screens for Garcia,” said Tigers coach Eric Krueger, whose team won its ninth consecutive game. “He came up really big today. Defensively, we just had to get one stop and a rebound, one stop and a rebound and we could get out of here (with a win).”
Julius Brown had 17 points, Julian Malone scored 15 and Philip Alston added 11 for North, which was seeking its first district title since 1998.
“They went zone after halftime and we didn’t adjust,” Warriors coach Shan Trusley said. “We didn’t execute the way we had all year.”
Dublin Coffman 68, Upper Arlington 51
Dominiq Penn scored 19 of his game-high 30 points in the first half as the fifth-seeded Shamrocks avenged two regular-season losses to UA with a rout of the second-seeded Golden Bears in a Division I district final March 10 at Ohio Dominican.
Coffman, which lost to UA by a combined five points in OCC-Central Division play, led by as many as 23 in the fourth quarter.
“We got a lead in both of (those games), and this time we held on,” Coffman coach Jamey Collins said. “We got the lead earlier in this game than we did in the other ones. It’s basketball. We shot the ball well. There’s no other way to put it. We gave up (roughly) the same amount of points, but we just shot the ball well tonight.”
Will Hunter added 12 points and Nick Carlson scored 11 for the Shamrocks, who improved to 20-6 and will play Pickerington Central in a regional semifinal March 15 at ODU.
Dane Goodwin had 22 points to lead the Bears but fouled out of his final prep game with 5:46 left in regulation. Max Martz added nine points and Will Grabovac scored eight for UA, which finished 23-2.
“We picked a bad time to play one of our worst games in a couple years,” Bears coach Tim Casey said. “If we could get it under 10 with four minutes to go, I felt like we could put some pressure on them and be right back in it. But they were scoring at will.”
Hilliard Bradley 59, Westerville South 46
A fast start helped the third-seeded Jaguars defeat the eighth-seeded Wildcats in a Division I district final March 10 at Ohio Dominican to earn their first district championship.
Bradley improved to 24-1 and will play Reynoldsburg in a regional semifinal March 14 at Ohio Dominican. South finished 15-9.
Isaiah Speelman hit a 3-pointer on the game’s opening possession to fuel the early pace by the Jaguars, who jumped out to a 12-3 lead and made 10 of their first 14 shots. Speelman finished with a team-high 16 points as Bradley shot 51.2 percent (21 of 41) from the field.
“We started off really good early,” Bradley coach Brett Norris said. “(The Wildcats) made it a little choppy for us with their pressure, but our guys wanted this one so bad.”
Trailing 35-21 at halftime, South turned up the pressure in the second half but only trimmed its deficit to nine points at 50-41 after a steal and layup from Jordan McMillian with 3:03 left in the fourth quarter.
“They were well-prepared and they executed well and did things the right way,” South coach Ed Calo said. “I was proud of the way our kids fought and they never gave up at any point.”
Chris Mayfield had 11 points for Bradley, and both Matt Allocco and Zach Hummel added nine.
McMillian led the Wildcats with 24 points and Ryan Greggs scored 13.
Reynoldsburg 51, Mount Vernon 36
The 10th-seeded Raiders beat the 16th-seeded Yellow Jackets in a Division I district final March 10 at Ohio Dominican for their third district championship, but first under sixth-year coach Scott Davis.
Reynoldsburg, whose other district titles came in 2006 and 2012 under former coach Chris Rider, improved to 19-7 and will play Bradley in a regional semifinal March 14 at Ohio Dominican. Mount Vernon finished 16-8.
“It’s a surreal moment,” Raiders senior guard Jamiel Goliday said. “We haven’t won a district since 2012, so for us to do it, it means a lot.”
Reynoldsburg held Mount Vernon to two points in the first quarter and led 27-17 at halftime.
Ben Fort had 17 points, including 13 in the first half, and Goliday scored 14 to lead the Raiders, who stretched their lead to 42-22 by the end of the third quarter. Tre Williams added eight points.
Collin Barteau scored 11 points to lead Mount Vernon, which upset top-seeded Pickerington North 61-58 in a district semifinal March 7.
“We got off to a great start defensively,” Davis said. “We were able to get stops.”