Ten central Ohio teams, including five ranked in area coaches polls and two ranked in the state, are among the high school boys basketball programs that will be competing in the Jared Sullinger Ohio Scholastic Play by Play Classic on Saturday, Jan. 26, at Pickerington Central.
The event, which begins at noon, consists of six games, and of the 12 teams set to compete, all were at least at .500 or better at the season's midpoint.
Here's a look at the matchups:
*Northland vs. Thomas Worthington, noon -- The opening game of the event pits a perennial City League power in the Vikings against one of the area's biggest surprises in the Cardinals.
Northland was 8-4 after beating Columbus International 94-64 on Jan. 18 and is led by senior N'Keeley Elmore, a 5-foot-9 guard who is averaging more than 18 points. The Vikings also have a talented sophomore guard in Makhale Massey.
At 10-3 after losing to Hilliard Bradley 47-31 on Jan. 18, Thomas has doubled its win total from a year ago. Ben Wight, a 6-8 senior post player and Ohio University commit, averages 15 points while sophomore guard Jalen Sullinger is an emerging standout.
*Hartley vs. Westerville North, 1:45 p.m. -- Two teams looking to hit their respective strides will match up for the second contest.
Hartley was 7-5 after beating Watterson 64-58 on Jan. 18. The Hawks feature senior forward Morgan Safford, who averages 21 points, as well as senior post player Payton Collins.
North was a Division I district runner-up last season but was 7-7 after losing to Westerville Central 62-58 on Jan. 18. Senior point guard Jeremiah Keene leads the Warriors, averaging 20 points.
*Olentangy Liberty vs. Pickerington North, 3:30 p.m. -- This should be one of the most intriguing matchups in the event because of the high-caliber talent that will be on display.
Senior forward Ben Roderick was central Ohio's leader in scoring average at 30.2 points entering last week for Liberty, which was 10-3 after losing to Olentangy Orange 51-47 on Jan. 18. Senior guard Nick Nakasian averages 17.
North forward Jack Sawyer averages 22 points and is perhaps the area's top sophomore. The Panthers were 10-3 after beating Pickerington Central 65-55 on Jan. 18.
*Africentric vs. Ottawa-Glandorf, 5:15 p.m. -- The Nubians have a mostly new group of key players after finishing as Division III state runners-up last season, with junior guard Calijha'won Davis averaging a team-high 14 points.
Africentric was 7-5 after beating Briggs 73-60 on Jan. 18.
Ottawa-Glandorf was ranked eighth in last week's Division III state poll and was 10-2 after beating Celina 97-44 on Jan. 18. Senior point guard Owen Hiegel and senior forward Ethan White lead the Titans.
*Hilliard Bradley vs. Newark, 7 p.m. -- Continuing their recent trend of regular-season dominance, the Jaguars were 12-0 after beating Thomas 47-31 on Jan. 18.
Bradley, which lost only one regular-season game each of the past two seasons, is led by junior forward Matt Allocco, who averages 16 points, but has four other players who average nine points.
The Jaguars were ranked fourth in last week's Division I state poll.
Newark, which was 12-2 after beating New Albany 71-45 on Jan. 18, has three players who average in double figures in 6-7 senior forward Keshawn Heard and junior guards Bobby Crenshaw and Jaden Woods.
*Garfield Heights vs. Pickerington Central, 8:30 p.m. -- The event's finale features the state's No. 2-ranked team in Division I in Central.
Senior guard Jahvon Garcia averages 19 points for the Tigers, who fell to 12-1 with a 65-55 loss to Pickerington North on Jan. 18.
Averaging between 10 and 12 points for the Tigers are senior post players Coleton Landis and Sam Towns, who are 6-7 and 6-8, respectively, and senior guard Jay Rodgers. The status of Rodgers and Towns, however, is uncertain going forward because of OHSAA transfer rules as both joined the program during the offseason.
Garfield Heights has one of the state's top sophomores in point guard Meechie Johnson, an Ohio State recruit.
Below is the schedule for the Jared Sullinger Ohio Scholastic Play by Play Classic, which will be held Jan. 26 at Pickerington Central:
Noon -- Northland vs. Thomas Worthington
1:45 p.m. -- Hartley vs. Westerville North
3:30 p.m. -- Olentangy Liberty vs. Pickerington North
5:15 p.m. -- Africentric vs. Ottawa-Glandorf
7 p.m. -- Hilliard Bradley vs. Newark
8:30 p.m. -- Garfield Heights vs. Pickerington Central