Jahvon Garcia scored the last of his 14 points on a free throw with 36.9 seconds left to give the Pickerington High School Central boys basketball team a one-point lead, and the third-seeded Tigers held on to edge seventh-seeded Reynoldsburg 50-49 in a Division I district final March 9 at Greater Columbus Convention Center.
Garner Wallace added 12 points and Coleton Landis had 11 points and 10 rebounds for Central, which won its fourth consecutive district championship and seventh in eight years.
The Tigers improved to 25-1 and advanced to play Olentangy Liberty in a regional semifinal March 14 at Ohio Dominican.
Reynoldsburg had late leads of 47-45 and 49-48, the latter coming on Xavier Prince’s free throw with 55.5 seconds left.
The Raiders had possession with eight seconds left and after both teams used timeouts with 1.9 seconds to go, Ben Fort’s 40-foot heave fell well short as time expired.
“The main thing is to stick with the plan and not panic,” Central coach Eric Krueger said. “You have to find a way. We did a good job defensively. They’re long and athletic. We made some adjustments late as far as pressing and trying to speed the game up. It was huge for us. I am happy for the guys and thrilled for the program.”
Fort had 15 points to lead Reynoldsburg, which finished 20-6 and lost to Central for the 10th consecutive time dating to Dec. 14, 2014.
Pickerington North 72, Thomas Worthington 60
Jack Sawyer had 22 points to lead fifth-seeded North past 17th-seeded Thomas in a Division I district final March 9 at Greater Columbus Convention Center.
Casey George, Idris Lawrence and Chris Scott each added 12 points for the Panthers, who improved to 25-4 and advanced to play Newark in a regional semifinal March 13 at Ohio Dominican.
North went on a 21-9 run that began late in the first quarter and covered all of the second quarter to stake a 33-23 halftime lead.
The Panthers built a 15-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but Thomas closed within eight points before North pulled away by converting eight of its 12 free-throw attempts down the stretch.
Sawyer scored 15 of his points in the fourth quarter, including a dunk in the final seconds.
Jalen Sullinger had 33 points and Isaac Settles scored 15 for the Cardinals, who finished 17-8.
“We knew (Thomas) was without their big center (6-foot-9 post player Ben Wight) and we were hoping we’d take advantage of that,” North coach Jason Bates said. “But (Thomas) did a nice job keeping Jack in check until the fourth quarter, and to his credit, Jack was patient and kicked the ball out to open teammates and cutters. We had some good play from Chris Scott, Idris Lawrence and Casey George.”
Wight, an Ohio University signee who was injured late in the Cardinals’ 46-41 upset over second-seeded Hilliard Bradley in a district semifinal March 6, was home with a concussion and broken collarbone.
Olentangy Liberty 72, Hilliard Davidson 65
Fourth-seeded Liberty won its 12th consecutive game and avenged its most recent defeat in beating sixth-seeded Davidson in a Division I district final March 9 at Greater Columbus Convention Center for its second district title.
“We had a chip on our shoulder and felt like we owed them one,” Liberty senior forward Ben Roderick said, referring to the Patriots’ 64-62 loss to the Wildcats on Jan. 22. “They want to slow the pace. We want to get up and go. It made for an interesting, back-and-forth game.”
Regarded as the top unsigned senior in Ohio, Roderick finished with 29 points to pace Liberty, which turned three empty possessions by Davidson into three driving layups after Patriots coach Greg Nossaman called timeout and spread the floor. The Patriots were nursing a 58-55 lead at the time.
“We got small there and spread the floor in hopes they’d come and chase us,” Nossaman said. “We’ve got the kind of makeup where we can change looks. It’s all about managing the game and, fortunately, we’ve got six seniors who know what to do in situations like that.”
Henry Hinkle and Nick Nakasian added 16 points apiece for the Patriots, who improved to 22-4 and will face Pickerington Central in a regional semifinal March 14 at Ohio Dominican.
Jacob Drees had 33 points to lead Davidson, which finished 20-6. Drees hit seven of the Wildcats’ 11 3-pointers. The versatile 6-7 senior has signed with Cedarville.
—Steve Blackledge, The Columbus Dispatch
Newark 64, Olentangy Orange 53
A comeback by 13th-seeded Orange came up short against ninth-seeded Newark in a Division I district final March 9 at Greater Columbus Convention Center.
The Pioneers trailed by 13 points early in the third quarter but rallied to cut their deficit to 43-42 with 6:33 left in the fourth on a short jump shot by Andre Irvin. However, the Wildcats made 14 of 17 free throws in the final quarter to secure the victory.
Orange finished 17-8, while Newark improved to 20-6 and will face Pickerington North in a regional semifinal March 13 at Ohio Dominican.
“Even with a bad shooting night, we were still in the game,” Pioneers coach Anthony Calo said. “I’m very proud of the kids. They are a special group.”
Bryson Lane scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half to lead Orange. Nik Brannon added 10 points and Luke Ballinger scored nine on three 3-pointers.
Drew Ballinger led four Newark players in double figures with 20 points, including six 3-pointers. KeShawn Heard added 14 points and Bobby Crenshaw and Jaden Woods both scored 10.