Boys Basketball: Seniors led Olentangy Liberty Patriots' drive back to regional tournament

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Liberty's Andrew Wade was one of six seniors for the Patriots, who reached the Division I regional tournament for the second time in three seasons, losing to Gahanna 47-39 to finish 20-6. Wade averaged 13.0 points and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.

The Olentangy Liberty boys basketball team entered the season determined to surpass last winter's Division I district semifinal finish.

The Patriots, who lost to Thomas Worthington 70-50 in a semifinal a year ago, were seeded fifth for the district tournament and expected to get a shot at the fourth-seeded Cardinals, but 13th-seeded Newark upset Thomas 53-45 on March 3 in a district semifinal. 

However, that did give Liberty the opportunity to avenge a 58-56 regular-season loss to the Wildcats, and the Patriots took advantage with a 57-45 victory March 6 in a district final to reach the regional tournament for the second time in three seasons. 

Liberty fell to Gahanna 47-39 in a regional semifinal March 11 at Westerville South to finish 20-6. 

“Our seniors have been through a lot,” coach Greg Nossaman said. “A lot of the same guys are back from last year when we got beat in the district semis by Thomas Worthington. We beat them (67-61 on Dec. 22), and we figured we’d play them again. 

“This is a team that really cares about each other. We’ve got some guys that don’t play hardly at all, but they practice hard and they’re into it. They’re into it on the bench and at halftime. It’s just a good team. It’s another 20-win season, and we played a great schedule this year. This schedule prepares us for this.” 

Liberty's six-member senior class featured three-year starting guard Henry Hinkle, who averaged 14 points and was first-team all-district and first-team all-OCC-Central Division as the Patriots went 7-3 to finish second behind Hilliard Bradley (8-2). 

Other key seniors were forward Andrew Wade (second-team all-OCC, honorable mention all-district), wing player Ty Foster (second-team all-OCC, honorable mention all-district) and guard Cam Barcus (honorable mention all-OCC).

Wade averaged 13.0 points, Foster averaged 11.0 and Barcus added 7.0. 

The top returnees will be junior forward Cooper Davis (special mention all-OCC) and junior guard Trey Majidzadeh. 

Davis, who grew up in the district before spending the last two seasons at Reynoldsburg, averaged 11.0 points in his first season with the Patriots. 

Juniors Nick Boysko (wing player), Parker Hinkle (guard), Rex Kelly (guard) and Dean Stack (guard) are others eligible to return after seeing limited action.  

“We had one of the hardest conferences in central Ohio, and we pushed through adversity and came together as a team,” Foster said. “We knew we had to come together and all of us had our roles. We started off in the conference not too hot but that really woke us up. We had to figure out our roles individually and I thought we did that, and we figured out our flaws.” 

Junior guard Joel Addo is expected to be one of the top returnees for the Pioneers, who finished 13-9.

•Ninth-year Orange coach Anthony Calo had a deep bench to work with as the Pioneers finished 13-9 overall and fifth (4-6) in the OCC-Central.

They had a nine-player rotation led by seniors Jason Foster and Andre Irvin.

Irvin, a guard, is the school’s career scoring leader with 958 points. A pair of 2010 graduates, Zach Joseph and Taylor Rieger, surpassed 1,000 career points but only played two seasons at Orange as they were part of the school’s first graduating class.

Irvin averaged 18.6 points and was named honorable mention all-district and first-team all-league. Foster added 14.9 points per game and was second-team all-district and first-team all-league. Senior guard Jordan Bethel was special mention all-league.

“We had a rotation of nine and one of our strengths was that we had several different guys who could step up and make plays for us,” Calo said. “Andre and Jason kept us going, and we had a good group of young players around us.”

Sophomore guard/forward Elias Lewis was honorable mention all-league.

Juniors Joel Addo (guard), Eddie Brown (guard/forward), Aidan King (forward) and sophomore guard Mikey McCollum are also expected back.

“We love our seniors, but we love what we have coming back,” Calo said. “We have a couple sophomores (Lewis and McCollum) that can play. Mikey McCollum, Aidan King and Elias Lewis have all had a few games for us in double figures.”

–Scott Hennen

Berlin doubled its win total from last season and also won its first postseason game as the 29th-seeded Bears beat Hilliard Darby 48-45 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 23.

Three days later, they led ninth-seeded Dublin Coffman entering the fourth quarter before losing 61-52.

“Sometimes it seems like a cliche, but after we came out of quarantine, we had a stretch where we lost five games by four points or less against some quality teams,” third-year coach Donovon Barrett said. “We finally got over the hump in our tournament game with Darby, which led to a confident effort against Coffman. 

“We felt like the way we’d been playing that we could compete, and if we executed the game plan we could be successful. Our guys competed their hearts out, made hustle plays and did everything we asked.”

Berlin has yet to win a league contest, going 0-10 in the OCC-Cardinal. Senior guard Austin Corley was honorable mention all-district and first-team all-league, leading a five-player senior class. He led the Bears in scoring (15.0 points per game), assists (2.0) and steals (2.1).

Sophomore forward Jason Inbody (honorable mention all-league) averaged 9.3 points and a team-high 4.6 rebounds, and freshman guard Derek Goodman added 9.3 points. Junior guard Adrian Stone also was a key contributor.

“We had several different starting lineups over the course of the year that included several underclassmen,” Barrett said. “Next season should be the first when we have a lot of experience returning.”

–Scott Hennen

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BERLIN

•Record: 8-15 overall

•OCC-Cardinal standings: Thomas Worthington (10-0), Marysville (7-3), Olentangy (6-4), Hilliard Darby (4-6), Dublin Jerome (3-7), Berlin (0-10)

•Seniors lost: Cole Apke, Kalvin Betz, Austin Corley, Cade Latham and Aiden Loeffler

•Key returnees: Derek Goodman, Jason Inbody and Adrian Stone

•Postseason: Defeated Darby 48-45; lost to Dublin Coffman 61-52 in second round of Division I district tournament

LIBERTY

•Record: 20-6 overall 

•OCC-Central standings: Hilliard Bradley (8-2), Liberty (7-3), Coffman (5-5), Hilliard Davidson (5-5), Orange (4-6), Upper Arlington (1-9) 

•Seniors lost: Cam Barcus, Daniel Buehrer, Quinn Foster, Ty Foster, Henry Hinkle and Andrew Wade 

•Key returnees: Cooper Davis and Trey Majidzadeh 

•Postseason finishes: Def. Dublin Scioto 58-44, def. Worthington Kilbourne 51-49, def. Newark 57-45, lost to Gahanna 47-39 in Division I regional semifinal 

ORANGE

•Record: 13-9 overall

•Seniors lost: Jordan Bethel, Jason Foster, Andre Irvin and Johnny Stearns

•Key returnees: Joel Addo, Eddie Brown, Aidan King, Elias Lewis and Mikey McCollum

•Postseason: Def. Big Walnut 52-49; lost to Pickerington North 60-54 in Division I district semifinal