Big Day at the Barn: Northland, Walnut Ridge fall; Pick Central advances

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Boys Basketball State Tournament

The beautiful thing about March is you don’t have to
be the best team, but just the best team on that day. Such was the case Saturday inside the Columbus Fairground’s Ohio Expo Centeras  Reynoldburg sent shock waves through the state by knocking
off the state’s No. 1 ranked team. And there was more…


Reynoldsburg 53 Columbus Northland 51

The beautiful thing about March and tournament time is you don’t have to be the best team, but just the best team on that day. Such was the case on Saturday morning inside the Columbus Fairground’s Ohio Expo Center when Reynoldburg sent shock waves around the state of Ohio by knocking off the state’s No. 1 ranked team, Columbus Northland (22-2).

Not only did the Raiders upset the heavily favored Vikings, they so in dramatic fashion.

With the game tied at 51, Reynoldsburg forced Northland’s Jordan Potts into a tough shot which missed and the ‘Burg promptly grabbed the rebound quickly getting to pumpkin to Wendell Davis. The 6-3 junior took the ball up the right side of court before changing direction to the middle of the paint where he kissed the game-winner off the glass from about 5-feet as time expired giving the Raiders a stunning 53-51 victory.

Head coach Chris Rider’s bunch not only upset Nortland, it advanced to the regional tournament in doing so. Reynoldburg will meet Canton McKinley on Wednesday night at the Columbus Fairgrounds.

The game appeared to be right where Northland wanted it up seven points after both the first and second quarters, and led by as many as 10 points but failed to put the hungry Raiders away.

Northland, with all its well earned success over the past six years, has struggled at times inside the Expo Center. Today was no different. The Vikings were without the services of Dayton-bound Devon Scott in the 1st quarter due to disciplinary reasons and he never got into the flow of the game before fouling out in the 4th. The 6-8 senior finished with just three points, which is well below his season average.

Potts also struggled to find the range throughout the contest scoring nine points, but converted just two field goals. Sophomore wing Ty Hairston had some frustrations as well trying to find his touch despite scoring seven first-half points.

Though, 6-8 senior Jalen Robinson and unsigned 6-4 senior wing Ke’chaun Lewis were more than formidable. Robinson, a Dayton signee, kept the Vikings in front most of the morning with his 15 points, 12 rebounds, and several emphatic blocks. Lewis tallied 12 points mostly by slashing the lane with his superior explosiveness and scoring off pull ups and hanging floaters.

Reynoldsburg, on the other hand, trailed for much of the game until knotting the score at 44 after the 3rd quarter. It was a total team effort from the entire Raiders line up. Davis handled the scoring load with 21 points including the game-winner. 6-4 senior Spencer Kirksey nailed several big shots en route to scoring 14 points.

Senior guard RJ Raglin didn’t score a lot (6 points), but he came up with some huge plays down the stretch whether it was snagging a loose ball or grabbing a big rebound.

Outside of Davis’ performance, senior guard Chris Lee may have been the next biggest story. Lee hounded Potts almost the entire morning making the veteran Northland guard work for everything he earned. Lee also added six points and did a majority of the ball-handling along with sophomore guard Travis Gleason and Davis.

6-7 senior Ryan Carter did his best to hold his own in the paint against two of Ohio’s best. Carter scored six points and yanked down nearly 10 boards along with keeping several possessions alive by tipping the ball around.

It was the clear the fourth quarter was going to be nip-and-tuck throughout when Northland picked up its 10th team foul of the half just moments into the chapter putting the Raiders in the double bonus. Ironically, the Raiders were just 2-of-6 from the stripe in the final frame, which shows just how many big plays they were able to make both offensively and defensively to stay within striking distance to put theirselves in position to garner the win.

With almost everyone in the building on Saturday expecting a Northland win along with nearly if not everyone around Ohio, Reynoldsburg had other ideas and gave every Division I team still standing a breathe of fresh air.

Olentangy Liberty 58 Walnut Ridge 55, OT

Olentangy Liberty raced out to a quick lead (9-1), watched it slip away, regained the lead, then watched Walnut Ridge knock down a big-time three-pointer to send the game to overtime. Then, the Patriots showed the resilliency of a team (22-2) and were able to rise above adversity yet again to more than earn a 58-55 victory in the extra session.  With the win, Liberty won the school’s first district boy’s basketball championship.

Liberty led by three points (46-43) with just seconds remaining in regulation, and had to feel pretty good about its chances of winning considering the Scots (21-2) had made just one prior three-point goal in the game. However, Walnut Ridge’s outstanding senior Roy Alexander knocked down a cold-blooded right wing triple with just 2.4 seconds showing on the game clock to eventually force overtime.

Prior to Alexander’s heroics, the game went back-and-forth almost the entire second half. The Scots grabbed just their second lead of the game half way through the third quarter at 28-26, and from there, the game was air tight the rest of the way.

Ridge took a 32-31 lead early in the fourth following a three-point play by senior guard Fred Hardgrove. Though, Liberty quickly ran off six-straight to regain the lead at 37-32. Following a dramatic three-point play from Alexander and two freebies from senior guard Adam McCall, the game was tied once again at 37.

6-8 senior Allasane Kah gave the Scots a 39-37 lead on a left baseline jumper, but Liberty’s Alec Charbonneau responded on a triple try. 6-8 Patriot senior Nick Archer followed with two free tosses. Liberty would hit two more from the charity stripe and junior Rob Wheelwright hit a lay up for the Scots setting up Alexander’s shining moment.

Alexander stormed out of the gates in the extra session with a drive-in one-handed dunk followed by an identical right wing triple giving the Scots a 51-46 lead. Liberty had seen enough, and took over from that point on. The Patriots made just two field goals in the extra session, but knocked down eight-of-10 free-throw attempts including 6-of-6 from senior guard Jake Bischoff.

Bischoff and Charbonneau led Liberty with 15 points a piece, Arched tallied 12, and 6-4 junior Alex Radkiewicz notched 11.  Alexander paced the Scots with a game-high 22 points including 19 in the second half.

Liberty made 24 free-throws compared to just 10 makes for Ridge.

Pickerington Central 65 Newark 49

The last time Pickerington Central and Newark met on February 7th, Newark thumped the Tigers, 51-35. This time, the thumping was done by the Central Tigers.

The Purple and White jumped out to an 11-2 lead before securing a 30-21 half time lead using superior athleticism and length to create major issues for the Wildcats (19-5). Central used those same attributes to extend its lead to 20 points on more than one occasion in the 2nd half en route to a comfortable 65-49 victory.

The Tigers (22-2), who are without a doubt playing their best basketball of the season, suffocated Newark with their pressure defense leading to several easy transition buckets. Central had hot hands all day on defense and seemed to be quicker to almost every loose ball.

Senior guards Chad Nelson and Caris Levert along with sophomores Connor Kern and Javon Bess did a tremendous job of getting after the Newark guards.

Not only did they play superior defense, the Tigers did a nice job of being efficient on offense. Levert scored 14 points including a pair of transition dunk shots and Kern equalled his teammate’s output with 14. Nelson tallied 11, Bess added eight, and 6-7 junior Taco Charlton netted five points along with holding down the inside for Purple and White.

Newark got a team-high 10 points from senior Daniel Logan. Freshman Jordan Dartis counted for nine, junior Jalen Dartis added eight, and seniors Christian Keller and Ben Barnhart netted seven and six points respectively.

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