The Olentangy Orange boys basketball team scored the first 11 points of the game and withstood a couple of second half rallies to top Big Walnut 59-49 in non-league action Saturday night in Lewis Center.
Matt McCollum, Jack Neer and Jalen Bethel each scored 10 points and Cam Barron added eight for the Pioneers (3-2).
“Balance is definitely good,” Pioneers coach Anthony Calo said. “We’ve got a handful of guys that can hurt you a handful of ways. That can be hard to scout sometimes, so that’s good.”
McCollum finished with four rebounds, three steals and a pair of assists. Barron tied McCollum for the team lead with three steals and Zack Stablein had a game-high four assists.
“Everyone had a big part in (the win),” McCollum said. “We were just playing hard defense … forced some turnovers and got out in transition.”
Neer and Jordan Shelton each had a pair of baskets during the run, which started with a Bethel free throw, and Alex Eha knocked down a short jumper.
“We started with some energy,” Calo said. “We were scoring off our defense.”
Jordan Koebel and Brody Lawhorn each knocked down threes for BW, but the Eagles still trailed 18-6 through one.
“We’ve been in every game we’ve played this year,” BW coach Brett Bartlett said. “(Saturday night) we dug ourselves a pretty big hole after that first quarter.”
Ben Saxe went 5-for-6 and Nathan Montgomery knocked down two more as BW was able to get a point closer at 31-20 at the break. Bethel and McCollum scored four points apiece to lead the Pioneers in the second.
Koebel knocked down a pair of three-pointers in the third quarter to help the Eagles get as close as four, but a back-breaking three-pointer by Barron after BW couldn’t convert on a steal pushed it back to seven. BW closed the gap to 41-36 at the end of the third.
“We miss an easy one and they come back and hit a three – our margin for error is so small,” Bartlett said. “We’ve got some experience and we’re still trying to figure out how to win. We haven’t quit and we haven’t given up.”
A Bethel basket followed by two free throws by Manny Anderson pushed the Orange lead back to nine.
Henry von Hollen scored nine of BW’s 13 points in the final period as the Eagles (0-5) closed to within five twice, but they couldn’t get closer.
Bethel converted a key three-point play and Orange went 10-for-12 at the foul line to salt it away.
We had some breakdowns in the second half – there are a lot of things to fix,” Calo said. “But ultimately, I’m proud of our kids for persevering at the end.”
Koebel and von Hollen had 13 points apiece to lead the Eagles, with von Hollen finishing with a game-high eight rebounds and five steals. Koebel and Alex Kelso added five boards each.
“(Koebel) played really well for us,” Bartlett said. “He’s played really good defense for us throughout the year, too. He’s a very capable shooter, so hopefully that will build his confidence and he’ll continue to improve.”
Both return to action in non-league play tonight at 7:30 p.m. Orange hosts Walnut Ridge and BW travels to Marion Harding.
Africentric 79, Buckeye Valley 46
Landon Martin scored 29 points and Tre Baumgardner added 19 to lead Africentric past host Buckeye Valley 79-46 in non-league action Saturday night in Delaware.
Martin scored 10 points in the opening frame and eight more in the second quarter as the Nubians (5-1) raced out to an 18-7 lead after one.
Africentric blew it open in the third thanks to eight points by Baumgardner, seven from Jah Bennett and six more from Martin to lead 60-35. Bennett finished with 11 points for the Nubians.
Ethan Crawford led the Barons (1-4) with 16 points, Elijah Jackson finished with 12 and Dylan Herbert added 10.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.