SUNBURY – Big Walnut boys basketball coach Brett Bartlett did his best Jim O’Brien impersonation, perched atop a stool on the sideline because of a torn Achilles suffered filling in at practice Wednesday, Dec. 12.
Unlike O’Brien, Bartlett was spared holding up a “This is sad” sign.
Instead, his Golden Eagles overcame a slow start to beat New Albany 46-41 in OCC-Capital play.
It was the second of a Big Walnut-New Albany doubleheader Friday night, Dec. 14. The BW girls team topped NA 51-39 in the first game for a clean sweep.
Bartlett planned to sit still, but couldn’t help himself – hopping around to shout instruction from time to time.
“I’m fine right now,” he said. “Who knows how I’ll feel in 30 minutes to an hour. I’ll be alright.”
He was a little short-handed Wednesday, so he thought he’d step in as the 10th player.
“We just had varsity – we only had nine people,” senior Nathan Montgomery said. “He was coming off a screen and stepped on it funny.”
“I thought, honestly, somebody stepped on the back of my foot,” Bartlett said. “But nobody was around me.”
He might think twice about that in the future.
“I’m done,” he joked. “I’m never playing again – ever.”
“It’s always fun when he plays against us because he doesn’t miss,” Montgomery said.
Nathan Montgomery gave BW its first lead at 13-11 with a driving basket with 1:56 left in the first half. BW lead 14-12 at the break.
“We thought it was going to be a game like this because they can guard in the half-court,” Bartlett said. “I thought we did a great job of taking care of the basketball and making shots (in the second half). Overall, we battled for four quarters.”
Montgomery found Carson Becker for a layup with 6:23 left in the third after NA had briefly tied it up. BW led the rest of the way.
Montgomery scored eight of his 11 points in the third quarter. He also dished out a team-high four assists.
“The holes opened up and I took my chances (in the third) and it worked out,” Montgomery said.
Becker had 12 points and six rebounds, Jordan Koebel added 10 points and five rebounds and Kegan Hienton had nine points to go with 12 rebounds to lead BW.
A Becker basket early in the fourth ballooned the lead as high as 10.
New Albany wouldn’t go away, though. Dillon Masters hit a pair of threes and scored eight of his game-high 18 points in the final frame.
Jayden Lewis drove the lane for a layup to get NA as close as 42-38 with less than a minute left.
But BW went 4-for-6 at the line down the stretch to put it out of reach.
Keegan Schaub added seven points and Udai Singh had a game-high 14 rebounds to go with five points for NA (0-4, 0-2).
The BW girls team overcame a slow start as well, trailing 22-12 after one quarter and 24-13 early in the second.
But solid defense and a couple of timely three-pointers highlighted a 21-4 run to end the half.
“We were still out of it from the Loudonville game,” BW girls coach Jason Crawford said. “That game took a lot out of us. Coming out here – I was worried about coming out flat.”
BW forced 16 turnovers in the first half and 25 overall.
“I thought after our first four minutes – we didn’t have the intensity to beat them,” Crawford said. “But after that – rose to the challenge.”
Abby Brown hit three treys – all in the second quarter.
“Abby Brown gave us huge intensity off the bench,” Crawford said. “It was absolutely huge for us. It sparked our whole run.”
Her first three started the run. Her second three gave BW the lead at 27-24 with 1:11 remaining in the half.
Brown missed a three on the previous possession that would have given BW the lead. But that just helped get the go-ahead one in her sights she said.
She also capped the half with her third three in the final seconds to give BW a 34-27 lead at the break.
“At first, I was nervous,” Brown said. “(But) I went in there and played hard (for) my team.”
Erin Boehm and Avery Schone had 11 points apiece to lead BW (4-2, 3-0). Boehm did all of her damage in the first half and Avery Schone scored eight points in the second half. Alexis Schone pulled down 10 rebounds to lead BW.
Josie Smith scored seven of her game-high 14 points in the first quarter to help NA (3-3, 1-2) build its lead. She had a team-high seven rebounds and Olivia Gittins added nine points.
Both the boys and girls teams were off until Friday, Dec. 21, when they face Newark in league play. The boys team hosts the Wildcats, while the girls team travels. Tip-off for both games was scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.