Resolve, reliance and response were the three things Big Walnut boys basketball coach Brett Bartlett saw out of his squad in a 55-52 win over Buckeye Valley Friday night (Nov. 1) in Sunbury.
Sophomore Kegan Hienton scored a game-high 17 points to lead the Golden Eagles’ comeback effort after a loss to Watkins Memorial Thursday night to open the season.
“We made sure that we were going to come out strong and play as a team,” Hienton said. “This team bonds well together and we own up to our mistakes. After the loss, we were all frustrated, of course. So, we wanted to come out today, bounce back and play strong – which we did.”
Bartlett and Hienton each talked about the team’s effort in the win after a sluggish performance the previous night.
“Last night, we didn’t come out with the right mentality and the right mindset,” Bartlett said. “We had no urgency last night and we paid the price by taking the loss. I think we learned from that tonight.”
Junior Nathan Montgomery turned the ball over on what appeared to be BW’s last possession of the third quarter.
But, Montgomery gave the perfect example of the resolve, reliance and response on the next play.
With just over 3 seconds left in the third quarter, he denied the inbound pass for a steal, pump-faked, then buried a three-pointer from the left wing at the buzzer to give the Eagles a 44-40 lead through three – part of a 10-1 run that pushed the lead as high as 8 early in the fourth.
“That gave us momentum in the fourth,” Bartlett said. “Just a lot of guts from him to bounce back and put that turnover behind him.”
Montgomery scored 13 points and Carson Becker and Jordan Koebel finished with 12 points apiece for the Eagles.
“(BV) Coach (Andy) Gast gets those kids to play really hard,” Bartlett said. “They’re tough kids. They come after you every single possession – especially on the defensive end. We knew coming back on a back-to-back game, it was going to be a tough test for us.”
Part of that resiliency was holding off the short-handed Barons, who got three-pointers Dylan Herbert, Clark Newland and Luke Lucas in the fourth quarter to keep it within striking distance in the final minute.
With only eight players on the roster to begin with, the Barons lost last year’s leading scorer Ethan Crawford at the 2:29 mark of the first quarter with an apparent separated shoulder.
Crawford appeared to know what had happened as he walked off the floor holding his arm. Gast said Crawford suffered the injury in football earlier in the fall.
“It’s happened before … it’s tough,” Gast said. “I thought our kids really played hard – especially after Crawford went down. He’s such a big part of our scoring.”
Still, Gast loved his team’s effort.
“I thought our kids really battled, but we played hard,” Gast said. “We had a lot of defensive breakdowns tonight. But, I thought we competed hard.”
Herbert led the Barons (0-1) with 15 points, Max Stokey finished with 11 and Lucas added nine.
Olentangy 81, Marion Harding 59
Just one game in and the Olentangy boys basketball team looks to be in mid-season form on the offensive end. The Braves finished a perfect 17-for-17 from the free throw line, shot 52-percent from the field canned 41-percent of their threes en route to an 81-59 win over visiting Marion Harding in Thursday’s season opener Nov. 30.
“Not bad,” Olentangy coach John Feasel said of his team’s season-opening effort. “I’ll certainly take it. We have some things to work on — we turned the ball over a lot and, while we scored 17 points in the third quarter, Sean Marks only had three of them … we have to figure out what’s going on there — but we’ll keep working.”
The Braves led 23-18 after the first quarter and, thanks to a 17-13 second, found themselves up 40-31 at halftime. They outscored the Presidents 41-28 in the second half to smooth out the scoring summary.
Marks was limited in the third, that’s true, but he pretty much scored at will in the other three quarters. The junior finished with a game-best 31 points, including 11 in the fourth. Jerred Kinnaird was also solid, finishing with 15 points thanks in part to a pair of three-pointers and a perfect 3-for-3 effort at the charity stripe, while Alex Sieve poured in 10 points and Luke Riedel had eight.
DeJaun Smith led the Presidents with 14 points while Layne Stephens finished with 11 in the setback.
Watkins Memorial 58, Big Walnut 48
The Golden Eagles played from behind most of the first half and managed just four points in third quarter as the visiting Warriors handed them a season-opening loss Thursday (Nov. 30) in Sunbury.
Watkins Memorial jumped out to a 17-11 lead after the first quarter and, thanks to a 14-13 second, led 31-24 at the break.
Big Walnut was still in striking distance, but the four-point third hurt. The Warriors ballooned their lead to 14, 42-28, after three and the Eagles couldn’t claw back. They scored 20 in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough.
Sam Elliott led BW with 14 points while Jordan Koebel and Carson Becker had 10 apiece. Kegan Hienton was also steady, finishing with nine points in the setback.
Watkins’ DJ Ortiz led all scorers with 18 points.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at email@example.com.