After a dominant showing in a 42-point win vs. Independence on Monday, Walnut Ridge returned to Livingston Avenue for another primetime Columbus City-League South matchup. Heading west to Africentric Early College, the presumed division favorites by some in Central Ohio, Walnut Ridge relied on sophomore Tarik Wright's 26 points to close out the Nubians, 65-59.
Starting out each half on 8-1 runs, Walnut Ridge controlled the tempo in a game that was dominated by Wright's presence on each side of the floor. Shooting 8-of-10 from behind-the-arc, Wright was also tasked with talented junior Africentric forward Jaquan Harrison, who has held to just nine points. Africentric, who operated in a 2-3 zone for the majority of Tuesday's contest, was beaten time-by-time by Wright, whose 18 points at halftime were also a game-high.
Heading into halftime tied at 32, Walnut Ridge outscored Africentric 16-9 in the third quarter, thanks in large part to senior reverse forward Daveon Miskel, whose 10 points and six rebounds off the bench made a major difference. The Scots would hang on in the final minutes, even as Nubian sophomore Houston Smith and junior Ulmer Manzie finally found their rhythm.
For Walnut Ridge, Wright and Miskel were the lone players in double-figures, while senior point guard Dymiere Finch had another productive outing, going for nine points, five rebounds and seven assists. Senior guard Brandon Paschal and sophomore forward Malik Harrison each added eight points and five rebounds.
With the win, Walnut Ridge improves to 2-0 in the City-League South, and heads back home for a matchup with an improving West team, who fell to South 56-54 on Tuesday.
For Africentric, the springy Smith led the way with 13 points and six rebounds, none bigger than the monstrous one-handed slam the sophomore sent home early in the fourth quarter. Akil Cornish, Africentric's lone senior on Tuesday, pitched in 12 points, all coming from behind-the-arc.
Sophomore point guard Lorenze Gordon-Haynes had a very impressive outing, scoring 10 points and adding four assists. While the Nubians are waiting on the eligibility of Shawon Wilson and Chase Brown, Gordon-Haynes has filled a major hole at the point guard position for the Nubians.
Battling foul trouble all night long, junior center Manzie had a highly productive second half, scoring all 10 of his points in the final 16 minutes. Manzie was more active on the glass in the second half, pulling down five offensive rebounds.
Falling to 0-3 on the year, Africentric looks to rebound with a home matchup vs. City-League South foe Briggs on Thursday. Briggs is coming off a 62-48 loss at home to Marion-Franklin.
Outside of the big time City-League South matchup between Walnut Ridge and Africentric, several other talented Central Ohio hoopers had impressive performances. Let's take a look at some of the top performers from Tuesday.
Tuesday's Top Performers
Tarik Wright (6'3 SF / Walnut Ridge / 2016):
Scoring a game-high 26 points, Wright was hands down the top player on the floor in Walnut Ridge's huge road win at Africentric. While Wright put on a clinic with his three-point shooting, the sophomore was even better on the defensive end. Tasked with high-flying Africentric junior Jaquan Harrison, Wright limited the forward to nine points. After an 18-point outing in a Monday win vs. Independence, Wright has combined to shoot 12-of-16 from behind-the-arc in Walnut Ridge's first two games. While the 6'3, 220-pound forward is a bruiser around the rim, Wright has shown incredible strides in his perimeter shooting, and looks to continue his breakout season in the City-League South.
Eric James (6'6 SF / Westerville Central / 2014):
No player in Central Ohio scored more points than Westerville Central's James, whose 30 points led the Warhawks to a blowout 79-42 win over Hilliard Bradley. Committed to Duquesne, James is one of the top combo-guards in the state of Ohio, and uses an elite combination of athleticism and perimeter shooting to get a leg up on opposing defenders. Getting to the line, and hitting from three, James put on a clinic for the Jaguars, helping Westerville Central improve to 3-1 on the season.
Lloyd Chatman (5'9 SG / Reynoldsburg / 2015):
Leading Reynoldsburg to a momentum building 76-66 home win over Grove City, Chatman's 22 points were a team-high as the Raiders improve to 3-0 on the season. Despite Nic Bapst's 24 points, Reynoldsburg used a 35-point second quarter to hold onto a double-digit lead in the second half. After a successful summer with Ohio Varsity, Chatman has shown incredible improvement in his scoring ability this season, most notably with his three-point shooting. Although Reynoldsburg has no starter taller than 6'2, the Raiders continue to win with excellent guard play and perimeter shooting. Reynoldsburg travels to Pickerington Central on Friday for a major test against a talented Tigers squad averaging 92.5 points per game.
Tyrone Cherry (6' SG / Groveport Madison / 2015):
As sophomore star point guard Tyus Ferguson exited Tuesday's matchup vs. Franklin Heights with a busted lip, the darkhorse shooting guard Cherry made up for Ferguson's absence with 20 points in a hard-fought 56-51 win. The junior is one of several talented underclassmen guards for the Cruisers, who improve to 3-1 on the season. Cherry's 20 points and sophomore Tyrell Carter's 19 points helped Groveport hold onto a single-digit lead to defeat the Falcons. Cherry did much more than just score, however, contributing five rebounds, four steals and two assists. With only one player over 6'2, Groveport has had a successful start to the 2013-14 campaign, the Cruisers travel to Grove City for a tough test on Friday.