Falling ten points short of a district title to Gahanna just nine months ago, Jordan Dartis and the Newark Wildcats entered the Lincoln gymnasium with revenge on their minds. After only scoring nine points vs. the Lions in their last meeting, Dartis bounced back in a major way, going for 21 points, six rebounds and four assists to lead Newark to a 59-57 win on the road.
Ripping off 20 points in the first half, the junior Dartis was dominant from the field in the game's first 16 minutes. Scoring nine points from behind-the-arc, in addition to an array of scores in the lane, Dartis picked up for his supporting cast as the rest of the Wildcats were sluggish to find a rhythm.
Going into halftime with a 30-29 lead, it was Dartis' teammates that made several key plays in the final minutes to secure a major victory for an underestimated Newark team.
While Michigan State commit Javon Bess, senior guard Manny Powell and sophomore center Nick Ward each scored 15 points for Gahanna, the Lions struggled for the entirety of the game to get into a flow offensively. As the offense failed to involve Wisconsin target Matthew Moyer, Gahanna relied on the slashing ability of Powell in the second half, as the senior scored a team-high nine points in the final two quarters. The sophomore Ward was dominant in the first half, scoring 12 points and forcing Ashland commit Teddy Metzen into foul trouble early in the game. Keeping the ball on the perimeter, Ward didn't receive nearly as many touches in the final 16 minutes, something that may very well haunt the Lions as this loss comes unexpectedly early in the season.
For Newark, major contributions from junior forward Darius Shackleford, and reserve guards Logan Anderson and Dustin Stoneburner lessened the scoring burden on Dartis in the second half. Shackleford's eight points, four of which coming consecutively in the final minute and a half, were a team high in the second half.
With the game tied at 47 with just under two minutes to go, Shackleford's drive and score put the Wildcats ahead by two with 1:39 seconds remaining.
As Gahanna missed a three on the following possession, Dartis faked out a Gahanna defender on the ensuing inbounds pass, hitting Shackleford right under the basket to put the Wildcats ahead 51-47 with 56.9 seconds left in the game.
Calling a timeout, Gahanna opted to go to its top player, the Spartan commit Bess. Spotting up on the right wing, Bess confidently nailed a deep three to cut the Newark lead to one, 51-50 with just over 30 seconds to go.
Forced to foul, Gahanna put Dartis on the line with 16.7 seconds remaining. As Dartis knocked down one of two, Gahanna put the ball in the hands of the streaking Powell.
Driving right off the feed from Bess, Powell crossed back over to his left, and looked to have a wide-open seam to the basket. As Powell rose up for a layup that would find its way into the net, Newark center Metzen slid under the 5'9 point guard, taking a controversial charge that could have very well decided Friday's matchup.
Shackleford would make two more free-throws on the ensuing Newark possession, slamming the door on a furious Gahanna comeback. Escaping Lincoln High School with a 55-53 victory, Newark heads home on Tuesday for a matchup with a streaky Grove City team.
For Gahanna, the Lions are home again on Tuesday against a confident Reynoldsburg team, who fell to Jae'Sean Tate and Pickerington Central on Friday, 69-66. Failing to adequately involve Ward and Moyer in the offense in the second half, Gahanna should look to pound the Raiders in the front court, especially since Reynoldsburg has no starter taller than 6'2.
In the OCC-Ohio where four teams shared a division title a year ago, every game counts. Performances like the one Dartis had on Friday can not only change the course of a game, but ultimately, the course of a season.
Friday's Top Performers
With major games taking place all across the state of Ohio, a number of talented hoopers across the Buckeye State put on memorable performances to lead their teams to victory. Let's take a look at some of Friday's top performers.
Justin Layne (6'3 SF / Cleveland Benedictine / 2016):
Scoring a season-high 32 points, the standout sophomore Layne was dominant as Benedictine picked up its first win of the season vs. Padua, 77-68. Outscoring Padua 35-18 in the fourth quarter, Benedictine heads into Saturday's matchup vs. Esa Ahmad and Shaker Heights with newfound confidence. Losing quite a bit of front court talent, including IMG Academy power forward TySean Powell, Benedictine has relied on its group of talented underclassmen that are improving daily. Layne is an athletic 6'3 combo-guard with solid perimeter skills and an ability to create his own shot in the half court. Paired with rising junior point guard RJ Jones, keep an eye out for the Benedictine Bengals in Northeast Ohio.
Katwan Singleton (6'4 SF / Defiance / 2015):
One of the more undervalued junior combo-guards in Ohio, Singleton put on a show in Defiance's big win over Purdue commit Dakota Mathias and Elida. Singleton's 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists led Defiance to the hard-fought 62-61 win. After a successful summer with the Ohio Phenoms, Singleton has returned to Defiance and greatly increased his production. Rolling after a big win over Elida, keep an eye out for Singleton and Defiance.
Jae'Sean Tate (6'5 SF / Pickerington Central / 2014):
After averaging 92.5 points per game through two contests, Pickerington Central slowed things down in a 69-66 victory at division-rival Reynoldsburg. Leading the way for the Tigers was the Ohio State signee Tate, whose 16 points, 15 rebounds and six assists were the type of performance coach Jerry Francis needed out of his star to pull out the victory. Scoring 27 points in a road win at Lancaster on Tuesday, Tate had no shortage of production on Friday.
Houston Smith (6'4 SF / Columbus Africentric / 2016):
After an alarming four-game losing skid to begin a 2013-14 season that started with high expectations, Africentric rebounded in a 66-58 win on the road at Independence. Outscoring the Sixers 24-13 in the fourth quarter, the Nubians were led by the sophomore Smith, whose 23 points were a team-high. After a 23-point performance in a shocking loss at home to Briggs on Thursday, Smith followed that up by grabbing down 10 rebounds vs. Independence on Friday. While the remaining Nubian supporting cast has struggled to find a consistent rhythm early on this season, Smith has been Africentric's most consistent player through five games.
Dymiere Finch (6'2 PG / Columbus Walnut Ridge / 2014):
Tied for first place in the Columbus City-League South, the red hot Walnut Ridge Scots kept rolling on Friday in a 76-50 win over Charles Holland and West. Leading the Scots was the flashy senior guard Finch, who totaled 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Out to a 3-0 start, Finch and the Scots head to Groveport on Saturday for a matchup with a guard-heavy Cruisers team. Scoring in single-digits for Walnut Ridge's first two games of the season, Finch picked production in the scoring column during Friday's win. One of the top unsigned guards in Central Ohio, keep an eye out for the point guard running the show for Walnut Ridge.
Travis Gleason (5'8 PG / Reynoldsburg / 2014):
In an intense battle vs. Pickerington Central, the lightning-quick Gleason had arguably the best game of his career, going for a game-high 22 points. Gleason electrified from behind-the-arc, knocking down a total of four three-point field goals. In addition to the high scoring output, the Ohio Varsity guard added six rebounds, six assists and four steals. Twelve of the senior's 22 points came in the fourth quarter as the Raiders attempted to claw their way back into the game. Paired with junior guard Lloyd Chatman in the backcourt, Gleason and the Raiders have made up for their lack of size with excellent guard play thus far in 2013-14.
RJ Jones (6'2 PG / Cleveland Benedictine / 2015):
Dishing out a career-high 16 assists, Jones was another major part to Benedictine's comeback win vs. Padua. Undoubtedly Benedictine's leader, Jones has had a hot start to his junior season, scoring, defending and distributing all at a high level. Picking up interest from an array of Division-I programs in the fall, Jones is a talented 6'2 lead guard with all the skills that you need at the point guard position. Going up against former teammate TJ Steele and Shaker Heights on Saturday, look for a big game out of the gritty point guard from Benedictine.
Cris Wilson (6'6 PF / Cleveland John Hay / 2014):
In a hard-fought battle vs. Senate League favorites Cleveland East Tech on Friday, Cleveland John Hay forward Wilson had arguably his top performance of the season, going for 21 points and 12 rebounds. While reigning Senate League MVP KT Taylor had a game-high 23 points, Wilson kept John Hay within striking distance for the majority of Friday's game with his work on the glass. One of the more underrated forwards in Northeast Ohio, keep a close watch on the springy combo-forward from John Hay.
Jimond Ivey (6'3 SG / Cleveland Glenville / 2014):
Scoring a team-high 23 points, the underrated Ivey led Cleveland Glenville to a convincing 81-58 victory over winless Cleveland John F. Kennedy. With all the tools to be a productive combo-guard at the next level, Ivey has taken the reigns as the Glenville leader, after sharing the spotlight with top Senate League guard Craig Eubanks a year ago. One of Ohio's more athletic combo-guards, Ivey would be an absolute steal for a college program looking for a high-level scorer with great leadership ability. Check out this documentary following Ivey made by our friends of the Holy-Land, 3rd Coast Hoops.
Carlton Bragg (6'8 PF / Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph / 2015):
Days after receiving a scholarship offer from No. 1 Arizona, VASJ's Carlton Bragg led all scorers with 24 points in the Vikings' 79-50 win on the road at Parma Heights Holy Name. Checking in at No. 10 in ESPN's Class of 2015 rankings, Bragg has had an excellent start to a junior season with extremely high expectations. Arguably the hardest player to defend in the state, Bragg has improved his overall skill set and is looking to lead Villa Angela-St. Joseph to its second-consecutive state championship.
Angelo Cugini (6'5 SF / Cuyahoga Falls / 2014):
Arguably Ohio's top performer on Friday, Cugini's 34 points, seven rebounds and four blocks led Cuyahoga Falls to its second win of the season, 68-60 vs. Twinsburg. Starring with the Michigan Mustangs for a large part of this past summer, Cugini has returned to Cuyahoga Falls for a productive senior season. With decent athleticism, and a nose for the ball, Cugini is a player that always finds a way to make things happen, and Friday's monster performance was no different. Transferring from Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, Cugini has signed to play college basketball at Division-II Alderson Broaddus.
- UMass-Lowell commit and Bishop Ready standout senior Josh Gantz had 18 points on Friday. Interestingly enough, Ready held St. Charles to 19 points as a team.
- Columbus Northland combo-guard Ty Hairston's 24 points led the Vikings to a blowout 82-44 win over Columbus Linden-McKinley.
- Rising senior forward Akeian Frederick of Columbus Franklin Heights had 19 points in a close 57-50 loss at home to New Albany.
- Virginia Tech commit and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary shooting guard Jalen Hudson had a game-high 24 points in a 72-59 loss to Cleveland Lakewood St. Edward's. St. Ed's was led by junior small forward Kipper Nicholswho scored a team-high 19 points.
- Columbus Eastmoor senior point guard Jahmal Hughes scored a team-high 19 points to lead the streaking Warriors to an 85-57 win over Columbus Marion-Franklin. Senior forward Shamonty Manning and junior forward Khalil Wade added 16 points each for the Warriors.