Coming into Tuesday, Newark was in a stranglehold at the top of the OCC-Ohio alongside Pickerington Central. At 16-3, and 10-2 in division play, the Wildcats would need a tough win on the road at Grove City to stay in a neck and neck race with the Tigers. Falling to Nic Bapst and the Greyhounds, 50-49, Newark now finds itself on the outside looking in with one game remaining on the season.
Behind Bapst and Tyler Dunn's 30 combined points, Grove City turned a two-point deficit at halftime into a one-point win, holding off an inspired charge from Newark in the final minute. Holding star Newark guard Jordan Dartis to just eight points, Grove City opted to take the chance of Dartis' supporting cast beating them in the most important game of the season, which proved to be effective.
Although senior Newark center Teddy Metzen went for 21 points, the Wildcats simply did not have enough offensive production to pull off a win that would have kept them at the top of the Ohio division.
With the win, Grove City improves to 14-6, and 8-5 in the division, as a tournament run with high expectations awaits. Electing for a bye in the first round of tourney action, the Greyhounds will face the winner of No. 23 Franklin Heights and No. 31 Mount Vernon at home on Feb. 28.
With a win, Grove City would likely advance to the district semifinals to square off against Upper Arlington, a team the Greyhounds look to match up well against. If the Greyhounds play at the level they did against Newark, don't be surprised if Bapst & Co. can pull off an upset victory against an Upper Arlington team as hot as ever.
For Newark, the loss on Tuesday puts the Wildcats one game behind Pickerington Central, a team they have beaten twice this season. With the Tigers taking on Gahanna at Otterbein on Friday, Newark would need the Lions to pull out the win in order to stay in the thick of the Ohio division race. If Gahanna is to beat Pickerington Central on Friday, the Lions' win would put all three times in a tie at the top of the division.
Eastmoor hands Walnut Ridge first City League South loss
Behind stifling fourth quarter defense, Eastmoor got revenge on its home floor vs. rival Walnut Ridge, holding the Scots to six points in the fourth quarter to pull out a 55-47 win.
As seniors Jahmal Hughes and Nate Jameson each scored 11 points in their final game at home, Eastmoor hung on to a one-point halftime lead, pulling away from Walnut Ridge in a fourth quarter in which the Warriors had a 13-6 advantage. Outside of the senior duo, junior guards Jalon Lewis (eight points) and Xavier Holston-Sims (six points) each put in valuable minutes as the Warriors look to roll with momentum into a Division-II bracket that sets up well for Eastmoor.
Although Eastmoor remains two games behind the Scots in the division race, the loss for Walnut Ridge is of great importance as the Scots will square off with Brookhaven in the Columbus City League Championship on Saturday at noon. Squaring off with a Brookhaven team rolling with momentum after snapping Northland's historic 118-game City League winning streak on Monday, the Scots will have to find a way to put the ball in the bucket with more regularity.
Heading back to the City championship for the second time in three years, Walnut Ridge hopes to become the first South division team to win a league title since West in 1999-00 (Africentric's 2005 title was nullified due to an eligibility issue).
Tuesday's Top Performers
With a filled slate of basketball in Central Ohio on Tuesday, let's take a look at some of the area's top performers.
Javon Bess (6'5 Senior SG / Gahanna Lincoln):
Using a 25-14 fourth quarter charge, Bess and Gahanna held on to a 66-62 win vs. a talented Mansfield Senior team. Going 16-of-18 at the free throw line, Bess' 26 points were a game-high in a confidence-building win for a Gahanna team geared for a deep run in the playoffs. With a huge game vs. Pickerington Central awaiting on Friday, with a win, Gahanna would find itself right back in the OCC-Ohio division race. With three losses in league play, a Friday win would pit the Lions, Pickerington Central and Newark in a three-way tie.
Ronnie Williams (6'2 Senior PG / Brookhaven):
A day removed from pulling off the biggest win in recent program history, Williams and Brookhaven secured a spot in the Columbus City League Championship game on Saturday with a 63-56 victory on the road at Mifflin on Tuesday. Williams led all scorers with 20 points, and was a major part in a 7-0 run to begin the fourth quarter to stretch the lead. With the win, Brookhaven, in what could be its final year of existence, has put an end to Northland's reign of dominance in the City League North, staking a claim of their first division title in eight years. Williams, an Ohio Dominican commit, has been there for every step on the way, while leading Brookhaven over the hump as a senior. One of the City League's best all-around student-athletes, on and off the court, Williams is a prime example of hard work, dedication, and commitment to excellence in the classroom. Leading a hungry Brookhaven squad into Saturday's City championship vs. Walnut Ridge, the Bearcats look to extend the North division's streak of 12 consecutive league championships.
Rodney Willis (6'3 Junior SF / Briggs):
In the "Battle of the Hilltop," Willis played to his potential in a hard-fought 81-70 win over rival West. Going for 14 points and 13 rebounds, Willis controlled the glass as the Bruins controlled the tempo in finding a way to limit star West guard Charles Holland's chances offensively. Although Holland would go for 27 points, including 13-of-14 from the free-throw line, Willis played a major role in double-teaming Holland, as two Bruin guards picked up the senior at halfcourt on each offensive possession. Showing range on his jump shot, and ability to finish and make plays in the open floor, Willis played with enough efficiency as the Bruins led for the majority of the game. After transferring from Independence, Willis has been productive in half a season for Briggs, and should play a major role in what the Bruins hope to be a deep run in the district playoffs.
Will Orr and Jason Carter (Johnstown):
In a crucial matchup on the road at Heath, Johnstown's duo of senior shooting guard Will Orr and sophomore center Jason Carter combined for 42 points in a 58-42 win. Tied atop the Licking County League with Granville, the Johnnies will get a chance to avenge its largest loss to the season, traveling to the Blue Aces' home court on Thursday. As Orr has been one of the area's top scorers with a mix of underrated athleticism and excellent jump shooting, Carter has started to make a name for himself in the area as well. At 6'6, the sophomore has great length and decent athleticism, while also showing an ability to score on the block among lengthy defenders. Look for Thursday's matchup to be the best in the area as Johnstown and Granville battle for Licking County League supremacy.
Charles Holland (6'4 Senior SG / West):
In his final game at archrival Briggs, Holland put on a spirited performance in West's 81-70 loss on the road. Going for a game-high 27 points and 10 rebounds, Holland found a way to put the ball in the bucket, despite being double-teamed for the entirety of the game. Reaching the free-throw line 14 times, Holland connected on all but one of his attempts from the charity stripe. Executing his patented pull-up jumpshot, Holland was effective from behind-the-arc, but just did not have enough support around him to will the Cowboys to victory. West looks to rebound at home on Thursday vs. Linden-McKinley, a team Holland torched with 40 points a year ago.
Joseph Allen (5'10 Senior SG / Linden-McKinley):
Behind Allen's game-high 23 points, Linden-McKinley picked up a confidence-building victory over Beechcroft, 63-45. Opening up a 32-25 halftime lead, Allen and the Panthers slammed the door on the Cougars in the fourth quarter, outscoring Beechcroft 18-8. With the victory, Linden has now won four games in the City League North, doubling the amount of victories the Panthers picked up from 2010-13 combined. At 4-16, Linden is certainly a program slowly on the rise, and the Panthers look to keep rolling as they travel to West on Thursday.
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