Living up to its pregame billing, Friday's primetime matchup between Ohio Varsity and All-Ohio White was the perfect start to what looks to be an exciting 2014 Buckeye Prep Invitational. After finding themselves down 41-37 with 1:33 remaining, Khalil Iverson and Ohio Varsity stormed back behind a 7-1 run in the final minutes, topped by Iverson's game-winning put back lay in with 3.9 seconds to go.
Going into halftime trailing 21-17, Ohio Varsity turned up the defensive pressure in the second half, forcing All-Ohio White into a flurry of turnovers behind a swarming full-court trap. As junior Brookhaven power forward J-Saun Davis attacked the offensive glass en route to nine points in the second half, Ohio Varsity followed suit.
Trailing for the majority of the second half, Ohio Varsity found itself on the ropes after All-Ohio White called a timeout leading 41-37 with 1:31 to go. Forcing White into back-to-back turnovers, junior Brookhaven shooting guard Shad Kimble's triple from the left wing tied the game at 42 with 44.3 seconds to go.
Junior Eastmoor forward Lavoris Brown would force a steal on the following possession, but Ohio Varsity would fail to execute on the offensive end. As possession switched hands once again, All-Ohio looked to have a chance to take a lead, however, junior Garfield Heights center Brandon Johnson missed a dunk with 17.3 seconds to go, giving Ohio Varsity another chance to seal the game.
As Kimble attempted a driving floater from the left block in the final seconds, Iverson would clean up the Brookhaven guard's attempt with an offensive rebound and put back with 3.9 seconds to go, giving Ohio Varsity a 44-42 lead.
Plagued by turnovers, All-Ohio would again turn the ball over on the following possession, failing to inbound the ball in time in what was Friday's most crucial turnover.
J-Saun Davis (6'4 Junior PF / Brookhaven):
Leading Ohio Varsity with 12 points and seven rebounds, Davis' work on the offensive glass in the second half made a major difference in the comeback win. As the junior had done all season long for Brookhaven en route to a Columbus City League championship, Davis brought great energy to the low block for Ohio Varsity, neutralizing the height and athleticism of All-Ohio White. Although undersized for the power forward position, Davis is absolutely relentless on the glass, and has a quick second bounce that helps him secure multiple chances on the offensive boards. Still raw in other aspects of his game, Davis will be a quality addition for whichever school the junior lands next season as Brookhaven will close at the end of the school year.
Khalil Iverson (6'5 Junior SF / Delaware Hayes):
One of the more dominant performers in Central Ohio this past season, Iverson affected Friday's game in a variety of ways. Scoring just seven points, Iverson added a team-high 12 rebounds, to go with two powerful blocks and a poster slam in the second half on an All-Ohio White defender. Incredibly strong, agile and athletic, Iverson is an absolute force around the rim, muscling his way for offensive rebounds and put backs. Paired with Davis down low, the front court duo for Ohio Varsity is one of the more athletic in the area. Receiving interest from several mid-major to high-major programs, Iverson will be a top five prospect in Central Ohio next season.
Dez Wright (6'1 Junior SG / Gahanna-Lincoln):
Gahanna's spark plug this past season, Wright was All-Ohio's lone consistent scoring threat on Friday, going for a game-high 16 points to go with four rebounds and three assists. A killer in transition, Wright used his impressive combination of quickness and agility to beat Ohio Varsity up court for scores. Starting the majority of Gahanna's games this past season, Wright will be looked to provide more scoring next season as coach Tony Stieb graduates seniors Javon Bess and Manny Powell.
Naradin James (6'4 Junior SF / Mansfield Senior):
The only player that I had not seen prior to Friday was the lanky Mansfield junior James. Going for 12 points and 13 rebounds, James was arguably All-Ohio's top player, even after coming off the bench midway through the first half. Causing havoc underneath, James used a long wingspan to bring down a variety of offensive rebounds, leading to second-chance points for All-Ohio. Also showing impressive shooting range, James knocked down a deep three early in the second half to tie the game at 30. Scoring 19 points in Mansfield's regional semifinal win over Toledo Bowsher, James will be the Tygers' key scorer as a senior.
Shad Kimble (6'3 Junior SG / Brookhaven):
Ohio Varsity's strongest ball-handler on Friday, Kimble showed improvement in the one area that had looked to be his weakness for stretches during his junior season at Brookhaven. Bringing the ball upcourt against tight pressure from All-Ohio, Kimble responded strongly, and really helped Ohio Varsity control the tempo in the second half. Knocking down both of his threes in the second half, Kimble's confident step-back triple to tie the game late on Friday was the type of shot the junior needed to maximize his confidence. When the 6'3 guard squares his shoulders toward the basket, Kimble turns into a knockdown shooter, however, that is not something he does consistently enough. With a strong second-half performance on Friday, look for Kimble to continue to elevate his stock going into a senior year with great uncertainty following Brookhaven's shocking closure.