by Jason Morrow/ @thejaybird19
Westerville North jumped out by as many as 21 in the first half and never looked back, defeating host Hilliard Darby 67-44 in OCC-Cardinal play tonight. The Warriors (11-0, 7-0) stayed unbeaten with an solid balance of scoring. Jack Gibbs, Adrian Cook, Jaylen Benton, and Alex Stewart all had 11 points in the win. Gibbs was the most instrumental in the win, adding on 4 assists, 3 rebounds, and 3 steals for Westerville North.
After a struggle for the tip-off, Westerville North scored on a Jaylen Benton layup. North dominated the first quarter mainly through the play of junior center Alex Stewart, who collected 7 points with one assist, and took a charge in the first eight minutes. In the first five minutes of the second quarter, the Warriors used lockdown defense to go on a 12-2 run to expand the lead to 31-13.
Offensively, Hilliard Darby (8-5, 4-4) struggled in the first half, but found a bit of a rhythm to keep the Warriors from making it a complete blowout. Panther guard Cade Carter hit a three as time expired in the first half to stop the bleeding for Darby as they trailed 40-21 going into the break.
The teams struggled out of the gate in the second half, and a Jaylen Benton free-throw was the only point scored throughout the first three-plus minutes of the second half.
The pressure applied by the Warriors defense held the Panthers scoreless until a Caleb Day three helped Darby out of its funk. Day was also involved in the lone bright spot of the night for the Panthers, as he caught an alley-oop and slammed it down, bringing the Darby student section back to their feet. He led all Panthers scorers with 10.
North continued to fire away from beyond the arc, and a Gibbs three with six-plus minutes remaining gave the Warriors their biggest lead of the night at 61-33.
Westerville North tries to remain unbeaten in possibly their biggest test of the year tomorrow afternoon, playing Quality Education Academy (N.C.) in the Flyin’ To The Hoop Classic at Kettering Fairmont.
Up next for Darby is a cross-town game, as they host rival Hilliard Davidson tomorrow night.