Marcus Ball may have won the battle tonight, but his Wildcats could not win the war, falling to Westerville North for the 4th straight time, this time by a final of 77-68. Ball’s 32-point performance was a game-high and more than his counterpart Jack Gibbs for North, as he added 21 to lead the Warriors (19-1, 13-0).
The second matchup of the season started much like the first, with the Wildcats (14-6, 9-1) falling behind 24-14 after one. After a Jack Gibbs 3-point play and an Isaiah Keene three, the Warriors would have their biggest lead to date at 32-18. Gibbs took over in the first half, going for 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting, and 5-of-5 from the free-throw line.
Offensively, the Wildcats struggled until the latter part of the first half, fighting back to within six at 36-30 with a little under a minute to play in the half. Their 12-6 advantage over the final four minutes of the half gave the ‘Cats a boost, only trailing 38-30 going into the locker rooms.
The beginning of the second half was all Warriors, with North opening the half making 9 of their first 13 shots, a 20-7 run that would give them their biggest lead of the night at 58-37. Marcus Ball’s three near the end of the quarter would cut the North lead to 60-43.
The two teams would trade baskets for the first few minutes of the fourth quarter, with North holding the lead just above 15. South’s final push would be with North leading 68-51 with 4:04 left in the game, when Ball drove to the hoop drew a blocking call on Warrior center Alex Stewart. Stewart protested the call by slamming the ball down, receiving a technical. Ball would make four free-throws, and add on to that with a three. The 7-point possession would close the gap to 10, the closest it was since the beginning of the half. Ball would go on to score the final 15 points for the Wildcats.
With the win, Westerville North has swept the city of Westerville for the second year in a row, going 8-0 against rivals Westerville Central and Westerville South. The Warriors have two regular season games left, tomorrow at Zanesville, and one OCC-Cardinal game remaining, a re-scheduled game with Dublin Jerome on Tuesday. Westerville South hosts Buckeye Valley Tuesday night.