By Jason Morrow / @thejaybird19
In a game where every possession was a battle, Pickerington Central used a 20-7 third quarter to push past Olentangy Orange 62-55 in a Division I district final at the Fairgrounds Coliseum Saturday afternoon. With the win, the Tigers have gone back to back, winning the 2012 district championship en route to a state championship last year.
The win did not come easily for the Tigers, as they fell behind early 9-0 due to the pressuring defense of the Pioneers. Nick Deitsch for Orange (xx-x) was the hot hand for the Pioneers in the quarter, with 8 of his 28 coming in the first frame, and after one, Olentangy Orange led 14-9.
The Tigers began to make their push in the second, making five of their first seven shots in the quarter, and took their first lead at 20-18 with 3:34 left in the half. Deitsch would stay hot for the Pioneers, scoring eight straight at one point to give Orange the lead for good in the first half at 28-26. He led all scorers at the half with 16, converting 4/7 from beyond the arc.
A Jae’Sean Tate layup would give the Tigers their first lead of the second half at 30-28. The Tate brothers, Jae’Sean and Jalen, would combine to score 16 of the 20 points for Pickerington Central in the third quarter. The pressure of the Tigers would force the Pioneers into 6 turnovers, while only shooting 2/5 from the field in the quarter.
The true turning point in the game occurred late in the third quarter, when Jae’Sean Tate drove the lane in transition and was fouled by Deitsch while he threw down an impressive dunk. This momentum swing gave Pickerington Central at that point their largest lead of the game a 42-35. The quarter would end with the Tigers knocking down another three, this time by Kyran Boyd as time expired, giving Pickerington Central a 46-35 lead.
After Jae’Sean opened the fourth with a dunk, Olentangy Orange responded with a 9-0 run to cut the Tiger lead to 48-44. Deitsch would again lead the charge for the Pioneers during that run, with consecutive triples, scoring 8 of the 9 points.
The game would get as close as 51-48 but never any closer, as Orange would show their struggles at the free-throw line, shooting 8/14 from the line in the fourth quarter including missing four straight at one point. The Tigers didn’t fare much better at the line, missing 7 of their last 8 free throws.
Nick Deitsch for Olentangy Orange led all scorers with 28 points, including shooting 6/12 from beyond the arc. Jae’Sean Tate led Pickerington Central with 23 points and 8 rebounds.