All you need to know in Columbus: Wednesday, February 27th

OHSAA logoThe second round is upon us. We probably won’t have any unbelievable upsets like in the NCAA tournament’s second round, but what you will see is very good basketball, and some great games are in the forecast without a doubt. Of the 12 games on the docket for Division I, nine of them will be played on the 27th, two more on the 28th, and the Olentangy Orange at Zanesville being the lone game on the 1st of March. Today here at Scarberry Productions, I will give key facts about the 9 games for tomorrow night: Continue reading

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Westland looks to continue momentum in road game vs. Central Crossing

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Kersey Long streaks to the hoop vs. Marysville earlier this season

After a painful four-game losing skid, Westland (15-6) rebounded Tuesday in a 58-49 victory over Franklin Heights. The Cougars look to continue their winning ways tonight at rival Central Crossing (2-18).  Continue reading

OCC Preview for the Stretch Run

OCC Logo

With the OCC schedule winding down, there are some races that are do or die (the Central, and Ohio divisions) and some races that are a mathematical lock (the Capital and Cardinal divisions). Here’s your recap, and at least one thing you need to know about each of the top teams in the Ohio Capital Conference going into tournament time.

OCC- Capital

New Albany (18-2, 12-0): What a season so far for the Eagles, with their only losses to Central division frontrunner Olentangy Liberty by 8, and Westerville South by 1 in the final seconds. Sam Davis’ squad is predicated on defense and so far this year they’ve dominated by only allowing 50+ points 4 times the whole season. Expect the Eagles to make a deeper run than in years past.

Delaware (12-5, 8-3): A solid season so far for the Pacers. Also for tournament success, you’d have to expect guard Mike Wells to play better than he did in their worst loss of the year, a 79-47 blowout at Westland on Jan. 22. The Pacers could surprise people if Wells and Co. come ready to play.

Olentangy (11-7, 8-3):  The Braves have been coming on strong to close the year, winners of 4 of their last 5, with the lone loss in that stretch at New Albany by 3. Big games against Olentangy Orange and Delaware could be a crucial boost going into tournament time.

OCC-Cardinal

Westerville North (17-1, 11-0): As many expected, the Warriors have played at a high level this year, using great guard play from the trio of Jaylen Benton, Jack Gibbs, and Adrian Cook leading the way for North. Also, the front court of the Warriors has been solid, led by junior Alex Stewart, shooting 57.9% from the field. Their only loss was to Brookhaven, the day after a crucial win over Dublin Scioto at home to seal the Cardinal division trophy. My pick to win at least a district title, and the favorite to come out of the Columbus regional.

Dublin Scioto (16-3, 9-3): A roller-coaster ride as of late for the Irish has kept Scioto fans on their toes through the end of the season. The Irish played Westerville North to the bitter end two Fridays ago, losing by 7 on the road. However, the following Tuesday they responded by dominating Westerville South 68-49. A scoreless third quarter at crosstown rival Jerome caused the downswing on the coaster, falling 41-35. Scioto will get their last major test of the regular season when they host Reynoldsburg Tuesday.

Westerville South (13-6, 8-4): Although out of contention for the Cardinal division title, the Wildcats will always be a threat in the tournament, using the defensive strategy and winning ways of head coach Ed Calo, who famously knocked off unbeaten Northland in five years ago in the 2008 district semifinal, en route to the district championship. This year’s bunch has shown promise, taking crosstown rival North to the final seconds, and defeating previously mentioned New Albany by 1. Don’t sleep on the Cats this year.

OCC-Central

Olentangy Liberty (18-1, 11-1): As the new members in the Central division, they have basically replicated what they did last year so far, winning any way they can. Their lone loss this year was at Westland, and they dominated the rematch last Friday, defeating the Cougars 58-44 at home. Junior center Mike DeLeon is third in the area in field-goal percentage (60.2%) and they will need him tonight as they play for basically the league championship tonight, at Dublin Coffman.

As mentioned above, tonight’s game against Liberty will be basically a league championship game. With a Coffman win, the Shamrocks will take the lead in the division for the first time since the original meeting with the Patriots, and will need to win next week to seal the division. If Liberty would win tonight, then Coffman would be one behind and could not hold the tiebreaker with the Patriots.

Dublin Coffman (15-3, 11-1): Another year, another chance at an OCC title for the Shamrocks. The Rocks have done it once again, taking control of the Central and their only league loss was a road game at Olentangy Liberty. SInce the loss at Liberty, the Shamrocks have won 8 of their last 9. Coffman has been in contention for a league championship the last 3 of the last 4 years, winning once in 2008-’09, and sharing a title with Upper Arlington the following year.

Westland (14-5, 8-4): Although they started the 2012-’13 campaign at 14-2, the Cougars have dropped their last three, against some of the best teams in Central Ohio, falling to Liberty, Watterson, and Coffman in their last three trips on the floor. Guard Cory Beesler is has been the best from beyond the arc anywhere in the state all year, shooting 55.9%, an OHSAA record if he keeps his current pace. The Cougars will get to close out the year with two very winnable games, home against Franklin Heights and at crosstown rival Central Crossing.

OCC-Ohio

Reynoldsburg (15-4, 9-3): A three-way tie atop the Ohio division will make for an interesting close to the year, and in front by overall record alone is Reynoldsburg. First-year coach Scott Davis had the Raiders on a strong start, winning 13 of their first 14, including wins at Grove City and defending champion Pickerington Central. The Raiders have struggled down the stretch however, losing 4 of their last 6. Tonight’s matchup at Newark will be the last crucial game in terms of the Ohio division title.

Pickerington Central (12-6, 9-3): The defending 2012 Division I state champions have taken a small step back this year, but albeit in a tough division, and tougher non-conference schedule, including Northland, and Shaker Heights. Although they have no games left against the other top 2 foes in the Ohio division, they can take a big step forward tonight with a win against Groveport.

Newark  (11-7, 8-3): After a 54-36 loss to Reynoldsburg on January 8th, the Wildcats have reeled off 6 OCC wins, and have a chance to avenge the loss to the Raiders tonight at home. Newark also controls more of its destiny than the others, playing Gahanna on the 12th also for another key league game.

For Westland’s seniors, the time is now

In the midst of a three-game losing skid, including two losses at home, it’s time for the Westland basketball team to put an end to their toughest stretch of the season. After losing a crucial game on the road at Olentangy Liberty (18-1) last Friday, the Cougars dropped two more games at home on Saturday vs. Watterson (17-1), and then Tuesday against OCC opponent Dublin Coffman (15-3). In arguably the toughest three-game stretch that any team has had this season, the Cougars didn’t play their best basketball when they needed it the most. With an OCC-Central division title out of the question, this team must still play with a purpose.

Sitting at 14-5, the Cougars have a great chance to go into tournament time with momentum. Another tough league game comes Friday at home vs. Upper Arlington (10-8), whom the Cougars defeated on Jan. 7., 72-60. Without Devan Williamson in the lineup, Westland has had difficulty rebounding and matching up with the length and athleticism of their opponents. In losses vs. Liberty (58-44) and Watterson (65-54), the Cougars gave up an array of points in the paint, many coming from second chance opportunities.

Westland did a better job on the boards vs. Coffman, out rebounding the Shamrocks 35-26. A slow starting first quarter put the Cougars in a hole early, forcing Westland to battle back all night. Switching to a 2-3 zone in the second quarter helped Westland bring the lead back down to three. The Cougars amped up their defense in the second half, but questionable officiating and wasted possessions contributed to Westland’s 57-53 loss.

Without Williamson’s energy and streaky scoring, the Cougars need to make sure to come out fast and efficient to stay out of trouble in tournament time. Westland seems to not have found which sets work best for their limited personnel, but with games vs. Franklin Heights (7-12) and Central Crossing (2-18) in the final week of the season, the Cougars have a great chance to find their groove. In high school basketball, momentum is everything, and is exactly what Westland needs to continue this exciting season. 

Beesler chasing history

Westland senior Cory Beesler is on the verge of breaking the all-time Ohio high school record for three-point shooting percentage. Beesler has shot 56 percent from deep this season (47/84) and needs at least seven more makes and 16 more attempts to qualify for the all-time record. Jeff Miller of Tipp City-Bethel, shot 53.8 percent (56/104) in 1987-88, and has held the record since. In a state that has seen some remarkable three-point shooters, Beesler is having an unprecedented season from behind the arc.

Written by: Zach Fleer (@YS614)

Westland remains unbeaten at home with big win over Hilliard Davidson

Just three days away from Westland‘s biggest game of the season, the Cougars made a huge statement in a 70-42 blowout victory over Hilliard Davidson (3-11, 2-7). Fueled by deadly three-point scoring, the Cougars went into halftime leading by 15, and never took their foot off the gas.

Led by Cory Beesler’s 20 points, 18 of which came from behind the arc, the area’s leader in three-point percentage was a huge part in a balanced Cougar attack. Westland (14-2, 7-2) hit 11 three-point field goals in tonight’s victory, putting the game away midway through the third quarter. Kersey Long and JJ Smith each scored in double figures for the Cougars, while KyJuan Grace added seven points and another stellar performance on the defensive end. 

In their first game without Devan Williamson, Westland showed no hesitation on offense, controlling the pace from the outset and getting quality baskets each trip down the floor. Heading into a crucial road matchup with Olentangy Liberty, which may very well decide the OCC-Central, Westland put together an outstanding performance against a team that they could’ve easily overlooked. 

Replacing Williamson’s production is no easy task, but with Beesler’s deadly shooting from behind the arc, Westland showed tonight that scoring is not an issue. The Cougars will need a similar performance from Beesler and the rest of the supporting cast this Friday in a game that will determine the fate of Westland’s season. 

Written by: Zach Fleer / @YS614

Westland gets revenge in home win vs. Thomas Worthington

When the first time these teams squared off, Westland came into the game undefeated and overly confident. After a 64-53 loss on Dec. 14th, the Cougars had been patiently waiting to get revenge on the Cardinals on their home floor. That is exactly what happened tonight.

In a game of runs, Westland would prevail 62-57. Led in scoring by guards Kersey Long (19 points) and KyJuan Grace (15 points), the Cougars gave the guard oriented Cardinals trouble on the perimeter all night long. Will Hill and Lance Leslie led the Cardinals in scoring, combining for 27 points, 12 less than what they scored in their previous matchup with the Cougars.

Long was matched up with Hill for the majority of the game, and did to him what he had done to Mike Wells earlier in the week. Long and Grace’s 34 points, combined with Cory Beesler’s 12 would help the Cougars neutralize the scoring duo of Hill and Leslie. Falling behind 21-14 midway through the second quarter, Westland would claw their way back, thanks to a 7-0 run led by Long.

Going into halftime leading 27-24, Westland traded punches with Thomas Worthington throughout the third quarter. Although JJ Smith had another stellar night on the boards, the Cougars had problems blocking out on the defensive end, leading to offensive rebounds and second chance points for the Cardinals.

After a 4-0 Thomas run at the end of the third quarter, the Cougars found themselves in a very close game, something they haven’t been accustomed to as of late. With the game tied at 51 with three minutes to go, the Cougars showed to everyone in the gym just what they were made of. In his last game of the season, Devan Williamson connected with a cutting Grace for an easy layup to give Westland the lead with 2:31 remaining. On the next trip down the floor, Long weaved in and out of traffic en route to a three-point play, giving the Cougars a 56-51 advantage with just under two minutes to go. Thomas would never come within three points for the remainder of the game as Westland sank crucial free throws to secure the win.

With the victory, Westland improves to 13-2, heading into the toughest stretch of the season. The Cougars are home vs. Hilliard Davidson on Tuesday, but the true test awaits when Westland travels to league leading Olentangy Liberty on Feb. 1st. Without one of their most exciting players in Williamson, it will be intriguing to see who will step up for the Cougars in his absence. Westland controls their own destiny in the OCC-Central from here on out, and it’s up to them to determine if their dreams will be manifested.

Written by: Zach Fleer / @YS614

The Well Runs Dry: Westland runs over Delaware Hayes, 79-47.

For the last few weeks, great hype has surrounded tonight’s matchup between Westland (12-2, 6-2) and Delaware Hayes (9-4, 5-2), mainly due to the great point guards on each team. Heavily recruited Mike Wells came into tonight’s game leading the area in scoring. Kersey Long of Westland put an end to Wells’ scoring spree, limiting the guard to eight points in an electric 32 point win for the Cougars.

From the opening tip, Westland turned spectacular rebounding into transition offense. JJ Smith broke the school record for rebounds, with 22 in an impressive 18 point, seven assist performance. Smith went into halftime with a double double, scoring 16 points and 12 rebounds, but the second half turned into the Kersey Long Show.

With all the hype surrounding the matchup with Wells, many had doubted Long’s ability to stop Hayes’ high scoring guard. The doubters should remain silenced after tonight. When asked about the pre-game hype, Long stated, “All the things said were irrelevant. I’ve played against him since the sixth grade, I knew his game.” Wells had obvious trouble with the quickness of Long and his ability to stay right on top of him on and off the ball. Turning the ball over several times, Wells’ frustration came to a climax when the guard was called for a technical foul midway through the third quarter.

Long finished the game with 23 points, gashing the Pacers defense left and right, in addition to hitting three big shots from behind the arc. When asked about the defensive performance tonight, Long would say, “I just stayed quick on my feet and fell into my teammates’ help.” Wells also had his fair share of trouble with Westland guard KyJuan Grace, whose off-ball defense was mightily impressive.

After scoring 54 points in two quarters against Marysville last Friday, Westland continued that trend tonight, going into halftime leading 39-17. The third quarter was a shootout, as the Cougars outscored Hayes 24-20 in the period to head into the fourth leading 63-37. For the third time in four games, JJ Smith hit a buzzer beater, this time with a put back after an offensive rebound right as time expired.

Westland would not let their foot off the gas in the fourth, as the Cougars continued to up the tempo. No fourth quarter basket was bigger than the alley- oop Long set up for Williamson, which gave Westland a 75-41 lead with a little over four minutes to go. Williamson finished with 15 points. In their last six wins, Westland has outscored their opponents by 112 points, an impressive feat for a relatively underrated team.

Behind two of the OCC’s top players in JJ Smith and Kersey Long, Westland has the talent to make a magical run. Depth will certainly be an issue, but this team has heart.

Written by: Zach Fleer / @YS614