By Jason Morrow/ @thejaybird19
Sometimes it is truly the case to rather be lucky than good. Tonight that was the case for Olentangy Orange and Nick Deitsch, whose tip-in at the buzzer knocked off fourth-seeded New Albany 46-45 in a district semifinal at Pickerington North.
With just under thirty seconds remaining, and tied at 44, Olentangy Orange’s inbounds pass was stolen by Jalen Rhea and was fouled just seconds later. Rhea made the first free-throw but couldn’t connect on the second, setting up the final possession for the Pioneers (15-9). Hunter Jenkins was the man who had to force up a contested shot as time ran down. His shot was off the mark but landed directly in the hands of Nick Deitsch, who laid it in as time expired.
There was no demonstrative call on the floor, but all three officials in unison signaled the basket was good before making a quick exit.
This was the third meeting of the year for the two schools, normally as OCC-Capital division foes. The first two meetings were won handily by New Albany (22-3), each time by double digits.
Most of the game was played within a five-point window either way, with neither team up by more than 4 in the fourth quarter or overtimes. The Eagles trailed 41-39 late in the fourth, but a Devon Pitts layup tied the game, although he would miss the ensuing free-throw to take the lead.
Orange was able to hold the ball for a minute to get the final shot in regulation. Brady Harris for Orange missed a potential game-winner, sending the game into the extra frame.
Jalen Rhea led all scorers in the game with 18, and Orange was led by Brandon Blake with 14.
Pickerington Central, who defeated Dublin Coffman in the second session 73-54, will be the Pioneers’ next opponent. The Columbus 1 district final will be Saturday, March 6 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.