The final 16 minutes belonged to the Braves.
Clinging to a 3-point, 21-18 halftime lead, Olentangy caught fire in the first 5:35 of the third quarter, outscoring Big Walnut 20-7 to open up a 41-25 lead en route to a 69-56 Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division victory over the host Golden Eagles Friday night in Sunbury.
“We got off to a great start defensively, but we struggled offensively with two of our starters in early foul trouble,” Olentangy head coach Chris Kelly said. “Fortunately we found our offensive rhythm to start the second half while continuing to play solid defense.”
Olentangy (4-7, 2-4 OCC) opened the third quarter on a rebound basket by 6-foot-3 sophomore Derrick Wyche and back-to-back threes by junior Ryan Sieve in its first three possessions to take an 11-point lead. After the Golden Eagles answered with one of senior Logan Boyd’s five threes and a fast-break lay-in by senior Nick Herbert to cut the Olentangy lead to 29-23, the Braves came back with a 12-2 run to open up a 41-25 advantage with 2:25 left in the period.
“Olentangy took advantage of our third-quarter turnovers to go up by 16 points, scoring 11 of those points off five of our turnovers,” Big Walnut head coach Eric Myers said. “Not only did we commit too many turnovers, we also shot the ball poorly through the first three quarters.”
Big Walnut (6-7, 2-6 OCC) was 9-for-30 (30 percent) from the floor while turning the ball over 18 times, including five times in its last seven possessions of the period, in the Golden Eagles’ first 47 possessions (38.3 percent) at the cost of 16 points after 24 minutes of play. The Braves, however, after shooting only 28.6 percent (8-for-28) in the opening half, came back to hit 7 of 15 (46.7 percent) shots, including 3 of 5 from beyond the arc, in the decisive third period.
“Once we found our confidence at the start of the second half, our offensive rhythm returned,” Kelly said. “We were hungry … we played like a team on a mission.”
Olentangy went on to open up as much as 19-points, 53-32 on a Wyche layin and a free throw by junior Jimmy Gundling with 5:43 remaining in the contest.
Junior Ryan Sieve paced Olentangy in scoring with 15 points. Gundling followed with 12 and Wyche with 11 points. Sophomore Seth O’Neal and Sieve counted two threes apiece. The Braves finished with a 23-for-55, 41.8 shooting, including a 31.6 percentage (6-for-19) from three-point range. They were 17-for-29 (58.6 percent) at the line. Olentangy, led by Wyche with 11 and Sieve with 9 rebounds, won the battle of the boards, 50-30. The Braves turned the ball over 18 times in 64 possessions (28.1 percent) at the cost of 18 points.
Big Walnut’s Boyd, who canned 5 treys, took game scoring honors with 27 points. Herbert joined Boyd in double figures with 11 points. Junior Kyle Gose, with two threes, added 9 points. The Golden Eagles, who were 20-for-53 (46.0 percent) from the field, converted 9 of 28 3-pointers (32.1 percent). They were 7-for-8 (87.45 percent) at the line. Boyd and Seabrook topped Big Walnut on the glass with 8 rebounds apiece. The Golden Eagles committed 22 turnovers in 69 possessions (31.9 percent). They lost 21 points to the Braves as the result of turnovers.