PICKERINGTON — Raiders Boys and Girls Basketball both traveled to face Pickerington North in the second consecutive doubleheader for both teams. Each team was looking to bounce back after furious rallies at home came up short in their doubleheader against Pickerington Central; the Girls trailed by as many as 23 and missed an overtime-forcing three pointer at the buzzer in a 59-56 loss, while the Boys chipped a 28-point late 3rd quarter deficit down to nine in what ended up being a 71-58 loss to the Tigers.
The theme of Friday night’s doubleheader against Pickerington North? Huge runs ended up being big factors in both games.
The Lady Raiders got off to a slow start, trailing 16-9 to the Lady Panthers with 1:30 left in the 1st quarter. But the Raiders ended up scoring eight points in the final 0:51 of the opening quarter: a basket by senior guard Hannah Gaskins set up by a no-look pass from junior guard Adrian Crockwell, a basket in the post by sophomore foward Uju Ezeudu, and two quick transition baskets by Crockwell set up by two quick steals inside half court. Just like that, the game was tied 17-17 after the first quarter.
“I felt that kind of shifted the momentum,” Lady Raiders head coach Jack Purtell said.
Those eight points ended up being the start of a 30-10 run to end the first half for the Raiders, in which Crockwell hit three of the Raiders’ five 2nd quarter three pointers, and junior post Jalynda Salley added 7 points in the 2nd quarter alone to propel the Lady Raiders to a 39-26 halftime lead. They would go up by as many as 18 in the second half, where Salley stole the show and added 12 points from down low for the Lady Raiders. The Panthers cut the Raiders’ lead to nine briefly in the 4th quarter, but would get no closer as the Raiders pulled away with a 10-3 run to ultimately emerge with a 66-52 victory over the Panthers.
“It was the rebounding and getting back on defense,” Salley said of the difference in the win. “We needed to send a statement going into the tournament and it was a huge win.”
With the win, the Lady Raiders improved to 17-4 overall and 8-3 in their division. They have one more game on Tuesday 2/14 at Zanesville prior to their 2017 OHSAA Girls Basketball Division I Columbus 3 District Tournament opener at home against Central Crossing. The defending regional champion Lady Raiders are seeded 4th overall in the tournament, and their first round tournament tip against the Comets is on Friday 2/17 at 7:00pm.
“That was one of Jalynda [Salley’s] best game all around,” coach Purtell went on to say. “I thought she was a huge factor. Her and Uju [Ezeudu] were both warriors inside tonight. It’s hard coming off a game that we lost like we did for the league title, so I felt like we came in here an took care of business.” Ezeudu also added 8 of her own points in the post in the victory.
The Boys found themselves on the wrong end of a big run that ended up being too much to overcome against the hot-shooting Panthers. The Raiders actually jumped out to a 6-0 lead, holding the Panthers scoreless until just over three minutes into the 1st first quarter. But the Panthers ended up scoring nine quick unanswered points and never looked back, going on what would end up being a 22-2 run to give them a 22-8 lead over the Raiders with 6:09 left in the 2nd quarter. The Raiders would, however, answer back with an 8-2 run of their own to cut the Panthers’ lead to 24-16 at halftime.
Junior forward Tre Williams led the Raiders with six points at the half, while junior forward Jerome Hunter for the Panthers led all scorers with 12 points at the break. (Both would end up being each team’s leader scorers for the night: Williams finishing with 9 points and Hunter finishing with 18 points. Sophomore forward Ben Fort also finished with 9 points for the Raiders.)
The Raiders kept pace with the Panthers early in the 3rd quarter, staying within seven points and trailed 29-22 with 4:53 left in the quarter. But turnovers by the Raiders led to quick transition baskets by the Panthers to cap off a 10-0 run and give them a 46-29 lead over the Raiders going into the 4th quarter. The Panthers would pull away from there, going up by as many as 22 as they seemed to have an answer for all 17 of the Raiders’ 4th quarter points.
The Raiders would ultimately fall 66-52 for their third consecutive loss, falling to 14-6 overall and 4-5 in their division. They will look to snap their losing streak at home against Bishop Hartley on Senior Night on Tuesday 2/14 at 7:30pm, and will have a chance to even out their division record in their regular season finale at Lancaster on Friday 2/17 at 7:30pm.
The Boys will find out where their playoff journey begins in the 2017 OHSAA Boys Basketball Division I District Tournament for Central Ohio on Sunday 2/12. The tournament draw is at 2pm at Gahanna-Lincoln High School.
GIRLS- Regular season finale at Zanesville on Tuesday 2/14 at 7:30pm. First round OHSAA playoff matchup at home vs. Central Crossing on Friday 2/17 at 7:00pm.
BOYS- Senior Night and home against Bishop Hartley on Tuesday 2/14 at 7:30pm. Regular season finale at Lancaster on Friday 2/17 at 7:30pm.
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