The second-year League Ohio Championships tipped off on Saturday at Fieldhouse USA in Columbus and represents the last week of community/school team basketball before players transition into baseball or AAU basketball. A calibration between Bleacher Republic and TNBA, the event is billed as a “state championship” tournament, which attempts to bring the top community-based travel teams together for one final statewide tournament. For the most part, mission accomplished. Although there were smaller numbers than hoped for by event organizers, the event achieved its goal of attracting talented teams.
Most of our time was spent watching games in the 3rd and 4th grade divisions, and we were not disappointed. One of the best games of the day pitted 4th grade Gahanna versus Cleveland-area Riverside. Specifically, the game featured plenty of offense and back and forth action, including 12 lead changes. Gahanna got out to a 28-25 lead by halftime before Riverside came racing back. Trailing 45-41, Gahanna went on a 9-point run to take the lead, and would hold on to secure a 63-57 win. Gahanna was paced in scoring by Derrick Perryman, who finished with a team-high 23 points, followed by Jordan Taylor who dropped 16 points on 4 of 6 shots and 8 of 10 free throws. Riverside was led in scoring by John Moore Jr. and Cam Rauch, both of whom were very impressive. Moore is more of a slasher who uses his size and ball skills to get to the cup, while Rauch is a deadly perimeter threat with his ability to knock down catch and shoot treys.
Later in the day, Gahanna would finish pool play 2-0 after a 52-29 win over Brunswick. Mason Vines led Gahanna with a game-high 17 points followed by Derrick Perryman (10), Jordan Taylor (8) and Landon Geist (6) and Graham Martin (6). Riverside would finish pool play 1-1 with a 66-52 win over Dublin Coffman (3rd grade). John Moore Jr. and Cam Rauch both put up big numbers again, while Dublin’s Jullian Winners went for a game-high 23 points. The Norwalk Truckers also finished 2-0 in pool play and were led by Maddox Gamble, who had a monster game against Dublin Coffman. In Pool A, Lancaster and Olentangy Berlin Royal both finished 2-0.
The 3rd grade division saw Avon Gold and Lancaster finish 2-0 in their respective pools. Although Avon has more balanced scoring between Charlie Lombardy, Ari Anderson, Jayden Vega and Luke Garlitz, Lancaster is powered by the 2-headed monster of Anderson Swartz and Adam Kennedy. For the record, Gahanna and Waverly both finished 1-1 in pool play. All in all, it was a competitive day of basketball and sets up nicely for championship Sunday. Stay tuned for or day II report.