Pickerington Central girls basketball cruises past defending state champion Reynoldsburg

The Pickerington Central girls basketball team got out to what coach Chris Wallace called a “conservative” start Nov. 29 at Reynoldsburg, with the Tigers assessing what the Raiders threw at them defensively in the OCC-Buckeye Division opener for both squads.

Once the ice broke, the Tigers made a resounding statement, scoring 25 points in the final 4 minutes, 56 seconds of the first quarter and complementing that with a smothering defense to cruise to a 67-36 victory over the defending Division I state champions.

Pickerington Central celebrates after hitting a shot at the first-quarter buzzer Nov. 29 at Reynoldsburg. The Tigers beat the defending Division I state champion Raiders 67-36.
Pickerington Central celebrates after hitting a shot at the first-quarter buzzer Nov. 29 at Reynoldsburg. The Tigers beat the defending Division I state champion Raiders 67-36.

“Sometimes you just don’t know what the flow of a game is going to look like. We didn’t want to make a lot of mistakes (early); we wanted to be more conservative, but as we saw what they were going to show us we attacked differently,” Wallace said. “When you have a veteran group, it allows you to know what’s going on and adjust. That experience matters. They showed us different things, and we were ready.”

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Vanderbilt recruit Madison Greene scored 12 of her game-high 18 points in the first half on four 3-pointers, Rylee Bess added all 12 of her points before halftime and Columbia recruit Olivia Cooper scored 10 of her 12 in the first two quarters.

Reynoldsburg's Jayla Ross guards Pickerington Central's Madison Greene during their game Nov. 29.
Reynoldsburg's Jayla Ross guards Pickerington Central's Madison Greene during their game Nov. 29.

The Tigers, who improved to 3-0, scored their first 10 points in a 51-second span midway through the first quarter, built a 42-19 halftime lead and led by much as 33 early in the fourth.

The teams’ two meetings last year, both Reynoldsburg wins, were decided by 16 and three points.

“We just picked up our energy. We had to come out from the jump … and we were ready to come play,” said Greene, a point guard. “We always practice shooting during practice and we’re getting a lot more consistent. We are getting up and pressuring; it doesn’t matter who the ballhandler is. Whatever we do, defense always comes first. Defense wins games.”

Reynoldsburg's Malaya Collins guards Pickerington Central's Olivia Cooper during their game Nov. 29.
Reynoldsburg's Malaya Collins guards Pickerington Central's Olivia Cooper during their game Nov. 29.

Sam Savoy’s 11 points paced the Raiders, who fell to 1-3 with a considerably different cast from a year ago. Reynoldsburg started three sophomores in guards Malaya Collins, Sa’Mahn Johnson and Aubree Price along with junior forward Daniya McDonald and Savoy, a 5-11 guard/forward.

“We came out with a little chip on our shoulder,” Greene said. “We’re trying to win state ourselves. We feel like we have to make a statement every game.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Reynoldsburg's Daniya McDonald, left, and Malaya Collins, battle Pickerington Central's Berry Wallace for the ball during their game Nov. 29.
Reynoldsburg's Daniya McDonald, left, and Malaya Collins, battle Pickerington Central's Berry Wallace for the ball during their game Nov. 29.

This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Pickerington Central girls basketball cruises past Reynoldsburg