ASHLAND, Ky. — In a game full of runs, it was Huntington Prep’s closing stretch in Saturday night’s Boyd County Roundball Classic that was the difference. Leading by just four with a little less than five minutes remaining, the Irish closed the game on a 24-7 run to defeat Pickerington Central 93-72.
For the second straight night the Irish (12-2) were led by guard JaQuan Lyle, who finished Saturday night’s contest with 26 points, five rebounds, and five steals. Lyle would have to share the game-high honors with Pickerington Central’s 2014 forward Jae’Sean Tate, who matched the guard’s total with 26 points of his own, grabbing five boards and three steals.
The Tigers (3-1, 2-0) cut the Irish lead to 69-65 with just under five minutes remaining after a Connor Kern three assisted by Tate, and he nearly cut the gap to one with another corner three. The shot from the Arkansas State-commit Kern rattled in and out, and Lyle took the ball the other way and scored, pushing the lead to six. Missed shots were not the norm for Kern on the night, who knocked down four triples and finished the game with 20 points.
The Irish lead would continue to grow thanks to the play of 2015 forward Thomas Bryant, who dominated the paint in the fourth quarter for the Irish. Bryant had 10 of his 18 in the fourth quarter, and also added in seven rebounds and two blocks on the night.
Jae’Sean Tate and Pickerington Central had closed the gap down late in large part due to the full-court press in the third quarter, a 21-14 frame that saw the Tigers close the Irish lead to just two at one point. Tate and 2015 forward Rodney Culver did most of the heavy lifting in that third quarter, scoring 16 of the 21 Tigers’ points in those eight minutes.
Gonzaga-commit Josh Perkins tried to slow the run at the start of the fourth quarter with his only field goal of the second half, completing a three-point play to extend the Irish lead to nine at 63-54. Perkins was a key contributor to the big Huntington Prep first half, scoring nine of his 14 in the opening two quarters, adding in four assists and three rebounds.
Tate cut into the 13-point halftime deficit with a bang, as Jae’Sean threw down a big dunk off an alley-oop from younger brother Jalen. Jalen stood tall against the size and athleticism of Huntington Prep, finishing with seven points, three rebounds and three steals.
A night after he threw down two monster alley-oops, 2015 forward Montaque Gill-Caesar started the scoring for Huntington Prep and certainly showed all the different facets of his game. The versatile wingman scored 21 points while grabbing five rebounds and three steals, and dishing two assists.
The game looked early as if the Irish were going to cruise, starting the game on a 7-0 run that was capped off with a Perkins triple. Huntington Prep jumped out to leads of 11 and 13 early, and stretched the margin to as many as 16 at 46-30 at one point late in the first half. That 16-point lead did not last long, as a triple from the Tigers’ Parker Stewart closed the gap back to to 13 as the buzzer sounded for the first half.
Montaque Gill-Caesar 7-6-21, Josh Perkins 5-3-14, JaQuan Lyle 9-5-26, Angel Delgado 2-0-4, Miles Bridges 4-2-10, Thomas Bryant 8-2-18. Totals 35-(18/23)-64.
Jae’Sean Tate 11-1-26, Connor Kern 6-4-20, Rodney Culver 4-5-14, DJ Tyree 1-0-2, Jalen Tate 3-0-7, Parker Stewart 1-0-3. Totals 26-(12/18)-72.
Three-pointers- Huntington Prep 4 — Lyle 3, Gill-Caesar, Perkins. Pickerington Central 8 – Kern 4, Jae’Sean Tate, Jalen Tate, Culver, Stewart.