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Devin Brown helps lead Olentangy Orange past Upper Arlington

The junior guard scored a game-high 16 points to lead the Pioneers to a win

UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio – Devin Brown already is known as one of the most fearsome defensive players in central Ohio.

In a competitive Ohio Capital Conference-Central Division game at Upper Arlington on Friday, the Olentangy Orange junior forward also demonstrated his potent offensive skills, scoring a game-high 16 points to lead the Pioneers to a 56-47 victory.

With Brown leading the way, Orange improved to 9-0 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Central.

“I was known more for my defense last year, but I’ve had to step up and show that I can do basically everything that I need to do to help my team win games this year,” said Brown, whose squad finished 24-4 overall and was a Division I regional runner-up last season, with seven graduates leading the charge, including three college recruits in Jordan Edwards (Ashland), Elias Lewis (Walsh) and Mikey McCollum (Hillsdale).

Brown increased his offensive production when the Pioneers needed him the most, as he scored nine of Orange’s 13 fourth-quarter points to help his squad hold off a late rally by the Golden Bears.

The 6-foot-5 forward showed off his athleticism and offensive versatility, as he dribbled the ball the length of the court under pressure when needed and swished 3-pointers in both the third and fourth quarters.

Brown’s second trey put Orange ahead 46-36 with seven minutes remaining in the game.

“He’s tall and athletic, which makes it difficult to stop him from scoring inside, and when we did keep him out of the paint, he stepped up and made a couple of big threes,” said Upper Arlington coach Joe Bills, whose squad dropped to 5-3 overall and 1-2 in the OCC-Central.

After Upper Arlington pulled within four points with 5:15 remaining, Brown drove to the basket, drew contact and made both foul shots to make it 48-42 with 4:21 left.

Brown grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a put-back to extend Orange’s lead to 50-44 with 3:06 remaining, and he made two more free throws to put the Pioneers ahead 54-44 and effectively ice the game with just 1:13 on the clock.

“Devin’s developed into a great all-around player, and he was confident enough to step up and make baskets for us in those big moments,” Orange coach Anthony Calo said. “He’s an unselfish player, who is second on our team in assists, and he just lets the game come to him. On this night, the ball was in his hands when we needed him to score, and he was willing and able to step up and come through for his team in those moments.”

Brown also played extremely well defensively, blocking a game-high three shots, and helping limit 6-foot-9 sophomore forward Alex Smith to just six points on 3-for-9 shooting.

“I knew he is tall and long, and shoots the ball well, so I kept him off the 3-point line as much as possible and we tried to keep bodies on him in the paint,” Brown said. “We wanted to show them that we could match their physicality. We felt like we had to win the game inside by out-toughing them.”

Smith, who is a skilled ball-handler and gifted shooter, already has basketball scholarship offers from Bryant, Ohio University and Toledo.

“Devin’s a very good defensive player, who can guard you in the perimeter and in the paint,” Calo said. “Alex Smith’s a great player and he played a good game. But Devin played hard and won that matchup tonight.”

Orange senior guard Dylan Joy also made four 3-pointers and scored 14 points with three of his four 3-point attempts in the first quarter to help Orange jump out to a 16-8 advantage.

“I like to come out hot, and if team don’t respect my shot, I try to make them pay for it,” Joy said. “Our team is just very unselfish and connected. We’re not just a one-man show. We’ve all stepped up and had big games this season, and we don’t care who is scoring as long as our team is doing well.”

Orange sophomore guard Levi Davis made five consecutive field goals and scored 10 of his 12 points in the second quarter on 4-for-4 shooting to help the Pioneers take a 32-21 halftime lead.

Junior forward Keegan Knupp scored four of his nine points in the fourth quarter to help the Pioneers squash the Golden Bears’ comeback attempt.

Treyton Schroeder made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put Orange ahead 43-36 going into the fourth quarter, and Ellis Appiah had two points to round out the Pioneers’ scoring.

“What makes this team fun is we have five guys on the floor who are a scoring threat at all times,” Calo said. “We had three guys in double figures and another with nine points, which is typical for us.

“We’re an athletic team, but we pride ourselves on being a disciplined team as well, and we played tough man-to-man defense.”

Sophomore guard Hayden Henry came off the bench to score a team-high 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting for the Golden Bears.

Henry made three 3-pointers and all of his final five field goal attempts, including a 3-pointer from the corner that pulled Upper Arlington within 46-42 with 5:15 remaining in the game.

“It was good to see Hayden playing with a lot of confidence and shooting the ball well, after he missed a considerable amount of time with a shoulder injury and sickness early in the season,” Bills said.

Senior guard Nate Schoeny scored 11 points, including a layup off a quick spin move, which cut Upper Arlington’s deficit to 48-44 with 3:47 left in the contest.

Junior point guard Cal Casey made back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and finished with 11 points, while Smith (6 points), Ciarnan Moloney (4) and Lakin Rex (2) rounded out the Golden Bears’ scoring.

“We never know who is going to lead us in scoring because we’re extremely balanced, with a lot of different guys who can put the ball in the basket,” Bills said. “Our goal isn’t to lose by a close score, but we do have a lot to be proud of, because Olentangy Orange is a very good team, and we fought back and were down only four points with the ball in our hands late in the game.

“(Orange) has the ability to shoot a high percentage from deep, which makes them very difficult to defend. We were able to limit both Joy and Davis in the second half, but Brown stepped up, and their defense deserves a lot of credit, because we just couldn’t make a play to score after we pulled within four.”