NCH wins without Mayo

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 3, 2006

COLUMBUS (AP) — No O.J.? No trouble.

Even without two-time Mr. Basketball O.J. Mayo, defending champion Cincinnati North College Hill had more than enough firepower to roll over Archbold 49-34 on Thursday night in a Division III state semifinal.

Six-foot-6 junior Bill Walker — like Mayo, a first-team All-Ohioan — was his usual intimidating self, scoring 23 points on a variety of 3-pointers, layups and vicious dunks for the top-ranked Trojans. He also had 13 rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and countless moments when he forced opponents to head the other direction to avoid him on defense.

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Archbold (21-5) set a divisional record for fewest points in a semifinal.

Mayo, awarded his second consecutive Mr. Basketball award Wednesday, was banned from the game by North College Hill principal Kelly Hughes.

She declined to say why Mayo was not permitted to travel with the team. She said a decision would be made Friday on whether Mayo would be allowed to play in Saturday afternoon’s championship game.

Despite not having Mayo — who averages 28.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 5 steals a game — the Trojans (25-1) had more than enough firepower.

Gene Goering, a third-team Associated Press All-Ohioan, and Josh Wyse each scored 12 points for the Blue Streaks, who shot just 23 percent from the field (10 of 43) including 4-of-22 on 3-pointers (18 percent).

Archbold came out strong at the outset — perhaps because the Trojans were still feeling their way without their top player. The Blue Streaks led 7-2 after the game’s first six minutes. Fans who didn’t not have a rooting interest before the game started cheering for the big underdogs.

Then Walker hit a 3-pointer and Paul Leary added another to put the Trojans ahead 8-7 after a period.

Intimidated by the Trojans’ height and jumping ability, Archbold was forced to rely on long 3-pointers. When they didn’t hit them, the Trojans pounded down the court on fast breaks for easy baskets.

Walker hit a perimeter jumper and added two more high-flying dunks to put the Trojans ahead 16-9 late in the second period. Damon Butler, a sophomore, scored on two layups to push the lead to 20-9 and the Trojans stayed in front by at least eight points the rest of the way.

North College Hill came in averaging 86 points a game — 30 more than it was giving up — and had not been held below 65.

Archbold, meanwhile, drove to the final four fueled by its defense. The Blue Streaks were giving up only 47 points a game while averaging 58.