NiQuille Bell had been in a similar situation before, but the sophomore guard for the St. Charles Preparatory School basketball team didn't rise to the occasion.
The second time, he delivered.
Bell dribbled past a Hilliard Darby defender and through the lane for a layup with 3 seconds left in overtime, giving the Cardinals a 53-51 victory Feb. 23 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
"We ran the exact same (isolation) play at the end of the first half and NiQuille got ripped," said coach Jacob Daniel, whose team advanced to play at 13th-seeded Newark in the second round Feb. 27. "I challenged him at halftime and he came up big in the second half."
Bell finished with 17 points to lead the 17th-seeded Cardinals. Senior guard Bryce Spees scored 15 points and junior forward Sean Hennessey had 12 points.
"I looked over (in the final seconds) and (Daniel) gave me a fist-pump," said Bell, whose team was 17-5 overall before playing Newark. "I knew right then that I could make it."
Caleb Day's layup with 22 seconds left had tied the score for 19th-seeded Darby.
Senior guard Michael Lutter, who was 0-for-9 from the floor, gave the Cardinals a 51-49 lead with a pair of free throws with 36.3 seconds remaining.
"I was having a terrible night from the floor," he said. "But when I was fouled, I wasn't nervous at all. I knew I could make (the free throws) and help the team that way."
The second-round winner plays second-seeded Westerville North or 40th-seeded Columbus West at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, in a district semifinal at Westerville Central. The Warriors were 22-1 overall before Feb. 27 and did not play St. Charles this season.
The Cardinals defeated West 63-57 on Feb. 11 as Spees scored 20 points with six 3-pointers. The Cowboys were 4-16 before playing Westerville North.
The district final is at 3 p.m. March 9 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum. Possible opponents include eighth-seeded Reynoldsburg and ninth-seeded Gahanna.
Spees scored 26 points with eight 3-pointers as St. Charles defeated Groveport 62-45 on Feb. 19 in the regular-season finale. Lutter, Sean Hennessey and junior forward Matt Hennessey all scored eight points.
Rooney returns to state in wrestling
Tim Rooney, a 126-pound sophomore, finished third in the Division I district wrestling tournament Feb. 22 and 23 at Darby to advance to state Thursday, Feb. 28, through Saturday, March 2, at Ohio State.
The top four in each weight class advanced.
Rooney, who last season was the program's first freshman state qualifier, went 4-1 at district and is 35-2 overall.
"Last year, I kind of freaked out (at state)," he said. "Coming out of the tunnel was really intimidating. ... I won't be scared this time. I'll be ready to go."
Last season at state, Rooney went 1-2 at 120 to finish 36-7.
"Tim also was third at district last year, but the expectations were a little higher this time," coach Joe Moyer said. "It's tough when you get to this level because any mistake can be turned against you."
At district, the Cardinals tied Worthington Kilbourne for 26th (21) behind champion Marysville (163) as 35 teams scored.
Also competing were senior Dustin Obergfell at 145 (0-2 at district, 31-12 overall), senior Mason Tigner at 160 (1-2, 18-11), junior Matt Cannon at 152 (0-2, 32-12) and sophomore Cole Delaney at 170 (1-2, 20-14).
Relay makes podium at state swim meet
The members of the 200-yard medley relay reached the podium in the Division I state swimming and diving meet that concluded Feb. 23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Junior Max Penn, sophomore Tyler Welty, junior Sam Aslaner and senior Carl Calcara finished eighth in 1:36.86. The relay entered the final after finishing eighth (1:37.28) in the preliminaries with Penn, Welty, senior Nick McKinley and Calcara. McKinley took the place of junior Franz Kabelka.
"We switched up the relay from the prelims and we were taking a shot because (McKinley) had to rest up (for other events)," said Aslaner, whose team tied Dublin Jerome for 13th (48) at state behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (270) as 57 teams scored. "We dropped time.
"For three of our swimmers, this is their first time at state. In this environment and the crazy atmosphere, we used it to our advantage and we did well."
McKinley finished 11th in the 100 breaststroke (59.03) and 10th in the 200 individual medley (1:55.4). Penn finished ninth in the 100 backstroke (52.3), and Kabelka was 13th in the 200 freestyle (1:43.71) and 18th in the 500 free (4:43.49).
Aslaner was 20th in the 200 IM (1:58.62) and Calcara was 23rd in the 50 free (21.81). Welty was 22nd in the 100 breast (1:00.37).
The 200 free relay of Calcara, McKinley, Kabelka and freshman Derek Nguyen finished 17th (1:28.56), as did the 400 free relay of Aslaner, Calcara, sophomore Michael Ritchey and Kabelka (3:14.24).
Cianflona competes at district bowling
Senior Tom Cianflona finished 42nd (527) of 117 competitors in the district bowling tournament Feb. 22 at HP Lanes.
The top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to state Saturday, March, 2 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Newark's Austin Martin (728) was medalist and Granville's Jon Massey (657) was the final individual qualifier.
Hockey team falls to Moeller
The fifth-seeded hockey team finished 23-10-0-1 overall, losing to fourth-seeded Cincinnati Moeller 2-1 in double overtime Feb. 23 in the third round of the district tournament at the OhioHealth Ice Haus.