Canal Winchester High School boys basketball coach Kent Riggs thought his team was capable of pulling off the upset against sixth-seeded Pickerington Central in its Division I district tournament opener.
Unfortunately for the 34th-seeded Indians, the game didn't go according to plan and they lost 71-47 in the second round Feb. 26 to finish 7-16 overall.
"We knew that we needed to control the tempo and keep it a lower-scoring game to give ourselves a chance to win (at Central) and this game had way too much scoring for it to go our way," Riggs said. "Pickerington Central had players who were taller or longer at nearly every position and we had trouble handling the ball against a team with their size and quickness. We gave up way too many turnovers and easy baskets in this game."
Junior guards Kamon Craine and Brendan Snyder each had 10 points and senior guard John Eyerman scored nine for the Indians, who had a first-round bye.
"It was nice to see John Eyerman go out playing the best game of his career in his final game," Riggs said. "The nice thing about this team is the guys got along well and played as a team, even when things didn't go our way."
Canal Winchester won six of its first 12 games but lost 10 of its final 11, ending the season on a seven-game losing streak.
The Indians finished seventh (2-12) in the OCC-Cardinal Division, behind Westerville Central (13-1), Westerville South (10-4), Dublin Jerome (9-5), Westerville North (8-6), Hilliard Darby (7-7) and Hilliard Bradley (6-8) and ahead of Dublin Scioto (1-13).
"Obviously, we played good competition within our league every game," Riggs said. "But our kids gave a good effort and were right there with those teams in just about every game."
The Indians lose two senior starters in guards Daltyn Colley and DeAndre Slappy.
Colley, a three-year starter who was named honorable mention all-league this season, missed the final two games with a knee injury.
Four regular starters in Craine, Snyder, junior center Ryan Oliver and freshman guard Rodney Tucker and a key contributor off the bench in junior center Kyle Anelick are expected to return.
Snyder was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Also expected back is forward Skyler Scott, who missed all of his junior season because of a shoulder injury.
"Our seniors hung in there with us their whole careers and kept working," Riggs said. "We missed Skyler's athleticism and strength and it will be nice to have him back on the court next year. A lot of our younger players gained valuable varsity experience, including Kyle Anelick, who came off the bench to become one of our leading rebounders, so I hope we'll make some progress next season."
Hammond ends season in state wrestling meet
Nick Hammond went 0-2 at 152 pounds while making his first appearance in the Division I state wrestling tournament that concluded March 1 at Ohio State.
The senior lost to Cincinnati Elder's Jake Conners 5-2 in his opening match before losing to Wadsworth's Robbie Bosley 5-3 to finish 38-10 on the season.
"There was bigger and better competition than I've seen before," Hammond said. "I wrestled well, but things didn't work out my way. I could have gone harder at some points to turn these matches in my favor."
Hammond went 4-2 and placed fourth at district Feb. 21 and 22 at Hilliard Darby to advance to state.
He was the lone district qualifier for the Indians, who tied Worthington Kilbourne for 27th (16 points) behind champion Marysville (147.5) as 37 squads scored.
With only seven athletes in its lineup, Canal Winchester finished last (26.5) in the 11-team sectional Feb. 15 at Watkins Memorial behind champion Delaware (248.5).
Hammond went 4-1 and placed third at sectional, where the top four placers in each weight class qualified for district.
Senior Justin Burge (170) was a district alternate after going to 2-2 and placing fifth to finish 22-17.
Also at sectional, sophomore Trent Watkins went 0-3 and placed sixth at 113 to finish 2-17, senior Emanuel Barnes went 0-2 at 145 to finish 30-11, sophomore Alex Tannehill went 0-2 at 160 to finish 2-21, freshman Matthew Snyder went 0-2 at 182 to finish 5-10 and senior Kevin Wade went 0-2 at heavyweight to finish 11-8.
The Indians went 0-7 in the OCC-Cardinal to finish eighth, behind Westerville North (7-0), Bradley (6-1), Darby (5-2), Jerome (4-3), Westerville Central (3-4), Westerville South (2-5) and Scioto (1-6).
Canal Winchester did not compete in the state team tournament.
"Our team had to focus on individual success since we didn't have enough wrestlers to win matches, and the highlight for me personally was placing top four at district to qualify for state," Hammond said. "We're losing three seniors who were decent, but we've got a nice group of eighth-graders coming in who could help us build our numbers back up."