The Centennial High School girls basketball team took a big step toward proving it is ready to make a big splash in the Division II district tournament when it defeated Lakewood 45-34 in its opener Feb. 16 at Pickerington North.

The Centennial High School girls basketball team took a big step toward proving it is ready to make a big splash in the Division II district tournament when it defeated Lakewood 45-34 in its opener Feb. 16 at Pickerington North.

If the Stars can win for the third time this season over Columbus East at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, at North in a second-round game, they'll advance to a district semifinal. Their likely opponent would be top-seeded Jonathan Alder, which plays Linden-McKinley in the second round at 7:45 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, at North.

Centennial is the third seed but chose to be in the same bracket with Jonathan Alder and second-seeded Hartley during the tournament drawing Feb. 5.

Each of the teams chose the district whose champion will face the winner of the Chillicothe 2 district in a regional semifinal. The winner of the other district bracket will play the champion of the Mason 2 district in a regional semifinal.

"Division II in girls basketball is very wide open," Stars coach Darrin Green said. "I don't think there's anybody that's dominant, so there was no reason for us to be afraid of anybody. There's a whole bunch of good teams."

Centennial is 16-4 after struggling to a 7-14 finish a year ago.

Green recently was named City League Coach of the Year after leading the Stars to their first winning season since finishing 11-10 in 2005-06. This is the Stars' third winning season since 1987-88.

Amanda Hoover, Catherine Ryan and Armaani Howard have led the way for the Stars.

"We don't have any banners in our school at all," Green said. "You could say that these girls deserve it, but they've got to earn it."

•MAHARRY BACK AT STATE - Another Centennial athlete who has been shining is junior Aaron Maharry of the boys swimming program.

He has qualified for the Division II state tournament for the second consecutive season and will compete Thursday, Feb. 23, at Branin Natatorium in Canton. Swimming finals in Division II are Friday, Feb. 24.

Maharry is the 20th seed in the 100-yard breaststroke (1 minute, 1.56 seconds) after finishing fourth in the district meet Feb. 17 at Ohio State.

Last season, Maharry also was fourth at district (1:03.22) and went on to place 23rd (1:03.51) at state.

He is the only City League swimmer to advance to state.

"I dropped almost two seconds off my time, so it felt great," Maharry said. "The goal right now is to make it to finals, which is the top 16."

The Stars broke six school records at district and received 16 medals, according to coach Maria Turner.

•WRESTLERS ON TO DISTRICT - The City League will be represented by 34 wrestlers at the district level Friday, Feb. 24, and Saturday, Feb. 25.

After finishing third in the City League tournament Feb. 11, Columbus West had a City-high five district qualifiers.

Advancing from the Marysville sectional to the Division I district tournament at Hilliard Darby for the Cowboys were Santiago Farias (fourth at 152 pounds), Marcos Gasca (third at 120), Bryan Gray (third at heavyweight), Thomas Johnson (fourth at 113) and David Stockton (third at 195).

Also moving on in Division I from Marysville were Northland's Anthony Alexander (second at 138) and Briggs' Wehseh Juty (second at 195) and Zachary Morro (second at 220).

From the Division I sectional at Watkins Memorial, Whetstone had three qualifiers in Mac Conkling (fourth at 113), Anthony Lehnen (fourth at 106) and N.D. Matson (fourth at 195).

In the Division II sectional at Big Walnut, Brookhaven, Centennial and Marion-Franklin all had four wrestlers move on to the district tournament at Uhrichsville Claymont while South had two.

Stanley Hendricks captured a sectional title at 132 for Centennial and Jhulys Monroe won the 182 title for Marion-Franklin.

Also advancing for the Stars were Michael Jamison (third at 152), Jeff Seymor (third at 126) and Joel Waits (fourth at 145). Deante Gray (second at heavyweight), Kyle Messer (second at 120) and Charles Parkham (second at 138) were others who moved on for Marion-Franklin.

Jalen Bonner (third at 145), Righteous Bridges (fourth at 106), Devonte Lewis (fourth at 120) and Devin Williams (third at 160) advanced for Brookhaven and Stephen Richburg (second at 195) and Isaac Spruiel (fourth at 182) qualified for South.

In the Division II sectional at Licking Heights, Walnut Ridge's Travis Gusan captured a title at heavyweight. Also moving on for the Scots was Jordan Schembri (third at 145).

Others who qualified were Bashir Ali (second at 106) and Earl Milton (fourth at 126) from East, Dylan Adams (fourth at 120) and Xavier Jackson (fourth at 182) from Independence, Mifflin's Alec Mills (second at 138), Beechcroft's Amos Gweh (fourth at 160) and Eastmoor Academy's Jamal Islam (third at 182).

The top four finishers in each weight class at district qualify for the state tournament March 1-3 at Ohio State.

•BOYS HOOPS NOTES - The Walnut Ridge boys basketball team will attempt to bounce back from a 66-55 loss to Northland in the City League championship game Feb. 18 at East when it opens the Division I district tournament Friday, Feb. 24, against Whetstone.

The game will be held at 6 p.m. at Reynoldsburg, where the Scots will take an 18-1 record into their matchup against a Braves team that is 5-15.

Roy Alexander made three 3-pointers and finished with 19 points against Northland to lead Walnut Ridge, which was outscored 19-7 during the third quarter.

Walnut Ridge, which is seeded second in the district, would play Worthington Kilbourne or Hilliard Darby in a second-round game at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29, at Reynoldsburg if it advances. The Scots were district runners-up a year ago.

The postseason began Feb. 21 for four City League teams, with several others tipping off either Feb. 22 or Thursday, Feb. 23.

"We've just got to get more crisp on offense and keyed in defensively," Scots coach Jason Bates said. "I've been telling them that (the City championship game) wasn't our last game. If we lose, that's tough but we've still got games to play. This is not the story of our season."

•SOLID FRAMES - The Briggs and Northland girls and the Walnut Ridge boys bowling teams were among those that advanced to district from sectionals held Feb. 17 and 18.

The girls district tournament is Friday, Feb. 24, and the boys district is Saturday, Feb. 25, at HP Lanes.

The Briggs girls finished with 3,494 to win the title in the 22-team sectional at Columbus Western Bowl. The Northland girls were eighth (2,928) in the 28-team sectional at Eastland Lanes.

The Walnut Ridge boys took ninth (3,623) in the sectional at Columbus Western Bowl.

The top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the state tournament, which will be held March 2 for boys and March 3 for girls at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.