The Whetstone High School boys basketball team heads into the offseason clinging to a pair of positives that occurred while going 5-16 this winter.

The Whetstone High School boys basketball team heads into the offseason clinging to a pair of positives that occurred while going 5-16 this winter.

Although the Braves never will know for sure, coach Kevin Arway believes they were beginning to turn the corner when they won three of their final four regular-season games.

Adding further optimism is that Whetstone's junior varsity split with both Northland and Brookhaven.

The Braves were seeded 39th of 42 teams in the Division I district tournament and ended up facing second-seeded Walnut Ridge in the first round Feb. 24 at Reynoldsburg.

The Scots followed their City League runner-up finish by beating Whetstone 90-41.

"It pains me that we had to have this type of season because we have such great guys," said Arway, who is 46-61 in five seasons leading the program. "By the time we started clicking and playing better basketball, we were down to our last four games of the season. You always hope you can win a couple games and then have to see a great team like (Walnut Ridge)."

The Braves will lose four seniors but had several underclassmen gain experience this season.

Junior Josh Sanders spent time at point guard, while classmates Claude Bogan, Gary Hoover and Steven Foster and sophomore Darius Bester also were on the team. Sophomore Aaron Adair and freshman Chase Brown were among those who moved up to varsity after spending most of the season on j.v.

Senior Marvin Draper, who averaged 13.5 points and made honorable mention all-district and honorable mention all-City League-North Division, was the Braves' top player. The other seniors were Gabe Reece (honorable mention all-league), Marquan Battle and Tim Fluker.

The Braves beat Linden-McKinley 74-65 on Feb. 3 to snap a six-game losing streak and then defeated Mifflin 49-46 on Feb. 7. After losing to Beechcroft 75-73 on Feb. 10, Whetstone closed the regular season by defeating Briggs 55-38 on Feb. 14.

According to Arway, Draper might play football or basketball collegiately.

Reece is considering schools such as Otterbein and Columbus State for basketball.

•Three members of the wrestling team ended their season in the Division I district tournament held Feb. 24 and 25 at Hilliard Darby.

Senior Mac Conkling (113 pounds) and junior Anthony Lehnen (106) each lost their first two matches and junior N.D. Matson (195) went 1-2 with a forfeit win. The top four finishers in each weight class at district advanced to the state tournament, which runs Thursday, March 1, through Saturday, March 3, at Ohio State.

Whetstone scored three points at district to place 35th behind champion Marysville (174) as 37 teams scored.

Conkling was the champion in the City tournament Feb. 11, took fourth in the sectional Feb. 18 at Watkins Memorial and finished with a 33-8 record. He is planning to attend Ohio State and might try to walk on to the wrestling team.

Lehnen, who was a district alternate a year ago, won his second consecutive league title, took fourth at sectional and finished with a 31-8 record. Mattson placed sixth in the league but bounced back with a fourth-place sectional showing and finished 16-14.

"I thought (Conkling, Lehnen and Mattson) left it all on the mat," said coach Tom Jones, who completed his fifth season leading the program. "The last time we had this many guys at district was (2007)."

Whetstone lost to Centennial 43-33 on Feb. 1 for the Golden Grappler Trophy but finished fourth (135) in the 16-team league tournament behind champion Marion-Franklin (227). It was the Braves' highest league finish since placing second in 2007.

Then at sectional, Whetstone was eighth (69) of nine teams behind champion Lancaster (220.5). Also placing at sectional were juniors Daylon Smothers (132, fifth), Alex Arnold (182, sixth) and Kevin Ellison (220, sixth) and freshman David Lipscomb (heavyweight, sixth).

Other wrestlers who finished .500 or better included Ellison (25-14), Lipscomb (14-8), Smothers (22-10), junior Nathan Armstrong (138, 17-17) and sophomores Chris North (160, 11-11) and Quintez Poole (126, 15-11).

"Next year we should have everybody back, except for Mac," Jones said. "If we put in the offseason work, there's no reason we can't get five to seven guys to district and win the City championship. But they've got to do the work.

"Right now, we're trying to build a club team for middle school because we want to get the program to the point where we can reload rather than rebuild every year. There are 17 juniors (wrestling) but only two sophomores and three freshmen, so I'll need a big class of freshmen and sophomores next year."