The third time proved to be the charm for the Whetstone High School boys tennis team.
After losing to Columbus West the past two years in the City League championship match, the Braves got the better of the Cowboys, winning 3-2 on May 8 to capture their first league title since 2006.
"West beat us the last (two) times," said coach Bucky Walters, whose team lost to the Cowboys 3-2 in the 2012 and 2013 City finals. "We've kept knocking and knocking and we finally got (the City title) back. The kids really pulled together for this. It was a great feeling for all of us."
Posting wins against the Cowboys were Matthew Ray at first singles (6-1, 6-2) and the doubles teams of Akeem Adesiji and Quentin Pruneau (6-3, 6-1) and Drew Gabalski and Alex Embaie (6-3, 6-3).
Whetstone also made a good showing in the City League Coaches Tournament on May 6 and 7, as six players earned first- or second-team all-City honors. Making first-team were Ray, who lost to Eastmoor Academy's Brennan Woodley 6-2, 6-3 in the singles final, and Gabalski and Embaie, who lost in the doubles final.
Earning second-team all-City honors were Winfield Slocum in singles and Adesiji and Pruneau in doubles.
Whetstone was 7-2 overall and 4-0 in the City League-North Division before playing Linden-McKinley on May 12 in a match that had been scheduled for April 28 but was postponed because of bad weather.
The Braves, who closed the regular season with matches against Granville and Westland on May 13 and 14, respectively, will compete in the Division I sectional Thursday, May 15, and concludes Saturday, May 17, at Upper Arlington. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district May 23 and 24 at Hilliard Davidson.
Competing in singles are Ray, Slocum and Eoghan Dempsey. Gabalski and Embaie comprise one doubles team and Adesiji and Pruneau comprise the other.
"The top three teams in the district are all at UA, including UA, New Albany and Dublin Coffman," Walters said. "I don't know if I've ever seen the top three in one sectional before, so obviously, it'll be a difficult test.
"It'd be nice to win a few matches. Regardless, I've been really happy with the way all of our kids have improved and competed all season. Due to some circumstances, Eoghan Dempsey got pushed into a bigger role and is in our lineup and he's been absolutely unbelievable. He's been an inspiration to the team. The guys just came together so well this year."
Baseball team wins City-North title
The baseball team defeated Centennial 9-8 in eight innings May 7 to clinch the City-North championship.
Whetstone overcame six errors and a five-run seventh inning by the Stars.
Pruneau, who also plays for the boys tennis team, was 4-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI and Jon Jannazo went 2-for-4 with three runs and started on the mound, allowing four hits and three earned runs in six innings. Sam Price had two hits and four RBI and Zach Barnum had two hits and scored three runs.
Whetstone improved to 18-3 overall and 13-0 in the City-North with a 15-2, five-inning win over Northland on May 9 behind a one-hitter by Pruneau. The Braves, who scored 11 runs in the third inning against the Vikings, enter a makeup game at home against Linden-McKinley on Thursday, May 15, having won 43 consecutive league games.
"This is truly a remarkable season because we lost eight starters to graduation last year," said coach Tim Broskie, whose team beat Linden 20-0 on April 10. "We've gotten great contributions up and down the lineup and have been able to develop some young pitching along the way. It's been a fantastic season."
Whetstone will play host to Briggs in the City championship game May 22, marking the third consecutive year in which the teams have met in the league final. The Braves won the first two matchups, defeating the Bruins 5-0 last season and 17-7 in 2012.
Seeded 19th of 45 teams, Whetstone opened the Division I district tournament against 31st-seeded Canal Winchester on May 12, with the winner playing at 12th-seeded Hilliard Davidson in the second round May 14. The second-round winner faces top-seeded Thomas Worthington or 45th-seeded Westland in a district semifinal Monday, May 19, at Dublin Coffman.
The semifinal winner advances to a district final Wednesday, May 21, at Otterbein University. Among the possible opponents are sixth-seeded Marysville, 14th-seeded Pickerington North and 18th-seeded Westerville South.
Through 20 games, the Braves were led offensively by Price (.457 batting average, 32 runs, 36 RBI), Pruneau (.443, 31 runs), Marcus Shaffer (.429, 19 RBI), Chris Hutchings (.423, 28 runs, 20 RBI), Barnum (.413, 33 runs, 26 RBI), Sam Way (.378), Jannazo (.340, 30 runs) and Justin Stern (.327, 17 RBI).
On the mound, Jannazo was 6-1 with a 2.58 ERA in 40 2/3 innings. Pruneau was 2-2 with one save and a 3.15 ERA in 26 2/3 innings and Price was 3-0 with a 2.62 ERA in 10 2/3 innings. Nick Hall was 2-0 with a 0.87 ERA in 16 innings and Eric Kavinsky was 2-0 with a 0.70 ERA in 10 innings.
Softball team places second in league
The softball team will not have an opportunity to win its third consecutive City League title.
Whetstone had to settle for second in the City-North after losing to league champion Centennial 2-0 on May 7. The Braves, who are 11-2 in the league, were swept by the Stars, having lost the first meeting 4-3 in eight innings on April 11.
Whetstone was 11-9 overall before playing Franklin Heights on May 12.
Seeded 37th of 45 teams, the Braves opened the Division I district tournament May 13 against 25th-seeded Westerville North. The winner plays at eighth-seeded Olentangy Liberty in the second round Thursday, May 15.
The second-round winner faces ninth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne or 42nd-seeded Dublin Scioto in a district semifinal Tuesday, May 20, at Pickerington North. The district final will be played May 23 or 24 at Pickerington Central.
Whetstone will play host to Linden in a makeup league game Thursday, May 15, if it didn't advance to the second round of the tournament. The Braves defeated the Panthers 20-0 on April 10.
Track teams getting set for district meet
The boys and girls track and field teams are preparing to compete in the Division I, district 3 meet at Hilliard Darby.
The field events will be held Wednesday, May 21, followed by the running preliminaries May 22 and the running finals May 24. The top four finishers in each event advance to regional May 28 and 30 at Pickerington North.
The girls team has one regional qualifier from a year ago in junior Bianca McLemore, who placed second (16 feet, 4 1/2 inches) in the long jump and fourth (59.83 seconds) in the 400 meters at district.
McLemore was joined at regional last season by 2013 graduate Arionna Darling, who qualified in the shot put and discus. Darling went on to advance to state in the shot put, finishing 13th (38-2 1/4).
Darling was the program's first state qualifier since Kyra Berry in 2001.
The boys team did not return any regional qualifiers from a year ago.
Whetstone competed in the City meet May 12 and 14.
Boys volleyball team falls in tourney
The boys volleyball team lost to top-seeded Mount Vernon 25-2, 25-7, 25-5 in the first round of the Division II East Region tournament May 9.
The Braves finished 0-16, winning only three games -- one apiece in losses to Thomas Worthington on May 6 (25-18, 25-22, 23-25, 25-8), Delaware on April 26 (20-25, 25-18, 25-11) and Licking Heights on March 27 (25-8, 25-9, 19-25, 25-11).