The Delaware Hayes High School girls basketball team has played a number of big games, but none were bigger than the one ahead of it.

The Delaware Hayes High School girls basketball team has played a number of big games, but none were bigger than the one ahead of it.

The Pacers will play in a Division I district semifinal Tuesday against Pickerington North at Olentangy Orange.

"The next one is always the biggest one at tournament time," coach Erin Fragale said. "But Pickerington North has a lot of history, a lot of tradition and I don't think that can be ignored. They're a great ball team with great coaching."

Delaware is 22-0 and seeded second. The Pacers were sixth in the final state poll. But North is coached by Dave Butcher, a longtime coach at Pickerington before North opened. Butcher has guided his teams to district championships every season since 1988. The Panthers have gone 5-for-5 since opening. In his 26th season, Butcher is 601-72.

Delaware is 0-7 against North, with the closest setback being 44-38 in a district semifinal in 2004. Every other meeting has been decided by at least 25 points.

The Panthers were 18-4 after beating Briggs 90-24 last Thursday. They are seeded sixth.

Although Delaware will be playing for a berth in a district final for the first time since the 1991-92 season, Fragale said all those facts won't mean much once the Pacers take the floor against North.

"I don't think that you can compare our team to what we've had in the past (when we've played North)," she said. "We are playing so much better. The girls are passing the ball and getting it to other girls in spots where they can score. We're a little more rounded than we've been in the past. This isn't a typical Pickerington North team, either, because they lack size, which is a place where we have an advantage.

"Scioto has a great tradition and that didn't faze us. I think that these girls have overcome that mentality of playing scared against teams like Pickerington North. They recognize (the tradition), but they're over the part where they psych themselves out just because of the name."

The Panthers have won 12 of their past 13 games. They have two Division I recruits in guards Brittney Callahan (Northern Illinois) and Brittany Gamby (UNC-Wilmington).

Callahan was the Panthers' leading scorer through 21 games at 12.0 points.

The emergence of 5-foot-11 sophomore Kavunaa Edwards has improved North's offense, an area that has sputtered at times.

The Panthers are scoring 53.8 points per game and allowing 37.4.

The Pacers are scoring 59.7 per game and allowing 39.3. They are led by Makeda Matthews (15.4 points, 10.2 rebounds), Anasa Matthews (13.3 points, 9.1 rebounds), Caroline Welker (10.5 points, 7.2 rebounds), Brittany Skeens (10.0 points, 4.7 assists) and Chelsie Burden (7.0 points, 2.8 assists).

The winner will play in a district final 4 p.m. Saturday at Orange against fourth-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley or 10th-seeded Northland.

Tri-Valley beat Upper Arlington 54-36 last Wednesday to improve to 22-0. Northland beat Olentangy Liberty 66-54 last Wednesday to move to 19-3.

Against UA, Hanna Luburgh led the Scotties with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Alyssa Miller had 16 points and four assists and Carly Young had 12 points and five assists.

Northland lost to Africentric 69-38 in the Columbus City League championship Feb. 14. Its other losses were to Pickerington North 50-34 in the opener Nov. 29 and Akron Kenmore 51-39 on Jan. 3. The Vikings are averaging 59 points per game and are led by a perimeter game featuring Sierra Lemon and Jasmine Anderson. They also have a strong inside presence with Destiney Gaston (6-2)

•The boys team finished 12-9 after losing to Liberty 69-39 in the first round of the Division I district tournament last Tuesday at Orange.

The Pacers were playing without point guard Pat Kennedy, who injured his left ankle during a 48-41 win over New Albany on Feb. 13.

They played the regular-season finale Feb. 20 without him and lost to Orange 50-46 in overtime. At the end of that game, wing player Dominic Cassan was ejected for a physical altercation and suspended for two games. Kennedy averaged 11.5 points per game and nearly 3.0 assists and Cassan averaged 6.0 points.

"We were missing two of our key players, so that definitely makes a difference," coach Larry Eberst said. "With every team I've ever coached, there's always one or two games throughout the year where you just don't have it, you just don't play well. This team had not had that until tonight."

Against Liberty, a team Delaware beat 55-45 on Dec. 27 in the Delaware County Classic at Liberty, the Pacers struggled in most phases of the game. The loss of Kennedy was obvious in the flow of the game.

The Pacers fell behind 13-2 in the first six minutes but had a chance to cut the lead to 31-25 before the halftime. However, Jacob Bosiokovic's breakaway layup was blocked from behind in the final seconds. Sean Rothermel scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half to lead Delaware.

Liberty, which improved to 12-9 before playing seventh-seeded UA in the second round last Friday, then dominated in the third quarter, outscoring Delaware 22-4 for a 53-27 cushion.