Having won just one of its final eight regular-season games, the Big Walnut High School boys basketball team certainly didn't head into the Division II district tournament riding a wave of momentum.

Having won just one of its final eight regular-season games, the Big Walnut High School boys basketball team certainly didn't head into the Division II district tournament riding a wave of momentum.

But coach Mike DeLaney said his players remained confident before their tournament opener Feb. 22 against Sparta Highland.

"The kids never really lost hope because I think they recognized how difficult our schedule is and hopefully that pays off as we go on through the Division II tournament," DeLaney said after his team defeated Highland 57-37 to improve to 7-14.

"The level of athletes we play with our schedule prepares us for the tournament. Our schedule, I would put it up against anybody in Division II in terms of who we play, especially this year. The top four teams in (the OCC-Capital Division) are as good as anybody in central Ohio, I think. And I think our kids instinctively understand that."

Big Walnut raced out to a 15-3 lead in the first quarter and led 31-22 at halftime. The Golden Eagles outscored the Fighting Scots 18-10 in the third quarter and maintained a double-digit lead throughout the fourth quarter.

Highland finished 9-12.

"I thought we did a good job to start the third quarter, coming out and re-establishing some momentum that we kind of lost there at the end of the (first) half," DeLaney said. "We got (the lead) out to 15, 16 points and were able to keep it there the rest of the night.

"We're smaller and Highland has a big, physical, senior-dominated team and we wanted to try to pressure as much as possible to get out into the open court and use our quickness advantage a little bit to try to score. The kids did a good job pushing the basketball and throwing it ahead to the open man."

Junior guard Tyler Beam led the Golden Eagles with 15 points and junior forward Seth Wandling scored 12.

"Tyler's been great for us all year long," DeLaney said. "He's very intelligent in how he plays and he listens to how we want to play, and he really tries to go out and do the things we want him to do. I thought he was tremendous offensively and defensively."

Seeded 16th of 26 teams, Big Walnut played fifth-seeded Centennial in the second round Feb. 25. The winner faces fourth-seeded Canal Winchester or Watterson in a district semifinal at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 3, at the Fairgrounds Coliseum. The district final will be played at 6 p.m. March 10 at the Fairgrounds.

The Golden Eagles have not played Canal Winchester or Watterson this season. Canal Winchester was 14-6 in the regular season and Watterson improved to 8-13 with a 46-36 win over Linden-McKinley in the first round of the tournament Feb. 22.

•Five members of the wrestling team qualified for the Division II district tournament Feb. 25-26 at Columbus East.

Advancing out of the sectional tournament Feb. 19 at Licking Heights were senior Braden Hale (152 pounds, third), juniors Aaron Gase (140, third) and Tyler Schenz (145, first) and freshmen Logan Crum (112, third) and Alex Eisnnicher (130, second).

The top four in each weight class advanced to district.

A district qualifier for the second year in a row, Schenz won all four matches at sectional, raising his record to 29-10. He went 0-2 at district last season at 135.

"Tyler wrestled great," coach Luke Moore said. "He was the third seed going in and he beat some real tough kids there. ... He has a pretty good draw (at district), but when you get to district, everybody's good."

The top four in each weight class at district qualified for the state tournament, which runs Thursday, March 3, through Saturday, March 5, at Ohio State. Big Walnut did not have any state qualifiers last season.

Hale was a district qualifier as a freshman and sophomore but suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first meet of his junior season. He went 3-1 at sectional to improve to 25-14.

"About halfway through the season, his knee was really bothering him and he was struggling," Moore said of Hale. "We gave him a few days off and he came back refreshed and his knee was feeling good. ... To come back from a torn ACL is real impressive. I was real happy he made it to district."

Gase and Crum both went 3-1 at sectional to improve to 31-14 and 21-15, respectively. Eisnnicher went 2-1 to raise his record to 23-17.

Also competing at sectional were juniors Ian Barney at 189 (2-3, sixth), Jason Griffiths at heavyweight (2-2, fifth) and Gene Hogg at 215 (1-3, sixth), sophomores Chad Harness at 160 (1-2, fifth) and Anthony Roberto at 125 (1-3, sixth) and freshman Austin Carr at 135 (0-2). The Golden Eagles did not have anyone compete at 103, 119 or 171.

Griffiths was a district qualifier last season, going 1-2 at heavyweight. He finished this season 35-7.

"Jason had a heck of a year," Moore said. "When I talked to him (after sectional), I said this one tournament doesn't take away from your season. He had one of the toughest weight classes in the tournament. I still think he's one of the four or five best wrestlers in his weight class in the district.

"He has a torn labrum in his (left) shoulder and he was ill the week before (sectional), but he's not going to use that as an excuse. He had a couple tough things to deal with, but he wrestled through everything. I'm proud of him for how he battled through it."

Big Walnut scored 129 points at sectional to finish sixth of 13 teams, behind champion Licking Valley (222.5).

•The girls basketball team opened the Division II district tournament with a 53-43 win over 10th-seeded Beechcroft in the second round on Feb. 22, advancing to a district semifinal for the sixth consecutive season.

Big Walnut, which is seeded fifth and had a first-round bye, plays second-seeded Eastmoor Academy at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28, at Pickerington North. The winner plays fourth-seeded Jonathan Alder or 12th-seeded Columbus East in a district final at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 3, at Ohio Dominican University.

The Golden Eagles have not played Eastmoor, East or Jonathan Alder this season. Eastmoor improved to 18-3 with a 56-26 win over Canal Winchester in the second round on Feb. 22 behind 19 points from senior Chelsey Radcliff. The Warriors also got 13 points from Tajanee Wells.

"They're pretty good, obviously," coach Bob Scott said of Eastmoor, which is averaging 68.9 points and has scored 70 or more points nine times. "They're athletic, quick and they have two pretty good players (in Radcliff and Wells). We have to handle their press and not let them score as much as they're used to."

Jonathan Alder is 16-5 after beating Centennial 48-34 on Feb. 22 behind 11 points and eight rebounds from Brittany Bakenhaster. That same day, East improved to 12-8 with a 44-36 win over Mifflin as Alana Lassiter and Whiney McKoy each scored 14.

Big Walnut, which won a district championship in 2009, improved to 14-7 with the win over Beechcroft, which finished 12-9. Senior guard Tabatha Piper had 22 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Golden Eagles, with sophomore guard/forward Emily Chucta and freshman forward Skylar Fleak adding 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Fleak, who saw little playing time on varsity during the regular season, played more than two quarters against Beechcroft.

"Obviously, when you put a freshman in and she scores 10 points, it's huge," Scott said. "She played in the second quarter (of a 53-31 loss to Olentangy in the regular-season finale Feb. 18) and did a good job and we've seen what she can do in practice, so we thought we'd give her a shot to play (against Beechcroft) when (senior guard/forward Jazmine Reed) got into some foul trouble.

"Having three players in double figures is huge. That's what we've been missing for much of the season."

•None of the swimming teams' district qualifiers advanced to the state meet, but coach Andy Chatterton believes the program has a bright future, especially given that four freshmen and two sophomores competed at district.

Competing for the boys team in the Division II district meet Feb. 18 at Ohio State were sophomore Carson Chatterton in the 100-yard butterfly (1 minute, 3.27 seconds, 29th), the 200 freestyle relay (1:42.77, 25th) and the 400 free relay (3:58.36, 21st). The relays were comprised of Chatterton, senior Kevin Meyer and freshmen Carter Marsch and Joel Windle.

The next day, competing for the girls team in the Division I district meet were senior Kelsey Peterson in the 200 free (2:07.38, 25th), the 200 medley relay (2:04.85, 20th), the 200 free relay (1:49.41, 16th) and the 400 free relay (4:03.54, 18th). The relays were comprised of Peterson, sophomore Natalie Chatterton and freshmen Jessica Osburn and Michelle Stefaniak.

The top three finishers in each swimming event at both district meets automatically advanced to the state meet, which concluded Feb. 26 at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 11 at-large state berths for each swimming event were awarded based on times statewide.

The girls team scored two points at district to finish 23rd, behind champion Upper Arlington (505) with 23 teams scoring. The boys team did not score, as Granville finished first (256) and 34 teams scored.

"(The district meets) went really well," coach Chatterton said. "It was a great time. The goal was to get to the district meet.

"If this group sticks together, I think there's a real good chance for (this year's district qualifiers) to be in the top eight at district. They give out medals for the top eight, and I think they have their eyes set on that achievement in the next couple years."

The boys team loses two seniors in Meyer and Jacob Walaszek but expects to return Carson Chatterton, Marsch, Windle, junior Rayshawn Rankin and sophomores Sean Conley and Matt Heiden.

The girls team loses three seniors in Peterson, Alyssa Newman and Marybeth Stefaniak but expects to return Natalie Chatterton, Osburn and Michelle Stefaniak as well as junior Emily Petty, sophomores Aria Dockham, Morgan Reed and Kayla Walaszek and freshmen Brittany Hatfield, Haley Lescinsky, Madison Scanlan and Katie von Hollen.

"I'm hoping everyone will come back," coach Chatterton said. "That way we can pick up where we ended this year. Everybody's telling me they're coming back and they're excited about next year."


Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Big Walnut boys basketball, bowling and gymnastics teams:


*Feb. 18 - Defeated Franklin Heights 59-38. Tyler Beam scored 20 points, Seth Myers scored 11 and Grant Beam scored 10. Feb. 19 - Lost to Granville 56-52. Tyler Beam scored 21 points and Joel Craig scored 13. Feb. 22 - Def. Sparta Highland 57-37 in first round of Division II district tournament Feb. 25 - Played fifth-seeded Centennial in second round of district tournament. Winner plays fourth-seeded Canal Winchester or Watterson in district semifinal, 6 p.m. March 3 at Fairgrounds Coliseum. District final is March 10 at Fairgrounds.

Of note: The Golden Eagles were 7-14 overall before Feb. 25 and finished 4-10 (sixth) in the OCC-Capital, behind New Albany (13-1), Delaware (11-3), Mount Vernon (10-4), Olentangy Orange (9-5) and Hilliard Bradley (7-7), and ahead of Franklin Heights (1-13) and Watkins Memorial (1-13).

*OCC-Capital game


Feb. 18 - Boys: Finished third (3,881) of 22 teams in sectional tournament at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, behind Jonathan Alder (4,056) and Circleville (3,922). Zach Green led the Golden Eagles with a 593 series, placing ninth. The top six teams advanced to the district tournament Feb. 26 at HP Lanes. The top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team at district advanced to the state tournament March 5 at Wayne Webb's; Girls: Finished 20th (2,055) of 21 teams in sectional at Wayne Webb's. Samantha Humphries led the Golden Eagles with a 417 series, finishing 36th.


Feb. 26 - Competed in district meet at Worthington Kilbourne. Top three teams and top eight individuals in each event, including the all-around, advanced to the state meet March 4-5 at Hilliard Bradley.