The Delaware Hayes High School boys basketball team will begin postseason play against the defending Division I state champion.
The Pacers are seeded 14th of 42 teams in the district and will play at 10th-seeded Pickerington Central in the first round Saturday, Feb. 23. The winner plays at fifth-seeded Dublin Scioto in the second round Feb. 27.
Delaware has not played Central or Scioto this season.
"They have a couple of great players and some very good role players," coach Jordan Blackburn said of Central, which beat Toledo Whitmer 45-40 in the state final last season. "We're going to have to play very well to come out successful."
Central was 15-6 before playing Gahanna on Feb. 15 and entered that game having won 10 of its previous 13 games.
The Pacers were 14-5 overall and 9-3 in the OCC-Capital Division before playing Olentangy on Feb. 15. They have a league game Monday, Feb. 18, at Olentangy Orange before closing the regular season Tuesday, Feb. 19, at home against Gahanna.
Gahanna and Orange are seeded ninth and 18th, respectively, in the district.
"We were going to have to play some of the better teams in the tournament to get to a district final anyway, so we're just going to buckle down and do our best (against Central)," Blackburn said. "We need to take care of our business, and that's playing good halfcourt defense and taking care of the basketball."
Delaware played Central a year ago during the regular season, losing 73-70 as the Tigers made a halfcourt shot as time expired. Central is led by 6-foot-5 junior forward Jae'Sean Tate, who is an Ohio State recruit, and junior guard Connor Kern. Tate was averaging 20.3 points through 21 games and Kern was averaging 15. Other key contributors for the Tigers are senior forward Darryl LeVert and freshman forward Jalen Tate.
"Jae'Sean Tate has added a lot of strength and some range to his game from last year," Blackburn said. "He's obviously a very good player. I think Kern makes them go, though. When he's shooting well, they're playing well. They will have the advantage down low in terms of size and girth."
Senior point guard Mike Wells was averaging a team-high 20.1 points and 5.5 assists through 18 games for the Pacers. Sophomore guard Khalil Iverson was averaging 13.2 points and a team-high 10.8 rebounds and senior forward Griffin Kinney was averaging 10.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
Wells had 31 points and nine assists in an 81-51 win over Briggs on Feb. 12, with Iverson adding 14 points and 15 rebounds and Kinney scoring 12 points.
Entering play Feb. 15, New Albany sat atop the OCC-Capital at 13-0 and had clinched the league title outright. Olentangy was second at 10-3, followed by Delaware, Orange (8-4), Franklin Heights (4-9), Mount Vernon (3-10), Big Walnut (2-11) and Watkins Memorial (2-11).
Swimming teams fare well at sectional meet
The boys and girls swimming teams combined to win seven championships in the Division I sectional meet Feb. 9 at Thomas Worthington.
The boys team swept the individual freestyle events, with junior Anthony Hinton winning the 50-yard event (21.94 seconds) and the 100 (48.93) and senior Cameron Hackett winning the 200 (1:48.54) and 500 (4:52.52). Junior Skyler Pollock placed second in the 500 free (5:06.52) and fifth in the 200 free (1:55.14).
"That was a sweep that we've never had before in the postseason," coach Bill Rietz said. "Plus, we finished 1-2 in the 500 free, which we've never done before in the postseason. It was just a great meet for these boys. It's been awhile since we've done this well on the sectional stage on the boys side."
The 400 free relay of Hackett, Anthony Sanfillipo, Thomas Lenhart and Hinton finished second (3:22.2).
Delaware finished fourth (181) in the 11-team sectional, behind Westerville South (216), Thomas (208.5) and New Albany (201.5) and ahead of Worthington Kilbourne (150), Mount Vernon (97), Gahanna (88), Northland (81), Teays Valley (43), Newark (12) and Watkins Memorial (4).
The winner of each swimming event at sectional qualified for the district meet Feb. 16 at Ohio State. In addition, 27 at-large district berths were awarded in each swimming event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites. Divers did not compete until the district meet.
At district, the top two finishers in each swimming event qualified for the state meet that runs Thursday, Feb. 21, through Saturday, Feb. 23, at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 24 at-large district berths were awarded in each swimming event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast district sites. The top three boys divers and top four girls divers advance to state.
Also advancing to district for the boys team were Lenhart in the 100 butterfly (57.44, seventh in sectional), the 200 free relay of Lenhart, Sanfillipo, Mason Nicol and Pollock (1:36.13, fourth) and the 200 medley relay of Kai Herrera, Sanfillipo, Lenhart and Hinton (1:47.45, fifth).
Competing in diving Feb. 15 at district were Scott Chapman, Erik Richards and Cody Ross.
Winning sectional titles for the girls team were Regan DeWitt in the 200 free (1:59.36) and 500 free (5:15.88) and Brittany Puthoff in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.37).
"Regan has had a phenomenal year in the 200 free and 500 free," Rietz said. "Puthoff won the 100 breast at sectional two years ago but not last year, so it was nice to see her get back to the top spot."
The 200 medley relay of DeWitt, Puthoff, Lindsey Norris and Sam Curtin (1:52.97) and the 200 free relay of Susan Thomson, Puthoff, DeWitt and Curtin (1:43.01) both placed second. Curtin was third in the 50 free (25.65).
The girls team finished third (187) in the 12-team sectional, behind Thomas (311) and New Albany (239) and ahead of Gahanna (163), Kilbourne (120), Westerville South (107), Watkins Memorial (103), Big Walnut (76), Mount Vernon (37), Teays Valley (26), Northland (14) and Newark (8).
Also qualifying for district were Thomson in the 50 free (26.24, sixth in sectional), Ward in the 200 individual medley (2:25.23, eighth), Norris in the 100 fly (1:03.05, third) and the 400 free relay of Curtin, Ward, Thomson and Puthoff (3:51.90, fourth).
Competing in diving at district was Dawn Chapman.
Girls basketball team finishes fourth in OCC
The girls basketball team concluded the regular season Feb. 8 by defeating Franklin Heights 63-24 to finish 7-7 in the OCC-Capital.
Delaware finished fourth in the league, behind Orange (14-0), Olentangy (12-2) and New Albany (10-4) and ahead of Big Walnut (6-8), Mount Vernon (4-10), Watkins Memorial (3-11) and Franklin Heights (0-14).
Seeded 32nd of 43 teams in the Division I district tournament, the Pacers were 8-13 overall before playing 27th-seeded Briggs in the first round Feb. 16. The winner plays at fifth-seeded Northland in the second round Wednesday, Feb. 20.
Northland, which is 17-5, is led by 5-6 senior point guard Alexis Peterson, a Syracuse University signee who was named district Player of the Year last season and is averaging 28 points. Other key contributors for the Vikings include 6-1 post player Aliya Colvin and 5-6 guard Brooklynn Peterson.
The second-round winner plays fourth-seeded Dublin Coffman, 20th-seeded Westland, 24th-seeded Watterson or 35th-seeded Marysville in a district semifinal Feb. 28 at Hilliard Davidson.
Delaware added some depth at forward in the final week of the regular season, as 5-11 senior Bethany Naegele made her season debut against Franklin Heights after missing the first 20 games because of an offseason injury and sophomore Abbie Gore returned to the lineup in a 72-59 loss to Johnstown on Feb. 6 after missing 10 games because of injury.
Gore had eight points and Naegele scored four against Franklin Heights. Also against the Falcons, guards Kristen McMillen and Julie Bauer had 17 and 12 points, respectively, and guard Katie Ellis, who also recently returned from injury, had six points.
Gymnastics team places fourth in OCC
The gymnastics team scored 111.25 points in the OCC-Central meet Feb. 9 at Thomas Worthington to finish fourth behind Kilbourne (137.45), Davidson (127.225) and Olentangy Liberty (125.525) and ahead of Westland (101.525) and Dublin Scioto (89.25).
Delaware went 2-3 in league duals and finished fourth in the overall OCC-Central standings with 12 points, behind Kilbourne (24, 5-0), Liberty (18, 4-1) and Davidson (18, 3-2) and ahead of Westland (6, 1-4) and Scioto (6, 0-5).
The Pacers will compete in the district meet Saturday, Feb. 23, at Kilbourne. The top three teams advance to the state team meet March 1 at Hilliard Bradley, and the top nine finishers in each event and the all-around advance to the state individual meet March 2 at Bradley.
Last season, Delaware finished 16th (119.675) of 24 teams at district, as Grove City (140.075), Coffman (139.3) and Thomas (137.45) advanced to state. The Pacers did not have any individual state qualifiers a year ago.
Wrestlers finish second in league
The wrestling team finished second in the OCC-Capital at 6-1, behind Mount Vernon (7-0) and ahead of Orange (5-2), Watkins Memorial (4-3), Olentangy (3-4), Big Walnut (2-5), New Albany (1-6) and Franklin Heights (0-7).
Delaware competed in a Division I sectional tournament Feb. 16 at Westland. The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to the district tournament Friday, Feb. 22, and Saturday, Feb. 23, at Hilliard Darby.
The top four finishers in each weight class at district advance to the state tournament Feb. 28-March 2 at Ohio State.
Bowling teams start postseason
The bowling teams competed in sectional tournaments Feb. 15 and 16 at Eastland Lanes.
The top nine teams and top nine individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to the district tournament at HP Lanes. The boys district competition is Friday, Feb. 22, and the girls district is Saturday, Feb. 23.
At district, the top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team for boys and girls advance to the state tournament March 1 and 2 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.