Big Walnut High School girls basketball coach Steve Palmer is hoping his team's second go-round through the OCC-Capital Division goes better than its first.
The Golden Eagles went 2-5 in the first round of OCC-Capital play, posting wins over Franklin Heights (60-35 on Nov. 29) and Olentangy Orange (44-28 on Jan. 8). They completed the sweep of Franklin Heights by beating the Falcons 49-35 on Jan. 9, behind 14 points from Sara Petty and 10 from Makenna Hammond.
Big Walnut was 8-5 overall and 3-5 in the OCC-Capital before playing Olentangy on Jan. 17.
"The first time through (the league schedule), we didn't have a whole lot of success," coach Steve Palmer said. "I thought Delaware (51-29 on Dec. 13) and Mount Vernon (48-32 on Dec. 20) beat us pretty good. Those losses were really slow starts for us. We're looking forward to playing those teams again a second time and hopefully it can come out more in our favor. The kids are excited for the challenge."
The Golden Eagles have five OCC-Capital games left, starting with a home contest against Delaware on Friday, Jan. 24. They lost to four of those opponents in the first round of league play, including New Albany (46-44 on Jan. 3) and Worthington Kilbourne (46-33 on Dec. 17).
"They're games you're more familiar with," Palmer said. "That doesn't mean you have to prepare any less for them. With league games, there's always a little more at stake. It's a tough stretch."
The Golden Eagles defeated Marion Harding 54-30 on Jan. 14 at home Jan. 14. They led 33-20 at halftime and outscored the Presidents 21-10 in the second half, holding them to two points in the third quarter.
Eight players scored for Big Walnut, led by Hammond with 13 points. Skylar Fleak scored 11, followed by Hannah Seawell with eight points and Cassie Walaszek and Erika Boehm both with six.
"We played as well as we've played all year," Palmer said. "Everybody really brought their own piece to the puzzle. It was a really good overall team win."
Fleak, a 6-foot forward, was averaging a team-high 13.9 points through 13 games, followed by Hammond (12.6).
Wrestlers getting set for state team tourney
The wrestling team is preparing for the Division II state team tournament.
Big Walnut is seeded fifth of seven teams in Region 14-A and will face fourth-seeded Whitehall in the first round Wednesday, Jan. 22, at Licking Valley. The winner will face top-seeded Licking Valley in the second round that same day, with the winner advancing to a Region 14 semifinal Jan. 29 at a site to be determined.
This is the second year for the dual-format state team tournament. Last season, the Golden Eagles lost to Buckeye Valley 39-35 in the first round.
Big Walnut defeated Franklin Heights 72-12 and lost to Kilbourne 44-31 in OCC-Capital duals Jan. 16. The Golden Eagles opened their league schedule against New Albany and Delaware on Jan. 9, defeating New Albany 58-15 and losing to the Pacers 72-6.
Austin Carr (160 pounds), Drew Cochran (132), Nico Grier (113), Jacob Hadden (126) and Nate Helsley (106) won by pin against New Albany.
Helsley had the Golden Eagles' only win against Delaware, winning by forfeit.
Ditomassi wins vault in gymnastics meet
The gymnastics team competed against Westerville Central and Delaware on Jan. 8, scoring 126.5 points to finish behind the Warhawks (129.95) and ahead of the Pacers (112.5).
Freshman Grace Ditomassi had the Golden Eagles' only first-place finish, winning vault with an 8.3.
Big Walnut took part in a six-team meet Jan. 10, scoring a 113.3 to finish fifth behind Olentangy (128.4), Hilliard Bradley (127.1), Hilliard Darby (126.15) and Olentangy Liberty (120.9) and ahead of Hilliard Davidson (112.85).
The results against Westerville Central on Jan. 8 and Bradley on Jan. 10 counted in the OCC-Capital standings. Big Walnut was 0-2 in the league before competing against league foes Central Crossing and Franklin Heights on Jan. 17 as part of a four-team meet that also included DeSales.