Big Walnut High School girls basketball coach Steve Palmer would like to see his team build some momentum before the start of the postseason, and the Golden Eagles appear to be doing that.
Big Walnut was 11-6 overall and 5-6 in the OCC-Capital Division before playing Mount Vernon on Jan. 31. It entered the contest having won four of its past five games and six of its past eight.
The Division I district tournament draw is Sunday, Feb. 2, with first-round games starting Feb. 15.
Big Walnut has four regular-season games left, including league contests Tuesday, Jan. 4, at home against New Albany and Saturday, Feb. 8, at Olentangy Orange. It then plays host to Horizon Science Academy on Feb. 11 before closing the regular season Feb. 13 at Heath.
The Golden Eagles lost to New Albany 46-44 on Jan. 3 but defeated Orange 44-28 on Jan. 8.
"We'll try and win those (games against New Albany and Orange) to gain a little in the league and hopefully get some momentum for the tournament," Palmer said. "It's good to play well in the end stretch."
Big Walnut salvaged a split with Palmer's former team, Worthington Kilbourne, in league play by defeating the visiting Wolves 50-43 in overtime Jan. 29. The Golden Eagles had lost 46-33 in the teams' first matchup Dec. 17 at Kilbourne.
Palmer is in his first season with Big Walnut after spending the past six seasons at Kilbourne, where he compiled a 35-94 record.
In the rematch, Big Walnut trailed 16-14 after the first quarter but took a 29-25 lead into halftime and led 39-36 through three quarters before being outscored 7-4 in the fourth quarter. However, the Golden Eagles outscored the Wolves 7-0 in the four-minute overtime.
"I thought we made a good adjustment after the first quarter," Palmer said. "The game wasn't out of hand. We were playing man(-to-man defense) and (Kilbourne) was speeding things up. We started playing zone (defense) and I thought that really changed the complexion of the game, offensively and defensively. We controlled the tempo."
All of Big Walnut's points in overtime came from the foul line.
"We attacked the rim (in overtime)," Palmer said. "We executed well on offense and defensively we had good energy."
Skylar Fleak led the way for the Golden Eagles with 20 points and Makenna Hammond scored 18.
Through 17 games, Fleak was averaging a team-high 15.3 points and Hammond was averaging 13.4.
Swimmers preparing for sectional meet
Members of the swimming and diving teams will spend this week preparing for the start of the postseason Saturday, Feb. 8.
The boys team will compete in a Division II sectional meet at Thomas Worthington, where there are no automatic qualifiers for the district meet Feb. 14 at Ohio State. Twenty-seven at-large district berths will be awarded in each swimming event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites.
The girls team also will compete in a sectional at Thomas but in Division I. The winner of each event automatically qualifies for district Feb. 15 at Ohio State. In addition, 27 at-large district berths will be awarded in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites.
Divers do not compete until district.
"I am looking forward to seeing the results of our taper at the sectional meet," coach Sarah Cline said. "There are going to be some very fast swims coming."
Cline was pleased with her teams' performances in the OCC-Capital meet that concluded Jan. 25 at New Albany.
The girls team scored 82 points to place sixth, behind Olentangy (298), New Albany (282), Delaware (254), Orange (181) and Kilbourne (142) and ahead of Mount Vernon (49).
The boys were seventh (69), behind Olentangy (263), New Albany (246), Kilbourne (229), Delaware (200), Mount Vernon (144) and Orange (116).
Franklin Heights does not have a swimming program.
"Our swimmers swam well, rising up to the level of competition that surrounded them with all of the (Division I) schools in attendance," Cline said.
The top finisher for the girls team was Ashley White, who placed third in diving (436.9 points). Placing sixth were the 200-yard medley relay of Michelle Stefaniak, Josie Sweeney-Rogers, Jessica Osburn and Katie Von Hollen (2 minutes, 9.72 seconds) and the 200 freestyle relay of Sweeney-Rogers, Osburn, Stefaniak and Alison Hager (1:53.01), and finishing seventh were Stefaniak in the 50 free (27.4) and the 400 free relay of Hager, Lauren Fleser, Kylie Stickrath and Jennifer Hupp (4:46.04).
The top finish for the boys team was turned in by the 200 medley relay of Carter Marsch, Johnathan Schnipke, Joel Windle and Jens Paglialunga. The foursome placed fourth (1:57.3).
Also placing in the top seven were Marsch in the 100 breaststroke (fifth, 1:09.51), the 200 free relay of Marsch, Windle, Paglialunga and Justin Beyer (sixth, 1:42.27) and the 400 free relay of Schipke, Judah Armbrust, Jacob Watson and Bret Stacy (seventh, 4:17.21).
Bowlers getting set for postseason
The regular season is nearing an end for the bowling teams.
The boys team will compete against Thomas Worthington on Monday, Feb. 3, at Capri Lanes in a Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-North Division match. The Cardinals do not have a girls team.
The boys team was 4-7 overall and in the 14-team COHSBC-North before competing against Orange on Jan. 31 The Golden Eagles are 2-2 in the six-team OCC-Cardinal.
The girls team was 2-8 overall and in the 12-team COHSBC-North before competing against Orange on Jan. 31 and is 0-4 in the six-team OCC-Cardinal.
Both the boys and girls teams, which must make up an OCC-Cardinal match against Delaware that was postponed Jan. 27, will compete in the Division I sectional Feb. 21 at Eastland Lanes.
The boys team defeated Worthington Christian 2,020-1,809 on Jan. 17 and Hilliard Darby 2,099-1,960 on Jan. 22 in COHSBC-North matches.
Against Worthington Christian, Luke Hartings rolled a 464 series, followed by Conner Leidtke with a 386. Hartings and Leidtke also led the Golden Eagles against Darby, with the former turning in a 441 series and the latter a 359.
The girls team defeated Darby 1,536-1,187 on Jan. 22. Frankie Gianessi led with a 330 series and Alexis Beiwinkler followed with a 315.