The margin between winning and losing has been minimal for the Big Walnut High School boys basketball team the past three weeks.
The Golden Eagles were 8-10 overall and 3-8 in the OCC-Capital Division before playing Olentangy Orange on Feb. 7, and their previous four games had been decided by a total of nine points.
Big Walnut defeated Mount Vernon 50-47 in a league game Jan. 31, but lost to Marion Harding 63-61 on Jan. 21 and fell to Delaware Hayes 49-48 on Jan. 24 and New Albany 31-28 on Feb. 4 in league games.
"We've been in some close ballgames," coach Eric Myers said. "It's just unfortunate a few of them haven't gone our way.
"The kids are playing really well together right now. They're moving the ball well. Regardless of our record, I feel like the kids are playing to their full ability and doing a nice job."
Against New Albany, Logan Boyd had a team-high seven points and Zac Asher scored six.
Through 18 games, Nick Herbert was averaging a team-high 10.9 points, followed by Boyd (10.8).
Michael Buckles is expected to miss the remainder of the season as the result of injuries sustained when he fell to the floor during the loss to Delaware, Myers said. The 6-foot junior forward, who was averaging 6.4 points through 15 games, suffered a concussion and broken nose and required 16 stitches.
Buckles had a season-high 16 points in a 51-50 win over Buckeye Valley on Dec. 3 in the Golden Eagles' season opener and scored 15 in a 53-40 win over Newark Catholic on Dec. 28.
"He's a second-year (letterwinner) and, probably more than scoring or any stat you can put on the board, he's our emotional leader," Myers said. "Not just on game day, but also in practice. He brings energy to the team."
The Golden Eagles wrap up the regular season this week with league games Tuesday, Feb. 11, at Worthington Kilbourne and Friday, Feb. 14, at Franklin Heights before playing host to Licking Heights on Saturday, Feb. 15.
"The (league) has been tough for us," Myers said. "I think it's been tough for everybody. On any given day, anybody can beat anyone else."
The Division II district tournament draw is Sunday, Feb. 9, with the first-round games starting Feb. 21.
Girls basketball team nearing postseason
The girls basketball team concludes the regular season this week, playing host to Horizon Science Academy on Tuesday, Feb. 11, and traveling to Heath on Thursday, Feb. 13.
Big Walnut, which was 11-8 overall and 5-8 in the OCC-Capital before playing Orange on Feb. 8, is seeded 21st of 47 teams in the Division I district tournament and has a first-round bye.
The Golden Eagles will face sixth-seeded Zanesville or 40th-seeded Franklin Heights in the second round Feb. 20 at the home of the higher seed.
"You could always do better, unless you're (seeded) No. 1, but we're OK," coach Steve Palmer said.
Big Walnut won both of its OCC-Capital games against Franklin Heights this season, defeating the Falcons 60-35 on Nov. 29 at home and 49-35 on Jan. 9 on the road. The Golden Eagles have not played Zanesville this season.
Palmer believes his team will benefit from having a full week between its regular-season finale and its postseason opener.
"It's a good chance for us to rest a little bit," he said. "But it's not too much time where I think we'll be flat."
Through 19 games, Skylar Fleak was averaging a team-high 14.8 points and Makenna Hammond was averaging 13.4.
Wrestlers getting set for sectional
The wrestling team will compete in the 14-team Division II sectional tournament Saturday, Feb. 15, at Licking Valley.
The top four finishers in each weight class advances to district tournament Feb. 21 and 22 at Uhrichsville Claymont.
Last season, Alec Eisnnicher became Big Walnut's first state qualifier since 2011 graduate Matt Brown in 2010, going 0-2 at 170 pounds, and Austin Carr and R.J. Martin were district qualifiers at 152 and 138, respectively.
Big Walnut was 2-4 in the OCC-Capital before facing defending league champion Mount Vernon on Feb. 6.
The Golden Eagles lost to Orange 45-28 on Jan. 30 in a league match.
Winners against the Pioneers were Carr (160), Eisnnicher (170), Martin (138), Austin Crow (220), Matt Halbakken (126) and Wes Landrum (120).
Big Walnut scored 150 points to finish fifth of eight teams in the Watkins Memorial Invitational on Jan. 25 behind champion Marysville (209).
Carr (160) and Eisnnicher (170) won their weight classes and Martin (138) and Crow (220) both placed second. Nico Grier (113) placed third and Evan Watkins (182) finished fourth.
Postseason underway for swimming teams
The swimming and diving teams opened the postseason Feb. 8 by competing in their respective sectional meets at Thomas Worthington.
The girls team competed in Division I, with the winner of each swimming event qualifying for the district meet Saturday, Feb. 15, at Ohio State. In addition, 27 at-large district berths were awarded in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites.
The boys team competed in Division II, with 27 at-large berths for the district meet Friday, Feb. 14, at Ohio State being awarded in each swimming event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites.
Divers did not compete at sectional.
At district, the top two finishers in each swimming event in Division I and II, the top finisher in boys diving and the top three finishers in girls diving automatically advance to state Feb. 19-22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths will be awarded in each swimming event based on times statewide.
Gymnastics team prepping for district
The gymnastics team will spend the next two weeks preparing for the district meet Feb. 22 at Worthington Kilbourne.
The top three teams qualify for the team state meet Feb. 28 at Hilliard Bradley and the top eight finishers in each event, including the all-around, advance to the individual state meet March 1 at Bradley.
Big Walnut did not have any state qualifiers last season.