The raspy-sounding voice of Dublin Scioto High School boys basketball coach Tony Bisutti seemed fitting for a team in need of a rest.
After playing six games over the final two weeks of the regular season, the Irish were happy to have a bye in the opening round of the Division I district tournament to get a nearly two-week break.
"We're a little worn down because of our lack of depth and we're a little fragile in some areas because of that," said Bisutti, whose team is 18-4 overall despite using a seven-player rotation. "We've been out of sync with some things and the bye is going to give us some time to recharge the batteries and get ready for the tournament."
Scioto, the fifth seed, will play host to 10th-seeded Pickerington Central or 14th-seeded Delaware at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, in a second-round game. The winner advances to a district semifinal March 6 at Pickerington North against seventh-seeded Dublin Coffman, 16th-seeded Grove City, 32nd-seeded Dublin Jerome or 33rd-seeded Hilliard Davidson.
The Irish enter the postseason with their best regular-season record since 2008-09, when they finished 24-2 overall following a 54-53 overtime loss to Northland in a regional final.
Scioto hadn't had a winning season since.
"We definitely want to make a run and we feel like we have a good chance," senior guard Antonio Bisutti said. "We're optimistic that we can beat anyone we face. It all starts this week in practice."
Pickerington Central, the defending state champion, is 15-7. The Tigers went 10-4 in the OCC-Ohio Division to share the league title with Grove City, Newark and Reynoldsburg.
Delaware had won five in a row and was 15-5 before facing Gahanna on Feb. 19.
Scioto closed the regular season with a 45-42 victory over Worthington Kilbourne on Feb. 15. The Irish went 11-3 in the OCC-Cardinal to finish second behind Westerville North, which was 13-0 in the league before playing Jerome on Feb. 19 and is seeded second in the district behind Northland.
"We've just got to relax and go play," coach Bisutti said. "We're a lot better when we're playing and not worrying about making mistakes. If something doesn't go right, you move on."
Scioto intends to review its 69-59 loss to Reynoldsburg on Feb. 12, when the Raiders capitalized on their quickness on the perimeter. Pickerington Central is a similar team.
Senior guard Josh Ashwill, who is averaging about 17 points, scored 22 against Reynoldsburg and helped Scioto cut an 18-point deficit to four in the final 1 minute, 20 seconds.
"We just didn't play well in that game," said Antonio Bisutti, who is averaging 14 points. "We didn't have much energy and little details are what cost us that game. We've got to get out to a good start because we haven't done that in games that we've lost."
The Irish intend to stick with their all-senior starting lineup, which also includes forwards Chase Sult, Travis Wehder and Travis Yates.
Junior post player Zach Brown and junior guard Kalib Wallace have been coming off the bench.
Girls team earns first-round victory
The girls team avenged an earlier loss to Lancaster with a 56-47 home win over the 19th-seeded Golden Gales in a first-round Division I district tournament game Feb. 16.
Senior guard Anna Buhigas had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the 12th-seeded Irish, who improved to 16-7.
Scioto closed game with a 12-3 run.
The Irish played host to 18th-seeded Central Crossing in a second-round game Feb. 20. The winner advanced to play second-seeded Gahanna or 41st-seeded Watkins Memorial in a district semifinal Feb. 28 at Jonathan Alder.