The Gahanna Lincoln High School boys basketball team got what coach Tony Staib called a "taste" of what the coming Division I district tournament could be like in the Ohio Play-By-Play Classic on Jan. 22 at Capital University.

The Gahanna Lincoln High School boys basketball team got what coach Tony Staib called a "taste" of what the coming Division I district tournament could be like in the Ohio Play-By-Play Classic on Jan. 22 at Capital University.

If the Lions play in the postseason the way they did in a 68-43 victory over Chillicothe that night, they should make another deep run.

The Cavaliers entered the matchup as the No. 2-ranked team in the Division II state poll and Gahanna was fourth in Division I, but the Lions gained control early and closed the game on a 19-6 run.

The neutral court was something that Gahanna, which is on pace to earn one of the top seeds at the district seeding meeting on Feb. 13, seemed to savor after struggling to a 44-34 victory over Newark the previous day.

"This is our stretch run, and it prepares us really well," said Stevie Taylor, who scored 28 points against Chillicothe and earned the game's MVP honor. "It was a neutral court, and most of our players have played in big games before. Going up against Newark was (another) deal."

Before focusing on the district tournament, however, Gahanna will look to win its second consecutive OCC-Ohio Division championship. The Lions played Lancaster on Jan. 25 and play host to Pickerington Central on Friday, Jan. 28, followed by games against Pickerington North (Feb. 4), Grove City (Feb. 8), Reynoldsburg (Feb. 11) and Groveport (Feb. 18).

The victory over Newark was the Lions' second consecutive by 10 points or fewer. They shot 0-for-13 from 3-point range but compensated with strong defense.

Gahanna then held a pair of talented players, 6-foot-8 junior Malik London and 6-6 senior Jalen Ragland, to six and eight points, respectively, against Chillicothe.

"I thought we did a tremendous job against two very good players," Staib said. "Chillicothe is a very good team and they score in spurts. (Taylor) is a four-year starter who has gotten a lot of big games under his belt and plays well on the big stage. Now we're done with all of our non-conference games and can focus on our league schedule and the tournament."

•The girls team is looking for more consistency as it heads into the final weeks of the regular season.

During a 42-41 loss to Watterson on Jan. 18, the Lions rallied from a 26-10 halftime deficit to take a 41-36 lead with 1 minute, 1 second remaining. However, Tiyona Marshall and Chrishna Butler each missed the front end of one-and-ones in the game's final minute and Watterson's Kayla Cook made the winning jump shot from the corner as time expired.

Then, on Jan. 21 in a 51-45 loss to Newark, the Lions trailed 40-27 after three quarters before outscoring the Wildcats 18-11 during the final period.

Gahanna plays Friday, Jan. 28, at Pickerington Central and is host to Pickerington North on Feb. 3 before the district tournament drawing. The Lions were seventh in the area coaches poll released Jan. 17.

"We didn't have enough kids bring energy to the court (against Watterson)," coach Rick Hauser said. "We've got to play hard all of the time and our free-throw shooting is an important part of it.

"These kids have played enough basketball that they know they've got to hit their free throws. We're simplifying our offense and basically running two sets to let them have a little bit of freedom."

AT A GLANCE

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln boys and girls basketball teams:

BOYS

*Jan. 21 - Defeated Newark 44-34. Stevie Taylor scored 23 points for the Lions, who outscored the Wildcats 17-10 in the fourth quarter.

Jan. 22 - Def. Chillicothe 68-43 in Ohio Play-By-Play Classic. Taylor scored 28 points and was named the game's MVP.

*Jan. 25 - Played Lancaster

*Jan. 28 - Home vs. Pickerington Central. The Lions beat Central 78-53 on Dec. 17.

Of note: The Lions were 14-0 overall and 8-0 in the OCC-Ohio before Jan. 25.

GIRLS

Jan. 18 - Lost to Watterson 42-41. Chrishna Butler scored 13 points and Quiera Lampkins and Tiyona Marshall scored 12 apiece for the Lions, who trailed 26-10 at halftime.

*Jan. 21 - Lost to Newark 51-45. Tiyona Marshall scored 10 points.

*Jan. 25 - Played Lancaster

*Jan. 28 - At Pickerington Central. The Lions beat Central 51-45 on Dec. 17.

Of note: The Lions were 11-4 overall and 6-3 in the OCC-Ohio before Jan. 25.

*OCC-Ohio game