The fireworks figuratively began early in the evening and didn't stop until well after the final buzzer sounded for the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys basketball team during its regular-season finale against visiting Groveport on Feb. 18.

The fireworks figuratively began early in the evening and didn't stop until well after the final buzzer sounded for the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys basketball team during its regular-season finale against visiting Groveport on Feb. 18.

With an eye on winning at least a share of a second consecutive OCC-Ohio Division championship, the Lions grabbed an extra burst of momentum heading into their Division I tournament opener against Westland on Feb. 22 with a 92-40 victory.

And literally, everyone contributed.

All 15 of Gahanna's players scored, including 6-foot-1 senior Ian Yancey, who made the game's final basket - just his second of the season - as the final buzzer sounded to add further eruption to the crowd.

A celebration of net-cutting followed for the Lions, who followed a 20-0 regular season last year by going 19-1 overall and 13-1 in the OCC-Ohio to tie Pickerington North for the title. Their only flaw heading into the tournament came Feb. 4 with a 58-48 loss at North, but the Lions won their next three.

Newark and Pickerington Central tied for third in the league at 8-6, with Reynoldsburg (7-7), Grove City (5-9), Groveport (1-13) and Lancaster (1-13) rounding out the standings.

"So many times as a coach and a team you have high expectations and high goals and you don't meet them," coach Tony Staib said. "It was great for (the players) to win it two years in a row. There was so much pressure to go 20-0, and ever since the loss, it sort of refocused the team. I'm proud that one loss didn't turn into two."

The Lions' run to another OCC-Ohio title came despite them having just one returning starter in senior guard Stevie Taylor. Classmate Jamel Morris, who had 16 points against Groveport, and fellow seniors Brien Winston and Jordan Martin all saw action off the bench last year.

Senior Trey Warr, a Reynoldsburg transfer, also scored 16 points against the Cruisers.

"It feels great," Morris said. "In the last nine years, nobody has won back-to-back (OCC-Ohio) championships. It was definitely a lot of teamwork and chemistry from last year, and we knew what our goal was as a team."

"It means a lot that we're a prestigious program that's well-respected," Taylor said. "We had to suck it up (after the loss to North) because that was our second loss in two years. Coach told us it was now a three-game schedule. I think for everyone to contribute heading into the tournament, we have a lot of momentum."

•The girls team played Westerville Central in the second round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 23.

With a win over Central, the Lions would play eighth-seeded Newark or 16th-seeded Thomas Worthington in a district semifinal at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28, at Olentangy Liberty.

Gahanna has made it past the second round each of the past six seasons.

The Lions didn't play Thomas this season but split their two games with OCC-Ohio-rival Newark, winning 50-42 on Dec. 7 and losing 51-45 on Jan. 21.

Newark improved to 15-6 with a 44-32 victory over Hilliard Darby in its tournament opener Feb. 16. Thomas had a first-round bye and was 12-7 before playing the Wildcats on Feb. 23.

Freshman guard Maggie Mitchell has combined with sophomore Paige Cashin, seniors Chelsea Steen and Kacie Evans and junior point guard Reed Huffman as key players for Newark.

Thomas concluded the regular season with a 51-32 loss to Central Crossing on Feb. 11 and then had a 12-day layoff before playing Newark. Natalie Carroll, Frannie Frazier and Kim Hoerauf lead the Cardinals.

"I think that freshman kid, Mitchell, has added a piece that (Newark) didn't have before," coach Rick Hauser said. "In their offense, they're very deliberate. We're going to have to figure out a way to speed the game up if we play them again."

The Lions opened the tournament with a 66-21 victory over Mount Vernon on Feb. 16. They were expected to get sophomore guard Reyna Montgomery back for the Westerville Central game after she missed a 46-38 loss to Reynoldsburg in the regular-season finale on Feb. 11 and the tournament opener because of a sprained knee.

Tiyona Marshall and Quiera Lampkins both scored 15 points against Mount Vernon.

Juniors Mi'Eshia Parker and Te-Asia Smith and sophomore Nikki Campbell each played extensively. Senior Tiana Thompson missed the game for medical reasons.

"We played that game without Reyna, and she's a big piece of what we do," Hauser said. "Te-Asia brings a lot of speed to the floor and some really good defensive pressure. She can guard just about anybody she comes across. With (Thompson) down, it makes it a little easier for (Campbell) to get minutes. She's got a nice jump shot, and now we're seeing a little more consistency out of her."

AT A GLANCE

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

BOYS

*Feb. 18 - Defeated Groveport 92-40. Jamel Morris and Trey Warr each scored 16 points.

Feb. 22 - Played Westland in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays Columbus West in second round, 6 p.m. Feb. 26 at Worthington Christian Middle School. Winner plays in district semifinal, 8:45 p.m. March 5 at Fairgrounds Coliseum.

Of note: The Lions were 19-1 overall before Feb. 22 and finished 13-1 (tied with Pickerington North for first) in the OCC-Ohio.

GIRLS

Feb. 16 - Def. Mount Vernon 66-21 in first round of Division I district tournament. Tiyona Marshall and Quiera Lampkins each scored 15 points, Chrishna Butler scored 14 and Zenobia Bess scored 12.

Feb. 23 - Played Westerville Central in second round of district tournament. Winner plays eighth-seeded Newark or Thomas Worthington in district semifinal, 8 p.m. Feb. 28 at Olentangy Liberty. Winner plays in district final, 1 p.m. March 5 at Liberty. Gahanna is the seventh seed.

Of note: The Lions were 15-6 overall before Feb. 23.

*OCC-Ohio game