Taking a committee approach to its post defense finally seems to be working for the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys basketball team.

Taking a committee approach to its post defense finally seems to be working for the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys basketball team.

After the Lions got torched for 30 points by Pickerington North's Jake Butt during a 55-46 loss Feb. 3, coach Tony Staib couldn't have been happier with the way his group of undersized inside players got it done during wins over Grove City (71-62 on Feb. 7) and Reynoldsburg (39-38 on Feb. 10).

The improved play down low is something Gahanna knows must continue, beginning with its Division I district tournament opener. The 11th-seeded Lions play their third game against Lancaster at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at Reynoldsburg.

The Golden Gales fell to 6-14 with a 50-19 loss to Newark on Feb. 17, but they do have a size advantage over the Lions.

Caleb Hester is listed at 6-foot-8 and reportedly has received offers from several Division III schools. He had 21 points in a 61-46 loss to Gahanna on Dec. 9 but was held to 12 points during a 54-38 loss to the Lions on Jan. 24.

Gahanna, which is 14-6 after defeating Groveport 77-40 in its regular-season finale on Feb. 17, is in the same bracket as second-seeded Walnut Ridge and third-seeded Olentangy Liberty, both of which possess strong post games as well.

"We were the 11th seed and were hoping to get nine or 10, but we got 11," Staib said. "We get Lancaster in the first round, which is a league opponent, and it seemed like they wanted to play us for the third time. Lancaster's got a 6-8 inside player named Caleb Hester who's going to be an all-league player.

"We were just looking for a good place on the bracket where we thought we could get to the district finals. Our goal is to get to the district final. When you're the 11th seed, a lot of times you don't have a lot of choices, but we like our spot in the bracket."

Despite the all-around outside shooting and ball-handling abilities of Aaron Jackson, the Lions have benefited from putting him in the mix defensively down low. According to Staib, the 6-6 junior was among the key contributors on defense in the wins over Grove City and Reynoldsburg.

Staib believes that senior guard Isaiah Israel also was instrumental on defense late against the Raiders.

Others who have been seeing regular time inside are 6-5 sophomore Keith Scowden and 6-4 senior Grant Patch.

Jackson scored 15 points in both of the regular-season games against Lancaster.

"We had a very good defensive stand at the end of the game (against Reynoldsburg)," Staib said. "We knew what they were going to do and they knew what we were going to do. Our post defense was very good the whole game. We just try to throw in a lot of bodies, and Aaron Jackson did a good job with his post defense. After the Pickerington North game, we were not very happy with how we played post defense, but we've been a lot better since then. We have four or five guys who we can use, and they all have to defend someone who is bigger than them."

Gahanna finished 8-6 in the OCC-Ohio Division to tie Grove City for third, behind Pickerington Central (13-1) and Newark (11-3) and ahead of Pickerington North (7-7), Reynoldsburg (7-7), Lancaster (2-12) and Groveport (0-14).

•The sixth-seeded girls team opened the Division I district tournament with a 74-32 win over Canal Winchester on Feb. 15.

Fourteen players scored for the Lions, with Chrishna Butler leading the way with 12 points. Maddison Blackwell had 11 points and Katie Mackall had a season-high eight points, including two 3-pointers.

Senior Kenya Cortledge equaled her season high with four points, while freshman Yasmin Norman (four) and sophomore Chandlar Helms (three) scored their first varsity points this season.

The Lions were 15-6 before playing Olentangy Liberty in the second round of the tournament Feb. 21. The winner plays Dublin Coffman or Watkins Memorial in a district semifinal at 6 p.m. March 1 at Hilliard Davidson.

Liberty was 10-11 entering the second-round matchup after opening the tournament with a 31-27 win over Logan on Feb. 15.

"I like the way we played (against Canal Winchester)," coach Rick Hauser said. "We took care of the ball all game and played real well defensively. We ran a little bit of an offense now and then and it was one of those games where everybody got to play. I'm really not sure that we could have played a lot better."