Playing with the urgency that the next game could be the last for many of their players is one thing Gahanna Lincoln High School girls basketball coach Rick Hauser believes helps senior-laden teams in the later rounds of the postseason.
The Lions fall into that category considering five of their regulars are seniors, but their next opponent in the Division I district tournament has a talented senior leading its team as well.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at Jonathan Alder, second-seeded Gahanna will face 12th-seeded Dublin Scioto in a district semifinal, with the winner moving on to a district final at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at the same site.
While the Lions are led by seniors Zenobia Bess, Maddison Blackwell, Chrishna Butler, Quiera Lampkins and Reyna Montgomery, Scioto senior guard Anna Buhigas scored 29 points to lead her team to a 59-51 victory over 18th-seeded Central Crossing on Feb. 20.
"They've got a couple seniors, and seniors tend to play their best basketball at this time of the year," Hauser said. "(Scioto tries) to get easy transition basketball baskets and get as many easy baskets as possible. (Buhigas has) got an all-around game. She can shoot it from the outside, she can rebound and she can handle the basketball. She's a really nice player."
Lampkins, who is Gahanna's point guard, made first-team all-district. Both Butler, a guard, and Buhigas made the third team.
Gahanna is 20-4 and Scioto is 17-7. The winner will meet seventh-seeded Olentangy or ninth-seeded Pickerington North for the district title.
The district champion will play Olentangy Orange, Zanesville, Northland or Dublin Coffman in a regional semifinal at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, at Otterbein University. The regional final is 7:15 p.m. March 8 at Otterbein.
Last season, Gahanna beat Pickerington North 63-46 in a district final but lost to Northland 53-38 in a regional semifinal.
The Lions defeated Watkins Memorial 55-33 on Feb. 20 in the second round of the district tournament.
Boys basketball team wins tourney opener
The ninth-seeded boys basketball team will play host to 21st-seeded Olentangy at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
Gahanna is 18-5 and Olentangy is 15-8.
The Lions opened the postseason with a 66-49 win over 38th-seeded Teays Valley on Feb. 23. Junior forward Javon Bess scored 25 points and senior guards Aaron Jackson and Troy Mundy both scored 10.
The Gahanna-Olentangy winner will play eighth-seeded Reynoldsburg or 26th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in a district semifinal at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, at Westerville Central. The district final is 3 p.m. March 9 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.
Reynoldsburg was 18-5 and Kilbourne was 9-13 heading into their matchup Feb. 27.
During the regular season, Gahanna lost to Reynoldsburg 40-38 on Dec. 18 and won 65-43 on Jan. 30 in OCC-Ohio Division games.
Belli finishes season at state swim meet
Junior Morgan Belli didn't get the results she was hoping for in the Division I state swimming and diving meet Feb. 22 and 23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
After entering as the sixth seed (56.63 seconds) in the 100-yard backstroke, Belli swam the 12th-best time (57.81) in preliminaries and finished 16th (58.5).
Belli was seeded fifth (2:04.79) in the 200 individual medley but was 11th (2:07.71) during the preliminaries and ended up 12th (2:07.91).
Belli scored six points at state as Gahanna tied Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame and Massillon Perry for 45th behind champion Cincinnati Ursuline (234) as 55 teams scored.
"I feel really bad for her," coach Erin Darrah said. "She was expecting to do better, especially because she had such a great weekend (in the district meet Feb. 16 at Ohio State). She just felt like she couldn't hang on at the end of her races. The first 100 of her 200 IM were as fast as the girls who got second or third."
Girls bowlers end season at district
A rough second game kept the girls bowling team from advancing to the state tournament.
The Lions opened the district tournament Feb. 23 at HP Lanes by rolling an 824 in their first game but followed with rounds of 729 and 791 and finished fifth (3,200) of 18 teams. Cardington (3,682), Briggs (3,614) and Lancaster (3,318) advanced to state Friday, March 1, at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, and Delaware was fourth (3,255).
Senior Kelsey Ferguson tied Marion Pleasant's Allison Belcher for 17th (508) of 118 competitors. Also competing were junior Erika Reed (22nd, 497), senior Morgan Wiles (tied for 26th, 479) and sophomore Samantha Toale (tied for 56th, 436). Senior Amanda Paez (315) bowled two games and junior Mickayla Moyer (109) bowled one.
The top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to state. North Union's Stormie Jamison (529) was the final individual qualifier.
"They did a great job and hung in there," coach Kelly Ferguson said. "We're proud of the girls overall."
The girls were third (3,227) of 25 teams in the sectional Feb. 15 at Columbus Western Bowl behind Briggs (3,757) and Cardington (3,584).
The boys were 22nd (3,108) in the 30-team sectional Feb. 16 at Columbus Western Bowl behind champion Newark (4,030). Players on the boys team included seniors Shane Walker, Collin Price and Michael Chau, sophomores Alex Kasson and Conner Hammonds and freshman Jason McCann.
The girls went 11-3 overall, were second at 11-1 in the 13-team Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-North behind Westerville Central (12-0) and placed third (3-2) in the OCC-Cardinal behind Westerville Central (5-0) and Delaware (4-1) and ahead of Westerville South (2-3), Westerville North (1-4) and Big Walnut (0-5).
The boys went 2-14 overall, placed 14th (2-12) in the 15-team COHSBC-North behind co-champions Westerville South and Jonathan Alder (12-2) and tied Big Walnut at 1-4 in the OCC-Cardinal, behind Westerville North and Westerville Central (4-1), Westerville South (3-2) and Delaware (2-3).
Hockey team takes step forward
With defenseman including seniors Jack Jander and Colin Smallwood and with strong play from senior goaltender Tyler Klopfer, the hockey team reached one of its goals by qualifying for the championship bracket of the Blue Jackets Cup.
Gahanna lost to top-seeded Olentangy Liberty 8-3 on Feb. 7 in the first round of the Blue Jackets Cup.
Then in the district tournament, the Lions beat Watterson 7-3 on Feb. 16 but lost to second-seeded Orange 3-0 on Feb. 17 to finish 15-15-3-2 overall.
Gahanna went 8-6-1-2 to win the CHC-Blue Division ahead of Kilbourne (7-9-1), Watterson (4-12-0-1), Olentangy (3-14) and Scioto (0-17).
Last season, the Lions went 7-29-1 and 2-15 in the CHC-White.
Junior forward Mason Settle was the leading scorer with 22 goals and 25 assists, sophomore forward Skyy Goebel had 23 goals and 10 assists and senior forward Austin Hays added 16 goals and 21 assists.
"Next year we're going to have a lighter senior class," coach J.J. Stallsworth said. "One of the things the kids said they wanted to do was start a winning culture. The next step is winning these games."