Columbus Academy boys basketball coach Jeff Warstler believed his team had potential.
Despite starting 0-6 and being 3-12 entering February, he never lost faith.
The Vikings then won eight consecutive games before losing at second-seeded Ready 49-45 in the second round of the Division III district tournament Feb. 26.
Academy, which was seeded 13th, finished 11-13 overall.
"We're real pleased," Warstler said. "The end of the season went extremely well and the kids deserved it. They worked extremely hard and to have it end that way was great. To get eight (wins) in a row, to come from where we were, the kids deserve all the credit."
The Vikings opened the tournament by defeating 15th-seeded Galion Northmor 59-43 on Feb. 21 at home.
Senior forward Jonathan Kornberg averaged a team-best 16.1 points and was first-team all-MSL-Ohio Division and second-team all-district. Senior forward Charlie Watters averaged a team-high 8.5 rebounds and was honorable mention all-league, and junior forward Scott Mackenzie averaged 8.4 points.
Senior guard Lee Solomon averaged four assists and finished with 50 steals.
The team loses six seniors but only four played, as Bryce Bailey (shoulder) and Turner Montgomery (ankle) missed the season with injuries.
Others eligible to return are juniors Max Bechtel (guard), Cameron Taylor (post player), Wes Terveer (guard) and Brett Trimbur (guard), sophomores Jack Mills (post player) and Jonah Schottenstein (guard) and freshman Ryan Alexander (guard).
"I'm pleased with some of the depth we have coming back," Warstler said. "I'm pleased with some of the young guys we have moving into the program. We're in a good spot. We're definitely headed in the right direction.
"We're trying to rebuild something and these seniors did a heck of lot to get this thing in motion the last half of the year. We ended on a high note and we're looking to move forward and go strong."
The Vikings tied London for fifth (6-8) in the MSL-Ohio behind Whitehall (13-1), Grandview (11-3), Bexley (9-5) and Worthington Christian (9-5) and ahead of West Jefferson (2-12) and Madison Plains (0-14).
Girls basketball team shows improvement
Girls basketball coach Heather Gepper was pleased with her team's progress this season.
The Vikings finished 7-12 overall. Seeded 16th in the Division III district tournament, they lost at 11th-seeded Northmor 46-26 in the first round Feb. 17.
"I thought we would end around .500," Gepper said. "I was happy with our improvement from last year to this year after (going 3-19). There were around four games we could have (won) that we didn't. We were up and down and inconsistent a little bit."
Sophomore center Zaria McBride averaged team highs of 15.1 points and 11.8 rebounds. She was first-team all-league and third-team all-district.
Sophomore point guard Caroline Aronowitz was honorable mention all-league and averaged 5.2 points.
The team loses one senior in reserve guard Brie Stahl.
Others eligible to return are juniors Kelly Brown (guard) and Nat Weikert (center), sophomores Neve Adler (forward) and Christina Lee (guard) and freshmen Kate Allison (guard), Michelle Daoud (guard), Morgan Hamilton (forward), Eva Schottenstein (guard) and Kennedy Sulton (guard).
"We're still really young, and inexperience really affected a lot of getting us through an entire season because it is such a long season," Gepper said. "Our core group is mainly sophomores, so after this year we'll have some experience under our belt and continue to get better."
Academy tied London for sixth (3-11) in the MSL-Ohio behind Worthington Christian (13-1), Grandview (10-4), West Jefferson (10-4), Bexley (9-5) and Madison Plains (7-7) and ahead of Whitehall (1-13).
State-qualifier Jones leads wrestling team
Junior Dan Jones earned his second consecutive berth in the Division III state wrestling tournament Feb. 27-March 1 at Ohio State, but like last season, his time at state was cut short by a shoulder injury.
A left shoulder injury forced Jones to lose by default against Wellsville's Seth Bloor in the first round at 220 pounds. He lost his first consolation match by default to finish 28-3.
Last season, Jones qualified for state at 195, but re-injured his right shoulder and lost twice by default.
"It is a numbers game and injuries plagued some of our kids, which kept them out of the lineup at various crucial points of the season," coach Paul Bukky said. "With no depth, we did fall behind in duals and in tournament placing. Putting kids in the lineup as freshmen and first-year wrestlers makes it hard on the individual and team performance. It is hard to make up for a lack of years of experience and knowledge."
Academy finished seventh (84.5 points) in the MSL-Ohio tournament Feb. 1 behind West Jefferson (214.5), London (173.5), Whitehall (160.5), Madison Plains (152), host Bexley (128.5) and Grandview (101) and ahead of Harvest Prep (15).
Jones and junior Sam Wittman (126, 27-11 overall) were second-team all-league and junior Tim Leathery (152, 32-13) was honorable mention all-league.
The Vikings tied Mount Gilead for 32nd (20) at district Feb. 21 and 22 at Heath behind champion Hartley (107.5) as 50 teams scored. Jones, who was Academy's only district qualifier, placed second.
In a 19-team sectional Feb. 14 and 15 at Cardington, Jones placed first and the Vikings finished 14th (33) behind champion Hartley (190.5).
Academy lost to Newark Catholic 33-30 in the first round of the state team tournament Jan. 22 at Utica.
Others eligible to return are juniors Luke Albers (195, 18-4), Josh Levy (120) and Taylor Smallridge (138, 20-17), sophomore Calvin Wuorinen (160, 25-13) and freshmen Will Bedford (182), Anthony Sugar (132) and Tyler Whitt (160).
"The kids are optimistic and looking forward to next season," Bukky said. "We will have a seasoned squad with six juniors returning next year."