A 2-19 season usually is something to cast aside, but that was not the case for the Grandview Heights High School girls basketball team.
Last year's difficult lessons helped the Bobcats rebound to finish 12-12 overall.
"A lot of times when you have a 2-19 season, you want to throw it away and never talk about it again," said first-year coach Michelle Chavanne, whose team lost to defending state champion and top-seeded Africentric 80-22 in a Division III district semifinal Feb. 28 at Granville. "But that experience really helped make this season possible.
"Last year, the girls didn't hang their heads. They came to practice and worked to get better. They did that again this year and kept getting better. These girls are driven to get better, and if that continues, you will see even more improvement next season."
The 12th-seeded Bobcats won at home in the first two rounds of the postseason. They defeated 13th-seeded East Knox 33-32 on Feb. 16 and beat 14th-seeded Galion Northmor 34-33 on Feb. 21.
Senior center Connor Skeen scored six points against Africentric and sophomore forward Grace Palmer, who was honorable mention all-district, added five.
Grandview finished sixth (3-9) in the MSL-Cardinal Division behind Liberty Union (11-1), Berne Union (9-3), West Jefferson (9-3), Licking Heights (6-6) and Fisher Catholic (4-8) and ahead of Millersport (0-12).
Skeen was the only senior. She averaged 5.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, was honorable mention all-league and named the team's Most Valuable Player.
"Connor was one of the best captains that I have ever been around," Chavanne said. "She is at least two years ahead of the rest of our players, and two years in high school is a big difference. She interacted with them well and really helped them out. She also was phenomenal with her post defense and she will definitely be missed."
The Bobcats had no juniors. Sophomores expected to return include guard Emma Bulla (3.2 points per game), forward Ali Lachey (4.6 ppg, 4.3 rebounds), guard Megan McCauley (6.6 ppg, 3.4 steals, 2.5 assists), guard Madison Osborne (2 ppg), Palmer (7 ppg, 8.1 rebounds), forward Morgan Taylor (2.9 ppg, 3.4 rebounds) and forward Allison Voelker (3.1 ppg, 3.4 rebounds). Taylor Oberschlake, a freshman guard, also saw varsity action.
McCauley was second-team all-league and named the team's most improved player. Palmer was honorable-mention all-league and won the team sportsmanship award.
"I think we had seven kids who had a pretty good understanding of the system," Chavanne said. "We had decent height and good guards, now we have to find out where the younger kids fit in next year. It's nice to have a core group coming back to push each other in practice."
Fitzgerald goes 1-2 at state wrestling
Freshman Brendan Fitzgerald went 1-2 at 120 pounds in the Division III state wrestling tournament Feb. 28 through March 2 at Ohio State and finished the season 37-8.
Fitzgerald was pinned by Sullivan Black River's Mike Hozan in 5 minutes, 30 seconds before bouncing back to pin Defiance Ayersville's Francisco Alvarado in 18 seconds. Alvarado placed eighth at 113 last year.
"For Brendan to come back and pin a state placer from last year in 18 seconds was amazing," second-year coach Chad Davis said. "That has to be the highlight of his career, so far."
In his next consolation match, Fitzgerald was eliminated by Bloom-Carroll's Chandler Minnard 11-3.
Four of his losses this season were to Minnard.
"I just think being here will help me next year," Fitzgerald said. "I'll know what to expect and I'll have an idea of what I need to do. The experience of being here will help more than anything."
The Bobcats tied for 73rd (3) behind champion Troy Christian (95.5) as 94 teams scored.
Fitzgerald was runner-up to Minnard at district Feb. 22 and 23 at Duncan Falls Philo. The Bobcats finished 19th (33) behind champion Amanda-Clearcreek (147.5) as 54 teams scored.
Also competing at district were junior heavyweight A.J. Pinyerd (3-3, sixth, 29-12 overall) and freshman Thomas Stanley (0-2 at 170, 18-21).
Grandview tied Johnstown for 10th (69) in the 14-team sectional Feb. 15 and 16 at Madison Plains behind champion Amanda-Clearcreek (258).
On Feb. 2 in the home MSL-Cardinal Duals, the Bobcats finished third (2-2) behind Liberty Union (4-0) and West Jefferson (3-1) and ahead of Licking Heights (1-3) and Harvest Prep (0-4).
The Bobcats had no seniors. Expected to return are juniors Sam Callison (182, 15-8), Pinyerd and Anthony Sagstetter (160, 19-15), sophomore Ben Jump (138, 13-20) and freshmen Benton Bair (126, 14-18), Fitzgerald, Preston Roberson (195, 2-13) and Stanley.
"The middle-school program fed us some tough freshmen and we need to see them work to get better," Davis said. "Hopefully we'll have more district qualifiers and have more (advance to state) next year."
Bowling teams make strides
Fourth-year coach Tony Thivener was happy with the progress of his boys and girls bowling teams.
In the district tournament Feb. 23 at HP Lanes, the girls finished 18th (2,283) of 18 teams in their first district appearance.
Junior Hannah Jones (369 series, 84th of 118 competitors) led the Bobcats, followed by junior Josie Pommering (352, 88th), junior Sarah Kaltenecker (337, 91st) and senior Taylor Woodhouse (303, 95th). Senior Anna Field (164) played two games and junior Kate Lewis (95) rolled one.
The Bobcats finished eighth (2,688) in the 25-team sectional Feb. 15 at Columbus Western Bowl behind champion Briggs (3,757) as the top nine teams advanced.
"That really was a fun day to see their excitement when they knew they had a chance to move on," said Thivener, whose girls team finished 5-7 overall. "They just put it all together and had a really solid match."
In the MSL tournament Feb. 9 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, the girls were ninth (2,154) of 10 teams as Whitehall (3,560) won the roll-off between the top four teams.
In the 11-team Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-Central Division, the Bobcats finished eighth (3-7) behind champion Ready (10-0).
"We had a lot of team and personal records broken this season, so that is a great thing," Thivener said.
The boys team finished 15th (3,049) in the 30-team sectional Feb. 16 at Eastland Lanes behind champion Westerville South (3,766).
Sophomore Tristen Rose (468) was 51st of 168 competitors. Juniors Jon Sterneker (463), Austin Lewis (453), Max Pierson (378) and Jake Bottorf (359) also competed.
In the MSL tournament, the boys finished seventh (3,304) of 10 teams, as Granville (3,923) won the roll-off between the top four. Rose was honorable mention all-league, leading the team with a 529 series.
In the 16-team COHSBC-Central, the boys tied Watterson for fifth (10-5) behind champion Ready (14-1). The team finished 10-6 overall.
Joe Nichols was the lone senior. Junior Josef Palenius, a junior exchange student from Sweden, will not return.
"The majority of the kids were better at the end of the season than they were at the beginning, and that's how we gauge our season," Thivener said. "We had young kids coming back for the boys team and they progressed and we finally had a full squad for the girls team. It's definitely something to build upon."
Boys basketball team falls in tourney
The boys basketball team finished 16-6 overall, losing to eighth-seeded Ready 45-42 in the second round of the Division III district tournament Feb. 27 at home. The fifth-seeded Bobcats had an opening-round bye.
Sophomore forward Luke Miller scored 10 points and senior guard Adam Cincione had nine, all on 3-pointers.
Senior forward Andy Treasure was named second-team all-district and sophomore forward Hunter Schmalz was honorable mention all-district.