It was a loss on the scoreboard, but the Hilliard Darby High School girls basketball team likely didn't see it that way.

It was a loss on the scoreboard, but the Hilliard Darby High School girls basketball team likely didn't see it that way.

On Feb. 10, a much bigger and unbeaten second-seeded Delaware team needed every minute to edge the Panthers 54-52 in a game that did much for Darby's confidence as it entered the Division I district tournament nine days later.

The Panthers were able to use a suffocating defense Feb. 19 to get past Westerville North 45-22 in the first round and improve to 11-10 before facing seventh-seeded Reynoldsburg last Wednesday.

"Defense has been our strong point and now it seems like we're really starting to buckle down and we're getting some offense," guard Kalee Seagle said. "Delaware was really big, and if we can stick with a team like that we just feel like we can play with anyone."

Darby before last Wednesday had won three of its last four games, including victories over Thomas Worthington (48-39 on Feb. 6) and Westland (56-17 on Feb. 13).

"We feel like we're going to hang our hat on defense this time of year," coach Chris Maul said. "We feel good about our half court defense. We just feel like it's our strength to get back and play five-on-five defense."

The winner last Wednesday will face third-seeded Dublin Scioto or Groveport at 8 p.m. Monday in a district semifinal at Olentangy Orange.

Scioto watched the Panthers cut a 20-point lead to 10 with about two minutes left in the fourth quarter when the two teams met Dec. 30. Behind Lindsey Kell, who scored a career-high 16 points, the Irish won 56-43.

"We've had a lot of tight losses and we've showed the ability to come back," Maul said. "We've had five losses under nine points. We still haven't won a close game, but even though you lose a game like Delaware, you walk away with some progress."

•The boys team entered last Tuesday's first-round Division I district tournament game against Logan with three victories in its last four games, including last Friday's 35-26 win over Hilliard Davidson.

The Panthers ended the regular season at 9-11 overall and 7-7 in the OCC-Central Division, tied with Thomas Worthington for fourth behind Dublin Coffman (13-1), Upper Arlington (10-4) and Davidson (8-6).

Sixth-seeded Beechcroft, which is 16-4, waits the winner of last Tuesday's game at after it took a first-round bye in the tournament. The second-round game is at 6:15 p.m. Friday at Harvest Prep.

Before last Friday's game against Davidson, the two coaches joked about how the first team to 25 points would win it.

Nothing came easy, but the Panthers got there first.

"In a game like that it's just so mentally taxing for everybody," coach Brett Norris said. "It's so difficult to score and gaining momentum in a game like that is so hard to come by."

For the Wildcats, the game was lost at the free-throw line. Davidson, which held a 21-11 halftime lead, shot just 12-for-33 from the line for the game and finished 2-for-12 in the fourth quarter when Darby outscored the Wildcats 17-4.

Darby took the lead for good when Dylan Rudy converted a three-point play to give his team a 28-25 advantage with 4 minutes, 44 seconds left.

At a glance

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

BOYS

*Last Friday -- Defeated Davidson 35-26. The Wildcats were 12-for-33 from the free-throw line.

Last Tuesday -- Played Logan in first round of Division I district tournament. The winner will play sixth-seeded Beechcroft at 6:15 p.m. Friday at Harvest Prep.

Of note: The Panthers were 9-11 overall before last Tuesday and finished 7-7 in the OCC-Central to tie Thomas Worthington for fourth behind Dublin Coffman (13-1), Upper Arlington (10-4) and Davidson (8-6).

GIRLS

Feb. 19 -- Def. Westerville North 45-22 in first round of Division I district tournament. Erin Warning scored 15 points.

Last Wednesday -- Played seventh-seeded Reynoldsburg in second round. The winner will play third-seeded Dublin Scioto or Groveport at 8 p.m. Monday at Olentangy Orange in a district semifinal.

Of note: The Panthers were 11-10 before last Wednesday.

*OCC-Central game