As the Hilliard Darby High School boys basketball team switched to tournament mode this week, coach Brett Norris seemed satisfied in knowing what the panthers had accomplished so far.

As the Hilliard Darby High School boys basketball team switched to tournament mode this week, coach Brett Norris seemed satisfied in knowing what the panthers had accomplished so far.

"I look at us as a team that has consistently improved all year and it shows our guys have bought into what we do," he said. "I know it can be a long season and some teams might be ready to turn in the equipment, but our guys are excited about what lies ahead."

The Panthers held on last Friday to beat host Davidson 53-52 and improve to 11-8 overall before facing Dublin Jerome in the first round of the Division I district tournament last Wednesday.

The winner advances to play third-seeded Westerville South or Columbus West in the second round at 8 p.m. Saturday at Bradley.

South, which was 20-0 overall before last Tuesday, was one of five area teams to finish the regular season unbeaten along with Northland, Gahanna and Upper Arlington. The Vikings and Lions are the top two seeds and UA is seeded fourth.

"We know we've got a good team and we've got nothing to lose," guard Dylan Rudy said. "In our league, we went up against some of the better teams in the area, and we know we can play with the best."

Darby finished 8-5 in the OCC-Central Division behind champion Upper Arlington (14-0), Dublin Coffman (12-2) and Davidson (8-6) and ahead of Worthington Kilbourne (6-8), Thomas Worthington (4-9), Central Crossing (2-12) and Westland (1-13).

The second meeting with Thomas Worthington, postponed because of this month's snow storms, won't be made up.

With last Friday's victory at Davidson, the Panthers avenged a 60-53 loss in overtime Jan. 15.

Rudy scored 13 points and Jacob Carter added 11.

"That game was a huge lift for us to give us some confidence," forward Matt Cyrus said. "Hopefully, we can keep it going. We know if we get to face South we can't be intimidated. Upper Arlington is undefeated and we stuck with them."

The Golden Bears edged Darby 53-52 on Jan. 29 after winning 54-41 on Dec. 18.

Darby last reached a Division I district final in 2006-2007 when it entered the tournament as an underdog. UA came away with a 45-43 win.

Brookhaven defeated the Panthers 46-36 in a second-round game in 2008. Last season ended with a 53-42 loss to Beechcroft in a second-round game.

"The tournament definitely brings a different kind of emotion when you're the favorite," Norris said. "All the pressure is on them. We know that Westerville South is a good pressure team and they push it offensively. We'd love to get that opportunity."

South clinched the OCC-Cardinal Division championship, its first in three seasons, with a 71-55 win Westerville North on Feb. 11.

The following day, they improved to 13-0 in the league with a 65-46 win over Olentangy.

Coach Ed Calo wasn't exactly sure where his team fit among the others in the district seeding. A championship was most important.

"You have three outstanding Westerville teams that are as good as anybody in the area," he said. "Besides Northland and Gahanna -- those teams are truly great, too -- our three teams are awfully good. For us to win the league with two games left, I think it speaks volumes to the effort our kids have made through the course of the season."

Darby's Audrey Luzader (left) and Delaware's Taylor Franklin battle for the ball during the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 17. The Panthers won 64-55.

Darby's Sami Atkinson is fouled by Delaware's Corsica Barber on a drive to the basket on Feb. 17. The Panthers won 64-55 and played Brookhaven in the second round last Wednesday.

At a glance

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

BOYS

*Feb. 19 -- Defeated Davidson 53-52. Dylan Rudy scored 13 points and Jacob Carter added 11.

Last Wednesday -- Played Dublin Jerome in first round of Division I district tournament. The winner will play third-seeded Westerville South or West in the second round at 8 p.m. Saturday at Bradley.

Of note: The Panthers were 11-8 overall before last Wednesday.

GIRLS

Feb. 17 -- Def. Delaware 64-55 in first round of Division I district tournament. Kalee Seagle had 16 points.

Last Wednesday -- Played fourth-seeded Brookhaven. The winner advances to a district semifinal against 11th-seeded Olentangy Orange or Dublin Jerome at 8:15 p.m. Monday at Olentangy Liberty.

Of note: The Panthers were 13-8 overall before last Wednesday.

*OCC-Central game