It was mid-January when coach Michael Limbird felt a shift with his Hilliard Bradley High School boys basketball team.

It was mid-January when coach Michael Limbird felt a shift with his Hilliard Bradley High School boys basketball team.

"I think the turning point was beating Worthington Kilbourne (63-49 on Jan. 12) because that was the first game that we were able to put four solid quarters together," said Limbird, whose team went 7-4 from that point to improve to 9-11 entering the first round of the Division II district tournament against 11th-seeded Bexley on Feb. 22. "We had played well at times, but we hadn't gotten much consistency, so you never knew what was going to happen. We began to limit our turnovers and we began to rebound much better as a team.

"Trent Weaver has been great rebounding all season, but when we got Jacob Starinsky and Jerry Briggs in there it began to come together. Then we've also been able to get our guards, specifically Evan Bell, to stick their noses in there to win some 50-50 rebounds. With our defense being solid, if we can limit teams to one shot, it starts our transition game. But if we allow offensive rebounds, it leads directly to easy stick backs."

In a 63-46 win over Olentangy Orange on Feb. 11, Briggs had 12 rebounds and the defense limited the Pioneers' outside shooting and offensive rebounding.

The Jaguars had one consistency hiccup during their hot stretch, as they blew a big lead against Mount Vernon in a 67-64 loss on Feb. 4. Bradley was outscored 31-13 in the fourth quarter. It was a flashback to the inconsistency in the first half of the season, but the Jaguars put that behind them in a strong finish.

"We've gotten real solid play off the bench in the past three or four games from Starinsky, Mo Hassan and Dakota Rohrer," Limbird said. "Hopefully we'll continue to get great contributions from everyone and extend the season."

The Bradley-Bexley winner will play Olentangy or Hamilton Township at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25, at Grove City. The Braves lost their final four games to enter the postseason 6-14. The Rangers won four of their final five to conclude the regular season at 8-11.

Olentangy is led by 6-foot-3 senior forward Chad Nugen, 6-4 junior post player Josh Perry and 6-8 junior center Stephen Walczak.

Hamilton Township is led by 6-5 post player Brian Jackson, 6-4 forward Kameron Wright and guard James White. Through 17 games, Jackson was averaging 14.3 points and 8.3 rebounds. White was averaging 4.9 assists and Wright was making 41.9 percent of his 3-point field-goal attempts (39-for-93).

"Hamilton Township is very athletic and would present us some tough matchups," Limbird said. "We would have to keep them out of the paint. Olentangy is long on the perimeter and they switch defenses a lot. They play some gamble defenses, so we'd have to be prepared for traps and stuff. They play well on defense."

•The girls team opened Division II district tournament play against Licking Valley on Feb. 23, 12 days after beating Westerville Central 60-38 to close the regular season.

"We're excited to get started in the postseason," said coach Kathy Lindsey, whose team was 17-3 and had a first-round bye as the third seed. "We know it won't be easy, but we're hoping to continue playing for a while once we start."

The Jaguars hoped to knock off any rust early against a bigger Licking Valley team that advanced by beating Utica 58-46 in the first round Feb. 15.

The winner will play seventh-seeded Bexley or eighth-seeded DeSales in a district semifinal at 6 p.m. March 1 at Pickerington North.

Bradley has never played Bexley, but the Jaguars defeated DeSales 58-54 in the opener Nov. 30, after losing to the Stallions 47-43 in a district final last year.

The Stallions were 11-9 before playing the Lions, who were 13-7. DeSales defeated Sparta Highland 65-43 in the first round and Bexley had a first-round bye.

DeSales is led by senior guard Maddie Lockhart, junior guard Tyler Craig and 5-foot-10 senior post player Lynnse Doran.

"They've got three post players 5-9 or 5-10, but overall they aren't real big," Lindsey said. "They run the floor well and are very aggressive. They like to penetrate and kick it back out or draw fouls. They've very similar to us. I do think there's a bit of a rivalry developing because they knocked us out of the tournament last season and we beat them in their home opener with a new coaching staff, so that may have left a bad taste in their mouths."

Bexley is led by senior forward Jelicia Shelton, senior guard Kylee Soga and junior guard Bailey Breese.

"(Shelton) is averaging a double-double and is tough on the boards (10.8 rebounds per game), Lindsey said. "She's an undersized post (player), but a good, strong athlete who jumps well. If we see them, we'll have to make sure to get a body on her at all times when the shot goes up. They also have a couple good guards in (Soga and Breese). They can shoot it from the outside."

The district final is 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 3, at Ohio Dominican. Filling out the other side of the bracket would be top-seeded Olentangy, sixth-seeded Hartley, Hamilton Township or Lakewood.


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


*Feb. 18 - Defeated Watkins Memorial 85-58 in regular-season finale. Trent Weaver (17), Jerry Briggs (15), Evan Bell (14), A.J. Dixon (11) and Jacob Starinsky (11) reached double digits in scoring.

Feb. 22 - Played Bexley in first round of Division II district tournament. The winner plays Olentangy or Hamilton Township, 8 p.m. Feb. 25 at Grove City. That winner will play top-seeded Hartley, Lakewood or Columbus South in district semifinal, 8 p.m. March 3 in Fairgrounds Coliseum.

Of note: The Jaguars were 9-11 overall before Feb. 22 and finished 7-7 in the OCC-Capital.

*OCC-Capital game


Feb. 23 - Played 11th-seeded Licking Valley in second round of Division II district tournament. The winner will play seventh-seeded Bexley or eighth-seeded DeSales in district semifinal, 6 p.m. March 1 at Pickerington North. That winner will play top-seeded Olentangy, sixth-seeded Hartley, Hamilton Township or Lakewood in district final, 8:30 p.m. March 3 at Ohio Dominican.

Of note: The Jaguars were 17-3 overall before Feb. 23. They were seeded third in the tournament and had a first-round bye.