Hilliard Bradley High School boys basketball coach Michael Limbird was pleased with his team's effort in a 71-39 loss to top-seeded Northland on Feb. 22 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
The visiting Jaguars, who were seeded 42nd, finished 1-22 overall.
"The kids came ready to play and went down swinging," Limbird said. "We played a zone defense because of their superior size. We wanted to force outside shots and grab defensive rebounds.
"Offensively, we were patient, ran a lot of screens and played fundamental basketball to make them work on defense. ... I was really happy with the first half. Our point guard, (freshman) Brandon Glenn, didn't have a turnover in the first half and (junior post player) Ryan Reffitt was terrific on the defensive glass."
Bradley trailed 26-19 at halftime and but was outscored 17-7 in the third quarter and 28-13 in the fourth. Limbird said the Jaguars wore down in the second half because of Northland's size and speed.
"We only went about seven deep and used our timeouts as best we could," he said. "We were without (junior forward) Brady Simpson, who has a stress fracture in his foot. Northland goes about 11 deep and I don't know if I've ever seen a team with that many great athletes, which is why they're ranked first in the (final) state (poll). They wore us down. There were times when we were in position to rebound and they just literally jumped over us and got the ball."
Sophomore wing player Nick Ingstrum led Bradley with 16 points. Glenn had 10 points and sophomore forward Jackson Murphy scored six.
Northland, which improved to 23-0, was led by forward Derek McKeithen and guard Ty Hairston, both of whom had 12 points.
Bradley's only win came against Teays Valley, 60-51 on Jan. 5.
The Jaguars finished 0-14 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to place eighth, behind Westerville North (14-0), Dublin Scioto (11-3), Westerville South (9-5), Hilliard Darby (8-6), Westerville Central (6-8), Dublin Jerome (4-10) and Worthington Kilbourne (4-10).
Bradley loses only one senior in guard Dhruv Patel.
"He is a great example of a team player and student-athlete," Limbird said. "He's the first four-year player in our program. He practiced hard and never complained about playing time. The kids love him. I couldn't be prouder of him."
Simpson averaged 7.2 points and was named honorable mention all-league. Glenn averaged 10.1 points, Reffitt averaged 8.2 points and 7.0 rebounds and Murphy averaged 7.2 points.
Other key contributors expected to return include junior guard Connor McDunn and sophomore guard Blake Hanson.
"We are absolutely excited about next year," Limbird said. "We were ridiculously young and inexperienced, especially after losing (junior guard) Zach Popovec for the season due to a football injury. (Glenn) will be like a veteran as a sophomore. Ingstrum didn't play much last year with a leg injury, so he basically was a freshman out there, too. We'll have four seniors. I think we have the potential to show great improvement.
"What pleased me most was our ability to handle adversity. We went 1-22 and had no issues with effort or attitude. The kids banded together and continued to improve and remain positive. That's why we're looking forward to next season so much."