With only one returning letterwinner in sophomore post player Michael Simon, the Hilliard Davidson High School boys basketball team scored only 43.3 points per game and went 5-18 overall.
Coach Kevin Logsdon said he is disappointed the Wildcats finished with their worst record in his 11 seasons, but he emphasized he is proud of their team chemistry and effort.
"This was a tough year from a record standpoint, but I'm proud that our guys hung in there and practiced hard through the end of the season," Logsdon said. "It was hard to see our guys work so hard and not get rewarded with more wins. At the same time, it was nice to see that all of our players kept working hard and improving, and that our team played its best basketball at the end of the season. Our players never pointed fingers at each other or pouted. They always played hard, night in and out."
The Wildcats finished seventh (2-12) in the OCC-Central Division behind Olentangy Liberty (13-1), Dublin Coffman (12-2), Westland (9-5), Thomas Worthington (8-6), Upper Arlington (8-6) and Marysville (4-10) and ahead of Central Crossing (0-14).
Davidson swept Central Crossing, winning 64-44 on Dec. 14 and 50-32 on Jan. 25.
The Wildcats also defeated Hilliard Bradley (38-37 on Dec. 28), Caledonia River Valley (54-46 on Feb. 2) and New Concord John Glenn (50-36 on Feb. 9).
Seeded 33rd, Davidson lost at 16th-seeded Grove City 77-51 in its Division I district tournament opener Feb. 22.
Senior wing player Luke Brorein scored 13 points, Simon scored 12 and junior guard Josh Stimmel scored 11. Guard Brandon Bapst scored 17 points for the Greyhounds, who outscored Davidson 44-20 in the second and third quarters.
"This was a learning experience for all of our guys, even our seniors," Logsdon said. "We'll need to improve because we know that all of the teams in our league are going to work to get better, and we can't let ourselves fall behind them."
The Wildcats lose five seniors who started multiple games in Brorein, post player Michael Kreiser, point guard Kyle Martin, wing player Scottie Munson and point guard Adam Pierce.
Two players who started multiple games are expected to return in sophomore wing player Nick Potts and Simon, who was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Potts, who played in only 10 games because of an injured collarbone, was honorable mention all-league.
"Mike Simon could be one of the best post players in central Ohio next year, and Nick has a huge upside as well," Logsdon said. "Next year, we should have a lot more depth and experience than we had this year. And now that our kids have a better idea of what it takes to be successful, I think we have the potential to have a quick turnaround.
"The big thing is it's hard to win games when you're scoring only 43 points per game. We need to put five guys who can score out there, instead of relying on only one or two to get the job done. One of our biggest goals is to become more balanced."
Girls squad shared league title
The girls team went 12-2 in regular-season games decided by nine points or fewer en route to finishing 20-4 overall.
The Wildcats won close OCC-Central games against Central Crossing (43-37 in overtime Dec. 14), UA (36-28 on Dec. 21) and Liberty (47-45 on Jan. 4 and 43-39 on Feb. 5), and beat both Bradley (43-37 on Nov. 27) and Hilliard Darby (42-39 on Jan. 26) in close contests.
Davidson also split its league games against Coffman, winning 42-20 on Dec. 7 and losing 46-40 on Jan. 18 en route to tying the Shamrocks atop the OCC-Central at 12-2 to capture its first league title since 1998.
Liberty (9-5), UA (8-6), Central Crossing (6-8), Westland (6-8), Thomas (3-11) and Marysville (0-14) rounded out the standings.
The eighth-seeded Wildcats opened the Division I district tournament Feb. 16 at home with a 54-27 victory over 28th-seeded Canal Winchester. Senior point guard Lauren Bates scored 20 points and sophomore guard Hannah Fecht scored 14.
Davidson then was upset by 14th-seeded Newark 58-56 in the second round Feb. 20 at home. Senior post player Bri Ekanem scored 16 points, Bates scored 15 and senior guard Ashley Hurt scored 11.
"The whole season was so great for our program," coach Joy Taylor said. "It was exciting to win so many close games and that made our season so special. This is the most wins we've had in a season in school history and it was our first OCC title in 15 years. This also was the first time we beat Upper Arlington in the three seasons I've coached here."
The Wildcats lose three senior starters in Bates, Ekanem and Hurt.
Bates, who was the OCC-Central Player of the Year and third-team all-district, averaged 14.8 points and 6.8 rebounds.
Hurt, who was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, averaged 11 points and 6.2 rebounds.
Ekanem was honorable mention all-league.
According to Taylor, Bates finished her career as Davidson's all-time leader in steals, and she was second in career assists, third in scoring and fifth in rebounding. Taylor also said Ekanem is Davidson's career leader in blocks and Hurt is second.
"Our senior leadership was so important this season," Taylor said. "Ashley and Lauren were a huge chunk of our offense and leadership, and Bri was a big part of our defense with her shot blocking."
Expected key returnees are junior point guard Lea Edler, sophomore forward Faryn Buchanan and Fecht.
"All three of these girls are going to be huge for us," Taylor said. "And we have some young raw talent at our younger levels, so we just need for everyone to work hard and improve in the offseason."