The draw for the Division I district tournament still is two weeks away. It's not too early to visualize what the brackets might look like, however, and some coaches already have indicated they'd prefer not to play the Newark High School boys basketball team.

The draw for the Division I district tournament still is two weeks away. It's not too early to visualize what the brackets might look like, however, and some coaches already have indicated they'd prefer not to play the Newark High School boys basketball team.

"I know they've made it difficult on me and my teams for a lot of years," said Pickerington North coach Pete Liptrap, whose team beat the visiting Wildcats 43-41 in an OCC-Ohio Division game Jan. 7. "They'll be an extremely tough draw for someone."

The word "tough" keeps cropping up in conversations regarding the Wildcats, who were 8-6 overall and 4-5 in the league before playing Groveport on Jan. 28.

"We have to play with that kind of attitude," coach Jeff Quackenbush said. "We're not the biggest team in our league and we're not the most athletic team."

Trailing 33-24 at halftime and 43-36 early in the fourth quarter Jan. 25 at Reynoldsburg, the Wildcats rallied to force overtime before eventually losing 70-62. Christian Keller, who scored a team-high 17 points, made a 3-pointer from the right corner on one possession and followed with a free throw on the next to cap a 16-4 run that gave Newark a 52-49 lead with 2 minutes, 29 seconds remaining in regulation.

Reynoldsburg, which had lost the first-round game 68-61 in overtime on Dec. 7, got the ball into the lane to Wendell Davis in the final seconds with the score tied 53-all, but Bret Woolard stood his ground and drew a charging foul. The Raiders scored the first seven points in overtime and outscored Newark 17-9 in the OT.

"They're a bunch of fighters," Reynoldsburg coach Chris Rider said afterward. "That's a quality win for us against a tough opponent."

Woolard, a 6-foot-4 senior, was leading the Wildcats in scoring (12.3 points per game) before Jan. 28. Jalen Dartis was averaging 10.8 points and Daniel Logan 10.4, and Dartis was leading the Wildcats with 30 3-pointers. Dartis, a sophomore, broke the single-game school record with eight 3-pointers in a 79-58 victory over Groveport on Dec. 17.

"We did a fairly good job on him," Rider said of Dartis, who scored 10 points against Reynoldsburg while making three 3-pointers. "If he gets hot from deep they can be a real wildcard (in the postseason)."

The setback at Reynoldsburg followed a 44-34 loss Jan. 21 against league-leading Gahanna, which was ranked second behind Cincinnati Moeller in last week's Division I state poll. Newark led the undefeated Lions 32-31 with 4:10 remaining. It held them to 33 percent shooting from the field, which included 0-for-13 from 3-point range.

"We have to get defensive stops to be effective," Quackenbush said. "We have to do all the little things right."

The Wildcats have impressive non-league wins over Zanesville (48-32 on Dec. 23) and Mount Vernon (63-57 in overtime on Jan. 15). The Blue Devils were 11-2 overall and the Yellow Jackets 9-3 before Jan. 28.

The postseason draw meeting will be held Feb. 13 at Olentangy Liberty.

"We're gaining experience," said Quackenbush, whose team is 4-1 outside the OCC-Ohio with one non-league game remaining Feb. 12 at Logan. "That's what it takes."

•GIRLS BASKETBALL - Granville's 56-38 loss to Bexley on Jan. 22 tightened the MSL-Ohio standings. The Blues Aces, who had a two-game lead two weeks ago, were 7-2 in the league while the Lions were 7-3 before Jan. 28. Licking Valley and Columbus Academy were only two games back in the loss column at 6-4 and 5-4, respectively.

•WRESTLING - The number of undefeated wrestlers in the county continues to dwindle. However, Heath had two unbeatens coming out of the home Robin Drumm Classic on Jan. 22 as seniors Mason Robinson (160 pounds) and Travis Drumm (215) pinned down individual championships.

Drumm is listed fifth at his weight class in Division III in Brian Brakeman's High School Wrestling Forecast, which was released last week. Robinson is ranked sixth at 171 while injured senior Dom Barlow, a three-time state placer, is fourth at 160.