The Licking Heights High School girls basketball team managed to win two games during the second half of the season even as the injuries mounted.

The Licking Heights High School girls basketball team managed to win two games during the second half of the season even as the injuries mounted.

Those missing time included leading scorer Kyasia Duling, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, and classmate Alyssa Stanley, who began the season as the starting point guard.

Duling, an AAU veteran, averaged 12.2 points as the Hornets finished 4-17 overall with a 67-39 loss to fourth-seeded Jonathan Alder in a Division II first-round tournament game Feb. 15 at Westerville Central. Also the team's top rebounder, she led the Hornets in scoring in 11 of the 17 games in which she played.

"We had to adjust quite a bit in the second half," second-year coach Alison Pence said. "That was tough because we were working toward becoming the team we thought we'd be."

Duling and 5-9 sophomore Chelsea Dunkle spent considerable time on the bench in the tournament loss because of foul trouble, and a 16-6 second-quarter advantage sent the Pioneers into halftime leading 36-17. Brandi Hunt, a junior guard, led the turnover-plagued Hornets with nine points on three 3-pointers. Dunkle, who scored 21 points in a 65-58 victory over Division I Grove City on Dec. 23, averaged 8.3 points this season.

"We got into foul trouble early (against Jonathan Alder) and had way too many turnovers (34), too," said Pence, who will graduate only two seniors in guard Nicole Raike and post player Alex Sandy. "That's a lot to overcome against a good team like that."

Jonathan Alder, which also eliminated the Hornets in last year's postseason, improved to 15-5.

"We're living on," Pioneers coach Terra McDaniels said. "Since we're not in a league the tournament's all we have."

Licking Heights went 3-11 in the MSL-Cardinal Division to finish seventh as Harvest Prep, which was the top-ranked team in the final Division IV state poll, captured the title at 14-0. The Warriors were followed by West Jefferson (11-3), Liberty Union (9-5), Grandview (8-6), Fisher Catholic (6-8) and Berne Union (5-9). Millersport (0-14) placed eighth. Five of the eight teams finished .500 or better during the regular season while Fisher Catholic went 9-11.

The Hornets defeated Grandview 42-39 in overtime in a second-round league game on Jan. 14. They also beat Millersport 44-26 on Feb. 9 and 54-34 on Dec. 18.

The Hornets, who lost five games by seven or fewer points during the first half of the season, also will return junior Mady Mynatt and sophomore Courtney Jones. Freshmen Dameras Whitlock, a point guard, and Skyler Ortiz are expected back as well. Another sophomore, 5-8 post player Asitia Richardson, missed most of the season with a knee injury.

"I did see growth," Pence said. "We played more man-to-man defense and we were able to press at times. We'd like to be able to run our offense a little better, though. We need to learn to play under control a little more.

"So we have a lot to do this summer. We need to get into the gym and keep working to get better. We need to look at this season as a learning experience."

•Aided by a 12-game winning streak earlier this season, the boys basketball team earned the eighth seed for the Division II district tournament. Coach Nathan Clark made a bold move at the draw meeting by going on the same line as sixth-seeded Granville, and the two will meet in a first-round game at Lakewood on Wednesday, Feb. 23.

The Blue Aces, who shared first place in the MSL-Ohio with Division III top-seeded Heath entering their respective league finales, beat the Hornets 64-55 at home Dec. 7. It was the second game of the season for Licking Heights, which started 0-4.

Still, Granville coach Jamie Pearson wasn't necessarily surprised by Clark's decision.

"They're a lot better team now," Pearson said of Licking Heights. "They're well-coached and they had that long winning streak. It's a tough first-rounder for both of us."

AT A GLANCE

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Licking Heights boys basketball, girls basketball and wrestling teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Feb. 12 - Defeated Millersport 59-44. Two days after a 56-55 loss to MSL-Cardinal-champion Harvest Prep, the Hornets rebounded as freshman Alex Murphy posted season highs in points (16) and rebounds (14).

*Feb. 15 - Def. Liberty Union 61-43. Darius Strickland had a season-high 22 points to lead the Hornets, who outscored the Lions 41-17 in the second half.

*Feb. 18 - Played Harvest Prep in regular-season finale

Feb. 23 - Sixth-seeded Granville in first round of Division II district tournament, 6 p.m. at Lakewood. The eighth-seeded Hornets lost to the Blue Aces 64-55 on Dec. 7. The winner advances to play either Utica or Jonathan Alder in the second round, 8 p.m. Feb. 26 at Delaware.

Of note: The Hornets were 14-5 overall and 11-2 in the MSL-Cardinal before Feb. 18.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Feb. 11 - Lost to Harvest Prep 82-49 in regular-season finale. Kyasia Duling scored 21 points to lead the Hornets. The Warriors were ranked first in the final Division IV state poll.

Feb. 15 - Lost to fourth-seeded Jonathan Alder 67-39 in first round of Division II district tournament. Brandi Hunt scored nine points on three 3-pointers to lead the Hornets.

Of note: The Hornets finished 4-17 overall and 3-11 in the MSL-Cardinal.

WRESTLING

*Feb. 12 - Finished second (3-1) at four-team MSL-Cardinal dual-meet tournament, behind champion West Jefferson (4-0). The Hornets defeated Grandview 34-30, Harvest Prep 36-24 and Liberty Union 48-36 before losing to the Roughriders 70-9. Tyler Price (112) and Jason Maynard (140) both went 4-0 to earn first-team all-league honors. Josiah Dunlap (135) and Kevin Yeager (171) went 3-1 to make second-team all-league.

Feb. 19 - Competed in Division II sectional at home. The top four individuals in each weight class advanced to the district meet Feb. 25-26 at Columbus East.

*MSL-Cardinal contest