The Licking Heights High School boys basketball team was unable to get a home game in the Division I district tournament, but the Hornets will not travel to Franklin County unless they reach a district semifinal.
Licking Heights is seeded 29th of 45 teams and plays at 26th-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley in the first round Friday, Feb. 21. The winner plays at fourth-seeded Zanesville in the second round Feb. 26. The district semifinal is March 4 at Westerville Central against 11th-seeded Westerville South or 35th-seeded Hilliard Davidson.
"I was happy with the draw and felt we match up pretty well in the first round," coach Nathan Clark said. "I'm originally from that area and I know the (Muskingum Valley League). Tri-Valley is the biggest school in their league."
The Scotties were 13-7 before Feb. 14. They are led by 6-foot-8 post player Avery Williams, who averages about 15 points and nine rebounds.
"He was the MVL Player of the Year last year," Clark said. "Babe Murphy and DeAnthony Hosley play on the same AAU team with Williams. He's a good talent and they've got some good shooters around him (in Tyler McGee and Camden Craig)."
The Hornets snapped a three-game losing streak by beating Northridge 61-50 in the home finale Feb. 11, as Babe Murphy had 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Aaron Tiller had 14 points and 12 rebounds, Martell Davis had 11 points and Blake Beaver added 10 points.
"It was a good senior night because we got four scoring in double figures and we were patient and got good (shots)," Clark said. "It was good to get back to our winning ways and play well."
The Hornets finished 9-9 in the LCL with a 44-25 loss to Newark Catholic on Feb. 13 in a makeup from Jan. 27. They were 10-11 overall before closing the regular season Feb. 15 against Big Walnut.
Before beating Northridge, the Hornets lost to Licking Valley 46-38 on Feb. 4, Johnstown 56-46 on Feb. 7 and Groveport 55-52 on Feb. 8.
Against Johnstown, the Hornets trailed 17-6 after one quarter. Murphy scored 17 points, Dante Burnette scored nine and Davis had eight.
Groveport's C.J. Crowder made a 22-foot jumper from the top of the key with seven-tenths of a second left to break a 52-all tie against the visiting Hornets.
Davis scored 12 points and Chase Holskey added nine for Licking Heights, which was outscored 14-8 in the fourth quarter.
Through 18 games, Murphy led the Hornets in points (19.5), rebounds (10.5) and assists (4.3) per contest and was second (2.6) in steals. Davis led in steals (2.8) and was second in assists (3.1). Burnette was averaging 11.6 points and 6.8 rebounds, and Douglas Benniefield was averaging 5.3 rebounds.
Girls basketball team seeking tourney win
The girls basketball team is hungry for postseason success.
The Hornets are competing in the Division I district tournament for the first time after going 0-8 in Division II. They competed in Division IV in 2000 and Division III from the 2001 tournament through the 2005 tournament and haven't won a postseason game in the 2000s.
The Hornets are seeded 33rd of 47 teams and play at 13th-seeded Olentangy in the first round Monday, Feb. 17. The winner plays 34th-seeded Logan in the second round Thursday, Feb. 20, at the site of the higher seed.
The second-round winner plays fifth-seeded Pickerington Central, 42nd-seeded Olentangy Orange or 44th-seeded Tri-Valley in a district semifinal Feb. 27 at Hamilton Township.
"Olentangy is a very good team with a good post player in (Morgan) Horvath and a good shooting guard in (Kelly) Meade," coach Tay Tufts said. "Coach (John) Feasel does a great job and they're a building a great program. Meade shoots a lot of 3s and we're going to need to know where she is all the time.
"I'm expecting a high-intensity game because they play terrific defense and I think we do, too."
Horvath was averaging 17.1 points and 9.2 rebounds through 20 games. Meade was averaging 14.5 points and freshman point guard Allison Raiff has been solid since returning after missing five games with a broken bone in her hand.
The Braves lost their regular-season finale to Newark 81-70 on Feb. 12 and are 14-8.
Licking Heights last played Feb. 8, when it defeated Northridge 51-29 to improve to 10-12 overall and finish 8-10 in the LCL. The Hornets tied Northridge and Utica for fifth in the league.
"We held Northridge to four points and no field goals in the first half," said Tufts, whose team led 18-4 at halftime. "It was our best effort all season. We gave up 14 points in the fourth quarter, but we didn't have our starters in there."
Newark Catholic (17-1) won the LCL title ahead of runner-up Johnstown (16-2).
Dameras Whitlock averaged 15.4 points, 4.3 assists, 4.3 steals and 4.1 rebounds in the regular season. Skyler Ortiz averaged 11.4 points, 2.2 steals and 1.8 assists. Crystal Jackson (5.8), Alexis Sanidad (5-3) and Imaani Wilson-Cunningham (5.1) all averaged more than five points, while Jackson (7.2) led in rebounding ahead of Ashley King (4.9).
Postseason underway for wrestling squad
The wrestling team competed in a Division I sectional Feb. 15 at Watkins Memorial. The top four placers in each weight class qualified for district Friday, Feb. 21, and Saturday, Feb. 22, at Hilliard Darby.
At district, the top four finishers in each weight class advance to the state tournament Feb. 27-March 1 at Ohio State.
Licking Heights had five district qualifiers last season in senior A.J. Velasquez (220 pounds), junior Ty Yeager (132), sophomore brothers Anthony Haist (106) and Brandon Haist (120) and 2013 graduate Michael Zaky (heavyweight).
Yeager is injured and did not compete at sectional.