Inconsistency continued to plague the Watkins Memorial High School boys basketball team as the regular season wound down.
The Warriors squandered a seven-point halftime lead in a 66-58 loss to Licking Valley on Feb. 12 at home in an LCL contest. They led 27-20 at halftime but were outscored 46-31 in the second half, including 26-10 in the third quarter.
"We're running out of time to show some mental toughness," coach Pat Dimmick said. "We've got to be mentally tougher to push through calls or non-calls, to push through fouls inside to finish plays. We have to be stronger leaders on the floor.
"The kids need to know and accept their role and be there for the good of the team, not hang their head if they miss a shot or don't get a foul call go their way. They need to continue playing hard for the team even if they're not having a great night. Until we get that program-wide, we're going to be inconsistent. We've been talking about these things all season."
The Warriors were 9-11 overall and 7-10 in the LCL before their regular-season finale against Heath on Feb. 14.
The loss to Licking Valley on senior night was the second in a row for Watkins Memorial, which defeated Utica 48-38 on Feb. 7 at home in an LCL game before losing to visiting Granville 61-49 in a league contest Feb. 11.
Hunter Holton had 17 points, Clay Gray scored 11 and Jared Clark added eight against Utica, as the Warriors outscored the Redskins 27-18 in the second half.
Watkins Memorial led Granville 29-27 at halftime but was outscored 34-20 over the final two quarters. Clark had 16 points and Gray scored 10.
"We don't have enough guys that either stay positive or fight harder when they're not playing well," said Gray, who had 18 points against Licking Valley. "When they get down on themselves, they lose their focus and it hurts the entire team."
Dimmick would like to see his team follow the mantra "when the going gets tough, the tough get going."
"It's not like the coaching staff hasn't worked with the kids on finishing shots in the lane tough, playing through contact and making free throws," he said. "The kids have to do it for themselves in the game. We can't do it for them.
"I'm very disappointed that the kids didn't play better their final time playing a game (on their home court). We wanted to go out with a better effort than the last two (home games)."
Watkins Memorial is seeded 32nd of 45 teams in the Division I district tournament and will play at 17th-seeded Marys-ville in the first round Saturday, Feb. 22. The Warriors did not play Marysville this season.
Seas, Fenimore lead swimmers at sectional
Shelby Seas and Kayla Fenimore of the girls swimming and diving team both qualified for the Division I district meet held Feb. 15 at Ohio State in four events, including two individual events apiece.
"I'm so proud of them and happy for them," coach Heidi Williams said. "I'm proud of all the girls. We got more events to district than I anticipated. I knew we had the potential, but everything has to go right in that event on that day to actually make it happen."
Seas placed fifth in the 100-yard freestyle in a program-record 55.8 seconds and finished eighth in the 100 breaststroke (1:11.37) in the sectional Feb. 8 at Thomas Worthington, while Fenimore placed fifth in the 100 butterfly (1:03.14) and 10th in the 100 breast (personal-record 1:12.62). Seas and Fenimore earned at-large berths.
"Both of them decided not to swim the 200 (individual medley) and Shelby took a chance with the 100 free and Kayla chose the 100 breast," Williams said. "They made good decisions. Their club coach and I thought they had better chances in these events than in the 200 IM, but ultimately, it was up to them. ... I'd say it was a good choice by both of them."
All three relays for the girls team also earned at-large berths. Fenimore, Seas, Rachel Baughn and Monica Tumblin comprised the 200 medley relay (seventh, 2:00.02) and 200 free relay (eighth, 1:50.85) and Abby Jarvis, Gracie Gessner, Chelsea List and Jayna Hulse comprised the 400 free relay (eighth, 4:25.83).
"All three relays had season-best times," Williams said. "The medley relay is about half of a second away from the school record and the 200 free relay is about a second away from the school record. The 400 free relay was 15 seconds faster than the previous season-best."
Qualifying for district with an at-large berth for the boys team were Alan Chapman in the 100 fly (sixth, 57.57), the 200 medley relay of Jacob Sloan, Chapman, Skylar Chapman and Anthony Juarez (11th, 2:03.4) and the 200 free relay of Alan Chapman, Grady Marshall, Juarez and Skylar Chapman (11th, 1:49.58).
"The boys did a really good job in those events," Williams said. "It's a good building block for them."
The top two finishers in each swimming event at district automatically advanced to the state meet Friday, Feb. 21, and Saturday, Feb. 22, at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded in each swimming event based on times statewide.
The girls team scored 65 points in the sectional to finish eighth of 13 teams and the boys team scored 33 points to finish 10th of 11 teams. Thomas (214) won the girls title and New Albany (211) won the boys title.
Girls basketball team finishes ninth in LCL
The girls basketball team ended a seven-game losing streak with a 56-46 win over Granville in an LCL game Feb. 8.
The margin of victory was Watkins Memorial's second largest this season, topped only by a 55-42 win over Groveport on Dec. 2.
The Warriors lost to Licking Valley 48-43 on Feb. 10 in their regular-season finale to fall to 5-17 overall and finish 4-14 in the LCL. They were 2-7 in games decided by five points or fewer.
Watkins Memorial finished ninth in the LCL, behind Newark Catholic (17-1), Johnstown (16-2), Licking Valley (13-5), Granville (9-9), Licking Heights (8-10), Northridge (8-10), Utica (8-10) and Lakewood (5-13) and ahead of Heath (2-16).
The Warriors were seeded 41st of 47 teams in the Division I district tournament and faced ninth-seeded Dublin Coffman in the first round Feb. 15, with the winner playing 37th-seeded Canal Winchester in the second round Wednesday, Feb. 19, at the home of the higher seed. The second-round winner advances to a district semifinal Feb. 27 at Hamilton Township, where it likely would play sixth-seeded Zanesville.
Watkins Memorial lost to Canal Winchester 43-30 in its season opener Nov. 26.
Lexi Denison had 20 points and Vicki Smith scored nine against Granville, as the Warriors avenged a 51-47 loss to the Blue Aces on Jan. 9. Denison, Smith and Liz Fafiade all scored nine points against Licking Valley.
Postseason underway for wrestling team
The wrestling team played host to an 11-team Division I sectional tournament Feb. 15.
The top four placers in each weight class advanced to the district tournament, which will be held Friday, Feb. 21, and Saturday, Feb. 22, at Hilliard Darby.
Senior Dylan Scott (132 pounds), junior Andrew Lieb (126) and sophomore Dean Marek (106) were district qualifiers a year ago, along with 2013 graduates Nick Lancia (152) and Nick Holter (138). Lancia was a state qualifier last season, going 0-2.
This season, Scott has moved up to 138, Lieb is competing at 132 and Marek has moved up to 120. The top four finishers in each weight class at district advance to the state tournament.