With a 60-46 win over Caledonia River Valley in its regular-season finale Feb. 19, the Watterson High School boys basketball team improved to 21-1, setting a program record for wins in a season.
While coach Vince Lombardo and his players are proud of that accomplishment, they didn't celebrate the milestone victory. Instead, they turned their attention toward the Division II district tournament.
The Eagles, who are seeded second of 27 teams and had a first-round bye, play host to 16th-seeded Mifflin in the second round at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28. The winner will face seventh-seeded Eastmoor Academy or 20th-seeded Big Walnut in a district semifinal at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, at Olentangy.
"We're excited about how well we've played thus far because we had a great regular season," Lombardo said. "Winning 21 games has given us a lot of confidence and belief in ourselves as a team, and we're hoping we can continue to build upon what we've done.
"But we also understand that it's now tournament time, which means you throw everyone's records out and start a new chapter in your season. The only thing that matters now is winning your next game, because it's one-and-done in the tournament."
Mifflin defeated 10th-seeded Bexley 61-55 in the first round Feb. 23 to improve to 10-13, as forward J. Murrell had 23 points and 12 rebounds and guard Javonte Bing scored 15 points.
"Mifflin's record may be close to .500, but when you play in the City League-North, you're well-tested against some of the best teams in our area," Lombardo said. "They have a couple kids who do a good job on the perimeter and a couple of big kids who are a threat inside.
"Mifflin has excellent team quickness and they apply good pressure defensively, but they also did a nice job of being patient on offense when they needed to against Bexley."
Watterson, which has won 15 consecutive games, did not play Mifflin, Eastmoor or Big Walnut during the regular season.
Post player Bryan Jackson is averaging 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, leading the Eagles in all three categories. Forward Matt Lehmann is averaging 10 points and seven rebounds, post player Matt Hughes is averaging 10 points, five rebounds and two assists, guard Cody Calhoun is averaging eight points, three assists and two steals and wing player Andy Grieser is averaging eight points.
"I'd like to see us use the same formula (in the postseason that) we've used all year," Lombardo said. "We need to spread the ball around until we get good looks, and we need to play good defense and do a good job with our rebounding. We definitely need to stay inside of their big guys and be aggressive on the glass because Mifflin has some formidable inside players."
Girls relay places 10th at state meet
The girls swimming and diving team was represented in the Division I state meet that concluded Feb. 23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton in three events.
The 200-yard medley relay of Madeline Grubbe, Carrie Horan, Sam Schuttinger and Josephine Fike placed 10th in a program-record 1 minute, 48.16 seconds.
Grubbe placed 19th in the 100 backstroke (58.75) and Horan finished 20th in the 100 breaststroke (1:07.13).
"I wasn't on the relay at the beginning (of the season)," Fike said. "I just joined (it) at district (Feb. 16 at Ohio State). We broke our school record there and we re-broke it (at state). We honestly didn't see this coming, but it's amazing."
Watterson scored 14 points at state to finish 34th, behind champion Cincinnati Ursuline (234) as 55 teams scored.
Girls basketball team falls in second round
The girls basketball team lost at fourth-seeded Dublin Coffman 68-35 in the second round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 20 to finish 13-11.
Guard Kamerine Taylor had a career-high 26 points to lead the Shamrocks, who outscored the 24th-seeded Eagles 15-2 in the first quarter and extended their lead to 37-12 by halftime.
Junior guard Makenzie Bevins had eight points and senior post player Alexis Mayle scored seven for the Eagles, who defeated 20th-seeded Westland 48-32 in the first round Feb. 15.
"Dublin Coffman's a very good team and they showed that they are 21-2 and the No. 4 seed for a reason," coach Tom Woodford said.
Watterson captured its sixth consecutive CCL title, as it went 6-2 to tie DeSales and Hartley for first, ahead of Ready (2-6) and Columbus School for Girls (0-8).
The Eagles swept Hartley, winning 42-38 on Dec. 5 and 49-41 on Jan. 19, but were swept by DeSales, losing 42-35 on Jan. 5 and 55-43 on Feb. 2. Hartley also swept DeSales, winning 41-33 on Jan. 12 and 31-30 on Feb. 9.
Watterson closed an up-and-down regular season by winning its last four games, including victories over Centennial (53-34 on Feb. 4) and Teays Valley (55-43 on Feb. 7).
"Both our wins over Hartley were big because it helped us keep our streak of six CCL titles going," Woodford said. "We were 7-9 at one point, but we turned our season around with wins over quality Centennial, Teays Valley and Westland teams at the end of the year."
Watterson loses five seniors in Mayle, guards Kayla Cook and Alex Statczar, forward Annie Gavin and center Emma Nikolai. Each saw significant playing time.
Cook and Mayle both averaged 9.5 points and were named first-team all-CCL.
Woodford plans to build his team around Bevins and junior point guard Emily Amen next season. Bevins averaged 9.5 points and was first-team all-CCL and Amen was second-team all-league.
"Our seniors had great chemistry and were strong leaders who were fun to work with," Woodford said.
"Our (junior varsity) team went 20-1 and our freshman team went 19-3 and both of them played an up-tempo style, so I can see us going back to being a team that runs and presses next year."
Carter, Eberhart bowl at district tournament
Junior Dave Carter of the boys bowling team rolled a 604 series to place 12th of 117 competitors in the district tournament Feb. 22 at HP Lanes.
The top three individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to the state tournament Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl. Newark's Austin Martin won the district title with a 728 and Granville's Jon Massey secured the final individual state-qualifying berth with a 657.
Senior Katie Eberhart of the girls team rolled a 457 to tie for 37th of 118 competitors at district Feb. 23 at HP Lanes.
Westerville Central's Savannah Slark (625) won the district title and North Union's Stormie Jamison (529) was the final state qualifier.
DiCarlo places sixth at district wrestling
Senior Nicky DiCarlo of the wrestling team went 2-3 and placed sixth at 145 pounds in the Division II district tournament Feb. 22 and 23 at Heath.
The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to the state tournament, which runs Thursday, Feb. 28, through Saturday, March 2, at Ohio State.
DiCarlo pinned Brookha-ven's Keandre Powell in 4:27 in his opening match and defeated Carrollton's Tristan Stallard 12-4 in a quarterfinal before being pinned by Max Rohskopf of Millersburg West Holmes in 2:57. He then lost to Minerva's Dalton Hartshorn 12-4 and was pinned by Mifflin's Alex Mills in 3:36.
DiCarlo finished 26-15 on the season.
Also competing at district was junior Michael Guza, who went 0-2 at 126 to finish 22-18. Guza lost to Steubenville's Anthony Craig 18-2 in his opening match before losing to Granville's Christian Price 15-1.
The Eagles finished 34th (10) behind champion Uhrichs-ville Claymont (182.5) as 42 teams scored.