Senior forward Megan Beidelman of the Olentangy High School girls basketball team has a painful memory from which she can draw whenever she's in need of motivation.
When she was in middle school, she learned that some people who had seen her play weren't impressed with her abilities.
Having recently committed to play for Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Beidelman has done her best to disprove those skeptics.
"It got around to my dad that some people said I'd never be a good basketball player," she said. "At Olentangy, I've tried to use my opportunity to get better. I wasn't the most talented middle school player, but it was motivating."
Olentangy might not have gotten off to a 7-1 start this season if not for Beidelman.
With senior forward Brooke Zwayer sidelined for the first eight games as she recovered from a knee injury, Beidelman put together a 23-point, 14-rebound performance in a 79-52 win over Granville on Dec. 4. She also had a pair of 16-point games during that stretch.
The Braves were 15-4 before playing Watkins Memorial on Feb. 5. Beidelman had a season-high 25 points in a 64-27 win over the Warriors on Jan. 4 and was averaging 11.4 points through 19 games.
As a freshman, Beidelman averaged five points for Worthington Christian. She transferred to Olentangy for her sophomore year and averaged 6.5 points and 6.1 rebounds that season. Last season, she averaged 10.2 points and eight rebounds and was named first-team all-OCC-Cardinal Division and honorable mention all-district in Division I.
"It's been really special," Beidelman said. "I came into a big class of basketball players at Olentangy. They had 12 players in my class and they welcomed me and took me in and made me feel a part of the team. I thank God every day for the circumstances to have the opportunity to play at Olentangy. It's a decision that's impacted my life in a positive way."
The Braves are seeded seventh of 43 teams for the district tournament and will play host to Hilliard Darby in the first round at 7 p.m. Feb. 16. The winner will play Mount Vernon or Westerville Central in the second round Feb. 20.
Also in their bracket are second-seeded Gahanna, sixth-seeded Westerville North, ninth-seeded Pickerington North and No. 12 Dublin Scioto.
The Braves have been a district runner-up each of the past three seasons.
"(Beidelman) works hard on her game," coach John Feasel said. "She puts a lot of time in. I'd seen Megan play in fourth, fifth (and) sixth grade (at Worthington Christian) because she lives in the (Olentangy school) district and I'd known her and her dad and they're good people. The most impressive thing is that she works hard at getting better. She's the first girl in the gym and the last to leave, and on our team, that's saying a lot. She does a good job of leading, too."
Defense helps Patriots string together wins
Liberty followed a stretch of five losses in six games by holding opponents to an average of 34.3 points during a three-game winning streak.
The Patriots were 12-7 before playing Hilliard Davidson on Feb. 5 and close the regular season Friday, Feb. 8, at home against Dublin Coffman.
Liberty is seeded 17th in the district tournament and will play host to Grove City in the first round at 7 p.m. Feb. 16. The winner will play Thomas Worthington or New Albany in the second round Feb. 20.
"When we lose our focus, we're just not very good," coach Ron Florey said. "For us, it's all about execution and being patient. We have some youth on this team and it's just been some growing pains.
"For us right now, we're not shooting the ball very well, but our defense is keeping us in games."
Liberty lost to Upper Arlington 47-32 on Dec. 14 but avenged the loss with a 44-30 win Feb. 2. Senior forward Kennedy Wilke had 14 points and freshman forward Alexa Fisher scored 10 points in the rematch.
Senior guard Maddie Redwine had 14 points and sophomore post player Kristen Levering scored 12 in a 50-38 win over Westland on Feb. 1.
"For us, it really needs to be a team effort," Florey said. "We don't have that one person who can get us 20 points every night. We need three or four showing up to play well."
Pioneers seeded third for district tourney
Orange received the third seed for the district tournament, behind Reynoldsburg and Gahanna.
The Pioneers will play host to Whetstone in the first round at 2 p.m. Feb. 16. The winner will play Chillicothe in the second round Feb. 20. Among the teams in Orange's bracket are fourth-seeded Dublin Coffman, fifth-seeded Northland and 11th-seeded Zanesville.
The Pioneers lost to Northland 69-59 on Dec. 10 but have not played Coffman or Zanesville this season.
Orange was 16-2 before playing Fairfield Union on Feb. 4 and had a chance to clinch the OCC-Capital Division championship outright Feb. 5 at Franklin Heights. The Pioneers were 12-0 in the league before Feb. 5 and close their league schedule Friday, Feb. 8, at Big Walnut.
Orange secured at least a share of the OCC-Capital title with a 61-39 win over Delaware on Feb. 1. Senior guard Mya Walker had 18 points and senior guards Maddy Joseph and Taylor Agler scored 11 and 10, respectively.
Sarah Sagerer, a 6-foot-1 post player and exchange student from Austria, had nine points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots.