Given its seed, Olentangy Orange High School boys basketball coach Anthony Calo didn't think his team would get the chance to have a home game in the Division I district tournament.
The Pioneers are seeded 18th of 42 teams and will play host to an OCC-Capital Division rival, Franklin Heights, in the first round at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23. The Falcons are 8-14 and seeded 30th.
Orange, which is 12-9 overall and finished 8-6 in the OCC-Capital with a 58-43 loss to Delaware on Feb. 18, swept Franklin Heights in league play. The Pioneers won 66-44 on Jan. 4, behind 23 points from senior guard Nick Deitsch, 14 points from senior forward Tyler Dillard and 10 points from senior post player Brady Harris, and won 51-33 on Feb. 5 as Deitsch had 23 points and Dillard scored 14.
Forward Aaron Page led the Falcons with 10 points in the first contest and forward Ricardo Harris had a team-high 15 points in the second meeting.
"Being the 18th seed, we didn't think we would have this opportunity (for a home game), but we want to make the most of it," Calo said. "It's great to be able to have a home game like that and, hopefully, we'll have a big crowd to get us going."
The winner will play sixth-seeded Zanesville or 36th-seeded Lancaster in the second round. If Zanesville wins, it will play host to the game at 8 p.m. March 1 or 4 p.m. March 2. The game cannot be held Wednesday, Feb. 27, like the rest of the second-round games because Division II East District boys tournament games will be held at Zanesville that day.
If the Pioneers win and face Lancaster, the game will be played at 7 p.m. Feb. 27, at Orange.
The second-round winner will face fourth-seeded New Albany, 28th-seeded Mount Vernon or 34th-seeded Marysville in a district semifinal March 6 at Pickerington North.
Orange has not played Zanesville or Lancaster this season. The Blue Devils fell to 18-4 with a 60-47 loss to Westerville North on Feb. 16 and the Golden Gales are 4-18.
"It would be nice to win and get on a tournament run, but we have to get past Franklin Heights first," Calo said. "We have to get past the first one before we can think about anyone else."
Calo planned to emphasize that point to his players this week after a 53-50 loss to Watkins Memorial on Feb. 14. The Pioneers had won the first meeting, 64-35 on Jan. 11.
"After looking at the (game video), (the loss) wasn't from a lack of effort," Calo said. "Watkins just played really well. We can't hit the panic button. We just have to bring our hard hats and our lunch pails and get back to work. We have to stay positive and stay focused."
Deitsch scored 19 points in the loss to Watkins Memorial and Harris scored 16.
Orange defeated Thomas Worthington 50-37 on Feb. 12 behind 17 points from Deitsch, 12 from Dillard and nine from senior forward Declan Feery.
Braves open tourney against Golden Bears
Olentangy had won six of its previous eight games and was 13-8 overall before playing Marysville on Feb. 19.
Seeded 21st, the Braves will open in the Division I district tournament at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at home against 22nd-seeded Upper Arlington. Olentangy has not played the Golden Bears this season.
UA, which is led by junior guards Danny Hummer and Kevin Vannatta, was 11-10 after losing to Dublin Coffman 62-53 on Feb. 15.
"I'm pretty sure this is the first home tournament game we have had here," coach Chris Kelly said. "It's pretty exciting and hopefully we can sell the place out and have a great atmosphere."
The winner plays ninth-seeded Gahanna or 38th-seeded Teays Valley in the second round at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the home of the higher seed.
Gahanna was 16-5 before playing Delaware on Feb. 19 and Teays Valley improved to 7-15 with a 56-46 win over Williamsport Westfall on Feb. 16. The Braves have not played either team this season.
The second-round winner plays eighth-seeded Reynoldsburg, 26th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne or 37th-seeded Whetstone in a district semifinal March 6 at Westerville Central.
Olentangy lost to Delaware 66-53 on Feb. 15 to finish 10-4 in the OCC-Capital. Senior guard Erik Brandt had 13 points and senior guard Tyler Sobieray scored 10. Senior guard Seth Clark added nine points on three 3-pointers.
Patriots prepare for long layoff
Liberty concluded the regular season with a 75-49 win over Thomas Worthington on Feb. 15 to improve to 21-1 overall and wrap up the OCC-Central championship outright.
The Patriots went 13-1 in the OCC-Central, finishing ahead of Coffman (12-2), Westland (9-5), Thomas (8-6), Upper Arlington (8-6), Marysville (4-10), Hilliard Davidson (2-12) and Central Crossing (0-14).
Liberty is seeded third in the Division I district tournament behind Northland and Westerville North and has a first-round bye. The Patriots will play host to 23rd-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley or 29th-seeded Canal Winchester in the second round at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27.
Liberty's postseason opener comes 12 days after its final regular-season contest.
"We have some things planned like having some alumni come down and practice against us," coach Greg Nossaman said when asked about the layoff. "It will also give us some time to heal with players like (senior guard) Matt Muntean and (junior forward) Law Jones having banged-up ankles."
The Patriots have not played Tri-Valley or Canal Winchester this season. Tri-Valley was 15-7 after defeating New Concord John Glenn 47-38 on Feb. 15, and Canal Winchester improved to 10-12 with a 58-53 win over Chillicothe on Feb. 16.
The second-round winner plays 11th-seeded Westland, 15th-seeded Thomas, 24th-seeded Westerville Central or 27th-seed Briggs in a district semifinal March 6 at Marysville.
Against Thomas, senior guard Nick Nossaman had a team-high 14 points, including four 3-pointers. Also scoring in double figures were junior forward Mike DeLeon (13), Muntean (11) and senior guard Bo Scheper (10).