It almost has become a foregone conclusion that Pickerington High School North girls basketball player Kavunaa Edwards is going to get her points.

It almost has become a foregone conclusion that Pickerington High School North girls basketball player Kavunaa Edwards is going to get her points.

The 6-foot senior led the district by averaging 21 points during the regular season and was nearly unstoppable during the second half, scoring a career-best 37 in a 67-32 victory Feb. 8 at Lancaster.

Opposing coaches, to little or no avail, have tried just about everything when it comes to defending the Villanova signee.

Edwards clearly has become the main attraction, but the key to a Division I district championship might rest with North's supporting cast.

If that's the case, then the fifth-seeded Panthers are off to a good start. Christy Macioce, a sophomore guard, scored a season-high 25 points and knocked down five 3-pointers during an 82-17 victory over Franklin Heights in a first-round tournament game Feb. 17 at Hamilton Township. She scored 14 points in the first quarter as North, which also got 18 points from Edwards, led 28-4.

"All of us supporting players have to step up," Macioce said afterward. "It can't be Kavunaa all the time."

Despite the obvious first-round mismatch, there was plenty for coach Dave Butcher to like as the Panthers improved to 16-5 overall while advancing to meet Olentangy Liberty in a second-round game on Thursday, Feb. 24, at Hamilton Township.

Another positive sign was 5-11 freshman Brittany Johnson's willingness to lower a shoulder while driving the baseline. Promoted to varsity after senior post player Paige Stought suffered a season-ending knee injury in late December, Johnson's emergence is even more important with 5-10 senior Jenna Andreas missing the postseason opener because of a sprained ankle.

Moreover, starting shooting guard Shelby Olszewski still is slowed by a knee injury and junior guard Taylor Jones hasn't returned from a wrist problem that has kept her out of the lineup for more than two months.

"Girls like Macioce and Johnson and (6-0 senior Jordan) Householder, those kids are going to have to play a bigger role for us moving forward because we're getting thinner and thinner," Butcher said. "Macioce had a great game (against Franklin Heights). One thing about her is that she went deep into (the) soccer (season), so she's just now getting better. She's going to be an outstanding player here, no question."

Liberty improved to 5-16 overall by eliminating Worthington Kilbourne 39-26 in a first-round game on Feb. 17 as Allyson VanGundy scored 10 points. VanGundy, a senior guard, is the school's all-time career scoring leader with more than 700 points.

Another victory would send the Panthers to a district semifinal on Tuesday, March 1, at Liberty. The opponent would be either ninth-seeded Upper Arlington or Watkins Memorial.

The Golden Bears won the OCC-Central Division title and were 16-5 after defeating Grove City 67-37 in their postseason opener. They also are strong on the perimeter behind Mary Corbett, who led the district during the regular season by converting 50.7 percent of her 3-point attempts (37 of 73), and Sarah Hobbs, who was right behind her at 48.1 percent (38 of 79).

Central coach Wade Brockwell was pleased with his team's effort in a first-round rout.

All 15 players on the roster got into the game and 14 of them scored in a 78-13 victory over Walnut Ridge on Feb. 19 at Hilliard Davidson. Jasmine Henshaw scored all 15 of her points in the first half as the Tigers led 46-10. Aajah Hawkins had 14 points, and the Tigers also got 32 points from their bench. That included six points each from Hilary Jacks and Melissa Weaver.

"We wanted to make sure we approached this game with the right mental aspect, and we did that," Brockwell said. "We just wanted to get our work in and move on."

The Tigers improved to 11-10 overall while advancing to meet fourth-seeded Watterson in a second-round game on Friday, Feb. 25, at Davidson. The CCL-champion Eagles are 17-3, which includes a 47-45 win over Pickerington North on Dec. 23. They defeated Whetstone 65-22 in a first-round game on Feb. 19 as Ashley Andracki scored 14 points.

"When you look up the word 'team' in the dictionary there should be a picture of Watterson," Brockwell said. "That's the way they play. They move the ball and pass the ball very effectively."

The Eagles have struggled of late shooting free throws, however. They missed 10 of 13 attempts in a 51-49 double-overtime loss to Hartley on Feb. 5, missing two with no time remaining in the first overtime. They missed 10 in a row during the final four minutes three days later en route to a 53-52 setback against Teays Valley, after holding a 33-19 halftime lead.

"We've hit a rough patch at the wrong time," Watterson coach Tom Woodford said at the time. "Making plays to win close games has been a strength for most of the season. We just need to play with confidence."

With a win, Central would advance to play in a district semifinal on Wednesday, March 2, at Liberty. The opponent would be either sixth-seeded Brookhaven or Westerville South. Entering that second-round game, the Bearcats were 14-5 and the Wildcats were 8-12.

AT A GLANCE

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Pickerington Central and North girls basketball teams:

CENTRAL

Feb. 19 - Defeated Walnut Ridge 78-13 in first round of Division I district tournament. Jasmine Henshaw scored 15 points to lead the Tigers, who had 14 players contribute to the scoring.

Feb. 25 - Fourth-seeded Watterson in second round, 8 p.m. at Hilliard Davidson. The teams did not meet in the regular season. Winner plays sixth-seeded Brookhaven or Westerville South in district semifinal, 8 p.m. March 2 at Olentangy Liberty. The Tigers didn't play either team in the regular season.

Of note: The Tigers are 11-10 overall and have won three of four.

NORTH

Feb. 17 - Def. Franklin Heights 82-17 in first round of Division I district tournament. Christy Macioce scored a season-high 25 points behind five 3-pointers to lead the fifth-seeded Panthers, who scored the game's first 21 points.

Feb. 24 - Olentangy Liberty in second round, 8 p.m. at Hamilton Township. The teams did not meet in the regular season. Winner plays ninth-seeded Upper Arlington or Watkins Memorial in district semifinal, 6 p.m. March 1 at Liberty. The Panthers didn't play either team in the regular season.

Of note: The Panthers are 16-5 overall and have won four consecutive games.