From verbally committing to play football at the University of Michigan to returning to the basketball court for the first time in 13 days, Jake Butt of the Pickerington High School North boys team had an eventful week last week.

From verbally committing to play football at the University of Michigan to returning to the basketball court for the first time in 13 days, Jake Butt of the Pickerington High School North boys team had an eventful week last week.

After catching an elbow in his back during a practice in late January, Butt played three games before having to sit and heal for two weeks. But the Panthers' 6-foot-6 junior forward came back with a vengeance, scoring a game-high 19 points to power North past Dresden Tri-Valley 47-41 in a first-round Division I district tournament game Feb. 24 at Marysville.

"It felt pretty good to be back," said Butt, who missed the Panthers' last two regular-season games and wasn't cleared to play until Feb. 23.

He admitted after the game that his back still was sore.

"We played pretty strong in the first half. We just left it all out there," he said. "It slowed down in the second half a little bit, but we played really strong as a team."

North led 6-0 within the first 2 minutes, 17 seconds and was ahead 24-10 at halftime before the Scotties put together a fourth-quarter run. They outscored the Panthers 10-2 at the start of the period to get to 40-37 with 3:10 to play, but Joe Liptrap, Seth Gamby and DeVon Price combined to make four of five free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

"That first half was about as good a defense as we've played in a long time," coach Pete Liptrap said. "We had pretty good ball pressure and we were active help-side. Then in the second half, in the first few minutes of the fourth quarter, they scored as many points (10) as they had in all of the first half. But Tri-Valley has a good basketball tradition and like I told the players they weren't going to lay down. They got themselves back in the game and had a real chance to win it."

North had allowed fewer points only twice this season, in a 51-31 win over Lancaster on Jan. 3 and a 68-39 win over Groveport on Jan. 20. Asked for the keys to the strong defensive effort, Pete Liptrap didn't hesitate.

"It helps just having Butt back," he said. "You have to admire him for even trying to play. He made some key plays late in the game that were huge. There's no such thing as a bad tournament win. We're just happy to move on."

The Panthers improved to 12-9 and advanced to play Zanesville in a second-round game Feb. 28 at Marysville. The winner will play top-seeded Northland or Columbus West in a district semifinal at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, at Marysville. The semifinal winner will play 10th-seeded Grove City, Hilliard Davidson, Olentangy Orange or Reynoldsburg in a district final at noon March 10 in the Fairgrounds Coliseum.

North played Grove City and Reynoldsburg during OCC-Ohio Division play. The Panthers lost twice to Grove City, 71-59 on Jan. 13 and 60-47 on Feb. 17, and swept Reynoldsburg, winning 58-52 on Dec. 16 and 56-53 in overtime on Jan. 27.

•Fourth-seeded Central overcame a sluggish first half to rout Dublin Jerome 66-35 in its first-round Division I district tournament game Feb. 23 at Jonathan Alder.

The Tigers led 33-25 with 3:38 left in the third quarter but forced eight turnovers to key a 23-0 run spanning 6:52. Caris LeVert had 23 points, Connor Kern had 15 and Zach Beaver added 10 for the Tigers, who had defeated Jerome 78-62 in their fourth game of the season, Dec. 13 at Central.

"(Jerome) coach (Dave) Hale did a great job of switching up their defenses on us in the first half," coach Jerry Francis said. "(Jerome) played hard. We wanted to speed them up and we were able to do that in the second half with easy baskets off of our trap."

The Tigers improved to 19-2 and advanced to play Groveport in a second-round game Feb. 28 at Jonathan Alder. The winner will play eighth-seeded Westerville South or Westerville Central in a district semifinal at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, at Jonathan Alder. That winner will play fifth-seeded Westerville North, sixth-seeded Newark, Franklin Heights or Olentangy in a district final at 6 p.m. March 10 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.

Central split two OCC-Ohio games with Newark, winning 56-53 on Jan. 3 and losing 51-35 on Feb. 7.