The Reynoldsburg High School boys basketball team could be on a collision course to face a league champion in its Division I district tournament opener after a near two-week break between games.

The Reynoldsburg High School boys basketball team could be on a collision course to face a league champion in its Division I district tournament opener after a near two-week break between games.

While that combination might seem daunting to a team that is 11-9 and lost its final two regular-season contests, the Raiders don't believe their record is an accurate portrayal of the qualities they possess.

The fact that Reynoldsburg gets to face an opponent outside the OCC-Ohio Division after getting what it believes is a much-needed rest is attractive to coach Chris Rider and a group of weary players.

The Raiders, who are seeded 15th in the district and have a first-round bye, play ninth-seeded Olentangy Orange or 30th-seeded Canal Winchester in the second round at 6 p.m. March 1 at Marysville.

Orange earned a co-championship in the OCC-Capital and is 15-5 heading into its matchup against Canal Winchester on Thursday, Feb. 23, at Marysville. Canal Winchester, which is in the MSL-Buckeye Division, improved to 10-10 with a 60-46 win over Fairfield Union on Feb. 17 and enters the postseason on a four-game winning streak.

"The bye will give us a chance to reboot, and we'll get to play somebody in a different league," Rider said.

By the time they next compete, the Raiders are hoping they'll be over any potential hangover from losing their regular-season finale to Pickerington Central 62-53 on Feb. 17.

Reynoldsburg led Central 12-8 late in the first quarter and held the advantage for most of the first half before the Tigers took a 27-24 lead into halftime.

Although Central led by as many as five points in the third quarter and built a 58-50 lead with 1 minute, 20 seconds to go, junior guard Jaylen Givens hit a 3-pointer to cut the Raiders' deficit to 58-53 with 1:12 left.

However, from that point on, the Tigers made four of six free throws and kept Reynoldsburg from scoring.

"At the end, we just kind of rushed some things and got into a little bit of a panic," said junior forward Wendell Davis, who scored 15 of his team-high 20 points against Central during the second half. "Before that, we were playing as a team and making the extra passes."

The Raiders also lost 60-47 to Central on Jan. 13. Seeded fourth in the district, the Tigers won the OCC-Ohio at 13-1 and closed the regular season with an 18-2 record.

Newark finished second in the OCC-Ohio at 11-3, followed by Gahanna (8-6), Grove City (8-6), Pickerington North (7-7), Reynoldsburg (7-7), Lancaster (2-12) and Groveport (0-14).

"We got a good tournament draw," Davis said. "We're not overlooking any team, but we like our chances. Last year we lost our first tournament game, but we've got a lot more maturity. I think the main thing is that we get some rest. This two weeks is going to be big for (senior guard) Chris (Lee), (senior post player Ryan) Carter, (senior guard) Spencer (Kirksey) and me because we've all played a lot of minutes."

Among Orange's top players is 6-foot-4 senior forward Andy Bosley, who had 29 points in a 70-51 win over Franklin Heights on Feb. 7 and scored 25 in a 63-46 win over Delaware on Feb. 17. He is averaging 16 points.

Other key players for the Pioneers are 6-1 junior guard Nick Dietsch, 5-11 senior guard Matt Kurelic and 6-4 junior post player Tyler Dillard. Dietsch had 20 points against Delaware.

Through 19 games, junior guard Thomas Nolan was averaging a team-high 13.4 points for Canal Winchester, followed by sophomore point guard Shemar Waugh (12.5) and senior forward Austin Whitlatch (8.5).

Last season, the Raiders lost their final two regular-season games and then fell to Independence 57-46 in the first round of the district tournament.

Several players are back from that team, including Carter, Davis, Kirksey, Lee and senior guard R.J. Raglin.

"It's not been one thing that's hurt us," Rider said. "It's frustrating because these guys play so hard. When you look at the top six in our league, all of them were among the top 15 seeds. Our league is good. Normally, I wouldn't want a bye, but we've got a couple guys that have logged a lot of minutes and this will give their legs a chance to freshen up.

"We've been in so many games that we haven't closed like we want to, but I do think our guys know they can beat anybody."