Members of the Reynoldsburg High School boys basketball team sprinted around the court in celebration March 10 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum after a 53-51 upset win over top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Northland landed the program its second Division I district championship.

Members of the Reynoldsburg High School boys basketball team sprinted around the court in celebration March 10 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum after a 53-51 upset win over top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Northland landed the program its second Division I district championship.

It was an unpredictable high point to the season considering where things appeared to be headed in early December.

The Raiders lost to Westerville South 74-53 on Dec. 2 in their opener and then fell to Grove City 62-60 on Dec. 6.

Reynoldsburg bounced back with a 52-38 win over Newark on Dec. 9 in the first game in its new gym, but coach Chris Rider wasn't on the sidelines after being placed on paid leave for one game because of an unspecified complaint that later was resolved.

Although the Raiders lost their next two games and entered the postseason just two games above .500, they made a run through the tournament that ended with a 57-49 loss to Canton McKinley in a regional semifinal March 14 at the Fairgrounds.

Junior forward Wendell Davis believes he and his teammates learned through the early-season trials on the way to a 14-10 overall finish.

"We started off the season very badly and lost a lot of close games," Davis said. "But that kind of helped us out in the long run."

Davis' development was among the keys to the Raiders' strong postseason.

During a 56-53 overtime loss to Pickerington North on Jan. 27, he missed what would have been a winning 3-pointer late in regulation.

The Raiders responded by winning their next three games before losing consecutive OCC-Ohio Division contests to Gahanna (39-38 on Feb. 10) and Pickerington Central (62-53 on Feb. 17) to close the regular season.

Seeded 15th in the district, Reynoldsburg upset ninth-seeded Olentangy Orange 45-37 in the second round on March 1 after a first-round bye and defeated Hilliard Davidson 57-47 in a district semifinal on March 7.

Against Northland, Davis scored 17 points, including the winning basket as time expired. With the game tied at 51, he grabbed a rebound, drove the length of the court and dropped in a running shot.

Davis had 28 points against McKinley. The Raiders led 11-2 after the first quarter and 24-17 at halftime, but they were outscored 21-6 by the Bulldogs in the third quarter.

Reynoldsburg cut its deficit to 47-45 with 1:47 left, but Davis lost the ball out of bounds with 1:16 to go and then, with McKinley leading 49-45 with 55 seconds left, he missed a layup.

The Bulldogs made seven of eight free throws during the final 1:07 and finished 11-for-15 from the foul line. Reynoldsburg shot just 15-for-47 from the field and 19-for-31 from the free-throw line.

"(Against McKinley), one of our nemeses returned," Rider said. "We just went cold."

Reynoldsburg finished 7-7 in the OCC-Ohio to tie Pickerington North for fifth, behind Pickerington Central (13-1), Newark (11-3), Gahanna (8-6) and Grove City (8-6) and ahead of Lancaster (2-12) and Groveport (0-14).

Davis made first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district and averaged 14.1 points and eight rebounds. Also eligible to return are juniors Jaylen Givens (3.3 points per game) and Mykel Traylor-Bennett (4.8 ppg) and sophomore Travis Gleason (4.0 ppg).

The Raiders lose six seniors in Ryan Carter (6.8 ppg), Algie Johnson, Spencer Kirksey (8.0 ppg), Chris Lee (3.5 ppg), Doni Moody and R.J. Raglin (5.0 ppg). Carter was honorable mention all-league.

"This is my 15th year, and I've had a lot of good players and a lot of good kids," Rider said. "This team just hung in there. We played awfully hard. Very rarely did a team outhustle us or outplay us."

•SHINING MOMENT - During a halftime contest of the Reynoldsburg girls basketball team's state semifinal against Twinsburg on March 16 at Ohio State, Kirksey won a $100 gas card by making a layup, free throw and 3-point shot in 30 seconds.