Depth might be the biggest reason the Hartley High School girls basketball team is the highest seed in its Division II district tournament bracket.
On Dec. 15 during a 41-37 win over Westerville Central, the Hawks lost senior starting forward Anna Kirk to a season-ending knee injury.
Despite that, they won 12 of their next 14 to close the regular season and earned the third seed for the tournament. The Hawks beat DeSales 31-30 on Feb. 9 to share the CCL title at 6-2 with the Stallions and Watterson.
Hartley begins the postseason at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, at home against London, with the winner to play ninth-seeded Licking Valley or 12th-seeded Beechcroft in the second round Wednesday, Feb. 20, at a site to be determined. Seventh-seeded Granville, which beat the Hawks 48-43 on Nov. 26, could be the opponent if Hartley makes it to a district semifinal Feb. 27 at Gahanna.
Top-seeded Eastmoor Academy and second-seeded Brookhaven both went to the New Albany district bracket.
"Since we lost Anna to an ACL injury, we've done a really good job of getting people to fill in the space where she was," coach Mike Lanza said. "We still do miss her, especially her floor leadership, but at the same time we've done a good job of filling the hole. Our girls do a good job of sharing the ball."
Kirk averaged six points last season and led Hartley with 15 points in a 52-39 win over Centennial on Dec. 10.
Since that time, six players -- junior guard Alexis Britford, sophomore post player Marissa Brown, senior post player Jyla Hicks, senior guard LaQuana Hordge, junior guard Taylor Kilgore-Barr and senior forward Jaana Motton -- have led the Hawks in scoring in at least one game.
Last season, Hartley was the second seed but lost to eighth-seeded Mifflin 47-44 in a district semifinal.
"We have to make sure we take care of the basketball," Lanza said. "We are a running team, and running teams have a tendency to turn it over. The No. 1 thing our team needs to do is have a good focus on what we want to do."
Wrestling team to build from state duals
The wrestling team settled for a runner-up finish in the Division III, Region 22 bracket of the first state team tournament when it lost 44-16 on Feb. 6 at Northridge.
The Hawks will compete Friday, Feb. 15, and Saturday, Feb. 16, in a 14-team individual sectional tournament at Madison Plains.
Among the other top teams should be West Jefferson, which the Hawks beat 39-33 on Jan. 30 in the state team tournament.
"We've only got one senior, so (the regional runner-up team finish) will be a big motivator for next year," said junior Grant Rathburn, a 132-pounder. "I'm feeling good about our team."
Rathburn was 27-8 before Feb. 7, when Hartley was scheduled to have two dual matches. Junior Jacob Croswell (152/160) was 23-11, sophomore Kristopher Hill (113/120) was 24-7 and junior Patrick Moran (126) was 19-13.
The top four finishers in each weight class at sectional advance to the district tournament Feb. 22 and 23 at Duncan Falls Philo.
Last season, Rathburn was a state qualifier at 126 and Croswell and junior Jack Zang (145) were district qualifiers.
Hartley was fourth (131.5) in the Madison Plains sectional last season behind champion Amanda-Clearcreek (247), which also returns to the same sectional.
"If you look at what we've done so far this year, you'd probably consider us a little bit overachieving so far," coach Kevin Petrella said.
Boys basketball team refocuses for tourney
The boys basketball team's hopes of winning the CCL title took a big hit Feb. 5 when it lost 58-48 at Watterson, which also beat the Hawks 40-39 on Jan. 26.
Watterson then clinched the CCL title when it defeated St. Charles 45-38 in overtime Feb. 8 to improve to 7-0 in the league.
Hartley is 5-2 in the league and closes CCL play Friday, Feb. 15, at St. Charles.
Hartley was third in last week's area coaches poll behind Brookhaven and Watterson.
The district tournament begins Feb. 23.
In the second loss to Watterson, junior forward Kalil Morris scored a season-high 14 points and junior guard Chris Moxley had a team-high 16.
Swimming teams compete at sectional
The swimming teams competed Feb. 9 in a Division II sectional meet at Columbus Academy.
Andrea Cottrell won the girls 200-yard individual medley (2 minutes, 10.53 seconds) and Ronnie Bolden won both the boys 50 freestyle (22.09) and 100 butterfly (53.44) to advance to district Friday, Feb. 15, at Ohio State.
The top two placers in each swimming event at district automatically advance to the state meet Wednesday, Feb. 20, through Feb. 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
In addition, 16 at-large state berths will be awarded for each swimming event based on times statewide.
The top boys diver and top three girls divers at district advance to state.
At sectional, the girls team was fourth (120) behind champion Granville (339) as 24 teams scored.
The boys team was third (148) behind champion Gran-ville (279) as 21 teams scored.