The experience the Hartley High School girls basketball team gained from playing in its first regional tournament since 2001 should benefit the Hawks in the future.
At least that's the belief of coach Mike Lanza, whose team lost to Millersburg West Holmes 59-49 in a Division II regional semifinal March 5 at Zanesville.
West Holmes, which has won four district titles in five seasons and last year was the state runner-up, followed its win over the Hawks by defeating Fairfield Union 59-44 in a regional final March 8.
"It was our first district title (since 2001) and I think (West Holmes was) kind of used to being in that kind of atmosphere," Lanza said.
"They lost in the state championship game last year. We were beating them at halftime, but you knew they were going to come out swinging in the second half. I don't think we matched their intensity."
Hartley, which led 17-16 at halftime but was outscored 19-11 in the third quarter, finished 21-5 overall. West Holmes enters the state tournament 26-1.
Senior forward Jaana Motton, who was first-team all-district, had 10 points for Hartley
Motton averaged 10 points and nine rebounds to lead a four-member senior class that also included post player Jyla Hicks (4.7 points per game) and guard LaQuana Hordge (4.1 ppg). Senior guard Anna Kirk missed all but seven games with a knee injury.
The top returnee should be sophomore post player Marissa Brown, who averaged 9.3 points and joined Hicks and Motton as first-team all-league players. Hicks and Brown both were honorable mention all-district.
Junior guard Alexis Britford (4.4 ppg) was second-team all-league. Also eligible to return are junior guard/forward Taylor Kilgore-Barr (5.6 ppg) and sophomore guard Ariel Packer (4.7 ppg).
Hartley earned a share of the CCL title with Watterson and DeSales, going 6-2 to finish ahead of Ready (2-6) and Columbus School for Girls (0-8).
In the postseason, the Hawks beat London (64-23 on Feb. 16), Licking Valley (49-39 on Feb. 20), Granville (47-31 on Feb. 27) and DeSales (53-44 on March 1) to win a district title.
Hartley also defeated DeSales 41-33 on Jan. 12 and 31-30 on Feb. 9.
"I thought our senior class did a really good job of restarting the tradition of Hartley girls basketball," Lanza said.
"I think we really need to work on our outside shooting game in the offseason. I think we've made good strides in the way we approach the game, but shooting is one thing we need to develop."
Boys team to focus on offense
Boys basketball coach Randy Kortokrax doesn't mind if his players stay busy with other sports during the offseason, as long as they dribble a basketball from time to time as well.
Because the Hawks have had several players who also competed for the football team, which made long playoff runs each of the last three years, Hartley has been forced to start those seasons in mid-December.
This season, the Hawks opened Dec. 15 and played 10 games in January and six in February.
Because of offensive struggles and injuries to three regulars, Hartley battled with consistency and lost its Division II district tournament opener 51-48 to Marion-Franklin on Feb. 28.
The fifth-seeded Hawks finished 12-9 overall.
"We've got to have a little bit better luck with injuries and we have to work at the game in the offseason, particularly with our shooting," said Kortokrax, who is 196-115 in 14 seasons.
"For three years, football has done a great job, but that's three years in a row that football guys have come in seven weeks late and some of them haven't picked up a basketball since June. The important thing is for our football guys to be shooting in the offseason."
Hartley had five seniors led by post player Jacob Matuska (10.8 ppg) and guards Trevonn Brown (7.4 ppg) and Kris Little (4.7 ppg).
The Hawks tied St. Charles for second in the CCL at 5-3, behind Watterson (8-0) and ahead of DeSales and Ready (both 1-7).
Hartley beat eventual Division III district champion Bloom-Carroll 75-70 on Jan. 30 but lost four of its last five to close the regular season.
The top returnees should be junior guards Chris Moxley (11 ppg) and Drew Onega and junior forwards Kalil Morris and Jared Brandewie.
Matuska made third-team all-district and Onega was honorable mention all-district.
Coach: Wrestlers may have 'overachieved'
Despite having just one senior in Christian Baker (138 pounds), the wrestling team was a regional runner-up in the inaugural Division III state team tournament and had six district qualifiers and two state qualifiers.
"I thought we overachieved," coach Kevin Petrella said. "Part of that is this is the first time I've had so many kids really love wrestling. They talk about it all the time and they watch it."
Hartley fell short in its bid to defend its CCL championship. The Hawks scored 238 points in the league tournament Feb. 2 to finish second, behind St. Charles (263) and ahead of Ready (149), host DeSales (137) and Watterson (79).
The second-seeded Hawks opened the state dual tournament with wins over Bainbridge Paint Valley (53-28 on Jan. 23) and Chillicothe Southeastern (63-9 on Jan. 30) and upset top-seeded and host West Jefferson 39-33 on Jan. 30 to advance to the Region 22 final. Hartley then fell 44-16 on Feb. 6 at Northridge to earn a runner-up finish.
The Hawks began the individual postseason by placing third (142) in the 14-team sectional Feb. 15 and 16 at Madison Plains behind Amanda-Clearcreek (258) and West Jefferson (152). Advancing to district were juniors Jacob Croswell (160, third at sectional) and Grant Rathburn (132, second), sophomores Kristopher Hill (113, first) and Jack Zang (145, second) and freshmen Jared Croswell (195, fourth) and Luke Wulf (106, fourth).
At district Feb. 22 and 23 at Duncan Falls Philo, Hartley was 15th (44.5) behind champion Amanda-Clearcreek (147.5) as 54 teams scored. Rathburn was second and Hill took third to advance to state. Wulf went 0-2 to finish 8-12, Zang was 2-2 to finish 21-14, Jacob Croswell went 0-2 to finish 29-14 and Jared Croswell went 0-2 to finish 14-14.
Hartley tied for 53rd (9) at state behind champion Troy Christian (95.5) as 94 teams scored. Hill went 3-3 and placed sixth for a final record of 36-11 and Rathburn was 1-2 to finish 35-12.