A rough stretch in late January didn't prevent the Reynoldsburg High School girls basketball team from capturing its fourth consecutive OCC-Ohio Division championship.
On Feb. 7, the Raiders won 43-36 at Newark to finish 12-2 in the league after going 14-0 each of the past three seasons.
Newark and Gahanna went 10-4 in the league and Pickerington Central was 9-4 before playing Pickerington North on Feb. 11.
Reynoldsburg lost back-to-back games to Pickerington Central (61-57 on Jan. 24) and Gahanna (35-24 on Jan. 28) but bounced back to close the OCC-Ohio schedule with wins over Pickerington North (46-37 on Jan. 31), Lancaster (62-18 on Feb. 4) and Newark.
"We had that bump in the road and it made us stronger as a team," junior wing player Courtney Purtell said. "(Winning the league is) a good feeling."
The Raiders earned a season sweep over Newark even though senior post player Alyssa Rice, their leading scorer, was held to six points in the second-round matchup. Senior forward Nicole Orr made four 3-pointers and scored 16 points, Purtell made three 3s and had 10 points and Rice had 13 rebounds.
Reynoldsburg also beat Newark 44-40 on Jan. 8.
"I think we've realized we have to give everyone touches to win games," Purtell said. "We all play very important roles."
Reynoldsburg takes an 18-4 overall record into its Division I district tournament opener Monday, Feb. 17, at home against 47th-seeded Groveport.
The top-seeded Raiders, who have won four consecutive district championships, beat the Cruisers 78-16 on Nov. 29 and 90-18 on Jan. 10.
"We knew we had a share of the (league title) going in (to the Newark game) but we wanted to play well, it was a nice crowd and we had some really solid efforts," coach Jack Purtell said. "We made eight 3s, which is pretty good.
"Basketball's a long season and we haven't had many valleys the last few years, but we lost a couple close games and I like how the kids responded after that."
Boys basketball team preps for tourney
Despite losing 48-46 to Newark on Feb. 7, the boys basketball team still had a chance to guarantee itself a winning record if it won its final two regular-season games.
The Raiders were 10-10 overall before playing Dublin Scioto on Feb. 11 and Groveport on Friday, Feb. 14, in their OCC-Ohio finale.
Reynoldsburg is 7-6 in the league.
The Raiders are seeded 15th in the Division I district tournament and open the postseason Feb. 22 at home against 28th-seeded Chillicothe.
"I'm happy our guys have worked hard and stayed positive," coach Scott Davis said. "We feel like we can compete with anybody."
If the Raiders win their first two tournament games, they could get a third meeting with Newark, which is seeded fifth, in a district semifinal.
Reynoldsburg, which also lost to the Wildcats 69-63 on Jan. 8, got a 3-pointer from Lloyd Chatman with 15 seconds to go to tie the rematch at 46. Newark's Khale Woods scored the game-winner with 2.6 seconds left.
Jarius Ward made three 3-pointers and scored 11 points and Chiante Palm added 10 points for Reynoldsburg.
The Raiders have gone 3-7 in games decided by six points or fewer, but one of those wins came against the district's second seed, Gahanna, 51-50 on Jan. 28.
Swimmers advance to district in 8 events
The girls swimming team will compete in eight events in the Division I district meet at Ohio State. The swimming competition and girls diving take place Saturday, Feb. 15, with boys diving Friday, Feb. 14.
On Feb. 8 in a sectional meet at Upper Arlington, the girls placed fourth (117) of 13 teams behind champion UA (494).
Morgan McCafferty won the 100-yard backstroke (58.58) and took third in the 200 individual medley (2:11.25). She also swam on the runner-up 200 medley relay (1:54.19) with Acadia Gaver, Marisa Glusich and Leah Svoboda and on the second-place 400 free relay (3:51.6) with the same swimmers.
The boys finished last (8) of 11 teams at sectional behind champion St. Charles (341) and did not have any district qualifiers.
Girls bowlers compete in roll-off
The girls bowling team got a tune-up for the postseason Feb. 8 when it was one of 11 teams from the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference to compete in the Conference Roll-Off tournament at Holiday Lanes.
The Raiders placed last (2,027) behind champion Briggs (3,293) as Michaela Johnson finished ninth (573).
The boys and girls teams will compete in the Division I sectional Feb. 21 at Eastland Lanes.