It was no surprise to the Reynoldsburg High School boys basketball team that its first-round Division I district tournament game came down to a play in the final seconds.
In their 12th game decided by seven points or fewer, a tip-in by senior forward Josh McCoy with 1 second left gave the Raiders a 63-61 win over Chillicothe on Feb. 22 at home.
"It's just the fact that we never give up," McCoy said.
The 15th-seeded Raiders play host to 20th-seeded Briggs at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28, in a second-round game. The winner plays fifth-seeded Newark or 37th-seeded Westland in a district semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 4, at Olentangy Liberty. The district final is March 8 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.
While Reynoldsburg is 13-10, Briggs is 14-8 and had a first-round bye.
The Bruins feature senior Trevon Hester (13 points, 8 rebounds per game) and juniors Rodney Willis (14 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) and Malik Gore (11 points, 7 rebounds).
"(Briggs has) got some tough kids," coach Scott Davis said. "They will battle us. Everybody doesn't want their season to end right now."
If the Raiders end up playing Newark, it would represent a rematch of OCC-Ohio Division games they lost 69-63 on Jan. 8 and 48-46 on Feb. 7.
Chillicothe finished 14-8 despite being just the 28th seed.
Reynoldsburg trailed 54-46 with 6:40 remaining but went on an 11-2 run that included a three-point play by Chiante Palm with 2:46 to go.
The Cavaliers tied it at 61 with 15 seconds left on a 3-pointer by Tommy Bolte. On the ensuing possession, the Raiders' Travis Gleason took an off-balanced shot that McCoy grabbed and put in for the winning points.
"It just seems like every game for us comes down to the end," Davis said. "Nine of our games have come down to the buzzer, so we've been there before. We had some kids make some plays."
McCafferty twice reaches state podium
After coming up short of finishing in the top eight in the 100-yard backstroke each of the past two seasons, junior Morgan McCafferty of the girls swimming and diving team surpassed her previous Division I state meet experiences and reached the podium twice.
McCafferty, who was 12th (57.7 seconds) at state as a freshman and 10th (57.14) a year ago, turned in a sixth-place finish (56.62) on Feb. 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
She also placed seventh in the 200 individual medley (2:04.95) and scored 25 points, giving the Raiders a tie with Troy for 24th behind champion Cincinnati Ursuline (281) as 52 teams scored.
"I didn't go my best time (in the 100 back), but I finally broke 57 seconds at district and I'm happy with still breaking 57 (at state)," McCafferty said. "Getting sixth place, being sixth in the state, is just amazing."
McCafferty competed in the 200 IM during the postseason for the first time this winter.
"I attribute (my success) to my coaches," she said. "They really pushed me this season. All my friends and supporters pushed me to do my best.
"Maybe I dropped off at times and didn't try as hard, but I really refocused with this being my junior year. This is the year I get recruited. I had to step it up, and I did the best that I could."
Girls basketball team ready for semifinal
The next step toward what the girls basketball team hopes is a fifth consecutive Division I district title takes place at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27, at Bloom-Carroll when it faces 19th-seeded Westland.
The top-seeded Raiders would play 11th-seeded Gahanna or 12th-seeded Hilliard Bradley in a district final at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 1, at Ohio Dominican if they beat the Cougars.
The district champion plays Northland, Mount Vernon, Pickerington North or Westerville North in a regional semifinal at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, March 4, at Otterbein. The regional final is March 7 at the same site.
The Raiders beat 45th-seeded Columbus West 98-5 on Feb. 20 in the second round. Alyssa Rice (19 points) and Nicole Orr (16 points) were among 12 players to score for Reynoldsburg, which led 52-2 at halftime and held the Cowboys scoreless in the first and fourth quarters.
"We took the press off when we went ahead 8-0," coach Jack Purtell said.
While the Raiders are 20-4, Westland takes a 13-10 record into the district semifinal.
Senior guard Christina Simpson averages 14 points and nine rebounds for Westland, and senior guard Tanesha Dixon averages 11 points and 10 rebounds.
"They have a good guard in the Dixon girl," Purtell said. "They play a lot of 1-3-1 (zone). They're not very big, so I'm sure we'll try to get the ball inside."
Gahanna is 17-7 and Bradley is 18-6 entering their district semifinal Thursday, Feb. 27, at Bloom-Carroll.
Bradley has one of central Ohio's better inside tandems in juniors Meredith Miller (14 points, 7.5 rebounds) and Ashley Hummel (10.5 points, 7 rebounds), who are 5-foot-11 and 6-1, respectively.
Reynoldsburg beat Gahanna 63-41 on Dec. 17 but lost to the Lions 35-24 on Jan. 28. While the Raiders have won five in a row since that loss, the decision began a six-game winning streak for Gahanna.
The Lions are led by junior guard Sydney Stokes and senior post player Trinity Hunter.
Bowlers prep for district tourney
The bowling program will be represented in the Division I district tournament Saturday, March 1, at Eastland Lanes by the boys team and by two girls.
In a sectional Feb. 21 at Eastland Lanes, the boys finished 16th (3,376) of 40 teams behind champion Walnut Ridge (3,805) as the top 20 squads advanced.
Four girls competed for the Raiders, and juniors Michaela Johnson (43rd, 434) and Emily Harrell (68th, 386) advanced by finishing among the top 20 individuals not on qualifying teams.
The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams at district advance to state, which will be March 7 for boys and March 8 for girls at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Junior Chad Szczepanski led the boys team with a ninth-place finish (571) at sectional, followed by freshman Zach Starkey (tied for 36th, 526) and seniors Kyree South (40th, 524) and Nick Mahan (tied for 119th, 422).
Also competing in the girls sectional were junior Lauren Sampson (96th, 348) and senior Courtney Quappe (140th, 247).