Intent on using its bench during a second-round Division I district tournament game Feb. 28 against visiting Briggs, the Reynoldsburg High School boys basketball team built an early lead and then began substituting in five players simultaneously.
The result was a 65-49 victory over the 20th-seeded Bruins that moved the 15th-seeded Raiders into a district semifinal March 4 against fifth-seeded Newark.
"It was a nice win," coach Scott Davis said. "We knew they were decent and that they have some good athletes. The big key was getting control early. We went up 19-7 at one point and starting shuttling in five at a time. They use shorter courts in the City (League) and we talked about how we wanted to wear them down."
The Raiders were 14-10 and Newark was 19-4 entering their matchup. The Wildcats beat Reynoldsburg 69-63 on Jan. 8 and 48-46 on Feb. 7 in OCC-Ohio Division play.
The winner plays seventh-seeded Walnut Ridge or ninth-seeded Dublin Coffman in a district final at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 8, at the Fairgrounds Coliseum. The Scots were 19-4 and the Shamrocks were 17-5 entering their matchup.
The district champion plays Northland, Teays Valley, Westerville Central or Delaware in a regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 12, at the Fairgrounds. The regional final is March 15 at the Fairgrounds.
The Raiders, who advanced to at least a district semifinal for the third consecutive season, got 13 points from Chiante Palm, 12 from Lloyd Chatman and 11 from Reece Strohm against Briggs.
"Chiante got to the rim and did some nice things," Davis said. "We seemed to have a good balance with (three) guys in double figures and a couple with seven."
Top players for Coffman include senior guard Nate Alexrod, sophomore guard Seth Fuller and sophomore post player Luke Vargo, who is 6-foot-7.
Walnut Ridge features senior guard Dymiere Finch and sophomore forwards Malik Harrison and Tarik Wright.
Love closes career at state wrestling
After never previously getting past the sectional level, senior James Love's prep career ended in the Division I state wrestling tournament at Ohio State.
On Feb. 27, Love opened state at 182 pounds by getting pinned by Oregon Clay sophomore Matt Stencel in 3 minutes, 45 seconds. He bounced back that night, however, to pin Uniontown Green senior Jake Gladwell in 3:27.
Love's season ended in the next round Feb. 28 when he was pinned by Lakewood St. Edward senior Gabe Dzuro in 30 seconds.
With the 1-2 finish at state, Love closed the season at 34-9.
Stencel was the state runner-up and Dzuro finished third.
"(Stencel was) in the finals, and (Love) had him on his back," coach Jared Ball said. "Of all the matches I saw (Stencel) wrestle, he battled as hard as any of them with James. ... It was a kind of a topsy-turvy match (against Gladwell) but he ended up pinning him. In his last match, whenever you run into a St. Edward kid, you know you're wrestling a good kid. I'm pretty proud of his season."
Love, who was Reynoldsburg's first state qualifier since 2010, scored 3 points to give the Raiders a tie for 59th behind champion Massillon Perry (185) as 78 teams scored.
Bowling season ends at district
Neither the boys nor girls bowling teams had any competitors advance to state.
On March 1 in the 20-team Division I boys district tournament at Eastland Lanes, the Raiders placed 18th (3,173) behind champion Westerville South (3,815) as the top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced.
Junior Chad Szczepanski was 31st (522), followed by senior Jacob Debrock (43rd, 504), freshman Zach Starkey (66th, 467) and senior Nick Mahan (80th, 428). Senior Kyree South and junior Michael Ridenour also competed.
Competing in the girls district tournament were junior Michaela Johnson (46th, 422) and junior Emily Harrell (49th, 415).
Most of swimming teams to return
Junior Morgan McCafferty, who made it to state for the third consecutive season, is expected to be back next year to lead the swimming and diving program.
In the Division I state meet Feb. 20-22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton, McCafferty finished sixth in the 100-yard backstroke (56.62 seconds) and seventh in the 200 individual medley (2:04.95).
Her performance helped the Raiders tie for 24th (25) behind champion Cincinnati Ursuline (281) as 52 teams scored.
The only senior on the girls team was Sara Kohs, who was a district qualifier in the 100 back.
Also eligible to return are juniors Marisa Glusich and Leah Svoboda, sophomores Brianna Abele, Alexis Anderson, Katie Crawford and Acadia Gaver and freshmen Gabby Caroselli, Davionna Dawes, Reagan Duchesne, Brittney Graves and Abby Hutson-Comeaux.
The girls took second (222) in the OCC-Ohio Division meet Jan. 25 at Thomas Worthington behind Gahanna (354.5) and followed with a fourth-place finish (117) in a 13-team sectional Feb. 8 at Upper Arlington behind the champion and host Golden Bears (494).
Reynoldsburg was 11th (84) at district Feb. 14 and 15 at Ohio State behind champion UA (522.5) as 24 teams scored.
The boys team had one senior in D.J. Jenkins, who missed most of the season with injuries.
Competing during the postseason were juniors Hayden Stratman and Devin Wooddell, sophomores Christian Morgan and Christian White and freshman Aaron Bryan.
The boys were last (27) in the OCC-Ohio meet behind champion Pickerington North (330) and last (8) of 11 teams at sectional behind champion St. Charles (341). They did not have any district qualifiers.
"Everybody swam well and improved dramatically," first-year coach Brian Kocher said. "I was really happy for Morgan that she did so great at state. We have five boys, so hopefully we'll have some more boys on the team next year."