During the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 22, the 15th-seeded Reynoldsburg High School boys basketball team rallied from an eight-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat 28th-seeded Chillicothe 63-61.
Most of the Raiders' close games this season didn't go their way, including a 63-59 loss to fifth-seeded Newark in a district semifinal March 4 at Olentangy Liberty.
With four key players eligible to return, Reynoldsburg hopes to end up on the positive side more often next season in games decided by six points or fewer. The Raiders were 4-8 in such games this winter.
"That's kind of been our season in a nutshell," coach Scott Davis said. "We lost a lot of close games."
The Raiders finished 14-11 overall and 8-6 in the OCC-Ohio Division, fifth behind tri-champions Gahanna, Newark and Pickerington Central (11-3) and Grove City (9-5), and ahead of Groveport (4-10), Pickerington North (2-12) and Lancaster (0-14).
Reynoldsburg beat 20th-seeded Briggs 65-49 in the second round of the district tournament Feb. 28. It then rallied from a 36-23 deficit to lead 44-43 against Newark, but couldn't complete the comeback.
The Raiders also lost to Newark 69-63 in overtime Jan. 8 and 48-46 on Feb. 7.
Reynoldsburg loses a five-member senior class led by guards Travis Gleason (9.3 points per game) and Tyrek Pugh (4.9 ppg) and forwards Chiante Palm (7.6 ppg) and Josh McCoy (4.8 ppg). Gleason was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Junior Lloyd Chatman led in scoring average (12.2 points) and made special mention all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Freshman Jarius Ward averaged 8.3 points and made honorable mention all-league. Junior forwards Ashton Dulin and Devon Peart, sophomore guard Mark Fair (5.5 ppg) and freshmen forwards Reece Strohm (4.3 ppg) and J.J. Cooper also are eligible to return.
"We had a lot of young guys that got a lot of good experience," Davis said. "But we'll miss our seniors."
Two district qualifiers to return in wrestling
Of the six Division I district qualifiers on the wrestling team, junior Christian Eubanks (heavyweight) and sophomore Dominic Hathaway (120 pounds) are eligible to return.
Hathaway placed second at sectional and went 1-2 at district to finish 25-15, while Eubanks was third at sectional and 1-2 at district to finish 34-12.
James Love (182), who became the first state qualifier for the Raiders since 2010, led the senior class. He went 1-2 at state, which was held Feb. 27-March 1 at Ohio State, scoring three points to give the Raiders a tie for 59th behind champion Massillon Perry (185) as 78 teams scored.
"If you'd have told me we'd get six to district and one to state, I'd have been pretty pleased at the beginning of the year," coach Jared Ball said. "We're going to be young next year, but we'll be competitive."
Love was second in the 11-team sectional Feb. 15 at Watkins Memorial as the Raiders finished fourth (122.5) behind champion Delaware (248.5). He then finished fourth at district Feb. 21 and 22 at Hilliard Darby as the Raiders were 24th (23) behind champion Marysville (147.5) as 37 teams scored.
Love went 34-9 this season and 94-45 for his career.
Reynoldsburg was sixth (2-5) in the OCC-Ohio behind Pickerington Central (7-0), Lancaster (6-1), Pickerington North (5-2), Grove City (4-3) and Gahanna (3-4) and ahead of Groveport (1-6) and Newark (0-7).
Also competing at district were seniors Jalen Jones (132), Nathan Smiley (126) and Raphael Turner (220). Smiley was third at sectional and went 1-2 at district to finish 26-14. Turner was second at sectional and 1-2 at district to finish 35-10.
Jones was fourth at sectional but did not compete at district because of an educational opportunity, according to Ball. He finished 9-10.
Also placing at sectional were senior Andrew McBane, who was sixth at 152 and finished 14-11, and sophomore Sage Finnerty, who was sixth at 195.
Also eligible to return are junior Trevor Keating (138) and freshmen Rhett Griffen (145) and Alen Matheny (160).
Most of top bowlers to return
Several expected returnees for the boys and girls bowling teams competed in the Division I district tournament March 1 at Eastland Lanes.
Junior Chad Szczepanski led the boys team to an 18th-place finish (3,173) in the 20-team district tournament behind champion Westerville South (3,815). He finished 31st (522), followed by senior Jacob Debrock (43rd, 504), freshman Zach Starkey (66th, 467) and senior Nick Mahan (80th, 428).
Szczepanski was ninth (571) at sectional Feb. 21 at Eastland Lanes as the Raiders were 16th (3,376) behind champion Walnut Ridge (3,805) and the top 20 teams advanced.
The girls team did not have enough competitors to post a team score at sectional, but junior Michaela Johnson finished 43rd (434) and classmate Emily Harrell was 68th (386) to advance to district. Also competing at sectional were junior Lauren Sampson (96th, 348) and senior Courtney Quappe (140th, 247).
At district, Johnson was 46th (422) and Harrell placed 49th (415).
The girls team finished 9-5 overall and third (8-3) in the 14-team Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-South behind Briggs (13-0) and Whitehall (12-1).
The boys were 9-8 overall and sixth (8-5) in the 16-team COHSBC-South behind champion Teays Valley (13-1).
"The girls ended up third in the (league) and we only had four bowlers for the second half of the season," coach Jean Martin said. "We'll just need to fill in with a few more bowlers and we'll be good to go for next year."