In a 60-45 victory over Mount Vernon in the first round of the Division I girls basketball tournament Feb. 17, the Thomas Worthington High School girls basketball team's top concern was slowing down point guard Niki DiGuilio.

In a 60-45 victory over Mount Vernon in the first round of the Division I girls basketball tournament Feb. 17, the Thomas Worthington High School girls basketball team's top concern was slowing down point guard Niki DiGuilio.

As her team prepares to meet second-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley in the second round today, coach Laura Barr said the Cardinals need to be ready to face a smorgasbord of talent.

"We have to be ready for a combination of things," said Barr, whose team improved to 12-9 after defeating Mount Vernon. "They're very similar to teams we faced in our league and on our schedule. They're fundamentally strong like Upper Arlington, but they can run the fast break like Coffman."

Barr and the Cardinals got a first-hand look at Tri-Valley following their win over the Yellow Jackets. The Scotties improved to 20-0 after a 75-17 win over Whetstone on Feb. 17.

The game marks the second time this season Thomas Worthington faced the No. 2-ranked team in the state. The Cardinals defeated Upper Arlington 45-42 on Jan. 22 when the Bears were second.

"We know what to expect," said senior Erika Rousculp, whose team also scouted Tri-Valley before the tournament game Feb. 17. "UA and Tri-Valley are two different teams, but (beating the Bears) gives us the idea that we can beat them instead of being stuck in a 'This is a good team. I don't know if we can beat them' mode."

Tri-Valley, which finished 22-1 after losing to Northland 49-37 in a district semifinal last year, held the Braves to five field goals and forced 34 turnovers. Carly Young scored 18 points and Hannah Luburgh added 17 for Tri-Valley, which had a 26-0 run between the first quarter and second quarters. Twelve of the Scotties' 15 players scored. Tri-Valley made 30 of 64 field-goal attempts and was 10 of 16 from the line.

Thomas might be at height disadvantage against the Scotties, who have five players over 5-foot-10, including the 6-2 Young.

The Cardinals, winners of eight of their last 10 games, haven't won their tournament opener since a 49-42 victory over Reynoldsburg in the 2003-04 season. Barr said beating Mount Vernon was a big step.

"Some of the girls on this team don't realize how big this is, but in my three other years here, we never won a tournament game," Rousculp said. "It's nice to have our winning season and our first tournament win in six years my senior year."

Rousculp scored 17 of her game-high 26 points in the first quarter as Thomas jumped out to a 34-19 halftime lead.

The 60-point output was the most points the Cardinals have scored in the tournament since 2000. Natalie Carroll also scored 10 points. Brooklynn Martinez and Kelsey McAlpine each had seven points.

"Erika came out really strong and had several offensive rebounds and was able to get some steals off our press, which led to some easy baskets," Barr said. "Anytime she can get herself going like that, momentum swings in our favor. The other kids step up and look for each other."

Defensively, the Cardinals held DiGuilio, a Central Michigan signee, to just eight points. The senior point guard came into the game averaging 20.8 points and was an 84.1 percent free-throw shooter.

"We knew we had to find wherever Niki was at all times because at any moment she could go off," Barr said.

"She might miss a couple of shots here and there, but she can pour in 30 points."

Kilbourne also hasn't had much success in the postseason, losing its tournament opener six out of the last eight times since 2001.

However, the Wolves had 12 days to get ready for last Wednesday's game with Gahanna. The winner faces either Northland or Newark in a district semifinal Wednesday.

The Wolves have not faced the Lions, the Vikings or the Wildcats this season. Northland was 17-3 before meeting Newark. Newark, 8-12 overall before facing Northland last Wednesday, had lost its last three games and five of its last six games.

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Kilbourne and Thomas girls basketball teams:

KILBOURNE

Last Wednesday -- Played Gahanna in second round of Division I tournament.

Wednesday -- Last Wednesday's winner vs. Newark or Northland in a district semifinal at 8:15 p.m. at Olentangy Liberty. The district championship is at 7 p.m. on March 6 at Liberty. Possible opponents include second-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley, Thomas Worthington, Westerville North or Westerville South.

Of note: The Wolves were 3-16 overall before Wednesday and finished 2-12 (sixth) in OCC-Central.

THOMAS

Feb. 17 -- Defeated Mount Vernon 60-45 in first round of the Division I tournament. The Cardinals outscored the Yellow Jackets 14-6 in the second quarter. Erika Rousculp scored 26 points and Natalie Carroll added 10 points.

Today -- At Westerville Central vs. second-seeded Tri-Valley 8 p.m.

Wednesday -- Today's winner vs. Westerville South or Westerville North in a district semifinal at 6:15 p.m. at Liberty. The district championship is 7 p.m. on March 6 at Liberty. Possible opponents are Newark, Kilbourne, Northland or Gahanna.

Of note: The Cardinals are 12-9 overall and finished 8-6 (fourth) in OCC-Central.