Neighbors propels South girls to victory
Behind a sensational performance from guard Morgan Neighbors, the Westerville South High School girls basketball team won its first Division I district tournament game in three seasons.
With guard Erica Aiello playing through illness, Neighbors took up the offensive slack. She scored 32 points to lead the Wildcats to a 52-39 victory over Teays Valley on Feb. 19 at Hamilton Township in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
"She played phenomenal," coach Silas Williams said. "She had a couple of games like that in the beginning of the season. Going into that game, it was one of those games that I thought was pretty even."
It was Neighbors' second 30-point game of the season. She had 34 in a 59-53 win over Olentangy Liberty on Dec. 3.
The Wildcats improved to 8-12 and will play Brookhaven at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25 at Hilliard Davidson. Teays Valley finished 15-4.
The sixth-seeded Bearcats are led by Indiana State recruit Travecia Franklin, a guard who averages 8.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists.
The Bearcats' other Division I-signees, guard Briana Holmes (Marist) and forward Marah Morris (Indiana State), are out.
Morris sustained a season-ending injury in December and Holmes was ruled ineligible on Jan. 21.
At the time Holmes was leading the team in scoring at 14.5 points per game.
"They're going to be a tough out, and they have the advantage of being able to watch us," Williams said. "Hopefully we can get something on them. We have a better shot with (Holmes) not being in there."
The winner plays at 8 p.m. March 2 at Olentangy Liberty against fourth-seeded Watterson or Pickerington Central. The Wildcats did not play either team during the regular season.
Central defeated Walnut Ridge 78-13 in the first round of the district tournament to improve to 11-10. The Eagles were 17-3 after defeating Whetstone 65-22 on Feb. 19.
The Wildcats' last tournament victory was 44-42 over Independence in a first-round game on Feb. 9, 2008.
•The boys basketball team lost its first regular-season game in two years, dropping the season finale to Olentangy Liberty 66-64 on Feb. 18.
South was 2-for-15 shooting from the 3-point line and didn't have the defensive energy it had in a 68-33 win over the Patriots on Jan. 14.
"We discuss it all the time. Every game is independent from the next and when you don't play well you're not going to be successful," coach Ed Calo said. "I think the realization of that hit our kids even harder (after the loss)."
The loss ended South's regular-season winning streak at 45.
The Wildcats' last regular-season loss was 47-54 to Dublin Scioto on Jan. 27, 2009.
South played Lancaster in the first round of the Division I district tournament on Feb. 22. The winner plays Watkins Memorial on Friday, Feb. 25 in a second round game at Worthington Christian Middle School.
The second-round winner faces 11th-seeded Marion-Franklin, Independence, Pickerington Central or Reynoldsburg in a district semifinal on March 11 in the Fairgrounds Coliseum.
South finished the regular season 19-1 overall and 13-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division.
The Wildcats won the league ahead of Central (10-4), Liberty (10-4), North (10-4), Dublin Scioto (4-10), Dublin Jerome (4-10), Olentangy (3-11) and Marysville (2-12).