Westerville North girls team captures OCC title
Breyonia Hearn had been waiting for a league championship.
The senior point guard for the Westerville North High School girls basketball team, a starter since her freshman year, now has one.
The Warriors clinched a share of their first OCC title since 2004-05 with a 50-27 victory over Dublin Jerome on Jan. 29. They clinched an outright OCC-Cardinal Division championship by defeating Westerville Central 61-35 on Feb. 2.
"We kept getting better each year and it finally paid off for us," said Hearn, whose team was 18-1 overall and 12-0 in the league before playing Hilliard Bradley on Feb. 5. "We have worked hard and really came together as a team."
Rounding out the league standings before Feb. 5 were Dublin Scioto (8-4), Bradley (7-5), Jerome (7-5), Westerville Central (6-6), Westerville South (4-8), Hilliard Darby (4-8) and Worthington Kilbourne (0-12).
The Warriors came close to winning a league title two seasons ago. They were tied with Olentangy with two league losses with four games to play, but lost consecutive games to Central (42-39), Scioto (49-38) and Olentangy Liberty (38-37) and finished third (9-5) behind Olentangy (12-2) and Scioto (10-4).
"This feels great because we had a chance to do this in my sophomore year and we let it get away," said senior guard/forward Gabrielle Pace, who scored 12 points in the clinching win over Central. "We have a title, but we still need to work hard and finish this out."
Coach Jim Kloepfer said the close bond between his players off the court has made the difference on it.
"We didn't know how good we could be," he said. "But the kids are friends off the court, and as a team they want to be able to accomplish as much as they can."
The Warriors close league play Friday, Feb. 8, at home against Kilbourne. The Warriors won the first meeting 56-46 on Jan. 7 as sophomore guard/forward Symone Simmons scored 25 points and sophomore forward Devin Jackson added 10.
Simmons led with 20 points against Jerome, and junior forward Kelsey Walker had 12 points on four 3-pointers. Jackson scored eight points.
"We were beaten by a very good team," Jerome coach Rob Dunsmore said. "They are too strong, too fast and too savvy."
Against Central, Walker scored 11 points with three 3s and Simmons also had 11 points.
The Warriors are seeded sixth of 43 teams in the Division I district tournament, behind Reynoldsburg, Gahanna, Olentangy Orange, Dublin Coffman and Northland.
North opens the tournament Feb. 16 at home against 36th-seeded Kilbourne, with the winner playing ninth-seeded Pickerington North or 37th-seeded Marion-Franklin in the second round Feb. 20 at the home of the higher seed.
Boys team closes on OCC-Cardinal title
The boys team was 16-1 overall and 10-0 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Bradley on Feb. 5.
A win over the Jaguars would have clinched at least a share of the program's first OCC title since the 1997-98 season. North went 10-0 in the OCC-Ohio that season and won a Division I district title before finishing 19-6.
Before Feb. 5, North led the OCC-Cardinal at 10-0 and Scioto and Westerville South were tied for second at 8-3, followed by Darby (6-5), Westerville Central (5-6), Jerome (3-7), Kilbourne (3-8) and Bradley (0-11).
The Warriors were fourth in last week's Division I state poll behind top-ranked Northland. They were second in the district poll behind Northland.
On Friday, Feb. 8, North plays at Kilbourne. The Warriors defeated the Wolves 76-46 on Jan. 7 as senior guard Adrian Cook led with 22 points. Senior guard Jack Gibbs had 14 points, senior guard Jaylen Benton scored 13 and junior center R.J. Hutcherson added 12.
Benton led with 22 points and Gibbs had 10 as the Warriors defeated Jerome 53-38 on Jan. 29. Cook scored nine points and junior center Alex Stewart had eight.
North defeated Westerville Central 66-57 on Feb. 1 as Benton led with 17 points and Gibbs had 14. Stewart scored 10, Cook had nine and senior guard Brett Durden added eight.
On Feb. 2, North beat Columbus East 82-56 as Gibbs scored 18 points, Benton and Cook both had 14 and Stewart added 10.