Westerville News & Public Opinion

Boys Basketball

Westerville North getting set for tournament

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South's Kyran McClure gets tangled up with North's Davon Harris as they scramble for the ball during the host Warriors' 77-68 victory on Feb. 15.

Kevin Thuman has been coach of the Westerville North High School boys basketball team for 18 seasons.

He coached the Warriors to the Division I final four in 1995-96, his first season leading the program. That season, North defeated Columbus West 69-59 in the second round of the district tournament.

Thuman hopes history repeats itself this season.

Seeded second of 42 teams, North plays host to 39th-seeded Logan in the first round Saturday, Feb. 23. A victory would set up a second-round matchup at home against 40th-seeded West on Wednesday, Feb. 27.

"(West) had (future Ohio State and NBA standout) Michael Redd, who was a junior (who scored 25 points)," Thuman said. "They have a couple of good players now and some good role players to go along with them, but they don't have a Michael Redd. Those players don't come around often."

North, which is ranked fourth in the final Division I state poll, must get past Logan before focusing on West. The Warriors did not play the Chieftains or Cowboys during the regular season. Logan improved to 8-14 with a 45-40 win over Fairfield Union on Feb. 16.

"Logan is a guard-oriented team, just like we have," said Thuman, whose team was 20-1 before playing Dublin Jerome in its regular-season finale Feb. 19. "We are expecting a perimeter-oriented game. We want to pressure and run as much as we can."

West, which has a first-round bye, defeated Linden-McKinley 95-90 in overtime Feb. 15 to end a 10-game losing streak and improve to 4-16.

The second-round winner will play 13th-seeded Newark, 17th-seeded St. Charles, 19th-seeded Hilliard Darby or 35th-seeded Watkins Memorial in a district semifinal March 6 at Westerville Central.

North entered its game against Jerome having already clinched the OCC-Cardinal Division title outright. Before Feb. 19, the Warriors were 13-0 in the league, ahead of Dublin Scioto (11-3), Westerville South (9-5), Darby (8-6), Westerville Central (6-8), Jerome (4-9), Worthington Kilbourne (4-10) and Hilliard Bradley (0-14).

North defeated South 77-68 in a league game Feb. 15, as senior guard Jack Gibbs had 21 points, making 10 of 11 free-throws attempts, and eight assists. Junior forward Alex Smith had 14 points and senior guards Jaylen Benton and Adrian Cook both scored 13.

The Warriors defeated Zanesville 60-47 on Feb. 16. Gibbs had a team-high 16 points, all coming in the first half as he sprained an ankle late in the second quarter and sat out the second half as a precaution. Cook had 14 points and Benton scored 11.

Wildcats getting set for Groveport

Seeded 12th, South opens the Division I district tournament Saturday, Feb. 23, at home against 31st-seeded Groveport in the first round.

The teams did not play during the regular season. Groveport was 6-15 before playing St. Charles on Feb. 19.

"We saw (Groveport) once already and we'd like to see them another time before we play," said coach Ed Calo, whose team was 14-7 before playing Buckeye Valley in its regular-season finale Feb. 19. "They are in a good league (OCC-Ohio) with good competition. They picked us, so they should be excited to play us."

The winner plays 20th-seeded Walnut Ridge or 25th-seeded Pickerington North in the second round Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the home of the higher seed. The Wildcats did not play either team in the regular season.

Walnut Ridge improved to 12-8 with a 66-39 win over Marion-Franklin on Feb. 8. Pickerington North fell to 10-12 with a 41-32 loss to Grove City in its regular-season finale Feb. 15.

"Pickerington North is in the same league with Groveport and would probably have 16 or 17 wins if they only played three quarters, but they have had some tough fourth quarters," Calo said. "Walnut Ridge is also an excellent ball club and it's going to be a great game when they play. Either way, it won't be an easy game."

The second-round winner plays top-seeded Northland, 41st-seeded Central Crossing or 42nd-seeded Bradley in a district semifinal March 6 at Marysville.

Against North, senior forward Marcus Ball had 32 points, including five 3-pointers. Senior forward Trent Slade had 11 points and senior guard Jalen Bell and freshman guard Kyran McClure both scored seven.

Warhawks preparing to play Cardinals

Central is seeded 24th and opens the Division I district tournament Saturday, Feb. 23, at 15th-seeded Thomas Worthington in the first round.

The Warhawks closed the regular season Feb. 15 with a 56-53 loss to Jerome to drop to 11-11. That same day, the Cardinals fell to 14-8 with a 75-49 loss to Olentangy Liberty in their regular-season finale.

Central and Thomas did not meet during the regular season.

The winner plays 11th-seeded Westland or 27th-seeded Briggs in the second round Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the home of the higher seed.

Central has not played Westland, which beat Central Crossing 78-64 on Feb. 15 to improve to 16-6, or Briggs, which enters the postseason 9-13, this season.

The second-round winner plays third-seeded Liberty, 23rd-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley or 29th-seeded Canal Winchester in a district semifinal March 6 at Marysville.

Against Jerome, junior forward Eric James had 16 points and junior guard Jalen Malone and junior forward Kwamel Wade scored 15 and 14 points, respectively.

The Warhawks defeated Lancaster 70-54 on Feb. 12 as Wade had 18 points, James scored 16 and senior center Jack Birkhofer scored 10.