Westerville South High School boys basketball coach Ed Calo admits that he usually is never totally satisfied with a season.
This year is no exception, as the Wildcats finished 16-8 overall and lost in the second round of the Division I district tournament. Seeded 12th, South defeated 31st-seeded Groveport 82-53 in the first round Feb. 23 at home before losing to 20th-seeded Walnut Ridge 46-38 in the second round Feb. 27 at home.
"I can always be pleased with the kids and pleased with their effort, but I don't think I'm ever happy unless we win that last one and there's only one team that does that, so that makes for a difficult situation," said Calo, who completed his 26th season leading the program. "That's where we want to be and that's what we're going to work for. I don't think I'm going to change in that regard."
South went 9-5 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to place third, behind Westerville North (14-0) and Dublin Scioto (11-3) and ahead of Hilliard Darby (8-6), Westerville Central (6-8), Dublin Jerome (4-10), Worthington Kilbourne (4-10) and Hilliard Bradley (0-14).
"I was happy with the season," senior point guard Anthony Dixon said. "We had a lot of young players. They played well when they got the opportunity. I was happy with the season."
South lost both of its OCC-Cardinal games against North, falling 69-64 on Jan. 11 and 77-68 on Feb. 15, and split with Central, winning 50-48 in overtime Jan. 4 and losing 65-59 on Feb. 5. The loss to Central marked the Wildcats' first in 14 meetings with the Warhawks.
"I never know what to expect," Calo said of the season. "We go into each season not necessarily thinking we're going to win this many games. We go into each season thinking we've got to get better every day. As far as that goes, I don't know if we necessarily reached that particular goal. We had kids who made a decent effort. We pride ourselves in being associated with kids that really work hard. We just wanted a little bit more."
South loses six seniors, including Dixon and forwards Marcus Ball and Trent Slade.
Ball finished his career as the program's fourth-leading scorer with 1,051 points, behind Traevon Jackson (1,388), Jermaine Guice (1,281) and Adam Wolfe (1,207) and one point ahead of B.J. Cunningham (1,050).
Jackson is playing for the University of Wisconsin.
Ball, who has signed to play football at Arizona State, also set the program record for points in a game, scoring 43 in the loss to Central. The previous mark was 36, set by Cunningham in the 2006-07 season.
Ball averaged 15.5 points and 5.4 rebounds and was named first-team all-league and second-team all-district. Slade averaged 9.6 points and 8.4 rebounds and was special mention all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Expected to return are junior Trey Harden (guard), sophomores Chris Cook (guard) and John Edwards (guard) and freshmen Jordan Humphrey (guard), Kyran McClure (guard), Jelani Rogers (guard) and Andre Wesson (forward).
McClure averaged 8.3 points and was a team-best 80 percent from the foul line. He was honorable mention all-league.
"We're going to be young," Calo said. "I like our kids. We have some good, young kids that are willing to work and that is the key. If you're willing to work, you always have a chance to be good. If you're not willing to work, it doesn't matter how talented you are, you're just not going to be very good."