After winning the program's first league title since 2008, the Westerville Central High School boys basketball team and coach Donovon Barrett quickly turned their attention to bigger goals.
The Warhawks, who are 12-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division entering their league finale Friday, Feb. 14, against Dublin Jerome, are hoping to advance deep into the Division I district tournament.
Central is seeded eighth and has a first-round bye. The Warhawks play host to 16th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne or 25th-seeded Westerville North in the second round Feb. 26.
The Warhawks, who are 15-5 overall, clinched the outright league title by defeating host Hilliard Darby 61-40 on Feb. 7.
"We talked about this from the beginning of the year and this is what we got," Barrett said of winning the league title. "It shows what hard work can do. We're not done. We're not close to being done. We don't want to put the lid on anything because we have a long way to go, but I'm really happy with how we responded (against Darby) to some tough situations."
The Warhawks led 28-14 at halftime and outscored the Panthers 18-9 in the fourth quarter. Eric James led Central with 19 points and Jalen Malone had 12.
The Warhawks avenged their lone league loss. Darby won 53-52 in overtime Jan. 8 at Central.
For senior guard Tommy Mansfield, the title was his second of the school year. He helped the football team win the OCC-Cardinal at 7-0 last fall.
"It feels good," Mansfield said. "We have a lot of talent in our class and both teams were led by seniors. We've worked hard this year and it's paid off."
Mansfield and Jalon Talley teamed to help keep Darby's Taylor Van Winkle scoreless. The senior entered the game averaging 13 points and had hit 51 3-pointers.
"I take pride in my defense," Mansfield said. "It's my role on the team and I like it."
The Warhawks completed a regular-season sweep of Westerville South, defeating the Wildcats 72-60 on Feb. 4 at home. James scored 25 points, Malone had 20 and Kwamel Wade added 13.
Central led at Hartley 47-35 after three quarters Feb. 8 before the Hawks rallied to win 62-61 in overtime on Chris Moxley's layup with 5 seconds left. Moxley scored a game-high 27 points.
James led Central with 24 points, followed by Wade with 14 and Malone with 10.
The loss snapped a five-game winning streak.
Hartley is seeded first in the Division III district tournament.
South seeded 11th in district tourney
South is seeded 11th in the Division I district tournament and plays host to 35th-seeded Hilliard Davidson in the second round Feb. 28. Both teams have a first-round bye.
"You just have to go play," coach Ed Calo said. "We can beat a lot of people and a lot of people can beat us."
The Wildcats, who are 13-5 overall, will look to end a two-game losing streak when they play host to North on Friday, Feb. 14.
South is third in the OCC-Cardinal at 9-4, behind Central and Jerome (9-3).
In the loss to Central on Feb. 4, Andre Wesson led the Wildcats with 22 points. Jelani Rogers had 14 and Jordan Humphrey added 10.
South lost in overtime at Jerome 73-69 on Feb. 7. The Celtics were 25-for-29 from the free-throw line, including 9-for-10 in overtime.
Wesson and Chris Cook led South with 15 points apiece. D.J. Dingess scored 11 and Rogers had 10.
"We just didn't play well enough to win and sometimes that happens," Calo said. "It shouldn't happen, but we have to get ourselves together. Teams have played well against us. You have to give your opponent some credit."
Trusley: North making progress
North was 9-10 overall and 7-5 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Jerome on Feb. 11.
North is seeded 25th in the Division I district tournament and visits 16th-seeded Kilbourne on Feb. 21.
The Warriors defeated Canal Winchester 63-55 on Feb. 7 at home. Isaiah Keene scored 19 points, R.J. Hutcherson had 12 and Justin Bennett added 10.
North lost at Hilliard Bradley 58-54 on Feb. 4. Keene scored 16 points, Hutcherson had 12 and Corey Benton added 11.
Bradley also defeated the Warriors 62-60 on Jan. 3 at North.
"We're getting there," coach Shan Trusley said. "We've played some good basketball games lately. We played well against Dublin Jerome (60-56 win Feb. 1). Hilliard Bradley seems to be our kryptonite this year, but we played well against Canal, so we've put some quarters together here recently."