The Westerville Central High School boys basketball team completed a season sweep of Westerville North to earn a spot in a Division I district semifinal.
Central defeated visiting North 65-55 in the second round Feb. 26. The eighth-seeded Warhawks, who had a first-round bye, were 18-5 before playing 10th-seeded Delaware in a district semifinal March 5.
Against North, Central opened a 38-21 lead late in the first half, but the Warriors rallied. North cut its deficit to 55-52 with five minutes remaining, capped by Corey Benton's basket inside.
Erron James, however, followed with three free throws and Tommy Mansfield added two as the Warhawks led 60-54 with 59.1 seconds to play.
Eric James, who scored 15 points, added three free throws to seal the win.
"I'm not surprised at all (the Warriors) made a run, but in all fairness, I knew how we've grown this year and I knew how we would respond," Central coach Donovon Barrett said. "We responded like we should have -- like the better team. I thoroughly believe and our kids believe that we were better and it's just a matter of playing like that."
Jalen Malone hit four 3-pointers and scored 22 points to lead Central.
"They said we weren't going to do it and we went out there and proved them wrong like we're supposed to," Malone said of defeating North a third time. "We had to step up big in the second half because I knew they were eventually going to make a little run. It's about how you react and we turned it around real good."
Kwamel Wade added 11 points for Central.
Benton and R.J. Hutcherson each scored 13 points for 25th-seeded North, which finished 11-13. Isaiah Keene had 10 points.
Central defeated the Warriors 58-55 on Dec. 20 and 64-63 on Jan. 31 in OCC-Cardinal Division play.
"We were down 17 at one point and we lost to them twice this year and the kids could have said, 'Here we go again,'" North coach Shan Trusley said. "At halftime, they were like, 'Let's do this. We can do it,' and we went out and played a great half of basketball. They executed and made a bunch of plays. We expended a lot of energy getting back into it. We got it to three."
The Central-Delaware winner plays top-seeded Northland or 21st-seeded Teays Valley in a district final at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 8, at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.
Before their semifinal March 4, Northland was 19-4 and Teays Valley was 15-8.
Northland, which lost to Mentor 80-69 in a state semifinal last season, tied Toledo Central Catholic for 10th in the final state poll behind No. 1 Cincinnati Moeller.
The winner plays Dublin Coffman, Newark, Reynoldsburg or Walnut Ridge in a regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 12, at the Fairgrounds.
The regional final is March 15 at the Fairgrounds.
South advances to district semifinal
South advanced to a district semifinal by holding off 35th-seeded Hilliard Davidson 60-55 in the second round Feb. 28 at home.
The 11th-seeded Wildcats were 16-5 before playing fourth-seeded Zanesville on March 4.
The winner plays sixth-seeded Pickerington Central or 17th-seeded Marysville in a district final at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 8, at the Fairgrounds.
Pickerington Central was 18-5 and Marysville was 15-9 before playing March 5.
The district champion plays Gahanna, Grove City, St. Charles or Upper Arlington in a regional semifinal March 13 at the Fairgrounds.
Against Davidson, Jordan Humphrey led South with 20 points and D.J. Dingess and Jelani Rogers each had 12.
"I told our kids you want people to play as well as they can play against you, you want to be challenged because the only way you're going to climb to the top is to be challenged and get better," coach Ed Calo said.
It was the final game for Davidson coach Kevin Logsdon, who announced his resignation before the season. Davidson finished 5-18.
"I know that was Kevin's last game as coach and he's been a longtime coach and a successful coach and won a state championship," Calo said. "His kids were ready to play. His kids played with great intensity, great emotions. To their credit, they really came out and played well."