Coach Steve Palmer had a stern warning to the Worthington Kilbourne High School girls basketball team after a 76-33 loss to third-seeded Dublin Scioto in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 18 at Dublin Jerome: A failure to work hard in the offseason will lead to a similar result next year.

Coach Steve Palmer had a stern warning to the Worthington Kilbourne High School girls basketball team after a 76-33 loss to third-seeded Dublin Scioto in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 18 at Dublin Jerome: A failure to work hard in the offseason will lead to a similar result next year.

"We talked to our girls about dedication," said Palmer, whose team finished 3-18 overall. "If you want to change some of the feeling of frustration you have, you have to work in the offseason. Working hard from October to March is not going to cut it."

The message appears to have gotten through.

"Things are going to get better," sophomore Sarah Bechtel said. "I think we will have a big jump from this year to next year. Now most of us have played at least a year on the varsity level and we'll be able to compete better next year."

Kilbourne will lose one senior, guard Tori Besser. She averaged 10.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.6 assists and made 41 of 51 (80.3 percent) free throws and 36 of 121 (29.8 percent) 3-pointers. Besser was second-team all-OCC-Central Division as the Wolves went 2-12 to finish behind Dublin Coffman (14-0), Hilliard Davidson (11-3), Upper Arlington (10-4), Hilliard Darby (8-6), Central Crossing (6-8) and Thomas Worthington (5-9) and ahead of Westland (0-14).

Palmer said the bulk of leadership fell on Besser's shoulders.

"Obviously, this was not the senior year she wanted, but she did a good job keeping her head and keeping her cool," he said. "She did a nice job of trying to be a leader and separating her wants and needs and putting everything towards the team."

Bechtel, junior Marissa Minichello, sophomores Dani Kaufman and Olivia Zimmerman and freshman Marissa Elliott are expected to return to the backcourt. Juniors Maggie Sullivan, Kelsey Koke, Kat Elkins, Aubrey Wilson and Laken Harris are expected back down low.

Sullivan averaged 8.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists and was honorable mention all-OCC. Bechtel averaged 4.7 points and made 21 of 77 (27.3 percent) from 3-point range. Minichello averaged 1.1 assists.

Kilbourne lost its opener to Scioto 73-32 on Dec. 2.

"What really stinks is I thought we played better this time," Palmer said. "They're not 20-1 by luck. They got there by skill, hard work and dedication. It's hard to say that after a 43-point loss, but I was proud of our effort."

The Wolves lost to Coffman, which was second in the final Division I state poll, 68-28 on Jan. 28 and 58-24 on Feb. 13. Kilbourne lost to Harvest Prep, which finished the regular season 17-3 and ranked ninth in the final Division IV state poll, 67-41 on Jan. 13. It lost to DeSales, which was 16-5 before playing River Valley last Tuesday in the second round of the Division II district tournament, 71-26 on Feb. 9.

Coffman was seeded first in the Division I district tournament, Harvest Prep was second in Division IV and DeSales was fourth in Division II.

Kilbourne's wins were over Westland 60-35 on Dec. 19 and 47-41 on Jan. 30 and Licking Heights 48-25 on Dec. 5.

"Our numbers haven't shown it, but we've had a good season," Bechtel said. "We were giving a better effort (toward the end of the season)."

"You look at our record and say we struggled a little bit, but at the same time you see we played some pretty good teams there, too," Palmer said. "We saw where we want to be, not just next year but in the years to come."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the Thomas girls basketball team:

Last Wednesday -- Played second-seeded Delaware in second round of Division I district tournament. The winner will play Briggs or sixth-seeded Pickerington North in a district semifinal Tuesday at Olentangy Orange, with the winner of that advancing to a district final March 7 at Orange against Upper Arlington, fourth-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley, 10th-seeded Northland or Olentangy Liberty.

Of note: The Cardinals were 8-12 before last Wednesday.

At a glance

KILBOURNE

•Record: 3-18 overall, 2-12 (seventh) in OCC-Central

•Senior lost: Tori Besser

•Key returnees: Sarah Bechtel, Marissa Minichello, Maggie Sullivan and Olivia Zimmerman