The Worthington Kilbourne High School girls basketball team played a little cat and mouse game against Westerville North on Feb. 8.
With the pending first-round Division I district tournament game between the schools at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, at North, Kilbourne coach Steve Palmer saw no need to show his hand.
"We've been working on some things for our tournament game against them, but we kept them under wraps," Palmer said about the 61-38 loss. "But no matter what we try, we're going to have to not allow them to go on 8- or 10-0 spurts like they did this time."
North is seeded sixth and Kilbourne is the 36th seed. The winner will play ninth-seeded Pickerington North or 37th-seeded Marion-Franklin in the second round at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the site of the best seed. Kilbourne has not played either team this season.
Westerville North, which improved to 20-1 overall and concluded the OCC-Cardinal Division schedule at 14-0, used a 22-2 second quarter to seal the outcome early. Kilbourne fell to 5-16 overall and finished 0-14 in the league.
Senior guard Kayla Pack scored 17 points for the Wolves, who didn't receive the balanced scoring they had during the teams' first meeting when the Warriors won 56-46 on Jan. 7. In that game, Pack scored 13, post player Maria Calvert had 12, guard Brianna Bell had 11 and post player Sydney Warinner had 10.
"We trailed 43-40 going into the fourth quarter that game, but we couldn't buy a bucket in the second quarter this time," Palmer said. "Sometimes we rushed shots and didn't get good looks, but other times we had good shots and just couldn't knock them down. Then we kind of hit the panic button and tried to make 16-point plays rather than whittle away at the deficit."
The Warriors got scoring balance. Guard Symone Simmons scored 16, guard Kelsey Walker scored 10, forward Gabrielle Pace had nine and forward Devin Jackson added eight.
"Simmons is probably the OCC-Cardinal Player of the Year," Palmer said. "She's maybe 5-foot-9 but can leap out of the gym. She's got long arms and is very quick and athletic. Then she anticipates better than most any player on the court.
"Jackson is a banger in the post and Walker is a zone-buster and hits some deep 3s. There's a reason why they have 20-plus wins. You have to pick your poison because you can't stop all of them in the same game unless they're having a bad shooting game."
Although the Wolves couldn't make the second meeting closer, Pack thinks the team gained confidence to play North in the tournament.
"This is our first time we've ever played here because (of the OCC realignment), so we got a feel for it now," Pack said. "Other than one quarter, we didn't play that poorly. Once we figured out how to break their press in the second quarter, it didn't bother us the rest of the game. Plus we think we've got some new things that could work against them."
Kilbourne, which closed the regular season Feb. 12 against Big Walnut, lost to New Albany 37-34 in the first round last season. The Wolves haven't won a tournament game since 2008 when they topped Watkins Memorial 38-31 in the first round.
Thomas to face New Albany
Thomas opens Division I district tournament play at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, at New Albany.
The Eagles are the 13th seed and the Cardinals are the 31st.
The winner plays Olentangy Liberty or Grove City in the second round at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the site of the higher seed. Liberty is the 17th seed and Grove City is seeded 26th. The Cardinals lost to Liberty 48-40 on Nov. 30.
Thomas is 7-14 overall and finished 3-11 in the OCC-Central after losing to Hilliard Davidson 49-37 on Feb. 8. Senior guard Frannie Frazier scored 18 points.
New Albany, which is 14-8, is led by senior point guard Hannah Scipio, who is an Akron signee, and senior forward Kyasia Duling, a Duquesne signee. Senior guard Cheyenne Hartley-Carr adds scoring balance.
The Cardinals lost to Zanesville 60-24 in the first round last season. Their last tournament win was in 2010 when they beat Mount Vernon 60-45 in the first round.