It was a record-breaking season for the Worthington Kilbourne High School boys basketball team.
The Wolves finished 14-9 overall, breaking the program mark for wins in a season. The previous record was set in the 2005-06 season, when they went 13-9.
"When you set a school record for most wins, you set a new standard for future teams to shoot for," coach Tom Souder said. "I'm really proud of our players for setting this new standard and also for how hard they worked to do it. I can count on one hand how many bad practices we had all season and still have fingers left over, and that's a tribute to our seniors and their leadership. I really enjoyed coaching this team and the kids enjoyed the experience of playing basketball together and that's probably the biggest reason we were successful."
Kilbourne ended its season with a 47-44 loss to 25th-seeded Westerville North in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 21 at home. The Wolves were seeded 16th of 45 teams in the district.
Kilbourne went 10-4 in the OCC-Capital Division to finish third, behind Delaware (11-3) and New Albany (11-3) and ahead of Franklin Heights (7-7), Olentangy (5-9), Mount Vernon (5-9), Big Walnut (4-10) and Olentangy Orange (3-11).
Among the season highlights was a 59-57 road victory over Delaware on Dec. 6.
"We were the only team to win at Delaware all season and we went 9-4 away from home, so we were a good road team," Souder said. "Avenging our losses to Franklin Heights and Oranges were highlights, too, because it showed that we improved."
The Wolves lost to Franklin Heights 52-50 on Dec. 20 but defeated the Falcons 40-34 in the rematch Jan. 31, and they beat Orange 49-46 on Feb. 14 after losing to the Pioneers 50-49 on Jan. 10.
Kilbourne loses four seniors, including two starters in post player Michael Chambers and point guard Seth Hill.
Chambers, who averaged 14.1 points and 10.3 rebounds, and Hill, who averaged 11.6 points and three assists, both were named first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Among the expected returnees are three starters in junior post player J.C. Bartok, junior wing player Griffin Dahn and sophomore wing player Isaiah Young.
Dahn averaged 8.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists and was special mention all-league, and Bartok averaged 6.3 points and 5.3 rebounds and was honorable mention all-league.
Also expected back are juniors Grant Dierksheide (wing player), Luke Durbin (wing player), Brian Gevas (guard), Luke Hackathorne (post player) and Justin Souder (wing player), sophomores Josh Stoner (wing player), Jake Weirick (wing player) and Isaiah Young (guard) and freshman Carson Van Lynn (6-6, post player).
"Our junior class needs to step up and take a bigger leadership role in place of our seniors, who were great leaders," Souder said. "Our j.v. team went 12-7 and our freshman team went 13-7, which means this is the first time we've finished with double figures in wins (in all three levels in the program). I hope that means we can reload instead of rebuild next season."
Cardinals losing four key players
Two wins over Kilbourne were among the season highlights for Thomas, which finished 14-9 overall.
The Cardinals defeated the Wolves 50-32 on Dec. 14 and 56-45 on Jan. 18 to take a 12-3 lead in the all-time series.
Seeded 14th, Thomas lost to 27th-seeded St. Charles 37-35 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 22 at home to end the season.
"We got a very good draw with the chance to play our first two tournament games at home and we had several opportunities to make plays to beat St. Charles, but we didn't get it done," coach Bob Miller said. "We had a good season, though, which included some outstanding wins against Kilbourne in front of packed houses. We also won at Grove City (76-71 on Jan. 4) and Marysville (72-59 on Jan. 31), which are tough places to play."
Thomas went 8-6 in the OCC-Central to finish fourth, behind Upper Arlington (13-1), Olentangy Liberty (11-3) and Dublin Coffman (10-4) and ahead of Marysville (7-7), Hilliard Davidson (3-11), Westland (3-11) and Central Crossing (1-13).
"Our league was very tough, but we competed well in our league games overall," Miller said.
The Cardinals lose four seniors in forwards Yemi Sholesi and Tyrrell Stewart and guards Isaiah Boyd and Daniel Crease.
Sholesi and Stewart were regular starters and Boyd and Crease split starts at shooting guard. Sholesi was named first-team all-league and Stewart was honorable mention all-league.
Two starters in junior center Alex Baughman and sophomore point guard Jaret Gerber are expected to return. Gerber was special mention all-league.
Also expected back are juniors Andy Burpee (guard), Luke Porteus (forward), Brady Roesch (forward), Tarik Sapp (guard), Cameron Senek (guard), Grant Smith (post player) and Nick Veal (guard).
"We had a very strong senior class, but we have two starters returning and we have a lot of other players returning who will step up and help replace our seniors next year," Miller said. "Jaret is an excellent ball-handler and 3-point shooter. Alex is probably our most improved and fastest player."