During a Division III district final March 6 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum, the Worthington Christian High School boys basketball team showed how much it has improved since the midway point of the regular season.
The seventh-seeded Warriors used strong defense and their ability in the paint to avenge a pair of MSL-Ohio Division losses with a 49-40 win over third-seeded Grandview.
Worthington Christian, which won its third consecutive district championship, held the Bobcats to 15-for-54 shooting from the field.
"We started the year 5-6 and, obviously, we were really down about that," senior guard Sam Condon said. "We had some toughness issues, but it shows how far we've come as a team."
Condon went 1-for-14 from the floor, but he was 10-for-14 from the free-throw line and finished with 12 points. Seth Weygandt had 14 points and seven rebounds and Johnny Wordlaw added six points and 10 rebounds as the Warriors improved to 18-7.
Worthington Christian, which beat Bloom-Carroll 53-51 in a 2012 district final and Ready 46-36 in a district final a year ago, had lost to Grandview 51-49 on Jan. 13 and 74-70 in overtime Feb. 8.
"Our program has kind of transitioned as we've moved from Division IV to Division III," coach Kevin Weakley said. "We couldn't have won a game like this a couple years ago. It's one of the toughest teams I've coached. We couldn't win a game like that a month ago."
The Warriors played Lima Central Catholic in a regional semifinal March 12 at Bowling Green State University. The winner plays Huron or Ottawa-Glandorf in a regional final at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 15, at the same site.
The regional champion faces Dayton Chaminade Julienne, Cincinnati Summit Country Day, Dayton Stivers or St. Bernard Roger Bacon in a state semifinal March 21 at Ohio State. The state final is March 22 at the same site.
Ottawa-Glandorf is the defending state champion, but the only key player from a year ago who returned is 6-foot-7 forward Noah Bramlage.
The Titans improved to 15-10 by defeating Pauling 36-32 in a district final March 8. Bramlage led the way with 19 points and nine rebounds. He went 9-for-10 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
Huron, which won a district title last season, beat North Robinson Colonel Crawford 51-32 in a district final March 8 to improve to 18-6.
Worthington Christian lost to eventual state runner-up Versailles 63-48 in a regional semifinal a year ago.
The Warriors beat fifth-seeded Marion Pleasant 54-51 in a district semifinal March 4 at Delaware. Condon had 16 points, Wordlaw had 14 points and 10 rebounds, John Routzahn had 10 points and Dominick Holsten scored eight.
Holsten missed the first 11 games because of the OHSAA transfer rule. He played for Big Walnut last season.
In the postseason matchup with Grandview, Worthington Christian led 14-9 after the first quarter and, for the most part, was in control for the remainder of the game.
The Warriors held Grandview's Hunter Schmalz to 10 points. The 6-5 junior forward had 23 and 21 points, respectively, in the regular-season wins over Worthington Christian.
"We used (losing to Grandview twice in the regular season) as motivation," Weakley said. "We felt like we had a decent chance to play well if we played them again."