Considering his team has made three consecutive appearances in the regional tournament, there might not be a better authority among central Ohio coaches regarding what it takes to win at that level and in Division III than Worthington Christian High School boys basketball coach Kevin Weakley.
What Lima Central Catholic had that the Warriors didn't in their postseason meetings two of the last three seasons was college-caliber athletes at guard.
When Worthington Christian faced the Thunderbirds in a regional semifinal March 13 at Ohio Northern University in Ada, it was without its leading scorer in senior point guard Sam Condon and three of his teammates. The four had left earlier that day to go on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.
Led by senior guard Martyce Kimbrough, Lima Central Catholic rolled to a 64-37 win in a game that had been scheduled a day earlier but was postponed because of bad weather. Kimbrough, who has signed with the University of Indianapolis, had 18 points.
Worthington Christian, which finished 18-8 overall, also had lost to the Thunderbirds in a regional semifinal in 2012, falling 57-40. The Warriors lost to Versailles 63-48 in a regional semifinal last season.
"The thing about Lima Central Catholic is that they've got some college basketball players," Weakley said. "You've got to be able to produce at this level of the postseason."
In addition to Condon, Worthington Christian faced Lima Central Catholic without senior guards Jarrett Malone and Alec McLean and senior post player Kyle Nowak. Condon averaged 14.2 points and was named second-team all-district this season.
Junior forward Johnny Wordlaw had 13 points and four rebounds to lead the Warriors in their latest matchup with the Thunderbirds. Sophomore forward Dominick Holsten had six points and senior guard Seth Weygandt and junior guard John Routzahn both scored five.
Weygandt, who also had four rebounds, was the only senior in uniform against Lima Central Catholic.
Worthington Christian won 13 of 14 games to get to regional. During that stretch, the Warriors, who were seeded seventh of 20 teams in the district, beat third-seeded Grandview 49-40 in a district final March 8 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum. With the victory, they avenged two MSL-Ohio Division losses to the Bobcats during the regular season, 51-49 on Jan. 13 and 74-70 in overtime Feb. 8.
Worthington Christian also beat 14th-seeded Columbus International (70-38 on Feb. 27 in the second round) and fifth-seeded Marion Pleasant (54-51 on March 4 at Delaware in a district semifinal).
"We started the year off 5-6 because we had some guys who were ineligible or were out (out of the lineup) hurt or sick, but halfway through the year we started playing together as a team," Weygandt said. "We won our third district championship in a row, and this one means a lot since it's my senior year."
The Warriors went 9-5 in the MSL-Ohio to tie Bexley for third, behind Whitehall (13-1) and Grandview (11-3) and ahead of Columbus Academy (6-8), London (6-8), West Jefferson (2-12) and Madison Plains (0-14).
Condon was named first-team all-league and second-team all-district and Routzahn was second-team all-league and third-team all-district.
Weygandt, who averaged seven points, was honorable mention all-league and all-district.
Routzahn (12.8 points per game) and Wordlaw (8.2) are expected to be the Warriors' top returnees next season.
Holsten, who sat out the first 11 games after transferring from Big Walnut, averaged seven points over the final 15 games. Sophomore guard Brian Fields and junior guard J.J. Phillips each averaged five points.
Sophomore guard Cameron Lawrence, who sat out the first 11 games after transferring from Columbus Academy, and freshman guard Jayden Turner also are eligible to return.
"We really came together as a team and started listening to what our coach started to say (during the season's second half)," Holsten said.