After watching a 10-point fourth-quarter lead evaporate in a 40-38 loss to Dublin Jerome on Jan. 5, the Hilliard Darby High School girls basketball team had a bit of a carryover the next day against visiting Davidson.
However, the Panthers rallied from a 26-14 halftime deficit to win 40-35 and were hoping to have gained some momentum moving forward.
"This was a huge win for us because we were able to stick with it, remain confident after a lousy first half and pull out a win against a rival that is a pretty good team," coach Tay Tufts said. "Our defensive intensity and rebounding really picked up in the second half and that allowed us to get more things done on the offensive end."
Darby was 9-5 overall and 3-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Thomas Worthington on Jan. 9.
"We didn't doubt we could come back," said junior point guard Sydney Wyngarden, who had a team-high 14 points against the Wildcats. "We just needed to dig deeper and get on the same page. We limited (Davidson) to one shot most of the second half and we got to more loose balls."
Junior forward Annie Rauch scored all 12 of her points in the second half against Davidson and also had 12 rebounds.
"I had a rough time in the first half, so I had to keep battling hard to make things happen in the second half and help my team out," Rauch said. "I was a little frustrated, but (Tufts) and my teammates kept telling me to put it behind me and I was able to do that."
Darby trailed 8-0 and 12-2 early in the game and was behind 15-4 after the first quarter. The Panthers had six turnovers and committed eight fouls in the quarter.
"After losing to Jerome and starting this game poorly while Davidson was shooting it well, it would have been easy for us to throw in the towel," Tufts said. "But I kept reminding them that it was early and that if we played better defensively and got after it on the boards, we had plenty of time to turn it around."
The Panthers trailed 30-28 after three quarters, but senior Alexa Dixon made a 3-pointer to open the scoring in the fourth quarter and Rauch made two free throws to give Darby the lead for good at 33-32. The Panthers would extend their lead to 39-32 with 3 minutes, 5 seconds left.
"We're still not happy to let the Jerome game get away from us and now we have some work to do in the league," Wyngarden said. "But this will be a boost for us. I don't know when the last time was that we beat Bradley and Davidson in the same season."
The Panthers beat Bradley 48-44 in an OCC-Cardinal game Dec. 5 and will play host to the Jaguars on Friday, Jan. 12.
Entering the week, Darby was tied with Jerome for third in the league, behind Dublin Scioto (5-0) and Thomas (4-1) and ahead of Bradley (2-3), Worthington Kilbourne (1-5) and Delaware (0-5).
Against Jerome, Wyngarden scored 15 points and Rauch added 12.
Darby split a pair of games in the Watterson Christmas Classic, beating Chillicothe 38-23 on Dec. 27 and falling to Cincinnati Seton 48-40 the following day.
Boys basketball team starts strong in OCC
The boys basketball team was 6-4 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Thomas on Jan. 9.
The Panthers entered the contest against the Cardinals on a three-game winning streak, having beaten Scioto 60-49 in a league contest Dec. 19, Franklin Heights 56-30 on Dec. 28 and Jerome 57-55 in league play Jan. 5.
Senior Chandler Barlow had 18 points and freshman Andrew Patrick scored 12 against Jerome. Senior Josh Govine had 27 points against Scioto and senior Ben Gbur and Govine scored 14 and 12, respectively, against Franklin Heights.
Entering the week, Darby was tied with Scioto for second in the OCC-Cardinal, behind Bradley (4-0) and ahead of Delaware (3-2), Jerome (1-3), Kilbourne (1-4) and Thomas (0-4).
Ball nearing return to wrestling team
The wrestling team has been competing without senior Jared Ball, a two-time state placer who underwent knee surgery after getting injured while competing at 195 pounds in the Walsh Ironman held Dec. 8 and 9 at Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit.
"Jared is progressing well from meniscus surgery to his left knee," coach Brendan Moody said. "He is still a huge part of our team as the only practices and meetings that he has missed were for surgery and any scheduled therapy sessions that conflict with our schedule. He is a staple of Darby wrestling and that has not changed since his injury. We expect to ease him back in maybe next week."
Senior heavyweight Jacob Cover, a state qualifier last year, was 20-4 entering an OCC-Cardinal dual match against Delaware on Jan. 10.
The Panthers will compete in the Porter Memorial Tournament on Saturday, Jan. 13, at Bradley.
"Jacob placed seventh at the Walsh Ironman, which is the toughest high school tournament in the country, went 9-1 at the Fricker's Duals (Dec. 15 and 16 at Defiance College) and took second at the Medina Invitational Tournament (Dec. 27 and 28)," Moody said. "He is currently ranked sixth in the state, but has his eyes set on a much higher finish than that."
Other top performers have included juniors Muneeb Ajlouni (7-4 at 132) and Rodney Beneker (13-4 at 182), sophomores Ryan Blackerby (9-7 at 126), Austin Craycraft (12-5 at 120) and Tyler Edgington (10-6 at 152) and freshmen Blayne Barnes (12-4 at 195) and Isaiah Beneker (8-6 at 160).
Below are the coming schedules for the Darby boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 12 -- Home vs. Bradley
Jan. 16 -- At Jonathan Alder
*Jan. 12 -- Home vs. Bradley
*Jan. 12 -- Pickerington North at Game of Western Bowl
*Jan. 16 -- Groveport at Game of Western Bowl
Jan. 13 -- McGee Invitational at Dublin Coffman
Jan. 17 -- At Dublin Coffman with Bradley, Davidson, Delaware, *Dublin Jerome and *Dublin Scioto
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 13 -- Bradley, Davidson and Olentangy at Hilliard YMCA
Jan. 13 -- Porter Memorial Tournament at Bradley