The Big Walnut High School High School boys basketball team will close out the regular season this week with a pair of games.
The Golden Eagles were 7-11 overall and 4-4 in the OCC-Capital Division before playing host to Franklin Heights on Feb. 9. They entered the game with a chance to match their victory total from the past two seasons combined.
Big Walnut, which played host to Marion Harding on Feb. 10, finished 4-19 in each of the past two seasons.
The Golden Eagles also have an opportunity to finish second in the OCC-Capital. Entering play Feb. 9, they were tied with Canal Winchester and New Albany for second behind Newark (8-0), which has secured the league title.
Big Walnut concludes league play Friday, Feb. 16, at Groveport. The Golden Eagles defeated the Cruisers 62-51 on Jan. 16 behind 20 points from Kegan Hienton, 15 from Brody Lawhun and 12 from Nathan Montgomery.
"I think we're going to be in every single one of these games coming up," said third-year coach Brett Bartlett, whose team ends the regular season Saturday, Feb. 17, at home against Mount Vernon.
"Groveport will be ready for us this second time around. I think this will be their last game in the gym they have now, so they might be a little inspired to go out with a victory in that school. It's going to be a tough game for us."
Entering play Feb. 9, Big Walnut had lost five consecutive games, including a 48-39 setback to Marysville on Feb. 6. Carson Becker led the Golden Eagles with 12 points.
Jordan Koebel and Sam Elliott each had 12 points and Montgomery scored 10 in a 78-47 league loss to Newark on Feb. 2.
Bartlett said his team "most likely" would be without its top scorer, Lawhun, for the remainder of the season, but would not disclose the reason. Through 17 games, Lawhun was averaging 10.2 points, followed by Koebel (9.9), Hienton (9.7) and Montgomery (8.4).
Allen named girls soccer coach
While Chris Allen has coached soccer at many levels as an assistant, he now has his first opportunity to mold his own program.
Allen has been named girls soccer coach, pending school board approval.
A native of St. Catherine, Jamaica, he spent last season as an assistant coach with the Otterbein University men's team after serving four years as an assistant at his alma mater, Mount Vernon Naza-rene, from 2012-15.
"I feel like I'm at that point where I'm able to run my own program," said Allen, who was an assistant for the Olentangy Liberty boys team in 2016. "As an assistant, I've been delegated responsibilities."
This also will be Allen's first experience coaching a girls team.
"I'm looking to develop players and help take them to the next level," Allen said. "I want to be able to give these girls an opportunity to get a taste of what I got at Mount Vernon (Nazarene), getting there on a scholarship. I'm definitely looking at a bigger picture."
Allen, who also has been a club coach with Classics Eagles FC since 2013, was a forward at Mount Vernon Nazarene. When he finished his career in 2011, he was ninth in program history in both goals and assists and was eighth in points.
"Coach Allen is a coach (who) is hyper-focused on the development of players and building positive relationships," athletics director Brian Shelton said in an announcement on the school's website. "I am confident the Big Walnut girls soccer program has taken another step forward with the hiring of coach Allen."
Allen replaces Drew Pitzer, who stepped down after five seasons.
Pitzer compiled a 52-30-16 record with the Golden Eagles and was named Central District Coach of the Year and ThisWeek's Girls Soccer Coach of the Year last season, in which Big Walnut finished 16-3-4 and won its first regional championship before losing to Cincinnati Indian Hill 4-0 in a Division II state semifinal.
Swimmers compete at sectional meet
Members of the boys and girls swimming teams competed in the Division I sectional meet Feb. 10 at Thomas Worthington.
The winner of each swimming event automatically advanced to the district meet Saturday, Feb. 17, at Ohio University. In addition, 27 at-large district berths were awarded in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites.
At district, the top two finishers in each swimming event qualify for the state meet Feb. 21-24 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large berths will be awarded in each swimming event based on times statewide.
The divers begin their postseason this week at district. The girls compete Monday, Feb. 12, and the boys compete Tuesday, Feb. 13, at the Dublin Community Recreation Center. The top five boys and top four girls qualify for state.
Girls basketball team preps for postseason
The girls basketball team is seeded 14th in the 50-team Division I district tournament and has a first-round bye.
The Golden Eagles will play host to 22nd-seeded Pickerington North or 24th-seeded Hilliard Bradley in the second round Feb. 23.
Big Walnut was 14-6 overall and 5-4 in the OCC-Capital before playing at Franklin Heights on Feb. 9. The Golden Eagles concluded the regular season Feb. 10 at home against Mansfield Madison.
Big Walnut lost to host Newark -- ranked first in last week's Division I state poll -- 47-30 in a league game Feb. 1 before rebounding to beat host Loudonville 60-56 on Feb. 3 and host Marysville 61-44 on Feb. 6.
Against Loudonville, Erin Boehm had 23 points and Katie Cochran scored 13.
Big Walnut outscored Marysville 19-7 in the third quarter and had four players score in double figures, led by Cochran with 16. Boehm added 13 points and Avery Schone and Abby Facemyer scored 12 and 10, respectively.
Athletes announce college decisions
Six Big Walnut athletes announced their college decisions Feb. 7.
Sam Mason has committed to play men's soccer at Northern Kentucky, Caleb Pierce will play football at Tiffin, Tyler Ronk will play football at Tiffin, Emma Padgett will play women's soccer at Limestone in Gaffney, South Carolina, and Mya Rasar will play women's soccer at Southern Indiana.
In addition, Abe Myers announced that he will be a preferred walk-on at Ohio State in football.
Below are the coming schedules for the Big Walnut boys basketball, gymnastics and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 16 -- At Groveport. The Golden Eagles defeated the Cruisers 62-51 on Jan. 16.
Feb. 17 -- Home vs. Mount Vernon
Feb. 13 -- At Hilliard Davidson with Hilliard Bradley, Hilliard Darby, Olentangy Liberty and Olentangy Orange
*Feb. 15 -- Home vs. New Albany