The Canal Winchester High School boys basketball team had to wait two weeks to play its first Division I district tournament game, but thanks to the flu, Cole Metzler had a three-week layoff before the Indians' postseason opener March 2 at Mifflin.
"You could say I was pretty eager to get back out there," said Metzler, a sophomore forward. "I was ready to go. We were all getting a little antsy to play again."
A 55-47 win over the 29th-seeded Punchers meant the 30th-seeded Indians would have wait to only five days, rather than roughly nine months, for their next game.
Brady Snyder's 20 points and six rebounds and Metzler's 10 points and 11 rebounds powered Canal Winchester, which outscored Mifflin 26-14 in the fourth quarter to earn its first postseason win since a first-round game against Marion Harding in 2015.
Half of the Indians' fourth-quarter points came from Snyder, who hit eight of 10 free throws in the period.
"You always want to be playing in March, and now to play (at least) two games in March, that's the fun part and that's really special," coach Lyndell Snyder said. "We're peaking at the right time. It was a real tactical game. We played a lot of zone (defense) in the first half to try to force Mifflin to make some shots from outside and we rebounded extremely well.
"Our locker room after the game was incredible. Everybody was so excited. They worked hard. We had a great two weeks of practice (leading up to the game) and executed exactly how we had to."
Canal Winchester was 13-10 before playing fourth-seeded Westerville North in a district semifinal March 7 at Olentangy.
The Indians had not played since a 61-49 loss to Newark on Feb. 16. Metzler had not seen action since an 81-66 win over Teays Valley six days earlier.
"We had an advantage with our height and we were able to slow them down a little bit," said Metzler, who said six of his 10 points came off offensive rebounds. "They like to get out and run. We had to slow them down and make the game a little more of our tempo. We worked as hard as we could. Having that two weeks really gave us a chance to get better at some things and figure out exactly what we had to do."
The semifinal winner will play seventh-seeded Gahanna or ninth-seeded Pickerington Central in a district final Saturday, March 10, at Ohio Dominican. The district champion advances to a regional semifinal March 15.
"The guys are buying in," coach Snyder said. "I'm really excited about where we are as a program."
Memorable season ends for girls team
With tears in their eyes, members of the girls basketball team received several cheers and words of encouragement when they exited the locker room after a 57-37 loss to Westerville South in a Division I district semifinal Feb. 28 at Whitehall.
And with four starters and 10 players expected to return, coach Willie Jordan hopes the Indians' best season since 2006 is a springboard to future success. Still, he rued a tough offensive night as 17th-seeded Canal Winchester never led and saw a 20-19 halftime deficit against the fifth-seeded Wildcats turn into a 40-24 hole by late in the third quarter.
"Both of us played good defense, but we left some crucial layups out there. We never made them play from behind," Jordan said. "A few stops here or there could have made a big difference, but I thought we played pretty good defense the whole game. Midway through the second half ... I think our youth showed a little bit."
Junior guard Markyia McCormick had 11 points to lead the Indians, who finished 18-7 overall and were in a district semifinal for the first time in 12 years and the first time ever in Division I. Sophomore forward Shalea Byrd added eight points.
Senior guard Braelyn Buchler is the Indians' only starter who will be lost to graduation. Other starters expected to return are junior forward Kynadee Anthony and sophomores Amanda Rarick (guard) and Natalie Rarick (forward/guard).
Anthony missed the last half of the season with a stress fracture in her left foot, although Jordan said he hoped she would have been able to play in a district final had Canal Winchester defeated South.
McCormick averaged a team-high 15.8 points and Byrd averaged 11.2. Both were named first-team all-OCC-Capital Division and honorable mention all-district.
Amanda Rarick (11.8 points per game) was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, Natalie Rarick (8.4 ppg) was special mention all-league and senior guard N'Daia Hamilton was honorable mention all-league.
The Indians went 6-4 in the OCC-Capital to tie Big Walnut and New Albany for second, behind Newark (10-0) and ahead of Groveport (2-8) and Franklin Heights (0-10).
Canal Winchester began the 50-team district tournament with two home wins, 74-39 over 30th-seeded Marysville on Feb. 17 and 55-50 over 19th-seeded Logan on Feb. 23, before falling to South.
"At the end of the day, nobody expected us to be here (in a district semifinal) except us," Jordan said. "This is the game we were going for. Anything we did here was a plus. It's a good place to look forward to what we can accomplish next year. We have 10 players coming back who have seen time here, and we're in a good position to get to work and hit the weight room and grow."
Wrestling season concludes at district
Despite taking a program-record 10 athletes to a Division I district tournament held March 2 and 3 at Perrysburg, the wrestling team did not advance anyone to state.
Chance Brown went 2-2 at 145 pounds to lead Canal Winchester, which scored nine points to tie Thomas Worthington for 25th behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (284.5) as 36 teams scored.
Also competing were Matt Kamer (182, 1-2), Cian Rose (106, 1-2), Brack Byorth (220, 0-2), Camden Butterbaugh (113, 0-2), Cameron Cross (160, 0-2), Michael Gallagher (132, 0-2), Charles Gerth (195, 0-2), Jared Mattox (152, 0-2) and Patrick Zamble (170, 0-2).
The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to state Thursday, March 8, through Saturday, March 10, at Ohio State.
@ThisWeekDaveAt a glance
*Record: 18-7 overall, 6-4 (tied for second) in OCC-Capital
*Seniors lost: Braelyn Buchler, N'Daia Hamilton and Dyamond Styles
*Key returnees: Shalea Byrd, Markyia McCormick, Amanda Rarick and Natalie Rarick