Worthington Christian High School boys basketball coach Kevin Weakley believes he got a glimpse of what could come next season when his team closed the regular season with a 68-59 victory over Newark Catholic on Feb. 21.
Sophomore forward Nakimba Mullins had 31 points and four others expected to be key players next year also scored.
The timing of the victory also was encouraging to Weakley, whose 15th-seeded Warriors lost to fifth-seeded Galion Northmor 54-28 on Feb. 26 in the first round of the Division III district tournament.
"If you look at our Newark Catholic game, for a team that struggled to find wins like we did, we played the best game of our season," Weakley said. "That's a testament to our seniors that they stayed energized and that our younger players were developing. At one point, we had three freshmen, a sophomore and a senior in the game."
Mullins, who made all 12 of his shot attempts from the floor and all five of his free-throw attempts against the Green Wave, averaged 10 points and six rebounds and was named honorable mention all-league and all-district.
Mullins is optimistic that the Warriors grew from a season in which they finished 9-14 overall and placed fifth in the MSL-Ohio Division at 2-8, behind co-champions Grandview and Whitehall (8-2) and third-place finishers Columbus Academy and Bexley (6-4) and ahead of London (0-10).
"Our team cohesiveness really improved, and just the overall basketball IQ of each player on our team got better," Mullins said. "All of our younger players have a tight bond, which really helps with team chemistry. We all have a lot of work to do over the summer, but we're looking forward to a more successful season next year.
"I felt like I had to play a bigger role on the team on both ends of the floor, so I worked hard on my post game and moves."
Senior forward Kyle Smith and Collin Kimbrough both averaged 10 points and were second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Junior guard Jake Nowak averaged four assists and figures to take on a key role in the backcourt again next season, along with junior Charles Collins, sophomore Derrick Hardin and freshman Tyler Kindberg.
Junior A.J. Bennett (guard) and freshmen Drew Faieta (guard) and Isaiah Hazelwood (forward) were others who gained experience.
Girls team to bring back strong nucleus
The girls basketball team is losing five seniors but is eligible to return its leading scorer and three others who played key minutes this season.
Freshman guard Katherine Weakley, a second-team all-league selection who averaged a team-best 11.5 points, should be the top returnee next season.
Juniors CeCi Dalton (wing player), Ashley Hall (guard) and Amanda Mayotte (guard) also are set to return for the Warriors, who finished 13-10 overall and placed third in the MSL-Ohio at 6-4, behind Bexley (9-1) and London (8-2) and ahead of Grandview (5-5), Academy (2-8) and Whitehall (0-10).
Seeded 12th, Worthington Christian lost to eighth-seeded Centerburg 42-34 on Feb. 24 in the second round of the Division III district tournament after having a first-round bye.
"They all got a lot of playing time and I really do think they've got the work ethic and are coachable," coach Tammi Evans said. "They'll need to step up. Our seniors did a great job of leading our team and the relationships that were built."
Senior guard Alex Evans, the coach's daughter, averaged 7.5 points and three assists and was named first-team all-league. Senior post player Emma Linehan averaged 10.5 points and five rebounds and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, and senior guard Emily Hall averaged five points, three assists and three steals and was honorable mention all-league and all-district.
During the regular season, Worthington Christian earned wins over London (46-32 on Jan. 27), Ready (46-38 on Jan. 29) and Marion Pleasant (47-37 on Feb. 5). London was MSL-Ohio runner-up and Ready and Pleasant both made Division III district finals.
According to coach Evans, members of the junior varsity could play key roles for the Warriors next season.
"We (only) had six (players) on the j.v. team, so they obviously got a lot of playing time," coach Evans said.
Parsell ends bowling season at state
Senior Seth Parsell of the boys bowling team closed his prep career by tying for 27th with a 562 three-game series at the Division II state tournament March 2 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Parsell finished fifth (564) at the district tournament Feb. 22 at HP Lanes to advance to state for the first time individually. He helped the Warriors qualify for state as a team as a sophomore.
Parsell, who was one of three state qualifiers from central Ohio, opened state with a 154 before rolling a 203 and 205.
"The lanes were drying out and I started hitting my mark more (in the second game), so I had more hook and it got in the pocket," said Parsell, who had finished 70th (540) at state in 2016. "It's a little below my average, but I'll take it. It was different without the team, but it felt good that I ended up here twice."
Parsell will continue his career at Huntington University in Indiana, where he plans to study business and accounting.
"He really came through as the games went on," coach Dave Krebs said. "In fact, the three best balls he threw were the last three in the third game, so he definitely started to find it. I'm definitely proud of him. He did a great job and represented us well. It was definitely a tougher pattern today than two years ago."
The boys team placed sixth (3,257) of 12 teams at district, behind champion Jonathan Alder (3,717), as the top three advanced to state.
The Warriors finished 12-3 overall and tied Whetstone for second in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-C Division at 8-2, behind Northland (10-0).
The only other senior on the boys team was Barrett Bowen.
Parsell had a 201.3 average in COHSBC action, followed by sophomore Caleb Slagle (176.4), Bowen (173.6), junior Garrett Rowda (154.0) and sophomore Clay Danec (148.9).
Sophomore Jaclyn Hamilton and freshman Mason Marsh also were on the team.
"We've got five coming back, and hopefully we'll add some new young ones," Krebs said. "This is our fourth year in a row making it to district, so that's becoming consistent."
The girls team finished 12-2 overall and went 8-1 in the COHSBC-C to place second behind Whetstone (9-0). The Warriors ended their season at district, where they finished ninth (2,892) of 12 teams, behind champion Jonathan Alder (3,287).
The Warriors' only senior was Alyssa Weishaar, who led the team with a 160.6 league average, followed by sophomores Amber Ralston (149.9), Natalie Opava (141.8) and Coral Varian (141.4).
Junior Elisabeth Eisel, sophomore Anna Opava and freshmen Lilly Marsh and Emily Weishaar were other contributors.
"It was a good season," coach Matt Hamilton said. "It was a good turning point because with the younger girls you could see the confidence. They're learning the skills and starting to understand what they're doing wrong and how to correct it. Next year we'll have different organized practices to focus on different things throughout the season."
@UlreyThisWeekAt a glance
*Finishes: 9-14 overall, 2-8 (fifth) in MSL-Ohio
*Seniors lost: Isaac Deskins, Collin Kimbrough and Kyle Smith
*Key returnees: Charles Collins, Derrick Hardin, Tyler Kindberg, Nakimba Mullins and Jake Nowak
*Finishes: 13-10 overall, 6-4 (third) in MSL-Ohio
*Seniors lost: Caroline Cole, Alex Evans, Emily Hall, Jenna Lake and Emma Linehan
*Key returnees: CeCi Dalton, Ashley Hall, Amanda Mayotte and Katherine Weakley
*Finishes: Boys -- 12-3 overall, 8-2 (tied for second) in COHSBC-C; Girls -- 12-2 overall, 8-1 (second) in COHSBC-C
*Seniors lost: Boys -- Barrett Bowen and Seth Parsell; Girls -- Alyssa Weishaar
*Key returnees: Boys -- Clay Danec, Mason Marsh, Garrett Rowda and Caleb Slagle; Girls -- Lilly Marsh, Hope Nyland, Ann Opava, Natalie Opava, Amber Ralston and Emily Weishaar