For now, DeSales High School boys basketball coach Pat Murphy is thinking more about what his team achieved in his first season at the helm than what it needs to accomplish before next season begins.
Despite going 1-7 in the CCL, the Stallions played their best at the end of the season, winning six of eight games before a 69-53 loss to second-seeded Eastmoor Academy in a Division II district semifinal March 6 at Worthington Christian.
Included in that streak were two postseason wins as well as a 60-46 win Feb. 6 over a Bloom-Carroll team that went on to upset fifth-seeded Bexley and eighth-seeded Granville in the district tournament.
"There was a tremendous buy-in from our kids," said Murphy, whose team finished 13-12 overall and was seeded 13th of 22 teams in the district tournament. "I think all coaches will say that by the end of the season, freshmen need to play like sophomores and juniors need to become seniors. That's a cliche, but there's definitely some truth to that. We played with more maturity, more experience and higher expectations.
"We talked for a while in the locker room (after the loss to Eastmoor) and focused on thanking and honoring Donya Harris, our only senior. We'll meet with the guys individually over the next few weeks to discuss things they need to work on ... but we're all in agreement that at DeSales, our expectation is to play for championships. Everything we do will be geared toward that."
Junior guard Kayin Derden averaged a team-high 15.8 points and 4.5 rebounds and was named first-team all-district, and junior guard Anthony Sciarroni averaged 8.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals.
Freshman guard Kobe Righter averaged 11.0 points, 2.6 rebounds and two assists and freshman guard Desmond Watson averaged 9.2 points and a team-high 4.8 rebounds.
Sciarroni had 14 points, Righter scored 13 and Derden added 12 against Eastmoor, a game the Stallions trailed 15-9 after the first quarter and never got closer.
Taevion Kinsey scored 23 points and Tim Smith had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Warriors, who eliminated DeSales in a district semifinal for the second consecutive season.
"In the end, they were just too much for us," Murphy said. "They gave us some problems we didn't handle very well. They got a lot of straight-line drives to the basket that really started to make a difference. That was something we couldn't let happen."
The Stallions tied St. Charles for fourth in the CCL as Hartley, Ready and Watterson all went 6-2 to share the championship.
In the district tournament, DeSales won at 11th-seeded Linden-McKinley 86-75 in the first round Feb. 26 and upset host and sixth-seeded Jonathan Alder 57-47 in a second-round game March 6.
Others eligible to return include junior forward Danny Bogue, sophomore center/forward Chris Fleisher and freshman guard Jayden Hawkins-White.
Potts expected to lead wrestlers next year
Although the wrestling team ended the season with just five competitors, three are eligible to return in sophomores Josh Morse and Cole Potts and freshman Keishawn Allen.
Potts had a team-best 43-12 record at heavyweight and finished fifth in the Division II district tournament held March 2 and 3 at Uhrichsville Claymont. He was the only Stallion to place at district, as DeSales scored 18 points to finish 26th behind champion Steubenville (159) as 46 teams scored.
The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to state March 8-10 at Ohio State.
Senior Louis Dytko finished 37-9 at 138 pounds and classmate Anthony Cua went 26-17 at 182, while Morse finished 25-15 at 126 and Allen went 17-15 at 132.
DeSales went 1-1 in the CCL duals Feb. 15 at Hartley to finish third behind the host Hawks (2-0) and St. Charles (1-1) and ahead of Ready (0-2). The Stallions lost to Hartley 57-20 in a semifinal but defeated Ready 24-24 on seventh criteria in the third-place match.
In the sectional tournament Feb. 23 and 24 at Licking Valley, Dytko placed second, Cua and Potts both finished third and Allen was fourth as the top four finishers in each weight class advanced to district.
@ThisWeekDaveAt a glance
*Record: 13-12 overall, 1-7 (tied for third) in CCL
*Senior lost: Donya Harris
*Key returnees: Kayin Derden, Chris Fleisher, Anthony Sciarroni and Desmond Watson
*Finishes: Third in CCL, ninth at sectional, 26th at district
*Seniors lost: Anthony Cua and Louis Dytko
*Key returnees: Keishawn Allen, Josh Morse and Cole Potts