Olivia Zimmerman walked off the court wishing for at least one more game with the Worthington Kilbourne High School girls basketball team.

Olivia Zimmerman walked off the court wishing for at least one more game with the Worthington Kilbourne High School girls basketball team.

The Wolves' season ended with a 39-26 loss to Olentangy Liberty in the first round of the Division I district tournament on Feb. 17 at Hamilton Township.

"Last year (when we lost in the tournament), I was just ready for it to be over," said Zimmerman, a senior guard who scored 10 points against Liberty. "This year we had a very successful season. I would've loved to win this game. Everyone worked really hard, and it was fun to play with each other."

The Wolves finished 10-11 overall.

"This year we had 10 wins, but you start getting greedy and wanting that next win," coach Steve Palmer said. "I think our seniors deserved (to have a winning season), but nothing is given to you. Liberty came out ready to play."

The Patriots used strong defense and smart shot selection to prevent Kilbourne from winning its first tournament game since a 38-31 victory over Watkins Memorial in 2008.

Liberty limited Kilbourne to two baskets in the first half and made eight of 12 shots from the floor in the second half.

Palmer said the Patriots' 1-2-2 zone threw the Wolves off their game.

"We worked on that zone, saw film on it the last two or three days and saw Liberty play two or three times," Palmer said. "Preparing for it is one thing and playing against it is another.

"A couple of the girls made comments like, 'Man, every pass we make is being tipped.' We were like, 'We told you so.'"

Having a winning season and winning a tournament game are two of Palmer's top goals for next season.

Kilbourne nearly doubled the number of wins it had the previous two seasons when it finished 3-18 overall in both 2008-09 and last year. For the first time in Palmer's four-year tenure, the Wolves defeated Hilliard Darby (39-23 on Dec. 7) and Central Crossing (36-23 on Jan. 3 and 43-41 on Feb. 8).

Kilbourne tied Central Crossing for fifth in OCC-Central Division with a 5-9 record.

Upper Arlington (13-1) won the league for the second consecutive year, followed by Dublin Coffman (11-3), Hilliard Davidson (10-4), Thomas Worthington (9-5), Kilbourne and Central Crossing, Darby (3-11) and Westland (0-14).

"I think we've turned a corner, but we won't get to know that until Oct. 30 next year," Palmer said. "We have kids who want to play because they have a heart and passion for the game. Anytime you have that, that's what turns programs around."

Zimmerman averaged eight points a game and made 19 of 61 3-pointers (31.1 percent) and 25 of 36 free throws (69.4 percent). Senior guard Sarah Bechtel averaged six points, made 25 of 107 3-pointers (23.3 percent) and 12 of 16 free throws (75 percent). Senior post player Darby McMullen missed most of the season after sustaining a concussion in a 53-38 loss to Thomas Worthington on Dec. 3 and injuring her right ankle over winter break.

"The toughest thing is walking in that locker room and knowing Sarah, Olivia and Darby aren't going to be there (next year)," Palmer said.

Palmer expects contributions next year from juniors Mary Frances Gardner (post player), Brie Roberts (guard) and Marissa Elliott (guard), sophomores Maria Calvert (post player), Breonna Brown (post player) and Lauren Barnhart (guard) and freshman Kayla Pack (guard).

Gardner averaged 7.5 points and 7.6 rebounds and had 27 blocks.

Elliott averaged 6.3 points and had 36 steals, while Pack averaged 5.8 points and made 44 of 69 free throws.

"We only had three seniors, but we wanted to make a difference," Zimmerman said. "Everyone has sort of a negative connotation when they think about Worthington Kilbourne girls basketball. We wanted to change everyone's mind."


Below is the schedule for the Thomas girls basketball team:

Feb. 23 - Played eighth-seeded Newark in second round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays seventh-seeded Gahanna or Westerville Central in district semifinal, 8 p.m. Feb. 28 at Olentangy Liberty. That winner plays second-seeded Northland, Dublin Coffman, Marysville or Westerville North in final, 1 p.m. March 5.

Of note: The Cardinals were 13-7 overall before Feb. 23.


Record: 10-11 overall, 5-9 (tied for fifth) in OCC-Central

Seniors lost: Sarah Bechtel, Darby McMullen and Olivia Zimmerman

Key returnees: Marissa Elliott, Mary Francis Gardner and Kayla Pack