Bexley High School boys basketball coach Todd Phillips has been around long enough to know that the regular season can begin to drag come February. A 22-game schedule can take its toll, both physically and mentally.

Bexley High School boys basketball coach Todd Phillips has been around long enough to know that the regular season can begin to drag come February. A 22-game schedule can take its toll, both physically and mentally.

The postseason provides a new beginning, especially for the Lions, whose season-long shooting woes produced a regular-season finish at 7-15 overall after a 41-33 loss to Columbus Academy on Feb. 12.

"The tournament is a rejuvenating thing," Phillips said. "It's a long grind over the winter. (The tournament) is a refresher, and it's a different mindset."

Bexley will have plenty of time to regroup after taking a first-round bye in the Division II district tournament. The 18th-seeded Lions play at fifth-seeded Bloom-Carroll or play host to 20th-seeded Horizon Science in a second-round game Feb. 27.

"(With) almost a two-week delay this year, most (of the) higher seeds jumped on the (first-round) games," guard Cole Heilman said. "I don't think that's the spirit of the tournament, but it's understandable. I personally would rather play a (first-round) game than wait."

But Heilman, the team's leading scoring at 12 points per game, also understands the break and extra preparation time will help.

Guard Simon Kroos (11 points per game) has missed time because of a knee injury, so the additional time between games should help him get healthy. Coaches and players also will have an opportunity to see their opponent play in the first round Monday, Feb. 22.

"There are a lot of years when I would've avoided a (first-round) bye," Phillips said. "This year, the bye is a blessing. We're going to use it to get healthy. We will watch a lot of film and practices will be skill-based with a lot of conditioning."

The Lions also will be focused on shooting after they were 11-for-48 (22.9 percent) from the field against Academy.

Bexley is shooting 36 percent for the season.

"We had six straight possessions (against Academy) where we got (defensive) stops but couldn't get a bucket to get us the lead," Phillips said. "That's been the tale of our season."

Heilman led Bexley with 10 points and forward Hudson Wagenbrenner added nine.

Wagenbrenner is averaging 11 points and a team-best seven rebounds per game.

The Lions, who finished 6-8 in the MSL-Ohio Division, had won two consecutive games before falling to Grandview (59-53 on Feb. 9) and Academy.

"(We) feel like we had one of the toughest (Division II) schedules in central Ohio, and our record reflects that," Heilman said. "We will be battle-tested and ready for the (second-round) game."

Mansfield leads swimmers at sectional

Tyler Mansfield earned the boys and girls swimming teams' highest seeds in the Division II district meet Friday, Feb. 19, at Ohio State.

While doing so, the senior bettered the school record she set earlier this season in the 50-yard freestyle during the Feb. 13 sectional meet at Columbus School for Girls.

Mansfield took second (25.23 seconds) in the 50 free behind CSG's Miranda Donley (23.99). She set the previous school record of 25.64 on Jan. 9, beating the old record of 25.81.

In the 100 free at sectional, Mansfield earned a second-place finish (55.95) behind CSG's McKayla Moffat (53.86).

Both finishes earned Mansfield No. 2 seeds at district, where the top two finishers in each swimming event advance to the state meet Feb. 25 and 26 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths will be awarded in each event based on district times statewide.

The girls team (317 points) finished behind CSG (486) and ahead of Jonathan Alder (26) in the three-team sectional.

Aaron Rothchild earned the boys team's highest district seed (14th) with a time of 1:01.13 in the 100 butterfly.

Bexley (259) finished ahead of Jonathan Alder (29) in the two-team boys sectional.

Girls basketball team opens postseason

Buckeye Valley held the girls basketball team to its lowest offensive output of the season in a 38-26 victory Feb. 8 in the Lions' regular-season finale.

Bexley dropped to 12-10.

The Barons outscored the Lions 13-4 in the first quarter and 11-4 in the fourth.

The 10th-seeded Lions played at eighth-seeded Buckeye Valley in the first round of the Division II district tournament Feb. 15. The winner plays at fifth-seeded Linden-McKinley in a second-round game Friday, Feb. 19.

Possible opponents in a district semifinal Tuesday, Feb. 23, at a site to be determined are sixth-seeded Caledonia River Valley and 15th-seeded Columbus South.

The district final is Feb. 26.

Because of an injury, Bexley has been without leading scorer Brie Toney, who is averaging 20 points.

Wrestling team ready for sectional

The wrestling team will compete in an 18-team Division II sectional Saturday, Feb. 20, at Whitehall.

The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament Feb. 26 and 27 at Uhrichsville Claymont.

Bexley finished 16-3 in duals after wins over Johnstown (54-12) and St. Charles (40-27) on Feb. 9.