Numbers say a lot for the Bexley High School wrestling team.
Numbers say a lot for the Bexley High School wrestling team.
That was first-year coach Chris Bragg's contention as he evaluated the finish for his young group.
Not only did the Lions double their number of Division II district qualifiers from last season, but they also produced seven wrestlers with 30 wins or more.
"I expect more of them next year as seniors," said Bragg, whose team advanced six competitors to district Feb. 26 and 27 at Uhrichsville Claymont. "But I would've liked to have seen one of them get to state (this season)."
Bexley last advanced a wrestler to state during the 2006-07 season when Jake Weisman was eighth at 112 pounds. He's now an assistant coach at Whitehall.
Of Bexley's six district qualifiers, Jalen Hatton (195) was the only one to win two matches. After a slow start, the junior was second-team all-MSL-Ohio Division and finished 35-9.
Junior Zak Welsh (132, 32-10, second-team all-league) went 1-2 at district, where the Lions finished 37th (4 points) behind champion Claymont (168.5) as 44 teams scored.
In the 18-team Whitehall sectional Feb. 19 and 20, Bexley finished fifth (122) behind champion Caledonia River Valley (229.5). The Lions were ninth last season.
Whitehall (271) won the league tournament Feb. 6 ahead of West Jefferson (239), Bexley (218.5), Grandview (197.5), London (139.5), host Madison Plains (139) and Columbus Academy (87).
"Next year will be 20 years since we last won a league title," Bragg said. "It will be the goal again. Even though the league (tournament) didn't go the way we wanted it to, I think it was a wake-up call."
Bexley's other district qualifiers were sophomores Grant Robinson (220, 41-8, first-team all-league) and Eliot Clark (170, 33-17, second-team all-league) and juniors Perrin Ruff (138, 35-14, honorable mention all-league) and Eric Crane (152, 37-10, second-team all-league).
Junior Jon Clark (145, 32-7, second-team all-league), a district alternate, and sophomore Reece Wilson (11-7, 160) also should be among the top returnees next season.
During the regular season, Bexley went 16-3 in dual matches and won the Mount Gilead duals Jan. 30. The performance at Mount Gilead followed a 39-28 loss to Hartley in a second-round Region 14-A match in the Division II state team tournament Jan. 27 at Whitehall.Boys basketball team endured shooting woes
What played out in the boys basketball team's final game was a microcosm of its season -- the inability to make shots.
With a 10-point lead over fifth-seeded Bloom-Carroll in a Division II district tournament second-round game Feb. 27, the 18th-seeded Lions were outscored 14-4 in the third quarter and lost 62-58 to close the season 7-16 overall.
"We told them all week that if you shoot 42 percent, we'll win," coach Todd Phillips said. "We scored four points in the third quarter and shot 38 percent. We were inconsistent, and that was the story of our shooting all year."
For the season, Bexley shot 37 percent from the field, 30 percent from 3-point range and 68 percent from the free-throw line.
Only once did the Lions win back-to-back games with victories against Madison Plains (65-42 on Feb. 5) and London (53-36 on Feb. 6). They finished 6-8 in the MSL-Ohio, behind Whitehall (13-1), Worthington Christian (12-2), Academy (9-5) and Grandview (9-5) and ahead of West Jefferson (4-10), London (2-12) and Madison Plains (1-13).
"Every night we were in games, but we just couldn't get over the hump," Phillips said. "We hung our hat on defense, but our scoring is pretty telling in how our season went."
Bexley will lose two of its top scorers in seniors Cole Heilman and Hudson Wagenbrenner, both of whom were second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Heilman averaged 12 points and 5.7 assists, and Wagenbrenner averaged 10.1 points and 6.9 rebounds.
Senior Miles Penn has committed to play at Heidelberg University.
Expected key returnees are junior forward Simon Kroos (9.6 points, honorable mention all-league and all-district), junior guard Justin Frey, sophomore post player Shannon Stanley and freshman guard Ryan Callahan. Frey missed much of the season with a stress fracture in his back.
"We laid a pretty good foundation about how our program is going to go forward," said Phillips, who completed his first season. "We have to practice better. I think the inconsistencies we saw in games might've been because of practice. There are ways we have to change the way we practice and prepare. There has to be a tough-minded attitude on practice and preparation."Girls basketball team slumped without Toney
Midway through January, the girls basketball team had positioned itself to make a run at an MSL-Ohio championship.
Those aspirations were dashed when the Lions' leading scorer, junior guard Brie Toney, suffered an injury and missed the final six games. Bexley lost six of its last eight contests to finish 12-11 overall.
Two of those were back-to-back losses to Buckeye Valley, which defeated the Lions 49-38 in the first round of the Division II district tournament Feb. 15 and 38-26 in the regular-season finale Feb. 8. Buckeye Valley was seeded eighth for the postseason and Bexley was seeded 10th.
In the MSL-Ohio, Bexley (8-6) finished behind West Jefferson (12-2), London (10-4) and Worthington Christian (10-4) and ahead of Madison Plains (7-7), Whitehall (5-9), Grandview (4-10) and Academy (0-14).
"We were playing with a short bench and not having Brie in there hurt a lot," coach Joshua Price said.
"But if you look at the glass (being) half full, we were able to develop some young players. We showed some grit and (girls) made strides as individuals."
Two of those individuals were freshmen in guard Maddy Vincent and guard/forward Emma Dressel.
In Toney's absence, Vincent (second-team all-league, honorable-mention all-district) stepped up as the team's top scorer and averaged 11.7 points. Dressel, who played mostly junior varsity, averaged 7.0 points.
Toney, a first-team all-league and all-district selection, finished as the Lions' top scorer (17.9) and rebounder (10.1).
Bexley loses four seniors, including honorable mention all-league selection Charnae Williams and contributors Ashley Barno and Tamya Bell.
Junior guard Lauren Woodford, who led the team in assists (3.5) and steals (3.0), and sophomore guard Amanda Frey are expected to be key contributors next season.
"We showed what we were capable of and didn't back down from anybody," Price said. "Those are all positive things."