The New Albany High School boys basketball team has a full head of steam heading into the Division I district tournament.

The New Albany High School boys basketball team has a full head of steam heading into the Division I district tournament.

The Eagles closed the regular season with five consecutive victories to improve to 12-8 overall and finish 10-4 in the OCC-Capital Division, which was good for third place behind co-champions Olentangy Orange and Mount Vernon (11-3 each).

The final week included wins over OCC-Central champion Upper Arlington (63-49 on Feb. 14) and Mount Vernon (47-44 on Feb. 17). The Eagles won seven of their final nine regular-season games and went 6-1 in the second round of league play, avenging earlier losses to Mount Vernon and Delaware. They defeated Delaware 55-42 on Feb. 10 for their third win in the streak, and that followed victories over Franklin Heights (47-46 on Feb. 3) and Big Walnut (48-28 on Feb. 7).

"Things are good in New Albany," coach Sam Davis said.

The trick now is to carry that momentum into the postseason. The Eagles, who are seeded 25th, will meet Dublin Scioto in a first-round tournament game at 7:45 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, at Reynoldsburg. The teams did not meet during the regular season.

"Scioto's a good team, a guard-oriented team like us, and a good shooting team," Davis said. "They're coming off a win (Feb. 17), too, so we're going to be challenged. But I like our chances because right now we're playing our best basketball."

The 22nd-seeded Irish are 10-10 but have dropped five of their last seven. On Feb. 14, Scioto lost 53-47 to Hilliard Bradley, which the Eagles defeated 73-38 on Dec. 6 and 74-59 on Jan. 17 in OCC-Capital play. Scioto also lost 45-34 to Dublin Jerome on Feb. 10 after winning the first-round OCC-Cardinal game 61-42 on Jan. 6.

The Irish, who beat Marysville 60-42 on Feb. 17, have a recent signature win to their credit, defeating Jonathan Alder 58-37 on Jan. 31. The Pioneers were undefeated at the time and are seeded first for the Division II district tournament.

"Jerome was a rivalry game, so you can't put a lot of stock in that," Davis said. "I think (Scioto) showed what they're made of by beating Jonathan Alder. Like us, they play a difficult non-league schedule and that's helped them prepare for the tournament."

The Irish are led by junior guards Antonio Bisutti and Josh Ashwill and senior wing player Ryan Duncan. Look for Scioto to defend New Albany in a zone as it did in the win over the guard-oriented Pioneers, who were held to 27 percent shooting from the field.

"We've just come to the conclusion that we're not very good one-on-one," Irish coach Tony Bisutti said. "We lack the size and physicality."

Darrell Miller, a sophomore guard for the Eagles, scored the decisive points in the finale against Mount Vernon, which had won the first game 51-41 on Jan. 13. He scored a season-high 11 points, and with the game tied at 44, converted a three-point play with 12 seconds remaining.

Davis said the team's second-half surge was keyed by the leadership shown by junior Jalen Rhea and senior Jay Marshall.

"Jalen does a good job and he's not afraid to talk to the team," Davis said. "The kid who's really surprised us, though, is Jay. About six or seven games into the season he really took control of the locker room. He's a big reason why we are where we are right now."