It has taken the Olentangy High School boys basketball team 10 years to return to a Division I district semifinal, and the Braves are ready to roll.

It has taken the Olentangy High School boys basketball team 10 years to return to a Division I district semifinal, and the Braves are ready to roll.

Olentangy upset ninth-seeded and host Hilliard Bradley 64-48 on Feb. 26 in the second round to reach the semifinal.

The 27th-seeded Braves play 17th-seeded Groveport at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 3, at Gahanna. The Cruisers are 12-11.

"We went to watch them play (in the second round) at Orange and made a night of it, having a pizza party and then going to the game," coach Chris Kelly said. "(The Cruisers) have really good guard play and they have some size. With our post player (Derrick Wyche) being 6(-foot)-3, that's always a concern."

The winner advances to a district final against top-seeded Gahanna or 23rd-seeded Pickerington North at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 5, at Ohio Dominican.

Gahanna was 22-2 and Pickerington North was 11-12 before playing March 2.

The district champion advances to a regional semifinal March 10 at Ohio Dominican.

In 2006, Olentangy lost to Lancaster 64-42 in a district semifinal.

The last time the Braves played in a district final was 1991, when they won a Division III championship by defeating Jonathan Alder 64-63. It's the program's only district title.

That team started 4-11, but reached a regional final and lost to Cincinnati McNicholas 75-54 to finish 12-13.

Olentangy started slow against Bradley, trailing 28-16 with 4 minutes, 18 seconds left in the first half. The Braves regrouped and led 60-39 with 1:29 left in the game.

"We played our best defense of the year and we came out with great energy," Kelly said. "We played with intensity and stayed incredibly disciplined, even when we were down 12 in the second quarter."

Seth O'Neal had 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and Christian Mazzeo scored 12 points. Wyche had 10 points and five rebounds, and Carter Kinnaird had nine points.

Pioneers fall to Cruisers in tourney

Orange lost to Groveport 50-34 on Feb. 23 in the second round of the district tournament.

The 14th-seeded Pioneers finished 18-5. Colin Shepherd was the only player for Orange in double figures with 15 points.

"It was a frustrating way to end such a good season," coach Anthony Calo said. "This in no way takes away from what we accomplished."

Patriots grew during season

After a 0-4 start, Liberty could have mailed in the remainder of the season.

Eighth-year coach Greg Nossaman said that did not happen, as the Patriots finished 10-13 overall.

"Kids have a lot going on with academics and girlfriends and everything else, and they were coming off a (football) playoff run and started 0-4," Nossaman said. "The guys could have let that bother them, but they didn't. They could have quit, but instead they battled back."

The 21st-seeded Patriots lost at 18th-seeded Westerville North 69-57 on Feb. 20 in the first round of the district tournament.

Liberty tied Hilliard Davidson for fifth (5-9) in the OCC-Central Division behind Upper Arlington (13-1), Dublin Coffman (12-2), Marysville (8-6) and Thomas Worthington (8-6) and ahead of Central Crossing (4-10) and Westland (1-13).

The Patriots were led in scoring by one of their two seniors in forward Spencer Mitchell (honorable mention all-district, second-team all-league). He averaged 13.3 points and shot 79.3 percent (50-for-63) on free throws, 40 percent (34-for-85) on 3-pointers and 50.9 percent (111-for-218) on field goals.

Liberty also will lose junior guard/forward Brendon White, who has verbally committed to play football at Ohio State and is looking toward early enrollment. White was honorable mention all-district and second-team all-league, averaging 12.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists. He also shot 60.2 percent (124-for-206) on field goals.

Junior forward Drew Rosi (10.8 points, 6.2 rebounds) was honorable mention all-league.

Also expected back are juniors Jack Barnett (point guard), Michael Bass (post player), Brett Buzash (wing/post player), Evan Koknat (post player), Ethan Novy (guard) and Trey Stablein (guard) and freshman guard Ben Roderick (7.6 points).