The Hilliard Bradley High School boys basketball team entered a Division II district semifinal against Groveport on March 8 looking keep its record-setting season alive.
The third-seeded Jaguars were 23-1 before playing seventh-seeded Groveport at Central Crossing. They already had set the program record for wins in a season and entered the semifinal having won 22 consecutive games.Videos •Watch an interview with Bradley boys basketball player Isaiah Speelman. •Bradley wrestler Zander Ellison clinches a berth in the Division I state tournament with an overtime win over Pickerington North's Brandon Hassel.
Bradley defeated 40th-seeded Teays Valley 63-39 in a second-round game March 2 to finish 13-0 at home on the season and advance to a district semifinal for the second time. The Jaguars lost to Northland 61-52 in their first semifinal appearance in 2015.
"That means a lot, especially coming from where we did," junior guard Braden Norris said, referring to the program having to rebuild from a 1-22 finish in the 2012-13 season. "Protecting your home court like that leads to winning and that helps win league championships like we did this season."
Bradley won the program's first league title by finishing 12-0 in the OCC-Cardinal Division, ahead of runner-up Dublin Jerome (9-3).
Against Teays Valley, Norris led the Jaguars with 20 points. Matt Allocco had 15 points, Isaiah Speelman scored 12 and Zach Hummel scored 10.
"We have to keep surviving and advancing in the tournament," Speelman said. "It's a one-game tournament, so we're taking things one game at a time. Nothing is guaranteed but the next game."
The semifinal winner plays fourth-seeded Upper Arlington or fifth-seeded Northland in a district final at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 11, at Ohio Dominican University. The Jaguars have not played either team this season.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal March 16 at Ohio Dominican.
Norris entered the game against Groveport needing 19 points to become the program's all-time leading scorer. He had 1,103 career points, trailing only 2016 graduate Brandon Glenn (1,121).
Speelman, a junior forward, was not far behind with 1,070 career points.
Ellison qualifies for
state in wrestling
Sophomore wrestler Zander Ellison scored a five-point move to send his match into overtime en route to earning a berth in the Division I state tournament.
The junior finished fourth at 126 pounds in the district tournament March 3 and 4 at Darby to advance to state, which runs Thursday, March 9, through Saturday, March 11, at Ohio State. The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to state.
Ellison was down in the final seconds of the third period of his state-qualifying match when he took down Pickerington North's Brandon Hassel, putting him on his back to send the match into overtime tied at 9. Ellison went on to win 11-9 and move into the third-place match, which he lost to Marion Harding's Mason Sparks 7-3.
"Zander showed tremendous resilience," coach John Riggs said. "He hit a fireman's carry and a dump to get five quick points to send it into overtime. Then he got the takedown for the win."
Ellison went 3-2 at district to improve to 33-10 on the season.
The Jaguars had five other wrestlers at district, including 2016 state-qualifier Riley Amador. The senior 138-pounder, who battled a shoulder injury throughout the season and tweaked a knee in his sectional final Feb. 25, went 0-2 to finish 22-8.
Senior Jake Reitz (170, 35-11 overall), junior Issa Khalil (220, 32-14) and freshman Tyler Bemrose (106, 29-9) all went 2-2 at district, and junior J.T. Lemmerman (145, 28-23) went 1-2.
"We took six kids and four of them reached the placement round," said Riggs, whose team finished 21st (29 points) at district behind champion Olentangy Liberty (236.5) as 42 teams scored. "Our kids wrestled well."
Jones competes at
state gymnastics meet
Grace Jones represented the gymnastics team in the home individual state meet March 4.
The Jaguars' lone senior finished 33rd of 36 competitors on balance beam with an 8.1.
"I was very proud of how Grace performed because she had to wait until the very end of the day to compete in beam, which is really tough to do," said coach Carol Eskay, who was named state Coach of the Year and received the state service award. "Despite this, her skills looked great on the beam. Overall, she had a really great performance."
Jones tied Dublin Coffman's Bethany Hurt and Thornville Sheridan's Bre Campbell for sixth on beam with an 8.925 in the district meet Feb. 25 at Thomas Worthington, as the top nine finishers in each event and the all-around advanced to the individual state meet.
The Jaguars just fell one spot shy of advancing to the team state meet March 3, as they finished fourth (133.1) behind state-qualifiers Sheridan (138.65), Olentangy (137.425) and Dresden Tri-Valley (135.825) as 23 teams scored.
Greta Planck led the Jaguars in the all-around at district, finishing 14th (33.775). The junior tied for 10th on floor exercise (8.875), tied for 14th on vault (8.55), tied for 17th on uneven bars (8.2) and was 35th on beam (8.15).
Jones finished 17th in the all-around (33.475), was 19th on bars (8.175), tied for 24th on vault (8.2) and finished 51st on floor (8.175), while sophomore Lexi Patterson was 18th in the all-around (33.225).
Bradley won its fifth consecutive league title by winning the OCC-Cardinal meet Feb. 11 and going 6-0 in league duals.
The Jaguars scored a 133.95 in the league meet to finish ahead of Darby (128.3), Worthington Kilbourne (126.5), Jerome (121.625), Delaware (118.6), Thomas (117.9) and Dublin Scioto (55.4).
In the overall league standings, Bradley totaled 28 points to finish ahead of Kilbourne (22, 5-1), Darby (22, 4-2), Jerome (14, 2-4), Thomas (12, 3-3), Delaware (10, 1-2) and Scioto (4, 0-6).
Planck tied Kilbourne's Bethany Lange for the league title in the all-around (35.075) and won both floor (9.15) and vault (9.075), while Jones won beam (8.925).
Other expected key returnees are junior Elisa Reed and sophomore Makayla Cornell.
"(We) had an overall great season," Eskay said. "We continued to improve throughout the season and we were peaking at just the right time."
Bowling teams end
season at district
The girls bowling team finished 14th (3,021) of 20 teams in the Division I district tournament March 3 at Sawmill Lanes and didn't have any individual state qualifiers.
Briggs (3,888), Whitehall (3,811), Delaware (3,740) and Gahanna (3,611) advanced to state Friday, March 10, at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Sophomore Christy Hribar led the Jaguars, rolling a 522 three-game series to finish 16th of 133 bowlers. Senior Margaret Birnbrich (458, tied for 63rd), sophomore Ava Miller (413, 82nd) and junior Claire Waggener (406, 86th) also rolled three games.
Big Walnut's Kaitlyn Morrison (571) was the fourth and final individual state qualifier.
The boys team was represented at district by juniors Dalton Barclay (603, tied for 26th of 127) and Dylan Hall (591, 34th).
Logan's Austin Huffines (646) was the fourth and final individual qualifier for state Saturday, March 11, at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
"Christy Hribar rolled well and we had some chances but just couldn't put together enough shots," coach John Thompson said. "Dalton and Dylan both will be back as seniors next year and we should have a pretty strong top five."
The boys tied Olentangy Orange for 10th (6-9) in the COHSBC-North behind co-champions Westerville Central and Westerville South (both 14-1) and tied Delaware and Thomas for fourth (2-4) in the OCC-Cardinal behind champion Groveport (6-0).
The girls tied Westerville Central for sixth (8-6) in the COHSBC-North behind champion Gahanna (14-0) and tied Darby and Newark for second (3-2) in the OCC-Cardinal behind Delaware (5-0).
Girls basketball team
falls in district final
The girls basketball team fell short of winning the program's third district title, losing to third-seeded Pickerington Central 48-29 in a Division I district final March 4 at Ohio Dominican.
The sixth-seeded Jaguars, who finished 21-5, trailed the Tigers 14-4 after one quarter and were never able to recover.
"Their size hurt us early on and it was tough to get anything inside," said coach Kathy Lindsey, whose team won district titles in Division I in 2015 and Division II in 2011. "They are very good offensively and they hit some tough shots. They have some good basketball players that stepped up for them."
Teena Heston had 13 points and Jaiden Bryant scored six for the Jaguars, who rallied for a 40-39 win over 12th-seeded Thomas in a district semifinal March 1 at Marysville. Bradley trailed 16-9 at halftime and 27-21 after three quarters.
Abbey White had 14 points and Carly Allocco scored 13 against the Cardinals, who shared the OCC-Cardinal title with Bradley.
"We had a great comeback in the district semifinal," Lindsey said. "We won one, (Thomas) won one (in league play during the regular season) and we stayed poised and kept working to get back in it."