After seeing limited action last season because of a knee injury and a deep roster, Westerville South High School senior boys basketball player Jake Garrison has taken advantage of his opportunity this winter.
Garrison emerged as a starting wing player and helped get the Wildcats in position to make another postseason run.
Last season, when the Wildcats defeated Lima Senior 57-55 in the Division I state title game, Garrison watched the postseason from the bench. He injured the meniscus in his left knee for the second time late in the season.
"Last year was a lot of fun and it was great being a part of that group of guys, but this year is an even better experience because I get to contribute at the level that I wanted to and I was hoping for," Garrison said. "I love the group of guys that I'm with right now."
The sixth-seeded Wildcats were 19-5 before playing 14th-seeded Hilliard Davidson in a district semifinal March 8.
Through 24 games, Garrison was averaging 7.8 points and five rebounds, helping to offset the loss of six 2016 graduates, including starters Daylan Haynie, Jordan Humphrey, Ennis Thomas and Andre Wesson.
Senior wing player Cameron Caldwell, who saw limited time last season, also has emerged as a key contributor and was averaging 9.4 points through 24 games.
"For a senior to come on -- and Cam is the same way -- those two guys didn't receive much time last year, but they've been in the program and they know what's expected of them," coach Ed Calo said. "They're very hard workers and they've delivered."
Senior post player Kaleb Wesson entered the district semifinal leading the team in scoring, averaging 21.4 points, followed by senior wing player Antoine Smith Jr. (13.1) and senior point guard Anthony Mills (8.9).
The South-Davidson winner plays eighth-seeded St. Charles or 10th-seeded Reynoldsburg in a district final Saturday, March 11, at Ohio Dominican. South lost to visiting Reynoldsburg 65-63 on Jan. 10 on Reece Strohm's 3-pointer as time expired, but did not play St. Charles during the regular season.
The district champion plays Dublin Coffman, Grove City, Mifflin or Pickerington Central in a regional semifinal Wednesday, March 15, at Ohio Dominican. South lost to visiting Central 62-57 on Jan. 3, but did not play Coffman, Grove City or Mifflin.
The regional final is March 18 at Ohio Dominican.
South defeated 44th-seeded Big Walnut 88-41 in the second round Feb. 28 at home. Wesson scored 24 points, Smith had 22 and Caldwell added 10.
"Our efforts have been really good," said Calo, whose team defeated 45th-seeded Franklin Heights 93-32 in first round Feb. 23. "Obviously, we played teams that aren't very good and there is a tendency to sometimes be complacent or not exert an effort, but I thought our kids gave a good effort."
Girls basketball team
loses in district final
The girls basketball team reached a Division I district final, losing to second-seeded Coffman 65-38 on March 4 at Ohio Dominican.
The 17th-seeded Wildcats finished 15-10 overall.
"In life when you start having a little success, you have to go through these kinds of things," coach Silas Williams said. "This humbles you. Did we think we could advance? We did. But today was a better day for (Coffman). We can't neglect our accomplishments as well."
Sophomore guard Peyton Guice scored 12 points and junior guard Cailin Duffy added 10.
South earned its first postseason win since 2011 by defeating 10th-seeded and host Olentangy Liberty 43-38 in the second round Feb. 21.
The Wildcats then defeated 14th-seeded Pickerington North 50-32 in a semifinal March 1 at Olentangy Orange. Duffy scored 17 points, freshman guard Anyssa Jones had 13 and Guice added 12.
South played its final eight games without sophomore point guard Sommer Pitzer, who suffered a left ACL injury in a 50-38 loss at Pickerington North on Jan. 31.
Despite that, Pitzer was named OCC-Buckeye Division Player of the Year.
"(The district final) was real hard to watch," Pitzer said. "It was hard not being out there playing with them, but I know how hard they worked."
Duffy and Jones were named second-team all-league, Guice was special mention and junior guard Christiana Robertson was honorable mention.
Juniors Tayler James (guard) and Bryanna Sheppard (post player), sophomore Jasmine Konneker (guard) and freshman Asaya Bulgin (post player) also are eligible to return.
South went 7-3 in the OCC-Buckeye to tie Westerville North for second behind Liberty (8-2) and ahead of Olentangy (6-4), Orange (2-8) and Westerville Central (0-10).
compete at district
Seniors Isaac Roussos and Gunner Dill capped their prep wrestling careers in the Division I district tournament March 3 and 4 at Hilliard Darby.
Roussos went 1-2 at 138 pounds to finish 37-10, and Dill went 1-2 at 182 to finish 24-21.
"Those two seniors have been great for our program," coach George Crooks said. "They're good, hard-working kids (who are) a lot of fun. It's always tough to see them wrestle their last match."
The Wildcats tied Gahanna for 36th (4 points) behind champion Liberty (236.5) as 42 teams scored.
At sectional Feb. 25, South finished 10th (36.5) of 11 teams behind champion and host Marysville (244.5).
The Wildcats went 0-5 in the OCC-Buckeye to finish sixth behind Liberty (5-0), North (4-1), Olentangy (3-2), Central (2-3) and Orange (1-4).
Key wrestlers eligible to return include sophomores Seth Chrisman (120-138), Bobby Henderson (126) and Jacob Shalvey (132) and freshman Aaron Morton (160).
ends at district
The bowling teams competed in the Division I district tournament March 3 at Sawmill Lanes but did not advance anyone to state.
The girls finished 12th (3,118) of 20 teams behind champion Briggs (3,888). Kim Diaz was 52nd of 133 bowlers with a 477 series and Maggie Van Scyoc was 57th (468), followed by Sophie Hand (461, tied for 60th), Taylor Knox (456, tied for 65th) and Emily Grise (419, tied for 78th).
The boys finished 14th (3,816) of 20 teams behind champion Westerville Central (4,176). Cameron Voigt tied for 39th of 127 bowlers with a 587 series and Parker Van Scyoc was 47th (582), followed by Callan Van Scyoc (557, tied for 58th), Parker Williams (515, 85th) and Colton Rice (328, two games).
The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams from both tournaments advanced to state.