The Hartley High School girls basketball team is planning to be a tough out when it begins competition in the Division I district tournament later this month.
Performances like the one the Hawks put together in a 51-39 victory over Watterson on Feb. 1 back up that belief.
While snapping a five-game losing streak against the Eagles, the Hawks earned at least a share of the CCL championship for the first time since they shared the title with DeSales and Watterson in the 2012-13 season.
The win over the Eagles, combined with victories over Division I programs such as Northland (68-51 on Jan. 20) and Hilliard Bradley (63-53 on Jan. 29), also reaffirms the confidence Hartley has been building.
"I love these guys," coach Donald Dennis said. "We have four seniors and they played their hearts out (against Watterson).
"We really sat down and played defense. We've been playing zone for a lot of the season and we just decided we were going to match up and take advantage of our quickness and athleticism. Holding (Watterson) to 15 points in the first half was huge."
Hartley is seeded eighth for the district tournament and will open with a first-round game Feb. 17 at home against 38th-seeded Olentangy Orange.
The Hawks are 14-4 overall and lead the CCL at 5-1. They would clinch the league championship outright with a win Thursday, Feb. 8, at home over DeSales, which they beat 64-58 on Jan. 18.
Hartley, which was eighth in last week's area coaches poll, has another big test remaining before the postseason begins.
On Wednesday, Feb. 14, the Hawks will play host to Dresden Tri-Valley in a rematch of a game they lost 43-38 in a Division II regional semifinal last season.
Tri-Valley also has moved up to Division I and was eighth in last week's state poll.
Jordan Kaylor, a forward who had a team-high 13 points against Watterson, is one of four seniors for the Hawks, along with guards Lindsay Dunlap, Amaiah Jones and Kennedy Taylor.
Taylor was the only current player, though, to be a key contributor when the Hawks last beat Watterson.
"We're hoping to beat DeSales and take the (outright) CCL title," Kaylor said. "We've been together, all four of us, since freshman year and we have a good bond on and off the court. We talk and just try to keep them positive and keep them going.
"We worked on (playing fast-paced) at practice this week, especially for Watterson, pushing it because we have a lot of speed with our team, so that helps us get a few breakaways."
Wrestlers prep for league tourney
The wrestling team is moving forward after losing to Galion Northmor 42-27 on Jan. 31 at home in a Division III, Region 21-B semifinal of the team dual tournament.
The Hawks had beaten Grandview 48-28 and Northridge 33-32 in duals Jan. 24 to advance to a regional semifinal. Northmor then beat Rayland Buckeye Local 57-21 for the regional title Jan. 31.
"(The loss to Northmor) was about what we expected," coach Kevin Petrella said. "There were a couple places we were hoping for a couple more bonus points. They just have a little bit more flexibility in the lineup, and that's one of the big things. We've got to just keep working on getting more people on the roster."
The CCL tournament will be held Feb. 15 at Hartley, with DeSales, Ready and St. Charles also expected to compete.
The individual postseason begins with the Division II sectional Feb. 23 and 24 at Licking Valley.
Petrella is optimistic about the way juniors Nate Jackson (220 pounds), Keegan Moran (145) and Griffin Rathburn (195) and sophomores Joe Petrella (152) and Michael Petrella (113) have been progressing.
Sophomore Kenyon Davis (182) and freshman Noah Houchins (113) are others who have taken steps forward, according to coach Petrella.
"I feel like any time you have these dual tournaments, they rally behind each other," coach Petrella said. "It's important to them and they gave great effort, so I'm not disappointed in our performance. It's a good experience moving forward.
"Griffin's probably been looking the best, then probably Michael. Keegan and Nate have been coming on at the end, too. We're looking pretty good."
Boys basketball team looks to sweep Cards
If the boys basketball team wins Friday, Feb. 9, at home against St. Charles, it will earn a season sweep over its CCL rival after getting swept by the Cardinals each of the past two seasons.
Hartley beat St. Charles 49-41 on Jan. 5 behind 16 points from Garrett Tipton, 13 from Morgan Safford and 12 from Payton Collins.
The Hawks were 12-4 overall before playing Grove City Christian on Feb. 6 and improved to 5-2 in the CCL by beating DeSales 57-44 on Feb. 2.
The win over the Stallions gave Hartley a season sweep in that series, as it beat DeSales 59-55 on Dec. 22 in the first round of league play. Tipton had 16 points, Safford scored 15 and Collins added 11 in the second matchup to lead the Hawks, who built a 35-16 lead by halftime.
On Sunday, Feb. 11, the Hawks will learn their drawing for the Division II district tournament, which begins Feb. 26.
Hartley was seeded fourth in last season's district tournament but lost in the second round, falling 39-36 to 10th-seeded Linden-McKinley. The Hawks were fourth in last week's area coaches poll behind City League-powers Beechcroft, Eastmoor Academy and Columbus South.
Another postseason tune-up will take place Monday, Feb. 12, when Hartley plays host to Reynoldsburg in a rematch of a game the Hawks lost 46-33 last season. The Raiders were 11-7 before playing Central Crossing on Feb. 6.
Below are the coming schedules for the Hartley boys basketball, girls basketball and swimming & diving teams:
*Feb. 9 -- Home vs. St. Charles. The Hawks beat the Cardinals 49-41 on Jan. 5.
Feb. 12 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
*Feb. 8 -- Home vs. DeSales. The Hawks beat the Stallions 64-58 on Jan. 18.
Feb. 10 -- Home vs. Springfield Kenton Ridge
Feb. 14 -- At Dresden Tri-Valley
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 10 -- Division II sectional at Columbus Academy. Winner of each swimming event and 27 at-large qualifiers in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites advance to district meet Feb. 16 at Ohio University. There is no diving at sectional.