The Bexley High School girls basketball team entered its game against Worthington Christian on Feb. 10 already having clinched its first league championship in 10 years.
However, the Lions weren't about to share the MSL-Ohio Division title.
Junior guard Maddy Vincent scored 22 points to lead Bexley past the Warriors 50-33 to earn the outright league championship and improve to 16-5 overall.
The Lions went 9-1 in the league to finish ahead of runner-up London, which is 7-2 with one game to play Thursday, Feb. 15, against Columbus Academy.
"It feels so good to be able to win the league title," Vincent said. "It's good to be able to say we beat that streak (of 10 seasons without a title). We can come back, see the banner and say we were a part of that team."
Despite the pressure, the Lions seized control of the game early, jumping out to an 11-5 lead after one quarter.
"We might have been a little nervous before the game because we knew what was at stake and we wanted to play so well," junior forward Emma Dressel said.
"But I could tell by the look on everyone's face how bad we wanted it. When we play like a team and play the way we are capable, we can be unstoppable."
Freshman guard Maddy Young had 12 points and senior guard/forward Amanda Frey added 11.
"It mostly comes down to how we play together," Frey said. "We're passionate about our relationship with each other on and off the court. We have to work together, and we play so selflessly because we play for each other."
Coach Joshua Price said one area in which his team rarely falters is on defense. The Lions limited Worthington Christian to single-digit scoring in all but the final quarter, when the Warriors scored 13 points after Price cleared the bench.
"One factor has been our team defense and how well we continue to play on that end of the court," he said. "Consistency is also one of the biggest pieces for us. These girls consistently worked hard and believed every day in a common goal, and they played as one."
The Lions closed the regular season Feb. 13 against Ready. Their next game is Feb. 23 at home against 11th-seeded Lakewood in the second round of the Division II district tournament.
"We knew we would have a tough road no matter which route we took," said Price, whose team is seeded fifth. "In Division II, we know every game we play will be a tough fight."
Swimmers prepare for district meet
Leah Stamm and Allie Grieshop led the girls swimming team and John Niermeyer led the boys in a Division II sectional meet Feb. 10 at Academy.
Stamm finished second in the 100-yard backstroke (1 minute, 1.43 seconds) and is seeded third at district, which is Friday, Feb. 16, at Ohio University.
She also was eighth in the 100 butterfly (1:01.43) at sectional and is seeded eighth at district.
Grieshop was third in the 500 freestyle (5:35.95, fifth seed at district) and 12th in the 200 free (2:08.49, 18th seed) at sectional as the Lions finished sixth (87 points) behind champion Hartley (228) as 18 teams scored.
Bexley also qualified for district in all three relays. The 400 free relay of Grieshop, Olivia Mitchell, Libby Brown and Stamm is seeded sixth at district after finishing fifth in 3:54.87. The 200 free relay of Arianna Martin, Margaux Harding, Mitchell and Brown is seeded eighth after a fifth-place finish of 1:49.99. The 200 medley relay of Alexis Turner, Lily Rosenthal, Stamm and Martin is the 12th seed after finishing seventh in 2:03.2.
John Niermeyer is the 14th seed in the 50 free (24.41) after finishing seventh at sectional as the boys were ninth (53) of 18 teams behind champion Academy (326).
The Lions also qualified all three relays led by the 400 free relay of Danner Rogers, Jack Zwick, Atticus Keels and Niermeyer. They finished seventh in 4:03.65 and are seeded 22nd at district. The 200 medley relay of Zwick, Ryan Kemp, Niermeyer and Rogers was eighth at sectional in 1:58.83 and is seeded 22nd at district. The 200 free relay of Jude Bennett, Hunter Johnson, David Tugend and Miles Sanford is seeded 27th at district after finishing eighth at sectional in 1:49.71.
The winner of each sectional event advanced to district along with 27 at-large qualifiers in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectionals.
At district, the top two placers in each event automatically advance to state Feb. 22 and 23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths will be awarded in each event based on district times statewide.
Boys team earns fifth seed in district
The boys basketball team is seeded fifth for the Division II district tournament behind Beechcroft, Eastmoor Academy, Columbus South and Hartley.
The Lions open with a first-round home game Feb. 26 against 15th-seeded Bloom-Carroll.
Bexley was 14-5 overall before playing Horizon Science on Feb. 13 and is 5-4 in the MSL-Ohio.
Anthony Welsh scored 14 points with three 3-pointers and Shannon Stanley added 12 points to lead Bexley past London 60-27 on Feb. 9 in league play.
Bowlers ready for sectional
The first-year boys bowling team begins the postseason Friday, Feb. 16, in the Division II sectional at HP Lanes.
The top 12 teams and top 12 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Feb. 22 at HP Lanes.
Last season, senior Douglas Munsell competed as an individual at sectional and placed sixth with a three-game series of 609 to advance.
Below are the coming schedules for the Bexley boys basketball and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 16 -- At Worthington Christian. The Lions defeated the Warriors 49-33 on Jan. 13.
Feb. 17 -- At Heath
Feb. 15 -- Home vs. Johnstown and St. Charles
Feb. 17 -- St. Charles Nye Cardinal Classic
*League contestAt a glance
Below are the district qualifiers with sectional time and district seeds for the Bexley boys and girls swimming teams:
BOYS -- Atticus Keels: 500 free (6:20.15, 28th); Gavin Levine: 200 IM (2:36.72, 29th); John Niermeyer: 50 free (24.41, 14th), 100 free (56.22, 26th); Jack Zwick: 100 back (1:09.0, 28th); 200 free relay (1:49.71, 27th); 200 medley relay (1:58.83, 22nd); 400 free relay (4:03.65, 22nd)
GIRLS -- Libby Brown: 50 free (26.89, 27th), 100 free (58.99, 21st); Grayson Denby: 500 free (6:13.4, 28th); Allie Grieshop: 200 free (2:08.49, 18th), 500 free (5:35.95, fifth); Arianna Martin: 100 back (1:09.65, 21st); Ailbhe McCann: 100 breast (1:17.56, 22nd); Olivia Mitchell: 100 fly (1:10.26, 27th), 200 free (2:14.17, 27th); Lily Rosenthal: 100 breast (1:18.2, 25th); Leah Stamm: 100 back (1:01.43, third), 100 fly (1:01.43, eighth); 200 free relay (1:49.99, eighth); 200 medley relay (2:03.2, 12th); 400 free relay (3:54.87, sixth)