The way Reynoldsburg viewed its 53-52 victory over Pickerington North on Feb. 9 likely was different from many followers of central Ohio high school boys basketball.

Beating the Panthers, who two days later received the No. 1 seed for the Division I district tournament, provided the signature win that arguably was missing from the Raiders' regular-season resume.

However, Reynoldsburg never has wavered in its belief that it could be a district title contender.

The Raiders followed by beating a strong Division II team, Hartley, 59-52 on Feb. 12 and closed the regular season Feb. 16 by beating Lancaster 84-36.

"(Beating North) was a good win," coach Scott Davis said. "We feel that if we can put four quarters together, we're really competitive. Honestly there are 12-plus teams that can win district titles. I don't think there's a lot of separation between the top 10."

The Raiders will put that confidence to the test beginning Saturday, Feb. 24, when they open the postseason at home against 40th-seeded Thomas Worthington in a first-round game.

Reynoldsburg is the 10th seed and would play host to 37th-seeded Watkins Memorial on March 2 in a second-round contest if it beats the Cardinals.

A possible matchup with 11th-seeded Westerville Central could be waiting if both teams reach a district semifinal March 7, and a third matchup with Pickerington North could follow if both teams make it to a district final March 10 at Ohio Dominican.

Reynoldsburg closed the regular season at 15-7 overall and 5-5 in the OCC-Ohio Division. The victory over Lancaster gave it a four-game winning streak after losing consecutively to two other teams that also could be in the mix for district titles, Westerville North (57-46 on Jan. 27) and Pickerington Central (63-58 on Feb. 2).

After Tre Williams scored 23 points against Pickerington North, Jamiel Goliday made five 3-pointers and had 23 points and Ben Fort added 16 against Hartley.

Wins such as those, according to Goliday, are just part of the process for the Raiders.

"We're making progress very slowly right now," he said. "The win we got against Pickerington North is really the spark we needed going into the tournament. We're emphasizing on defense more than anything right now, limiting and stopping our opponents is key."

Thomas is just 5-17, but it did earn a 49-46 upset win Jan. 27 over Westerville South, which is seeded eighth for the district tournament.

Watkins Memorial closed the regular season with a 61-52 win over Licking Heights on Feb. 16 and is 11-11. On Feb. 10, the Warriors won 51-48 over Hilliard Darby, which is the district's 18th seed.

"We expect to play well," Davis said. "I feel like things are wide open and I don't think there's any clear-cut team that people are going to say is going to dominate. It was nice to put close to a full game together (against Pickerington North). Our effort was rewarded."

Culbert qualifies for state swim meet

Harvey Culbert of the boys swimming and diving team is heading back to the Division I state meet in the 100-yard breaststroke and 200 individual medley after placing 10th in the 100 breast and 21st in the 200 IM last season.

On Feb. 17 in the district meet at Ohio University, Culbert placed third in the 100 breast (57.93 seconds) and third in the 200 IM (1:54.72). He is seeded 19th in the 100 breast and 15th in the 200 IM at state.

At district, the top two finishers in each event automatically advanced to the state meet Friday, Feb. 23, and Saturday, Feb. 24, at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded in each event based on district times statewide.

Culbert's time in the 200 IM was a program record, as was the Raiders' time of 1:29.76 in the 200 freestyle relay and Nate Gaver's time of 22.26 in the 50 free. Culbert, Jared Davis, Gaver and Tanner Wooddell swam on the 200 free relay.

"It was nice," Culbert said. "I'm pretty well set up for state. We broke three school records today, with our 200 free relay, me in the 200 IM and Nate Gaver in the 50 free, so that was exciting. I'm definitely working on my breaststroke turns. Other than that, I felt really powerful and strong and I'm excited for (state)."

The boys scored 48 points at district to place 14th behind champion Dublin Jerome (303) as 29 teams scored. The girls scored two points to place 28th behind champion Upper Arlington (274) as 30 teams scored.

Girls basketball team opens tourney play

The fourth-seeded girls basketball team opened the Division I district tournament Feb. 17 by beating 44th-seeded Briggs 87-24 in a first-round home game.

The Raiders play 49th-seeded Whitehall on Friday, Feb. 23, at home.

If Reynoldsburg wins its second-round game, it will play 14th-seeded Big Walnut or 24th-seeded Hilliard Bradley in a district semifinal Wednesday, Feb. 28, at a site to be announced.

The district final is March 3 at Ohio Dominican. The next-highest seeds in Reynoldsburg's bracket are No. 8 Hartley and No. 9 Gahanna.

With a 65-18 victory over Zanesville on Feb. 12, Reynoldsburg closed the regular season at 17-5.

Jalynda Salley had 16 points, Mackenzie Davis scored 12 and Uju Ezeudu added 10 as 10 players scored for the Raiders, who led 40-10 by halftime.

In the tournament opener, Ezeudu and Bre Johnson each had 17 points and Davis scored 15.

Wrestlers to open postseason action

On Saturday, Feb. 24, the wrestling team will open the postseason in a Division I sectional at Upper Arlington.

The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament March 2 and 3 at Darby.

The Raiders also competed in the UA sectional last season. Two of their three district qualifiers from last season, junior Kyle Copas and senior Thomas Baire, are returnees.

Bowlers prep for sectional

The boys and girls bowling teams are preparing for Division I postseason action.

The boys compete at sectional Friday, Feb. 23, and the girls compete at sectional Saturday, Feb. 24. Both sectionals are at HP Lanes.

The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams for both boys and girls advance to the district tournament March 3 at HP Lanes.

The boys team finished 8-7 overall, 7-4 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-B Division and 2-4 in the OCC-Central after beating Hilliard Davidson 2,172-1,797 on Feb. 15

The girls finished 2-12 overall, 1-10 in the COHSBC-B and 1-5 in the OCC-Central after losing 1,567-1,406 to Davidson.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

At a glance

Below are the members of the Reynoldsburg boys and girls swimming & diving teams who competed at district but did not qualify for state:

Boys -- Jared Davis: 100 fly (55.59, 19th); Nate Gaver: 50 free (22.26, 18th), 100 free (49.29, 15th); 200 free relay (10th, 1:29.76); 200 medley relay (disqualified)

Girls -- Kasey Lichtner: 100 breast (1:10.14, 15th)