A forgettable first half of the season aside, the Watterson High School boys basketball team has plenty to smile about.
The Eagles lost four games in a row after beating St. Charles 57-55 on Dec. 22, were blown out by Westerville North 67-50 on Jan. 13 and lost to Hartley 48-38 on Jan. 19.
However, after falling to the Hawks, Watterson put together a six-game winning streak, which included a 64-53 victory over Ready on Feb. 5 that put the Eagles back into CCL title contention.
What seemed improbable early in the season came to fruition Feb. 16 when Cort Marbaugh followed a missed shot by Liam Aman by making a short jumper with 1.6 seconds left to give the Eagles a 57-56 win at Ready to earn a share of the CCL championship.
Watterson, Hartley and Ready all finished 6-2 in the league, while DeSales and St. Charles both went 1-7.
The basket by Marbaugh represented his only points of the game.
"We were trying to create on a dribble, and I saw Liam take a fade-away," Marbaugh said. "I didn't know if it was going to make it, so I got in position and laid it up. It's amazing since we started 4-8 and had all that adversity."
The Eagles were 12-9 overall before closing the regular season Feb. 20 against Hilliard Davidson. They are seeded ninth for the Division II district tournament and open with a second-round game March 3 at home against 14th-seeded Sparta Highland.
After losing to Worthington Kilbourne 71-60 on Feb. 9, Watterson beat Whetstone 67-33 on Feb. 13 behind 18 points from Zach Sawyer and 12 from Stephen Garrett.
In the rematch with Ready, the Eagles rallied from a 33-26 halftime deficit to earn a season sweep of the Silver Knights.
Sawyer had 23 points and Jimmy Patton scored 14 for Watterson, which had won eight of its last nine games before Feb. 20.
"We'll take a piece of the pie," coach Vince Lombardo said. "I'm real proud of our guys, not only from the season as a whole, but (Feb. 16) they kept battling and kept working. They made some plays. It was an interesting ballgame, without a doubt. Obviously, the last play was not the way we drew it up, but Cort was there to put it in.
"Ready was creating turnovers and we were giving them easy points with our turnovers that were sacrificing our possessions. With their two leading scorers, trying to keep them from getting to the basket is tough, so we were trying to make it hard for them."
Boys swimmers place second at district
When the boys swimming team walked up to receive its Division II district runner-up trophy Feb. 16 at Ohio University, coach Megan Downing Teeters was asked by surprised onlookers where the rest of her competitors were when only five came to the awards podium.
"We were district runners-up with only five boys," Downing Teeters said. "I'm really happy with how things turned out."
Watterson scored 213 points at district to place behind Columbus Academy (324) as 31 teams scored.
Thomas Clark captured two district titles, winning both the 100-yard butterfly (50.26) and the 200 individual medley (meet-record 1:53.97).
He is seeded fourth and third, respectively, for the state meet Thursday, Feb. 22, and Friday, Feb. 23, at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Perry Finnegan was first (21.49), David Coss was second (22.19) and Michael Vondran took third (22.37) in the 50 free, and Finnegan added a runner-up finish in the 100 free (47.04).
At state, Finnegan is seeded eighth in the 50 free and sixth in the 100 free, Coss is seeded 17th in the 50 free and Vondran is seeded 23rd in the 50 free.
Clark, Coss, Finnegan and Vondran finished first in the 200 free relay (1:26.73) and second in the 200 medley relay (1:37.99). The 200 free relay is seeded third at state, and the 200 medley relay is seeded ninth.
At district, the top two placers in each swimming event automatically advanced to state. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded for each swimming event based on times statewide.
Brown, Intihar lead girls swimmers
Mia Brown and Elizabeth Intihar led the girls swimming team in the Division I district meet Feb. 17 at Ohio University.
Brown placed second in the 50 free (23.7) and eighth in the 100 free (52.48) and Intihar was runner-up in the 500 free (4:56.78) and finished fourth in the 200 free (1:53.43), as the Stallions scored 139 points to finish fifth behind champion Upper Arlington (274) as 30 teams scored.
For the state meet Friday, Feb. 23, and Saturday, Feb. 24, at Branin Natatorium, Brown is seeded sixth in the 50 free and 19th in the 100 free, and Intihar is seeded seventh in the 500 free and 16th in the 200 free.
"My goal was just to make it, so I'm happy," Intihar said.
Also advancing to state were the 200 free relay of Brown, Intihar, Cecilia Moore and Julia St. John (1:38.21, sixth) and the 400 free relay of Brown, Intihar, Moore and St. John (3:34.84, fourth).
The 200 free relay is seeded 16th and the 400 free relay is seeded 17th.
"It was a great day," Brown said. "I got my best time in both of my (individual) events, and I even went my best time as anchor in both relays. We just have to keep our taper going and keep taking care of the small things like our turns and our underwaters and we'll have a great state meet."
Girls basketball team to face Olentangy
The 13th-seeded girls basketball team opened the Division I district tournament Feb. 17 with a 66-22 victory over 40th-seeded Delaware.
The win advanced the Eagles to a second-round game Friday, Feb. 23, at home against 29th-seeded Olentangy, with the winner facing top-seeded Newark or 50th-seeded Franklin Heights in a district semifinal Wednesday, Feb. 28, at a neutral site to be announced.
The district final is March 3 at Ohio Dominican University.
Watterson improved to 15-8 with the win over Delaware as Lainey Billing had 15 points, Paige Woodford scored 12 and Julianna DiSabato added 10.
The Eagles, who led Delaware 34-10 at halftime, figure to have a tougher task in Olentangy. The Braves are 11-11 after beating 16th-seeded Teays Valley 49-47 in their tournament opener on a 3-pointer just past half-court at the buzzer by Meg Spohn.
Hockey team falls in district opener
The eighth-seeded hockey team opened the district tournament with a 7-2 loss to 12th-seeded Cincinnati St. Xavier in a second-round game Feb. 18 at OhioHealth Ice Haus to finish 21-11-2.
Bowling teams set to open postseason
The bowling teams are preparing to start the postseason this week at HP Lanes.
The boys team will compete in the sectional Friday, Feb. 23, while the girls team will compete at sectional Saturday, Feb. 24.
The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams in each sectional advance to the district tournament March 3 at HP Lanes.
@UlreyThisWeekAt a glance
Below are the members of the Watterson boys and girls swimming and diving teams who competed at district but did not qualify for state:
BOYS -- David Coss: 100 free (49.76, fifth); Samuel Oliver: 100 free (52.11, 14th), 200 free (1:57.02, 12th); Michael Vondran: 100 free (50.44, 10th)
GIRLS -- Cecilia Moore: 100 back (59.46, 12th), 200 IM (2:12.98, 10th); Alyssa O'Sullivan: 200 IM (2:15.07, 13th); Amanda Springer: 100 breast (1:11.75, 24th); Julia St. John: 100 back (59.27, 10th), 100 free (53.9, 21st); 200 medley relay (1:59.54, 20th)