When Drew Williams took over the Whitehall-Yearling High School boys basketball program in April 2013, athletics director Mike Ferguson had what seemed like an underwhelming request for his new coach.
Ferguson wanted the program to contend for a league title at least once a decade.
The Rams easily have exceeded his expectations, as they secured their fourth MSL-Ohio Division title in five seasons by defeating Columbus Academy 60-45 on Feb. 16. Whitehall shared the championship with Grandview at 8-2 after tying Academy for fourth place last season.
"When Mike Ferguson hired me he told me they wanted to compete for a championship at least once every decade and I was like, 'Once every decade?' So I think that he would be very proud of the Whitehall program," Williams said. "He was a great guy. He set the program up really well."
Ferguson died Oct. 20, 2015, after a long battle with cancer.
After losing to Grandview 67-54 on Feb. 3, the Rams won four of their next five games to earn a share of the MSL-Ohio title and build momentum for the postseason.
"We're playing good basketball, but we have to keep that going," senior Tyjaun Childers said. "We have to take that into the (Division I district) tournament."
Against Academy, Childers scored 14 points, Reiko Bagley had 12 and Darius Butler added 11.
Bagley had 10 points in the fourth quarter, as the Rams outscored the Vikings 19-7.
"We played the kind of basketball we're capable of playing," Williams said. "It was almost like a tournament game, so it was a good win."
Whitehall held a customary net-cutting ceremony after the game to celebrate the league title, although Williams and his coaches quickly refocused on the team's regular-season finale Feb. 19 against Hartley. The Rams entered the game 13-8 overall.
Whitehall opens district tournament play March 2 at 11th-seeded Westerville Central or at home against 32nd-seeded Delaware in the second round. The 24th-seeded Rams have a first-round bye.
"At the point where we're at right now, you're one and done," Williams said.
"I'm just trying to get them to learn how you have to play (in the postseason). A lot of them don't understand how you have to play, and we come out of the gate having to play a tough game. You have to value the ball. You have to be locked in on defense."
Childers wants to end his prep career by leading the Rams on a long postseason run.
"High school went by fast," he said. "When I was younger I never really listened when they said it would go by fast and cherish it, and now I'm just cherishing my senior year because it's coming to an end. But hopefully we can play a lot longer and go (to Ohio State) and play for a (state) title."
Williams said the return of Marcus Harris (back) and Martez Johnson (foot) from injuries should boost his team's postseason chances. The game against Academy was the first time Williams had a full complement of players since early December.
"I'm just so proud of these kids because I've had to blend a bunch to compete together and they've responded very well," Williams said.
"I would have liked to win all the games, but we haven't had all of our kids together since Dec. 9. I'm proud of these kids and the tournament is a lot of fun. We'll be ready to go."
Girls basketball team to face Reynoldsburg
After a first-round bye, the 49th-seeded girls basketball team visits fourth-seeded Reynoldsburg in the second round of the Division I district tournament Friday, Feb. 23.
Reynoldsburg defeated 44th-seeded Briggs 87-24 in the first round Feb. 17.
The Rams are 1-21 overall and finished 0-10 in the MSL-Ohio.
Gymnast to compete in district meet
Sophomore gymnast Rebekah Revadelo will compete in the district meet Saturday, Feb. 24, at Worthington Kilbourne.
The top eight finishers in each event and the all-around advance to the state individual meet March 3 at Hilliard Bradley.
Last season at district, Revadelo finished 51st of 90 competitors in the all-around (30.625). She tied for 22nd on balance beam (8.5), tied for 79th on vault (7.6), tied for 83rd on uneven bars (6.65) and finished 71st on floor exercise (7.875).
Revadelo trains and competes with Westerville Central.
Below are the coming schedules for the Whitehall-Yearling bowling and wrestling teams:
Feb. 23 -- Division I boys sectional at HP Lanes. The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district March 3 at HP Lanes.
Feb. 24 -- Division I girls sectional at HP Lanes. The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district March 3 at HP Lanes.
Feb. 24 -- Division I sectional at home. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 2 and 3 at Perrysburg.