As its players continue to adjust to revised roles, the Olentangy Liberty High School boys basketball team is trying to take care of the things within its control.
That includes things such as keeping turnovers to a minimum, which has been an ongoing area of growth this season, according to coach Greg Nossaman.
The Patriots are seeded 14th for the Division I district tournament and open the postseason Saturday, Feb. 24, at home against 20th-seeded Hilliard Davidson in a first-round game.
With a 55-44 loss to Olentangy on Feb. 16 in its regular-season finale, Liberty finished 4-6 in the OCC-Buckeye Division and lost for the fifth consecutive game to fall to 10-12 overall.
The Patriots haven't won since losing junior Ben Roderick, who had been averaging 24.4 points, to a season-ending knee injury.
"We had 24 turnovers (in an 80-70 loss Feb. 10 to Cincinnati Hughes)," Nossaman said. "You can't win doing that against good teams. This year our nemesis has been taking care of the ball. The kids play hard, but that can only get you so far.
"(Roles) have changed, that's for sure. We didn't have a problem scoring (against Hughes), but (in a 67-51 loss to Westerville Central on Feb. 9) we only had two points in the fourth quarter. We were up two going into the fourth and lost by 16."
Among the players having a bigger impact offensively since the loss of Roderick is junior guard Nick Nakasian, who had 21 points against Hughes but was held to four against Olentangy.
Junior guard/forward Mitch Kershner had 15 points against Olentangy.
Freshman guard Henry Hinkle also has seen increased action since the loss of Roderick.
Davidson was 12-9 before playing Watterson on Feb. 20 in its regular-season finale. The Wildcats are led by 6-foot-7 junior forward Jacob Drees, who averages 12 points.
The Liberty-Davidson winner plays host to 23rd-seeded Northland on March 2 in a second-round game.
"We've hung in there and battled," Nakasian said. "That's been the story all season. We've just got to take the next step. I think the roles really change every night because we move the ball well. Everybody knows we can count on each other to sit down and play defense as a team. I was primarily a (3-point shooter) last year and this year I've worked a lot on getting to the bucket to get more than just 3s."
Swim teams taking large group to state
The boys and girls swimming and diving teams are preparing for the Division I state meet Friday, Feb. 23, and Saturday, Feb. 24, at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
In the district meet that concluded Feb. 17 at Ohio University, the girls were fourth (198) behind champion Upper Arlington (274) as 30 teams scored and the boys were 10th (95.5) behind champion Dublin Jerome (303) as 29 teams scored.
Representing the boys at state Saturday, Feb. 24, will be diver Jack Matthews, a freshman who was runner-up (581.85) at district Feb. 13 at Dublin Community Recreation Center.
He is seeded third behind New Albany's Noah Duperre (587.7) and Shaker Heights' Lyle Yost (587.15), who were second and first at state, respectively, last season.
Sophomore Kate Saczawa and senior Rachel Peroni enter state after winning district championships.
Saczawa was first in the 100-yard backstroke (55.46 seconds) and fourth in the 50 freestyle (23.88). She is seeded second in the 100 back after taking sixth at state last season and is seeded 13th in the 50 free after finishing 21st a season ago.
Peroni, who was fourth at state in the 100 butterfly last season, was first at district in 54.71 and added a runner-up finish in the 100 back (55.67). She is seeded second in the 100 fly and fourth in the 100 back.
Finishing third at district was the 400 free relay of junior Lila Leary, senior Abby Noonan, Peroni and Saczawa (3:33.04), which is seeded ninth. The 200 free relay of the same four swimmers placed fourth (1:37.03) and is seeded seventh.
"We didn't get the times we wanted, but we're happy with (advancing)," Saczawa said. "I'm not a newbie now and I know how things will work once I get to state. I feel a lot more comfortable."
Girls basketball team begins tourney play
The 23rd-seeded girls basketball team opened the Division I district tournament Feb. 20 at 11th-seeded Westerville Central.
The winner plays 15th-seeded New Albany in a second-round game Friday, Feb. 23, at the home of the better seed.
If Liberty wins its first two tournament games, it will play 10th-seeded Eastmoor Academy or 12th-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley in a district semifinal Wednesday, Feb. 28, at a site to be announced.
The district final is March 3 at Ohio Dominican.
The game with Westerville Central represented the third meeting between the teams after the Warhawks beat the Patriots 55-45 on Jan. 5 and Liberty won 44-37 on Feb. 9 in its regular-season finale.
Wrestlers earn fourth straight OCC title
With a 35-25 victory over Westerville North on Feb. 15, the wrestling team earned its fourth consecutive league championship by finishing 5-0 in the OCC-Buckeye.
The Patriots trailed 25-20 but got a win by Trevor Lawson at 195 pounds, a pin by Kaden Tong at 220 and a pin by Davin Lambert at heavyweight to beat the Warriors.
Lawson likely will compete at 182 when Liberty begins the postseason Saturday, Feb. 24, with a Division I sectional tournament at Newark. Top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 2 and 3 at Hilliard Darby.
The Patriots won the league finale without junior Connor Brady (152), who likely is out for the rest of the season with a broken hand suffered in a 35-32 loss to Massillon Perry on Feb. 2. Brady was a third-place finisher at state a season ago.
Lambert missed the season's first month with an injury but improved to 9-1 on the season with his win against North.
"I didn't really want it to come down to me, but it came down to me and it's a lot of nerves," Lambert said. "I knew I had to do everything I could to win for the team.
"It's pretty cool to win the OCC title and it's cool to walk off the mat knowing I helped our team win the OCC title."
Hockey team moves on to quarterfinal
The second-seeded hockey team opened the district tournament by beating 16th-seeded Kettering Alter 11-0 on Feb. 18 at OhioHealth Ice Haus in a second-round contest.
The Patriots advanced to a quarterfinal at 4:45 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, against 12th-seeded Cincinnati St. Xavier at the Ice Haus.
Should Liberty win that game, it would play fourth-seeded Cincinnati Moeller or sixth-seeded Olentangy in a district semifinal at 5:45 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25, at the Ice Haus.
The district final is March 3 at the Ice Haus.
Liberty is 26-6-3 and has not played St. Xavier this season. It beat Moeller 7-1 on Dec. 23 and Olentangy 6-1 on Jan. 5.
Senior Austin Barok, who is in his first season with the Patriots after transferring from Gahanna, is optimistic about his team's chances as it prepares for the tougher rounds of the tournament.
He has been one of the team's leading scorers all season along with seniors Sam Turner, Ron Ambrosia and Connor Hisaw.
"I feel like we're in a good place," Barok said. "We've started playing as a team and we're working hard. Our morale is up. The team has been welcoming and it's been a good season.
"There are a lot of good players on this team, but I feel like I've settled in. I feel like I still fit in as a goal scorer. I'm looking forward to (the games coming up). I want to win a district championship."
@UlreyThisWeekAt a glance
Below are the members of the Liberty boys and girls swimming & diving teams who competed at district but did not qualify for state:
Boys -- John Bently: 100 free (50.42, 29th), 200 free (1:45.43, tied for seventh); Michael Boothman: diving (384.5, seventh); Cameron Friedauer: diving (315.15, 11th); Andrew Gehring: 100 fly (55.43, 16th); Eli Grubbs: 200 IM (2:04.99, 22nd); Isaac Iversen: 100 breast (1:02.46, 17th), 200 IM (2:07.15, 26th); Max Miller: 100 breast (1:04.67, 26th), 200 IM (2:07.15, 26th); Matthew Patterson: 100 back (58.61, 29th); Nick Sells: 100 fly (54.69, 13th), 200 IM (disqualified); Christopher Tracewell: 200 free (1:49.86, 20th), 500 free (5:03.71, 24th); Alexander Wisler: 50 free (23.01, 30th), 100 free (50.4, 28th); 200 free relay (1:29.41, eighth); 200 medley relay (1:43.13, 15th); 400 free relay (3:18.18, ninth)
Girls -- Hannah Beavers: 100 back (1:00.69, 17th), 100 fly (58.78, 17th); Libby Boothman: diving (464.85, sixth); Maia Kropp: diving (414.85, seventh); Lila Leary: 100 free (54.73, 26th), 200 free (1:58.75, 14th); Morgan Menninger: diving (486.4, fifth); Michaela Neal: 200 IM (2:21.91, 26th); Abby Noonan: 100 back (1:01.54, 21st); Mallory Patrick: diving (341.7, 13th); Avery Venetta: 100 breast (1:11.05, 20th); Abigail Weis: 200 free (2:04.79, 29th), 500 free (5:27.62, 13th); 200 medley relay (1:52.13, 10th)Schedules
Below are the coming schedules for the Liberty bowling and gymnastics 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 -- District meet at Worthington Kilbourne. The top three teams advance to state March 2 at Hilliard Bradley. The top eight individuals in each event and the all-around advance to state March 3 at Bradley.