With his team seeded near the middle of the 22-team Division II district tournament, all DeSales High School boys basketball coach Pat Murphy wanted out of the draw was to find a good fit.
Considering the 13th-seeded Stallions won their first two postseason games, 86-75 at 11th-seeded Linden-McKinley on Feb. 26 and 57-47 at sixth-seeded Jonathan Alder on March 3, Murphy seemed to have picked a good spot.
"(The draw) is a crapshoot," he said after the win over Linden. "We were basically looking for some games where both teams would think it's a winnable game. Linden thought it was a winnable game and I'm sure Jonathan Alder is feeling the same way right now. We'll fight and compete. We think we have a shot."
Strong second quarters turned the tide in both games.
The Stallions outscored Linden 25-14 in that period to erase an early 26-11 deficit, and after trailing Jonathan Alder 10-8 after the first quarter, they went on a 20-10 run before halftime and led the rest of the way.
DeSales was 13-11 before playing second-seeded Eastmoor Academy in a district semifinal March 7, marking the second consecutive year in which the teams met in that round. The Warriors edged the Stallions 54-51 in overtime last season.
Freshman guard Desmond Watson, who had 23 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals against Linden and 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists at Jonathan Alder, said a 73-67 loss to top-seeded Beechcroft in the regular season finale for both teams Feb. 20 told DeSales it could be competitive with any team.
"That bumped up our team's confidence," Watson said. "If we can hang with them, we can hang with anybody. That's just the way it goes. We had a couple games where we had to battle back and just did our thing."
DeSales' 86 points in the first round were its highest total since a 94-34 win over Patriot Prep in the season opener Dec. 4.
"We had to take charges and box out and, at the offensive end, we got to the rim and that's huge for us to execute," Murphy said.
Kobe Righter had 17 points and Kayin Derden scored 13 against the Pioneers.
The DeSales-Eastmoor winner plays third-seeded Columbus South or ninth-seeded Watterson in a district final Saturday, March 10, at Africentric. The district champion advances to a regional semifinal March 15 at Kettering Fairmont.
The Stallions went 0-2 against Watterson in CCL play, losing 45-38 on Dec. 15 and 53-42 on Jan. 26.
Potts leads wrestlers at district tourney
Cole Potts' fifth-place finish led the wrestling team in the Division II district tournament March 2 and 3 at Uhrichsville Claymont.
Potts went 4-2 at heavyweight, defeating Lisbon Beaver's Zach Thomas by default in the fifth-place match. That placement makes Potts, a sophomore who is 43-12 on the season, an alternate for the state tournament Thursday, March 8, through Saturday, March 10, at Ohio State.
DeSales' last state representative was Domenic Carfagna in 2016.
Also competing at district but failing to advance were Louis Dytko (138, 2-2), Keishawn Allen (132, 0-2) and Anthony Cua (182, 0-2).
The Stallions finished 26th (18 points) behind champion Steubenville (159) as 46 teams scored.
Most bowlers expected to return
Both the boys and girls bowling teams' seasons ended in sectional tournaments despite considerably different performances, but the majority of their lineups are expected back next season.
The boys team went 10-6 overall, 8-4 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-D Division to tie Eastmoor Academy for fourth behind champion Whitehall (12-0) and 6-2 in the CCL to share the league championship with St. Charles. DeSales placed 16th (3,011) in the 30-team Division II sectional Feb. 16 at HP Lanes behind champion Jonathan Alder (3,643) as the top 12 teams and top 12 individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to the district tournament Feb. 22 at HP Lanes.
Jacob Pugh is the Stallions' only senior. He had a 157.8 game average, ranking fourth on the team behind freshman Bryan Ritzler (170.1), sophomore Isaiah Thomas (169.1) and junior Andrew Swift (158.4).
Pugh led the team at sectional with a 478 three-game series to place 37th of 185 competitors.
The girls team finished 1-12 overall, 1-9 in the COHSBC-D to tie Africentric for 10th behind champion Whitehall (10-0) and 0-4 in the CCL to finish fourth behind champion Watterson (4-0). DeSales placed 34th (2,222) in the 37-team Division I sectional Feb. 24 at HP Lanes behind champion Gahanna (3,642) as the top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district March 3 at HP Lanes.
Each of the Stallions' six bowlers are expected to return. Freshman Skyla Blumenscheid led the team with a 142.9 average, ahead of sophomore Audrey Nave (106.3) and junior Johnaiya Talbert (103.3).
Juniors Leslie Salto and Tam Ordonez and freshman Olivia Houlihan rounded out a team that consisted entirely of first-year bowlers.
Key gymnasts to graduate
The gymnastics team will be losing three of its four competitors in seniors Abi DeBrosse, Alex Foos and Kaitlyn O'Reilly.
O'Reilly was DeSales' top performer in the district meet Feb. 24 at Worthington Kilbourne, finishing 10th in the all-around (34.6), tying for 11th on uneven bars (8.45) and placing 12th on balance beam (8.9) as the Stallions earned 81 points and finished last behind champion Thornville Sheridan (145.425) as 24 teams scored.
Expected to return is sophomore Mykaella Romain, who missed the district meet because of an injury.
Football players make college decisions
Two football players announced their college decisions Feb. 27.
Cullen Krombach will play for Dayton and Cole Silvestri will play at Furman.
@ThisWeekDaveAt a glance
*Record: Boys -- 10-6 overall, 8-4 (tied for fourth) in COHSBC-D, 6-2 (tied for first) in CCL; Girls -- 1-12 overall, 1-9 (tied for 10th) in COHSBC-D, 0-4 (fourth) in CCL
*Seniors lost: Boys -- Jacob Pugh; Girls -- None
*Key returnees: Boys -- Bryan
Ritzler, Andrew Swift and Isaiah Thomas; Girls -- Skyla Blumenscheid, Audrey Nave and Johnaiya Talbert
*Finishes: 24th at district
*Seniors lost: Abi DeBrosse, Alex Foos and Kaitlyn O'Reilly
*Key returnee: Mykaella Romain