Although it beat Gahanna twice during the regular season on its way to a share of the OCC-Ohio Division title, the Reynoldsburg High School girls basketball team trailed for much of the Division I district final between the programs March 3 at Ohio Dominican.
The fourth-seeded Raiders finally seemed to be on their way to gaining control in overtime but couldn't hold on to a four-point lead and lost 54-52.
Reynoldsburg finished 20-6 overall while the ninth-seeded Lions improved to 19-7 and advanced to a regional semifinal March 6 against league rival Pickerington Central.
"I thought they played really well, and I'd rather give (Gahanna) credit," said coach Jack Purtell, whose team had won back-to-back district titles. "I don't think we shot the ball very well. We missed some key free throws the whole game. (Gahanna's Edyn) Battle was 7-for-9 from the foul line."
Reynoldsburg, which beat Gahanna 61-52 on Dec. 8 and 60-57 on Jan. 19, got a basket from junior wing player Destiny Fields and a pair of free throws from sophomore guard Kyria Walker to take a 51-47 lead in overtime.
After Gahanna scored the next six points, Walker missed a 3-pointer with 45 seconds to go and the Raiders committed a turnover with 20.4 seconds left.
Junior forward Uju Ezeudu then made the second of two free throws to make it 53-52 and Reynoldsburg got the ball back trailing by two with 7.1 seconds left, but Gahanna's Morgan Darnell stole the ball and her team ran the clock out.
Darnell didn't play during the second matchup against the Raiders.
Ezeudu and Fields both scored 13 points for Reynoldsburg but Battle had 29 for the Lions.
"Destiny Fields played really well for us and kind of stood out," Purtell said. "Uju was a monster out there. I think their defensive pressure kind of led to some of our ineptness offensively. We could never get to what we wanted to do because we didn't handle their pressure very well. That's my biggest takeaway from this game."
The Raiders beat 44th-seeded Briggs 87-24 on Feb. 17 at home, 49th-seeded Whitehall 75-13 on Feb. 23 at home and 14th-seeded Big Walnut 68-42 on Feb. 28 in a district semifinal at Westerville North.
Reynoldsburg went 9-1 in the OCC-Ohio to share the title with Central, ahead of Gahanna (5-5), Pickerington North (3-7), Lancaster (3-7) and Grove City (1-9).
The senior class was led by point guard Mackenzie Davis (5.8 points) and post player Jalynda Salley (9.5 points). Salley closed her prep career with 1,141 points.
Davis was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Ezeudu averaged 15.2 points and made first-team all-district and all-league. Walker averaged 13.1 points and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Junior forward Bre Johnson averaged 5.4 points and was honorable mention all-league.
Fields averaged 6.2 points and sophomore guard Malaysia Miller averaged 3.7 points.
Purtell also is optimistic that he'll have a key newcomer from the junior high joining his program next season.
"I felt like this year we got a lot done, but hopefully we'll (go further) next year," Ezeudu said.
Boys basketball team makes district semi
The 10th-seeded boys basketball team played 11th-seeded Westerville Central in a Division I district semifinal March 7 at Worthington Christian Middle School.
The winner plays top-seeded Pickerington North or 16th-seeded Mount Vernon in a district final Saturday, March 10, at Ohio Dominican.
The district champion plays Westerville South, Logan, Hilliard Bradley or Chillicothe in a regional semifinal Wednesday, March 14, at Ohio Dominican, with the regional final set for March 17 at the same site.
The Raiders beat 37th-seeded Watkins Memorial 63-54 on March 2 at home in the second round of the district tournament to improve to 17-7.
Reynoldsburg led 26-23 before slowly pulling away from the Warriors as Tre Williams scored 17 points, Jamiel Goliday had 15 and Ben Fort added 11.
If the Raiders play North for a district title, it would be a rematch of a pair of tight OCC-Ohio contests. Reynoldsburg lost to the Panthers 48-42 on Jan. 5 but won the rematch 53-52 on Feb. 9.
Wrestling season ends at district
The wrestling team did not have a state qualifier while scoring 13 points to tie Licking Heights for 28th in the Division I district tournament March 2 and 3 at Hilliard Darby.
Lancaster topped the 38-team field with 170 points.
Senior Cameron Simpson (160 pounds) won his opening match but lost to Watkins Memorial's Cole Foor 11-0 in the second round. He then pinned St. Charles' Sean Grim in 1:17 and had his season end with a 13-2 loss to Mount Vernon's Max VanFossen to finish 39-14.
Senior Thomas Baire (heavyweight) also won his district opener but was pinned by Olentangy Liberty's Davin Lambert in 2:54 in the second round.
After pinning Hilliard Davidson's Jah'von Lynch in 2:59, he was pinned by Dublin Scioto's Donovan Hardin in 4:03 to finish 22-8.
Junior Kyle Copas went 1-2 at 145 to finish 38-12, and junior Noah Ratliff went 1-2 at 152 to finish 36-13.
Bowlers close season at district
The boys bowling team had its season end with a ninth-place finish (3,358) in the 16-team Division I district tournament March 3 at HP Lanes.
Westerville Central was first (3,907), and Marion Harding (3,645) and Whitehall (3,580) also advanced to state.
Senior Elijah Ratliff led the Raiders with a 507 that placed him 33rd. Senior Michael Neff-Young tied for 46th (481), sophomore Logan Gapen tied for 48th (478) and seniors Michael Brooks and Davide Milan, sophomore David Robinson and freshman Cristofer Weatherly also competed.
Freshman Mark Drake also was on the team.
"It went really well the first game," said coach Jamie Gapen, whose team opened district with a 902 but followed with games of 656 and 742.
Reynoldsburg, which recorded the sixth-best Baker total (1,058) at district, was 12th (3,293) in the 38-team sectional Feb. 23 at HP Lanes as the top 16 advanced.
The Raiders finished 8-7 overall and tied Bradley and Darby for fourth (7-4) in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-B Division behind champion Pickerington North (11-0). They also went 2-4 in the OCC-Central to place fifth behind champion Gahanna (6-0).
Logan Gapen led the team in COHSBC average at 179.4.
"These guys picked up on a lot and learned," coach Gapen said."
The girls finished 2-12 overall and 12th (1-10) in the COHSBC-B behind champion Darby (11-0). In the OCC-Central, Reynoldsburg went 1-5 to finish sixth behind champion Gahanna (6-0).
The Raiders were 30th (2,402) in the 37-team sectional Feb. 24 at HP Lanes behind champion Gahanna (3,642) as the top 16 advanced to district. Junior Halle Pennycuff recorded the team's top score, a 403.
Senior Tyra Hammond led the Raiders in COHSBC average at 135.3. Others on the team included senior Missy Ross, sophomores Kay Hetterscheidt and Kimmie Shook and freshman Katie Morgan.
@UlreyThisWeekAt a glance
*Record: 20-6 overall, 9-1 (tied for first) in OCC-Ohio
*Seniors lost: Mackenzie Davis, Taylor Howard, Ally Lang and Jalynda Salley
*Key returnees: Uju Ezeudu, Destiny Fields, Bre Johnson, Malaysia Miller and Kyria Walker
*Record: Boys -- 8-7 overall, 7-4 (tied for fourth) in COHSBC-B, 2-4 (fifth) in OCC-Central; Girls -- 2-12 overall, 1-10 (12th) in COHSBC-B, 1-5 (sixth) in OCC-Central
*Seniors lost: Boys -- Michael Brooks, Davide Milan, Michael Neff-Young and Elijah Ratliff; Girls -- Tyra Hammond and Missy Ross
*Key returnees: Boys -- Mark Drake, Logan Gapen, David Robinson and Cristofer Weatherly; Girls -- Kay Hetterscheidt, Katie Morgan, Halle Pennycuff and Kimmie Shook