A pair of Gahanna Lincoln High School teams celebrated Division I district championships March 3.
In girls basketball, the ninth-seeded Lions edged fourth-seeded Reynoldsburg 54-52 in overtime at Ohio Dominican to win their first district title under second-year coach Betsy Baker.
Gahanna also earned its first district championship in girls bowling, rolling a 3,596 at HP Lanes to finish well ahead of fellow state-qualifiers Whitehall (3,438) and Westerville Central (3,360).
Girls bowlers prep for state tourney
On Saturday, March 10, the girls bowling team will compete in the state tournament at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
The Lions, who were eighth at state in 2016 and sixth a year ago, followed their sectional title Feb. 24 by building an early lead over Whitehall that they never relinquished at district.
Senior Shannon Gonzales was medalist with a 581 three-game series.
"We're just excited because we knew what we're capable of and had a feeling we could win it," she said.
Junior Taylor Burns finished 10th at district with a 508, followed by freshman Lilu Smith (tied for 16th, 489) and seniors Briann McKnight (tied for 16th, 489) and Delaney Ferguson (37th, 443).
"It's very exciting," coach Kelly Ferguson said. "I'm very proud of the girls."
Gahanna qualified for the championship round at state each of the past two seasons but lost in its first match both times, including to eventual runner-up Troy 3-1 last year.
"It's like any other bowling alley," Gonzales said. "The biggest part is getting the oil pattern down. We love it and our goal this year is to be state champion."
Girls basketball team advances to regional
Although the girls basketball team won five district titles from 2003-16 under former coach Rick Hauser, 2005 graduate Betsy Morrison's best finish was being a district runner-up in her senior season.
Morrison, who is now Betsy Baker, guided the Lions to a district championship after they lost to Newark 52-37 in a district final last season.
The Lions played Pickerington Central on March 6 in a regional semifinal at Otterbein.
"It feels great," Baker said. "I'm thrilled to go play at Otterbein. As a player, (they got) to do something I never got to do. I never got to cut down a net. I just think they've come together at the end. I said all season we have the ability to compete with anybody."
The Gahanna-Central winner plays Newark or Westerville South in a regional final at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 9, at Otterbein.
The regional champion plays Mason, Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame, Cincinnati Walnut Hills or West Chester Lakota West in a state semifinal March 16 at Ohio State.
Gahanna edged eighth-seeded Hartley 56-53 on Feb. 28 in a district semifinal at Pickerington North as Anisja Harris had 22 points and Morgan Darnell scored 14.
Then in the district final against Reynoldsburg, Edyn Battle had 29 points and Harris scored 12 to help the Lions improve to 19-7.
Gahanna lost to the Raiders 61-52 on Dec. 8 and 60-57 on Jan. 19 in OCC-Ohio Division contests.
"We executed our plays," Battle said. "We knew we had to box out and had to fight hard. It feels great that we're district champs."
Salazar headed to state in wrestling
Junior Cristian Salazar will represent the wrestling program in the Division I state tournament, which will be held Thursday, March 8, through Saturday, March 10, at Ohio State.
After finishing fourth in the district tournament March 2 and 3 at Hilliard Darby, Salazar (113 pounds) is 27-11 and will open state against Cincinnati La Salle junior Lucas Byrd (42-4).
"I'll just keep wrestling solid like my coaches expect me to and I'm confident I'll go far," Salazar said.
After opening district with wins over Olentangy Orange's Cole Jackson (pin in 5 minutes, 57 seconds) and Marysville's Michael Jones (pin in 1:53), Salazar lost to Lancaster's Jacob Reed 7-1 in a semifinal.
Then in a rematch against Jackson, Salazar won 4-3 to advance to the third-place match, which he lost to Upper Arlington's Mitch Herren 15-0.
"I had (lost before to) Cole Jackson," Salazar said. "Nobody expected me to beat the Marysville kid either, but I was eager to get as far as possible. ... This is the best I've wrestled all year."
The Lions had four other district competitors. Freshman Charles Williams (106) and junior Juan Porras (120) both went 2-2, junior Nate Garbark (195) went 1-2 and senior Anthony Lawson (145) went 0-2.
Gahanna finished 24th (27 points) behind champion Lancaster (170) as 38 teams scored.
Boys basketball team makes district semi
The seventh-seeded boys basketball team was 17-7 before playing ninth-seeded Pickerington Central on March 7 in a district semifinal at Watkins Memorial.
If the Lions avenged a pair of OCC-Ohio losses to the Tigers, they will play fourth-seeded Westerville North or 30th-seeded Canal Winchester in a district final at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 10, at Ohio Dominican.
The district champion plays Upper Arlington, Newark, Dublin Coffman or Northland in a regional semifinal March 15 at Ohio Dominican.
During the regular season, the Lions lost to Central 72-56 on Jan. 29 and 79-60 on Feb. 16.
On March 2, Gahanna beat 41st-seeded Briggs 86-49 in the second round of the district tournament at home.
Josh Corbin made four 3-pointers and finished with 18 points, including 15 in the third quarter when the Lions outscored the Bruins 31-14.
Elijah Thomas had 17 points, David Miller scored 16 and Chase Rankin added 10.
Boys bowlers fall just short of state
The boys bowling team came up just short of reaching the Division I state tournament.
On March 3 in the 16-team district tournament at HP Lanes, Gahanna bowled 3,529 but settled for fourth as Westerville Central (3,907), Marion Harding (3,645) and Whitehall (3,580) earned the three state-qualifying berths.
Freshman Deandre Quiero finished 21st (548) but missed advancing individually by 48 pins.
Freshman Hunter Blankenship (28th, 515) and senior Sal Ferrante (34th, 506) also rolled three games while senior Alex Minzler, sophomore Nathan Minzler and freshman Hunter McKnight also competed.