The Hilliard Darby High School wrestling team listened to advice from coach Brendan Moody and took the first big step toward winning the OCC-Cardinal Division championship.

After being “timid” in the Medina Invitational Tournament on Dec. 27 and 28, the Panthers got more aggressive and competed with spirit during practices leading up to a 37-31 win over host Delaware on Jan. 10.

“I think the boys were really looking forward to this one,” Moody said. “Practices got a little more spirited and I think they felt they had something to prove to themselves. We got some key pins and even most of the kids stayed off their backs for the most part, depriving (Delaware) extra points.”

After improving to 3-0 in the league and dropping Delaware to 2-1, the Panthers won the eight-team Porter Memorial Tournament on Jan. 12 at Bradley, totaling 198.5 points to hold off the host Jaguars (158.5) and Lancaster (156).

Heavyweight Rodney Beneker opened the league match against Delaware with a pin. Nathan Morris also won by pin at 120 pounds and Isaac Richards won at 126 to give the Panthers a 15-4 lead. The score was narrowed to 15-12 before Ben Brown and Sam Pence swung the momentum back to Darby.

Brown pinned Tristan Burton at 145 with seven seconds left and Pence pinned Maddox Edwards at 152 with 26 seconds remaining.

“Ben came up with the biggest win of the match and Sam followed him up and that just seemed to re-energize us and that proved to be the difference,” Moody said. “They kept after it and got two huge pins. I proud of them, but I’m pleased with everyone tonight. We definitely were more aggressive and took our shots.”

“I honestly wasn’t paying attention to the time,” Brown said. “I just knew that we were in the final 30 seconds somewhere. My teammates were yelling and screaming and it was very loud. I just knew that both teams won seven matches. I wasn’t going to let (Burton) escape. Once I got him to the mats, I knew I had him. I just had to keep working for (the pin).”

Although Isaiah Beneker won 9-0 at 182, the Panthers didn’t clinch the victory until Bradley Weaver lost to the Pacers’ Jacob McCloskey 3-1 at 195.

“Both teams won seven matches, but we got more bonus points and that’s a result of everyone doing their jobs,” Moody said. “When our young guys lost to some of their better wrestlers, they were able to stay off their backs.”

Darby, which went 4-2 in the OCC-Cardinal last season to tie Dublin Scioto for second behind co-champions Delaware and Bradley (both 5-1), visits Scioto on Thursday, Jan. 17, for another key league match.

Winning titles for the Panthers in the Porter Memorial Tournament were Rodney Beneker (220), Weaver (195), Caiden Rayburn (160) and Cade Ryan (132). Isaiah Beneker (170) placed second, while Brown (138), Pence (152), Cade Mills (113) and Manueeb Ajlouni (145) finished third and Morris (120) and Justen Shaw (170) placed fourth.

Girls basketball team snaps three-game skid

The girls basketball team snapped a three-game losing streak by defeating Bradley 57-31 on Jan. 11 as Annie Rauch recorded 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Sydney Wyngarden had 10 points and nine assists and Sophia Iosue and Sofia Gentile added nine points apiece for Darby, which outscored the Jaguars 35-15 in the second half.

The Panthers, whose game at Willard on Jan. 12 was canceled because of bad weather, are 10-5 overall and 6-2 in the OCC-Cardinal entering a home contest against Delaware on Friday, Jan. 18.

Prior to beating Bradley, Darby had lost to Dublin Jerome 43-38 on Jan. 4, Davidson 54-50 on Jan. 5 and Thomas Worthington 37-34 on Jan. 8.

Against Thomas, Wyngarden had 13 points and Rauch and Iosue both scored nine.

Through 14 games, Rauch was averaging 16.4 points and 9.6 rebounds, Wyngarden was averaging 12.3 points, 4.2 assists, 3.3 steals and 4.9 rebounds and Iosue was averaging 7.6 points and 2.1 steals.

Hassay leads way for gymnastics team

Anne Hassay placed in the top seven in three events as well as in the all-around to help the gymnastics team finish sixth (131.75) of 17 teams in the McGee Invitational on Jan. 12 at Dublin Coffman, behind champion Mentor (139.525).

Hassay scored a 9.25 on floor exercise to place fourth, an 8.85 on vault to place sixth and an 8.425 on uneven bars to place seventh. Combined with an 8.35 (13th) on balance beam, she finished sixth (34.875) in the all-around.

Laurel Bonn tied for 10th (8.525) on beam and Jenna Hartwell was 12th (8.4) on beam.

Boys basketball team looks to turn corner

The boys basketball team was seeking to end a five-game losing streak when it played host to Watkins Memorial on Jan. 15 in a game that had been postponed from Jan. 12 because of bad weather.

The Panthers were 2-10 overall before Jan. 15 and hadn’t won since Dec. 21 when they defeated Olentangy Berlin 47-45.

Darby, which is 1-6 in the OCC-Cardinal, will play at Delaware in a league game Friday, Dec. 18.

The Panthers lost to Thomas 41-31 on Jan. 8 and Bradley 56-25 on Jan. 11.

Andrew Patrick had 15 points against Thomas. Against Bradley, Kyle Miller, Jaeln Benjamin and Mehki Evans all scored six points.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Darby boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Jan. 18 – At Delaware. The Panthers lost to the Pacers 71-47 on Dec. 7.

*Jan. 22 – At Dublin Scioto. The Panthers lost to the Irish 52-38 on Dec. 18.

GIRLS BASEKTBALL

*Jan. 18 – Home vs. Delaware. The Panthers beat the Pacers 60-44 on Dec. 7.

*Jan. 22 – Home vs. Dublin Scioto. The Panthers beat the Irish 62-59 on Dec. 18.

BOWLING

*Jan. 17 – Worthington Kilbourne at Capri Lanes

*Jan. 18 – Delaware at Colony Lanes

*Jan. 23 – Thomas Worthington at Ten Pin Alley

GYMNASTICS

Jan. 17 – At *Worthington Kilbourne with Bradley and Davidson

Jan. 21 – Olentangy Invitational

SWIMMING & DIVING

Jan. 19 – Bradley and Davidson at Hilliard YMCA

WRESTLING

*Jan. 17 – At Dublin Scioto

*League contest