Before the Whitehall-Yearling High School boys basketball team can prepare for the Division I district tournament, it first must focus on a major goal.
The Rams are in contention for the MSL-Ohio Division title. They are second at 3-2, behind Columbus Academy (4-2) and ahead of Grandview and Worthington Christian (both 3-3).
Whitehall, which slipped to 8-9 overall with a 55-53 loss at Gahanna on Feb. 4, visits Worthington Christian on Saturday, Feb. 9, and Academy on Feb. 15. It also plays host to Grandview on Feb. 19 to close the regular season.
"The league is still up for grabs," coach Drew Williams said. "Any one of four teams could pull this out, so every game is critical. We play Worthington Christian on Saturday. That student body is going to be packed. We have to come in and play. The league is first and then we deal with district and whatever comes after that, but league first."
The tournament draw is Sunday, Feb. 10, and the postseason begins Feb. 23.
Williams said the Rams earned a much-needed win with a 54-45 victory at Eastmoor Academy on Feb. 2, snapping a three-game losing streak.
"This was critical," he said. "It's harder to dig them out of the hole when they keep digging into a hole, so it was critical to get a win. We needed to get a 'W.' "
Whitehall closed the game on a 14-5 run. Roshean Bagley led a balanced attack with 13 points, Charles Miller scored 11 and Kei'Von Wiggins added 10 points and nine rebounds.
"We play as a team and we all work hard during practice," Wiggins said. "We are dedicated to the game. If one goes down we all go down and if one goes up we all go up. This game was real big. We had to work hard and dedicate ourselves as a team."
Taylon Cofer scored 22 points and Royal Sibley added 12 in a 59-52 loss at Reynoldsburg on Jan. 29.
Whitehall led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter.
Sibley scored 12 points, Manny Hilton had 11 and Wiggins added 10 against Gahanna.
"We're playing good ball for three-quarters of the game," Williams said. "We're not holding it together, typically in the third quarter."
Two bowlers earn top honors in MSL
Two members of the bowling program earned top individual honors in the MSL-Ohio tournament Feb. 2 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, but Worthington Christian won the team titles.
Brandon Shaw finished with a 659 series to earn boys Player of the Year honors, and Jessica Gress earned the award for the girls with a 511 series.
The boys finished first in pool play with a 3,525, ahead of Worthington Christian (3,300), but lost to the Warriors 3-0 in the best-of-five Baker games.
Jason Kefauver (638) joined Shaw as first-team all-league. Nathan McGrath (442) was second-team all-league and Elias Rozzelle (440) and Sam McQuate (437) were honorable mention all-league.
For the girls, Bayla Bonner (405) was first-team all-league and Kamdon Pauley (394) and Kayla West (328) were second-team all-league.
The Rams finished second (2,685) in pool play to Worthington Christian (2,926) and lost 3-1 to the Warriors in the Baker games.
"The girls bowled their hearts out," said coach Lorie Shaw, who is Brandon's mother. "I'm so proud of each of them. My favorite moment of the day was watching how far Peyton Parks has come this year."
Girls basketball team looks to bounce back
The girls basketball team looked to rebound from a 34-21 loss to visiting Worthington Christian on Feb. 2 when it played Dayton Dunbar on Feb. 5.
The Rams entered the game at 10-8 overall.
Kara Bagley scored six points against the Warriors, as Whitehall slipped to 3-3 in the MSL-Ohio.
Bagley scored 16 points, Jewel Watkins had 14 and Londen Coleman added 13 in a 59-42 win over visiting Central Crossing on Jan. 29.
On Feb. 3, the Rams received the 10th seed for the Division II district tournament. They will play host to 21st-seeded Columbus East in the first round Feb. 19.
Below are the coming schedules for the Whitehall-Yearling boys basketball, girls basketball and wrestling teams:
Feb. 7 -- At Patriot Prep
*Feb. 9 -- At Worthington Christian. The Rams defeated the Warriors 57-46 on Jan. 4.
*Feb. 8 -- Home vs. Columbus Academy. The Rams defeated the Vikings 54-33 on Jan. 5.
Feb. 12 -- At Beechcroft
Feb. 7 -- At Teays Valley with Hamilton Township
Feb. 9 -- At Mount Gilead