The Delaware Hayes High School boys basketball team continues to work on its defense in preparation for the Division I district tournament.

"When we play strong defense the way we're capable of playing and communicate and do all of the little things, we have a lot of success," coach Jordan Blackburn said. "That will be the key in our ability to make a nice postseason run."

The Pacers defeated Worthington Kilbourne 56-45 on Feb. 5 and were 13-5 overall and 8-4 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing host to Dublin Jerome on Feb. 8.

The magic number for the Pacers appears to be 50 points, as they were 8-0 in games in which they held their opponent under that total.

"We can score the ball with anybody in central Ohio, but we need to clamp down and focus on defense," junior point guard Nate Griggs said. "When we do that, we're tough to beat. We work real hard in practice on defense and rebounds because those are effort areas. Every day in practice, we spend 20 minutes on rebounding drills and going hard to the glass."

Against Kilbourne, Terin Kinsway had 20 points, including 11 in the first quarter. Addison Harvey added 14 points and Paul Burris scored nine.

"I had some good open looks because my teammates were finding me off the dribble," Harvey said. "It's a pretty unselfish team. They help me get looks and I try to help them get good looks. We've got quite a few guys who can score."

Burris, a 6-foot-6 forward, is a consistent outside threat and plays off Kinsway well offensively. But like all the Pacers, he is trying to become more efficient on the defensive end.

"We just have to remain focused on the defensive end every second we are on the floor," Burris said. "That's what is going to help us reach some of our goals. We want to make a tourney run this year. We had higher expectations, but we weren't able to reach some of those. So now, it's all about defense and the tournament."

The district tournament drawing is Sunday, Feb. 10. First-round games are Feb. 23.

"You can see our potential," Burris said. "We're excited to finish this year strong and we're also excited that we'll have four starters back next year."

The Pacers, who finished 10-13 last season, will play host to Licking Heights on Tuesday, Feb. 12, and conclude OCC-Cardinal play Friday, Feb. 15, at Olentangy Berlin before closing the regular season the following day at home against Marion Harding.

"I like where we're at right now for the most part, but we've got to take it up a notch in practices and games in the final weeks," Blackburn said. "I believe we do have a good tournament run in us and we need to do everything in our power to accomplish that. It all starts on the defensive end."

The Pacers lost to Hilliard Bradley 59-46 in a league game Feb. 1 after getting outscored 22-6 in the first quarter. Burris had 18 points, Kinsway and Griggs both scored nine and Harvey scored eight.

Bradley, which clinched the OCC-Cardinal title by beating Jerome 64-44 on Feb. 5, was 17-0 overall and 12-0 in the league entering play Feb. 8.

Girls team prepping for district tourney

The girls basketball team will close the regular season Wednesday, Feb. 13, at home against Licking Heights.

The Pacers then will have some time to prepare for the Division I district tournament. Seeded 29th of 45 teams, they have a first-round bye and will play at 10th-seeded Olentangy Liberty or at home against 32nd-seeded Olentangy in the second round Feb. 22.

The Pacers were 10-10 overall and 3-10 in the OCC-Cardinal before their league finale Feb. 8 at Jerome.

Delaware defeated Bradley 47-44 on Feb. 1 and lost to Kilbourne 49-39 on Feb. 5.

Chloe Jeffers helped the Pacers stave off the Jaguars by converting seven of nine free-throw attempts down the stretch to finish with 14 points. Alyssa Griner had nine points and Jordan Lantz scored eight.

Against Kilbourne, Griner had 15 points and Karli Theis scored eight for the Pacers, who trailed 30-29 entering the fourth period.

Swimmers compete at sectional meet

Members of the boys and girls swimming teams competed in a Division I sectional Feb. 9 at Thomas Worthington.

The winner of each swimming event automatically advanced to the district meet Friday, Feb. 15, at Ohio State. In addition, 27 at-large district berths were awarded in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites.

At district, the top two finishers in each swimming event qualify for the state meet Feb. 21-23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large berths will be awarded in each event based on times statewide.

Divers begin their postseason at district. The boys compete Thursday, Feb. 14, and the girls compete Feb. 15 at Ohio State. The top four boys and top five girls qualify for state.

Wrestling team falls in regional semifinal

The wrestling team reached a semifinal in the Division I, Region 5 team dual tournament Feb. 2 at Marysville before losing to top-seeded Dublin Coffman 56-15.

The Pacers were seeded fourth of 13 teams and won by forfeit over 13th-seeded Mifflin in the first round and defeated fifth-seeded Olentangy 58-15 in a quarterfinal before falling to the Shamrocks.

Coffman went on to beat second-seeded Marysville 40-16 in the final to advance to the state tournament Sunday, Feb. 10, at Ohio State's St. John Arena.

Delaware was 4-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before facing Hilliard Bradley on Feb. 7 and competed in the All-North Tournament on Feb. 9 at Jerome. The Pacers will finish the regular season Thursday, Feb. 14, with a league dual against visiting Olentangy Berlin, which is coached by former Pacers coach Josh Heffernan.

Delaware then will prepare to compete in a Division I sectional Feb. 23 at Watkins Memorial.

Athletes announce college decisions

Four student-athletes announced their college decisions last week.

Mason Davis will play football at Ashland, Sophia Fasone will play women's lacrosse at Tiffin, Lexi Mattix will play softball at Urbana and Zach Price will play baseball at Urbana.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek