A difficult roster situation didn't keep the Hartley High School girls basketball team from being rewarded late in the regular season.
Needing a win over DeSales on Feb. 7 to earn a share of their second consecutive CCL championship, the Hawks put together a 43-35 victory despite not having either of their seniors available for the game.
Senior point guard Israel Strickland, a Clarion commit who was averaging 7.5 points, suffered a season-ending knee injury during a 51-39 loss to Gahanna on Feb. 4, and senior forward Chiamaka Nwokolo, the Hawks' leading scorer, missed the game against DeSales because of another school activity.
In addition, sophomore guard/forward Kami Kortokrax had missed the previous four games because of a right ankle injury.
Junior forward Sa'Haia Clark-Lee had 12 points, sophomore guard Milayna Williams scored 11 and Kortokrax added eight against the Stallions as the Hawks finished 6-1 in the CCL to tie Watterson for the title.
Hartley also went 6-1 in the CCL last season but won the league championship outright.
"For me, it means we're a team," Williams said. "We're a family, and we can persevere. To be able to fall back on your team is a really good feeling, especially to win a CCL title twice in a row."
Hartley fell to 12-9 overall with a 51-44 loss to Trotwood-Madison on Feb. 9 and will close the regular season Monday, Feb. 18, at home against Canal Winchester. The Hawks then will prepare for the Division I district tournament. Seeded 16th, they have a first-round bye and will play 13th-seeded Hilliard Darby or 24th-seeded Westerville North in the second round Feb. 22.
Nwokolo, who was averaging 10.5 points through 20 games, returned to the lineup against Trotwood-Madison, scoring eight points.
Bowling squads enjoying success
As an incentive to help the boys bowling team produce more spares, first-year coach Chris Blum put together a system in practice in which each competitor would owe a certain number of pushups for finishing with an open frame.
For every "turkey," which is three consecutive strikes, a bowler would have five pushups eliminated from the total that he owed.
"We just started doing it, and it's a fun thing to help them keep each other accountable," Blum said. "Our boys really could go to state and could make some noise."
The Hawks broke 2,200 pins for the first time this season during a 2,204-1,677 win over Watterson on Jan. 25 and improved to 10-4 overall, 9-2 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-D Division and 4-4 in the CCL with a 2,022-1,619 win over Ready on Feb. 8 at Holiday Lanes.
Hartley closed the regular season Feb. 12 against Beechcroft and opens the postseason Saturday, Feb. 16, with the Division II sectional at HP Lanes. The top 12 teams and top 12 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to the district tournament Feb. 21 at HP Lanes.
Through 29 games, Anthony Metnes had a 194.5 average in COHSBC action and Victor Jackson was averaging 186.2.
The girls team fell to 8-4 overall, 7-3 in the COHSBC-D and 2-4 in the CCL with a 1,706-1,415 loss to Ready on Feb. 8. The Hawks will compete in the Division I sectional Feb. 22 at HP Lanes.
Boys team looking for better health
With just two regular-season games remaining, the boys basketball team has been building depth out of necessity.
Senior forward Payton Collins, the Hawks' second-leading scorer who was averaging 11.5 points through 13 games, has been out since late January with an ankle injury. He averaged 16.7 points in the four games prior to his injury.
Then in a 57-56 overtime win over DeSales on Feb. 1, senior guard/forward Braylon Mitchell sustained an ankle injury.
It's uncertain when either will return to the lineup.
Hartley trailed DeSales 45-31 in the fourth quarter before rallying to force overtime.
Then in a 79-52 victory over Toledo Woodward on Feb. 2, senior guard/forward Morgan Safford had a career-high 38 points.
Hartley lost to St. Charles 68-64 in triple overtime Feb. 8 to finish 3-5 in the CCL, but rebounded to beat Circleville New Hope Christian 72-50 on Feb. 9 to improve to 11-8 overall.
The Hawks close the regular season with games Tuesday, Feb. 19, at Whitehall and Wednesday, Feb. 20, at home against Johnstown before turning their attention to the Division II district tournament, which begins Feb. 25. The Hawks are the fourth seed and open with a second-round game March 2 against 10th-seeded Eastmoor Academy or 22nd-seeded Caledonia River Valley.
Swimmers begin postseason action
Members of the boys and girls swimming and diving teams will compete in the Division II district meet Thursday, Feb. 14, at Ohio State.
On Feb. 9, the girls team finished third (173 points) in the 22-team sectional at Columbus Academy behind the champion and host Vikings (244) and Columbus School for Girls (217) while the boys were fourth (143) of 18 teams behind the champion and host Vikings (247).
At district, the top two finishers in each swimming event, as well as the top three boys divers and top two girls divers, automatically advance to the state meet, which runs Wednesday, Feb. 20, through Friday, Feb. 22, at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
At sectional, the 200-yard medley relay of Kayla Williams, Mia Phillips, Deanne Archambeau and Cara Luallen finished first (1 minute, 53.26 seconds) and Archambeau was second in the 100 butterfly (59.45) to lead the girls team and Owen Kennedy was runner-up in the 100 freestyle (51.6) to lead the boys.
Postseason nears for wrestling team
The wrestling team tried to add to its run of five consecutive CCL championships when it competed in the league duals Feb. 13 at Ready.
Hartley beat West Jefferson 36-30 and lost to Watkins Memorial 42-32 on Feb. 6 in a tune-up for the CCL event as well as for the postseason, which begins with a Division II sectional Feb. 22 and 23 at Licking Valley.