The Whetstone High School girls basketball team will not be competing in the Division I district tournament, thus ending its season.
The Braves finished 3-19 overall after losing to Walnut Ridge 74-12 in its regular-season finale Feb. 5.
"I made the decision for the team to not compete in the tournament," athletics director Randy King said. "Our competitiveness has not been very good this year. It's been a very trying season for the program and they were going to have a very poor seed and face a top-notch team in the first round, so why have the girls suffer through that?
"They worked very hard to try to get better, which they did, but there wasn't much reward for that. With the graduation (of five players) and others not coming back, the girls knew it was going to be rough season going in. Nobody was going to gain anything in the tournament, so now they've got to focus, work hard and come back and improve next year."
The Braves went 3-11 in the City League-North Division to tie Mifflin for sixth place behind champion Northland (14-0).
"Some of the girls were upset about not getting to play in the tournament, but most have never played in a district tournament on varsity, so they didn't really have an opinion one way or the other," coach Torrie Ruffin said. "Our AD was worried about the girls' self-confidence and not being competitive. Hopefully, we can come back next year and be in a better situation. I hope the girls that put in all this time this season come back and give it another year."
The Braves have only one senior in Le'Cara Josey, a move-in from Las Vegas.
Among the expected returnees are junior forward Lauren Armstrong, sophomore guard Grace Brigle and junior guards Rain Jones and Salamatu Kebe.
Ave qualifies for district swim meet
The girls swimming and diving team will be represented in the Division I district meet Friday, Feb. 15, at Ohio State by Olivia Ave.
The junior finished ninth in the 500-yard freestyle in 5 minutes, 43.2 seconds in a sectional meet Feb. 9 at Upper Arlington and earned an at-large district berth.
Ave is seeded 27th at district, where the top two finishers in each swimming event automatically 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.
At sectional, Ave also placed ninth in the 200 free (1:57.93) and was on the 11th-place 200 medley relay (2:15.8) with Alyssa Proudfoot, Iris Woodward and Emilie Johnson and on the 13th-place 200 free relay (1:57.93) with Hannah Schaefer, Leah Schaefer and Carrie Legg.
The 200 medley relay of Johnson, Rebecca Schaefer, Nezzie O'Malley and Hannah Schaefer also placed 13th (4:41.9), as the Braves totaled 12 points to finish 14th behind champion UA (385.5) as 16 teams scored.
The boys team had no district qualifiers. The Braves were led at sectional by Alex Marcum, who finished 11th in the 100 backstroke (1:01.95) and joined Matthew Conroy, Javier Cruz and Conner Gott on the 13th-place 200 medley relay (2:00.53) and Gott, Kai Hoenshell and Conroy on the 13th-place 200 free relay (1:46.49).
Marcum also finished 18th in the 200 individual medley (2:19.8), while Conroy was 17th in the 500 free (5:52.78) and 18th in the 200 free (2:08.04).
The Braves scored two points to place last behind champion UA (317) as 14 teams scored.
Wrestling team gaining confidence
The wrestling team fared well in its home Braves Invitational on Feb. 9.
Although team scores weren't kept in the 12-team event, Whetstone had four wrestlers finish among the top three in their weight classes.
Darric McClinton went 5-0 to finish first at 145 pounds and improve to 11-0 on the season, while Felix Prewitt (138), Abdourahman Sallah (170) and Jack Zimmerman (120) each placed third.
"Darric had real tough matchups and four of them went three rounds, so he got some challenges and that's a good thing," coach Tom Jones said. "It was a good tournament and I think a lot of our young guys are showing improvement and beginning to learn more about the sport. We don't have a senior on the team, so we're grooming for the future."
The Braves Invitational concluded a busy week for Whetstone, which will compete in the City tournament Saturday, Feb. 16, at Mifflin before preparing for a Division I sectional Feb. 23 at Marysville.
The Braves defeated host Centennial 48-9 in a league dual known as the "Golden Grappler" on Feb. 6. The following day, they competed in the semifinals of the City duals tournament at Mifflin. Seeded third, Whetstone beat second-seeded West 48-24 in a semifinal before losing to fourth-seeded Walnut Ridge 54-15 in the final.
"It's the highest we've finished in the seven-year history of the (City dual tournament)," Jones said. "The best we had finished before this year was third, so it was obviously a good thing. Like I said before, I didn't even anticipate us reaching the semifinals this year because of our youth."
Boys basketball team preps for postseason
The boys basketball team was 4-17 overall before closing the regular season Feb. 12 at home against Briggs.
The Braves played four games last week, going 2-2. They lost to Centennial 67-58 on Feb. 4, defeated International 67-55 the next day and beat East 69-53 on Feb. 8 to finish 3-11 in the City-North.
Whetstone then lost at Watterson 58-19 on Feb. 9.
Antwan Allen had 22 points, Caleb Brigle scored 18 and Sam Barrett had 17 against East. Against International, Allen had 20 points, Brigle scored 19 and Jaden Arledge had nine.
The Braves couldn't overcome a 19-7 first-quarter deficit at Centennial. Barrett had 18 points, Allen scored 16 and Brigle had 12.
Whetstone is seeded 46th of 47 teams in the Division I district tournament and will play at top-seeded Dublin Coffman in the first round Feb. 23.