Coach Brett Norris and his Hilliard Bradley High School boys basketball team won their third consecutive OCC-Cardinal Division title. However, for the second year in a row, a familiar opponent spoiled the Jaguars' chance at a perfect regular season.
Bradley defeated visiting Dublin Jerome 64-44 on Feb. 5 to clinch the league title. The Jaguars followed that up with a 48-22 win at Dublin Scioto on Feb. 8 to improve to 13-0 in the OCC-Cardinal but lost to visiting Davidson 44-43 in overtime Feb. 9 to slip to 18-1 overall.
Last season, the Jaguars lost to Davidson 37-35 and finished the regular season 20-1.
This year's loss to the Wildcats halted Bradley's 32-game winning streaks both at home and in the regular season.
"I continue to love the way we competed and played, and I feel like we have gotten better," said Norris, whose team is ranked sixth in the Division I state poll. "Davidson's length and defense were hard to handle. We shot 29 percent (from the field), and we still had a chance to win. In a game like that, a play here or a play there can really make a difference.
"I'm really excited to get back to work at practice (Feb. 11) and see what we can learn from this. We'll get better from this."
Bradley's streak of consecutive OCC-Cardinal victories remains intact. The Jaguars will look for their 43rd league win in a row when they play host to Darby on Friday, Feb. 15. They defeated the Panthers 56-25 on Jan. 11.
"We have had a year when we had to battle through some adversity, but I love the consistency and the way we prepare to win," Norris said. "To win all of our games in the league for the last three seasons until now is pretty remarkable."
The Jaguars, who finished 12-0 in the OCC-Cardinal each of the past two seasons, have continued their winning ways despite a bump in the road -- an ankle injury to 6-foot-6 post player Jack Pugh. The sophomore suffered his injury in a 60-51 win over Jerome on Dec. 21 and is out for the remainder of the season following surgery last month.
"No matter what the circumstances, it's all about the team and doing what you can to help out," said Pugh, who was averaging 9.6 points and 7.6 rebounds before the injury. "I have been just showing up to practice every day and trying to communicate on the sideline. I try just to be as vocal as possible."
The Jaguars showed their usual scoring balance against Jerome. Junior guard Matt Allocco finished with a team-high 20 points after having just four in the first half. Senior guard Winston Stone had 14 points, including three 3-pointers, and sophomore guard A.J. Mirgon scored 10. Sophomore guard Keaton Norris added nine points on three 3s, and junior forward Chris Mayfield chipped in seven points.
"We live by our core four: togetherness, passion, grit and honor," Stone said. "If we play with those four things every night, we believe we can do anything."
Though 17 games, Allocco was averaging 16.5 points and 5.5 assists, Mirgon was averaging 9.1 points, Mayfield was averaging 8.7 points and 5.1 rebounds, Norris was averaging 8.1 points and senior forward Zach Hummel was averaging 5.1 rebounds.
"Winning never gets old, so obviously we strive to win our conference," said Allocco, a starter on all three league championship teams. "We're not satisfied with (just winning the league). Every net we cut down is good."
Bradley concludes the regular season Saturday, Feb. 16, at home against Zanesville before turning its attention to the Division I district tournament. The Jaguars are seeded second of 47 teams, behind Dublin Coffman, and will play host to 43rd-seeded Marion Harding in the first round Feb. 23.
"I was pleased with (the draw)," coach Norris said. "Any time you are seeded where we are, you have to be happy.
"I like having a choice of where you go, and then it comes down to how everyone feels about wanting to play against you. I think we had a good draw."
Girls bowlers win OCC-Cardinal title
The girls bowling team finished unbeaten in the OCC-Cardinal to win its first league title since 2016.
The Jaguars defeated Darby 2,038-1,561 on Feb. 8 to finish 7-0 in the league. Christy Hribar was medalist with a 384 two-game series, including a 202 game. Olivia Johnson was next with a 341, followed by Callie Hribar with a 339 and Ava Miller with a 335.
"We bowl in tournaments all over the state to give our girls confidence and experience when they compete," said coach John Thompson, whose team is 13-1 overall and 11-1 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-B Division. "We bowled in a couple of tournaments at HP Lanes this year just so we would get experience on there because it will be where the sectional and district will be played."
The girls team will compete in the Division I sectional at HP Lanes on Feb. 22 and the boys will compete Feb. 23.
Cross, Sims lead swimmers into district
Carson Cross and Kaitlyn Sims advanced as individuals to lead the boys and girls swimming teams in a Division I sectional Feb. 9 at Upper Arlington.
Sims won the 200-yard individual medley in 2 minutes, 11.25 seconds and is seeded ninth for the district meet Friday, Feb. 15, at Ohio State. The sophomore also placed fourth in the 100 backstroke (59.76) and is seeded ninth at district and was on a pair of district-qualifying relays with Isa Brooks, Madison Wester and Paige Williams.
The 400 freestyle relay placed seventh (3:59.46) and is seeded 20th at district and the 200 free relay finished seventh (1:47.87) and is seeded 21st.
Cross placed fourth in the 100 butterfly (55.81) at sectional and is seeded 22nd at district. The junior also placed ninth in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.13) and is seeded 28th and was a member of the seventh-place 400 free relay (3:44.39) with Ben Wirantana, Jackson White and Emery Alspaugh. The relay is seeded 24th.
At district, the top two finishers in each swimming event advance to state Feb. 22 and 23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths will be awarded in each event based on district times statewide.
The girls team finished ninth (58 points) of 16 teams at sectional, behind champion UA (385.5), and the boys finished 12th (25) of 14 teams, behind champion UA (317).
Gymnasts finish fifth in league meet
The gymnastics team finished fifth (131.175) in the OCC-Cardinal meet Feb. 9 at Thomas Worthington, behind champion Jerome (138.9).
Lexi Patterson led the Jaguars by placing ninth in the all-around (34.075). The senior placed third on balance beam (8.925), eighth on uneven bars (9.325), 13th on vault (8.1) and 14th in the floor exercise (8.725).
Makayla Cornell placed 16th in the all-around and Gabi Graff was 17th.
Below are the coming schedules for the Bradley girls basketball and wrestling teams:
Feb. 16 -- At fourth-seeded Watterson in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner advances to play 20th-seeded Pickerington North in second round Feb. 22. The Jaguars are seeded 36th of 45 teams.
*Feb. 14 -- At Darby