The Hilliard Darby High School girls basketball team accomplished its first objective of the season when it defeated host Thomas Worthington 50-41 on Feb. 8 to clinch the outright OCC-Cardinal Division title.
"I haven't had a better feeling than this," said senior point guard Sydney Wyngarden, who scored 12 of her 15 points in the first half. "Annie (Rauch) and I have been talking about getting this done before we left and now we've done it.
"We still have more to do, but with the way the younger girls have stepped up, it's been a good season and we're only getting better. We couldn't have done it without them. Sophia Iosue hit big shots, Jenna (Rasul) made some key plays, Sofia Gentile has come up big and (Alexis Finnegan) played tremendous defense tonight and shut down a very good player in (Breanne Beatty)."
The Panthers finished the regular season 17-5 overall and 12-2 in the OCC-Cardinal, ahead of Dublin Scioto (10-4), Thomas (9-5), Dublin Jerome (7-7), Olentangy Berlin (6-8), Worthington Kilbourne (5-9), Bradley (4-10) and Delaware (3-11).
"Syd and the rest of my teammates played well in the first half when I was struggling and they kept us going until I could get things rolling in the second half," said Rauch, who scored 13 of her 14 points after halftime when the score was tied at 22. "This is so great for the school and our community. It's been a while since we've been able to do this."
According to coach Tay Tufts, the only other title in program history was in 2006-07.
"It was nice that we clinched the outright title by ourselves and beat a good Thomas team that was a league champion last year and did it on their floor," Tufts said. "We knew it would be a battle because Thomas is very good and they just knocked off Scioto (57-47 on Feb. 5) and we were tied with Scioto before that game.
"We talked about staying in the game early, sticking to the game plan of moving and sharing the ball. This is my third year here and we got it accomplished. I was told I would need at least five years, but I have great coaches around me and the girls just absolutely bought in and worked hard and now we're here."
The Panthers are seeded 13th in the Division I district tournament and will play host to 24th-seeded Westerville North in the first round Saturday, Feb. 16. The winner faces 16th-seeded Hartley in the second round Feb. 22.
Gymnasts finish third in OCC meet
Anne Hassay and Annamarie Bayer helped lead the gymnastics team to a third-place finish in the OCC-Cardinal meet Feb. 9 at Thomas, but the Panthers still finished second in the overall league standings.
Darby posted a 135.425 to finish behind Jerome (138.9) and Berlin (136.55) and ahead of Kilbourne (134.9), Bradley (131.175), Delaware (128.75), Thomas (124.175) and Scioto (75.85).
Hassay finished second in the all-around (36.35) as well as on uneven bars (9.1), balance beam (9.05) and floor exercise (9.275). She was fourth on vault (8.925).
"Overall, I thought the meet went pretty well," Hassay said. "It was the team's highest score of the season, so that was awesome. For me, I had high scores on my floor routine and in the all-around."
Bayer placed sixth on beam (8.7), while Laurel Bonn was 15th in the all-around (32.325) and 11th on beam (8.525).
"We had a high team score on beam," said coach Carol Eskay, whose team was second (34.5) in the event behind Kilbourne (34.6). "Anne had a very good day, hitting on all four of her events for the first time all season. I thought all the girls did great and I think there are likely more season-highs for some of the other girls that I haven't looked up yet."
After combining regular-season league duals with the league meet, Darby finished second (27 points, 6-1) in the overall OCC-Cardinal standings behind Jerome (31, 6-1) and ahead of Berlin (25, 5-2), Kilbourne (21, 5-2), Bradley (16, 3-4), Delaware (12, 2-5), Thomas (8, 1-6) and Scioto (4, 0-7).
The district meet is Feb. 23 at Kilbourne.
Peck wins 100 fly at sectional meet
Freshman Mason Peck of the boys swimming team won the 100-yard butterfly in 51.88 seconds in a Division I sectional Feb. 9 at Upper Arlington to earn an automatic berth to the district meet Friday, Feb. 15, at Ohio State.
Peck is seeded third in the 100 fly at district. He also earned an at-large district berth in the 200 freestyle after placing sixth in 1:46.48.
Also earning at-large district berths were Casey Maruniak in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke after placing fifth in both events at sectional. Braden Bower advanced in the 200 free and 500 free and Jared Hopkins qualified in the 100 breast.
The 200 free relay of Maruniak, Maaz Baig, Peck and Bower placed fourth at sectional (1:34.86) to advance. The 200 medley relay and 400 free relay also qualified.
Earning at-large district berths for the girls team were Mackenzie Stellrecht in the 500 free, the 200 medley relay and the 400 free relay.
At district, 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.
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.
The boys team totaled 120 points at sectional to place fourth of 15 teams, behind champion UA (323), and the girls finished 10th (37) of 17 teams, behind champion UA (385.5).
Boys basketball team posts two straight wins
The boys basketball team won consecutive games last week and was 5-15 overall before playing Jonathan Alder on Feb. 12.
The Panthers are 3-10 in the OCC-Cardinal and will close the regular season Friday, Feb. 15, with a league game at Bradley.
Last week in league action, Darby defeated Berlin 45-26 on Feb. 5 and Thomas 61-58 on Feb. 8.
Kyle Miller had 14 points and Andrew Patrick and Blake Horvath scored eight apiece against Berlin. Against Thomas, Patrick had 18 points, Miller scored 17 and Kai Burmeister scored 12.
The Panthers are seeded 40th of 47 teams in the Division I district tournament and will play at fourth-seeded Olentangy Liberty in the first round Feb. 23.
Wrestlers seeking outright league title
The wrestling team will be seeking the outright OCC-Cardinal title when it plays host to Bradley on Thursday, Feb. 14.
The Panthers are 6-0 in the league.
Day announces college decision
Kris Day announced last week that he will play football at Ohio Dominican.