The Thomas Worthington High School boys basketball team is hoping the return of 6-foot-9 senior center Ben Wight provides a boost.
Wight, an Ohio University signee, has been out of the lineup since suffering a foot injury Jan. 25 in the first quarter of a 65-47 loss to Dublin Jerome.
"We lost Kyler Block for the season with an ACL injury against Africentric (on Jan. 5) and Maurice Collins has been battling health issues most of the season, so these past five or six games we've been without 6-9, 6-6 and 6-5 (players) and we've had to adjust our approach from having a size advantage to a guard-oriented approach," coach Sean Luzader said. "We've had to play faster and spread the floor a bit more.
"But Ben is getting his boot off and we expect him to start practicing this week and he could be ready when we play Kilbourne (at home Friday, Feb. 15)."
The Cardinals are 14-6 overall and 8-5 in the OCC-Cardinal Division heading into the league finale against Kilbourne, which they defeated 54-35 on Jan. 11.
"I think we've done a good job making the adjustment," Luzader said. "Ben basically played on one foot for the last three quarters against Jerome and then we played Northland the next day and we didn't anticipate Ben being unable to play. We lost that one (62-61), but have gone 3-1 since then.
"The kids have adapted well and we have a new starter and we have a few others who barely saw the floor in the first half of the season who are getting major minutes right now. I think James Waltermyer has stepped into a starting role and has rebounded very well. Landon Ward has been very solid and is one of the reasons we were able to beat Dublin Scioto on the road (61-51 on Feb. 5)."
The Cardinals also have relied more heavily on Jalen Sullinger, Isaac Settles and Charlie Mamlin in recent weeks.
"Those guys have stepped up their efforts greatly," Luzader said. "I think Jalen is averaging around 23 points per game in the past five games. They've done a nice job giving us what we need. Still, it's going to be nice to get Ben back and hopefully he'll be at full strength and everyone can fall back in their natural roles.
"I mean, he's a 6-9 Division I signee and he's going to be a major piece of everything we do. Just his presence will make defenses pay more attention to him and open things up for our perimeter players. It'll be like we're back in midseason form and it'll be a plus for the (Division I district tournament)."
The Cardinals, who close the regular season Tuesday, Feb. 19, at Westerville South, are seeded 17th of 47 teams in the district tournament and have a first-round bye. They will play host to 21st-seeded Groveport or 23rd-seeded St. Charles in the second round March 1.
Swimmers set to compete at district
The boys and girls swimming teams both will be represented in the Division I district meet Friday, Feb. 15, at Ohio State by three individuals and three relays.
Sam Steele and Grant Simeone led the boys team in a sectional Feb. 9 at home, as both qualified for district in two individual events.
Steele placed second in the 200-yard individual medley (2 minutes, 3.44 seconds) and fifth in the 100 backstroke (55.97). Simeone finished fifth in the 100 breaststroke (1:02.99) and eighth in the 100 freestyle (22.95), and Eli Short placed third in the 50 free (22.27).
"Simeone had a dynamite split (in the 200 medley relay) and then posted two career-best times in his individual events," coach Jim Callahan said. "Sam had a personal record in the 100 back and Eli had a season-best (time) in the 50 free."
Maddie Holub led the girls team at sectional, placing second in both the 200 IM (2:13.76) and 500 free (5:21.52).
Rachel Rinaldi placed fourth in the 200 IM (2:14.82) and fifth in the 100 breast (1:10.42), and Audrey Taylor finished 13th in the 50 free (25.72).
"Rachel had a season-best in the 100 breast and Audrey had a season-best in the 50 free," Callahan said. "Maddie was just off her season-bests, but our top swimmers don't go all out. They just make sure to be solid, not take chances, especially in the relays, and take care of business."
The boys finished fourth (126 points) of 12 teams at sectional, behind champion New Albany (358), and the girls were sixth (104) of 15 teams, behind champion New Albany (363).
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.
Girls team finishes third in league
The girls basketball team split its final two OCC-Cardinal contests to help determine the league champion last week.
The Cardinals now will try to secure community bragging rights when they play host to 23rd-seeded Kilbourne on Saturday, Feb. 16, in the first round of the Division I district tournament. Thomas is seeded 15th of 45 teams.
The Cardinals and Wolves split their OCC-Cardinal contests this season, with each winning on the other's home floor. Kilbourne won 64-62 in double-overtime on Dec. 11 and Thomas won 56-34 on Jan. 11.
The winner will play at sixth-seeded Westerville South in the second round Feb. 22.
In the OCC-Cardinal race, Dublin Scioto and Hilliard Darby entered last week as co-leaders at 10-2 and Thomas was third at 8-4. The Cardinals defeated Scioto 46-41 on Feb. 5 and lost to Darby 50-41 on Feb. 8. Darby won the title at 12-2, ahead of runner-up Scioto (10-4) and third-place Thomas (9-5).
Against Scioto, the Cardinals led 20-19 at halftime before pulling away. Breanne Beatty had 25 points, Sarah Charley scored 15 and Lauren Gerber scored nine.
Against Darby, the Cardinals were outscored 28-19 in the second half after the score was tied at 22 at halftime. Charley had 18 points and Beatty scored 11.
Thomas, which beat Central Crossing 63-27 on Feb. 9 and lost to New Albany 45-26 on Feb. 11, was 13-8 overall before playing DeSales in its regular-season finale Feb. 12.
Gymnasts finish seventh in OCC meet
The gymnastics team scored 124.175 points in the OCC-Cardinal meet Feb. 9 at home to finish seventh behind Jerome (138.9), Olentangy Berlin (136.55), Darby (135.425), Kilbourne (134.9), Hilliard Bradley (131.175) and Delaware (128.75) and ahead of Scioto (75.85).
The Cardinals, who went 1-6 in OCC-Cardinal duals, also finished seventh in the overall league standings, totaling eight points to finish behind Jerome (31, 6-1), Darby (27, 6-1), Berlin (25, 5-2), Kilbourne (21, 5-2), Bradley (16, 3-4) and Delaware (12, 2-5) and ahead of Scioto (4, 0-7).
In the league meet, Audrey Maxwell finished 20th in the all-around (31.75) and placed 12th on floor exercise (8.775), and Haley Burkett was 24th in the all-around (30.625).
"We didn't do too poorly and we were without one of our top all-arounders in Regan Macerollo, who was out with a back injury," coach Marci Skeen said. "We're hoping she makes it back for the district meet (Feb. 23 at Kilbourne). We filled her four spots with Kathryn Mierzejewski, Bella Fredritz, Hadley Kulina and Cordelia Noonan and they all did well. It was good to get them experience."
Hockey team to open district tourney
The hockey team is seeded 14th of 26 teams in the district tournament and will play 11th-seeded Oxford Talawanda in the first round Friday, Feb. 15, at Chiller North.
The winner faces 10th-seeded Dublin Coffman or 12th-seeded Beavercreek in the second round Saturday, Feb. 16, at Chiller North, with that winner advancing to a quarterfinal Feb. 23 at the Ice Haus.
Thomas was seeded 12th in the Blue Jackets Cup consolation tournament and beat 13th-seeded Berlin 10-2 in the first round Feb. 8 at Chiller North before losing to eventual champion Cincinnati Moeller 8-3 in a semifinal on Feb. 9 to fall to 10-4-2-1.