The respect Westerville South High School senior boys basketball player Manny Sunnyway earned during his prep career was solidified after he suffered a season-ending injury.

Sunnyway, a key contributor, sustained a torn labrum in his right shoulder during a 69-45 win over Westerville Central on Jan. 11. He was injured making one of his signature plays, diving for a loose ball.

Senior Ryan Greggs honored his friend by wearing Sunnyway's No. 4 jersey during an 87-67 loss at Olentangy Liberty on Jan. 25.

"I dedicated the game to him and tried to play my hardest," Greggs said. "We miss him on the court. We have to make up for his toughness. Every day in practice we try to show our inner-Manny; that's what coach (Ed) Calo calls it. It's bringing out something deep down inside us to get a rebound, a steal, dive on the floor for a loose ball -- show some toughness the way Manny showed it."

Although some players might receive attention because of their scoring, Calo said Sunnyway has been "the heart and soul" of the Wildcats because of his commitment and dedication.

"Manny provided a spark, a toughness that is very rare," Calo said of the 6-foot-1 post player. "He played with a great understanding of our defense and was able to get more deflections than just about any player that I've ever coached. He may have been undersized in stature, but his heart was as big as you could get."

Sunnyway was scheduled to have surgery this week and said the recovery process would take about six months.

"This is the toughest thing I've ever been through," he said. "I couldn't move my right arm when I tried to reach for the ball. It's the first time I've ever cried during a game. This is really disappointing because I worked so hard to get where I am right now in this program."

South has struggled since Sunnyway's injury. It had lost seven consecutive games and was 6-12 overall before playing Johnstown on Feb. 12.

The Wildcats are 3-6 in the OCC-Buckeye Division and close league play Friday, Feb. 15, at Central.

Despite the injury, Sunnyway has remained with the Wildcats, offering support and encouragement to his teammates.

"I needed to stay with the team because they really helped me where I am right now," he said. "I didn't notice until after I got hurt that I am really important to this team."

South is seeded 27th of 47 teams in the Division I district tournament and has a first-round bye. It plays seventh-seeded Reynoldsburg or 38th-seeded Mifflin in the second round March 1.

The Wildcats lost to Reynoldsburg 61-53 on Jan. 22 in the second game they played without Sunnyway, who also played wide receiver for South and is undecided on if he will continue his athletic career at the collegiate level.

Jordan McMillian scored 15 points and Devin Caldwell added 10 in a 61-55 loss to visiting Westerville North on Feb. 8.

McMillian scored 18 points and Jacob Singleton added 17 in a 53-46 loss at Upper Arlington on Feb. 5.

South plays Canton McKinley on Saturday, Feb. 16, at North Canton Hoover and closes the regular season Tuesday, Feb. 19, at home against Thomas Worthington.

"We have to stick together and play hard," Sunnyway said.

Girls basketball team clinches outright title

The girls basketball team secured its second consecutive outright league title with a 38-29 win over visiting North on Feb. 8. Anyssa Jones scored 12 points and Sommer Pitzer and Aja Austin each added 11.

South improved to 15-5 overall with a 62-52 win over visiting Berlin Hiland on Feb. 11. Jones scored 25 points, Austin had 15 and Gabby Hutcherson added 10.

South is 9-0 in the OCC-Buckeye and closes the regular season Friday, Feb. 15, at Central, which it beat 44-40 on Jan. 11.

The Wildcats are seeded sixth of 45 teams in the Division I district tournament and have a first-round bye. They play host to 15th-seeded Thomas or 23rd-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in the second round Feb. 22.

"We like where we're at with the tournament draw," coach Erick Herzberg said.

Swimming teams prepare for district

The boys and girls swimming teams kicked off the postseason by competing in Division I sectionals Feb. 9 at Kenyon College.

Emily Ellsworth led the girls, finishing fourth in the 100-yard breaststroke (1 minute, 7.65 seconds) and fifth in the 200 individual medley (2:13.65). Maeve Stacey was sixth in the 100 breast (1:08.32) and Caroline Bowling was seventh in the 500 freestyle (5:26.14).

They lead South into the district meet Friday, Feb. 15, at Ohio State after the girls finished seventh (85 points) of nine teams at sectional behind champion Dublin Coffman (266).

Mason Williams, Mason Crow, Riley Andrews and Dylan Gary led the boys, finishing fifth in the 200 free relay (1:36.26) as the Wildcats placed eighth (42) of 10 teams behind champion St. Charles (299).

At district, the top two placers in each event automatically advance to the state meet 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.

"I'm really excited by the performances of all our athletes, not just the district qualifiers," coach CJ Morabito said. "It was a strong showing and evidence of the strong future of this program."

Wrestlers compete in Jerome tournament

The wrestling team received several solid efforts in the All-North Tournament on Feb. 9 at Dublin Jerome.

Fuanyi Fobellah finished first at 106 pounds, Aaron Morton was second at 160 and Bobby Henderson placed fourth at 145.

The Wildcats finished 16th (48) behind champion Marys-ville (187) as 18 teams scored.

South is 0-4 in the OCC-Buckeye and closes league action Thursday, Feb. 14, at Central.

Boys bowling team wins COHSBC tourney

The boys bowling team finished first of nine teams in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference roll-off tournament Feb. 9 at Holiday Lanes.

The Wildcats (3,538) finished ahead of second-place Central (3,484) as Colton Rice took second (638) and Callan VanScyoc was fourth (618).

South closes the regular season Saturday, Feb. 16, against Lancaster at Tiki Lanes.

Two student-athletes announce commitments

Two student-athletes announced their college commitments Feb. 6.

Deja Edwards will play women's soccer at Indiana Wesleyan and Dylan Gary will play men's soccer at Findlay.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank