Dan Ewald brings a football mentality to the basketball court for the Central Crossing High School boys team -- in the only way that a linebacker could.

The 6-foot-3 senior forward loves contact and has taken 30 charges in 22 games for the Comets, who have 56 as a team.

"I think I bring a physicality to the court," Ewald said. "I'm more defensive-minded, maybe because I'm a linebacker in football and it comes from that. I like taking charges because it gets the team pumped up, and you can really get your team going."

Coach Neil Hohman said it's just part of the program's mission statement.

"For us, it's a defensive thing," said Hohman, whose team is 8-14 overall. "It's been a staple of our program for the last couple of years, staying down and taking charges on people. We teach them to stay down, wall up and make them go through us to score instead of blocking shots. We don't have great leapers or height or length.

"I think it's the defensive equivalent of the dunk. It gets everyone off of their seat, it's exciting and it causes a turnover. It not only gives us the ball back, it gives their guy a foul and gives us some momentum."

Ewald took 10 charges last season as the Comets totaled 36 as a team. He took nine as a sophomore as the team had 39.

He has a strategy for getting into position and bracing for contact.

"I will look (the opponent) off a little bit and not let the guy know that I see him, and then I will slide under in front of him," Ewald said. "He has to run you over, but you have to just take it. It's worth it.

"You stiffen up and protect yourself (in the groin) and tuck your chin down so you won't hit your head. I'm not a shot-blocker because I'm not tall enough for that. (The charge) gives their player a foul and I'm not getting the foul, and we get the ball."

Ewald was second-team all-OCC-Central Division in football last fall. He is a four-year varsity basketball player.

"Dan has brought a lot of toughness," Hohman said. "He's a football guy who is probably a basketball player second.

"He's an undersized post guy, but he does a good job in there because he's a big physical guy. He does fundamental things defensively in terms of setting screens and staying down to take charges."

Ewald averages only 4.4 points, but he scored 13 with three 3-pointers in a 63-52 win over Westland on Feb. 15. Devon Miller led with 15 points and Logan Green also had 13 as the Comets finished 4-6 in the OCC-Central.

"As a freshman, I was more offensive-minded and thinking more about myself," Ewald said. "Now I don't score as much or take as many shots.

"Coach Hohman has taught me to stay down and play tough defense. Good defense leads to good offense. I know it pumps me up."

The 32nd-seeded Comets open Division I district tournament play Thursday, Feb. 21, at ninth-seeded Newark. The winner plays 31st-seeded Whitehall in the second round March 1 at the home of the better seed.

Francek closes swim career at district

Senior Zach Francek set program records in both of his individual events for the boys swimming and diving team in the Division I district meet Feb. 15 at Ohio State.

Francek placed 27th in the 100-yard butterfly in 55.9 seconds and 26th in the 100 backstroke in 57.9. He also joined sophomores Jacob Archer, Mason Smith and Will Atkins on the 400 freestyle relay that was disqualified.

The girls team competed in all three relays with junior Emma Thompson, sophomores Haley Kumfer and Sarah Rush and freshman Haylee Howard. Rush subbed for junior Madison Studt.

The 200 medley relay finished 28th (2:12.5), the 400 free relay was 30th (4:22.4) and the 200 free relay was disqualified.

"I'm really happy for Zach," said 12th-year coach Robert Boggs, whose teams did not score at district. "He set records and finished strong as a senior.

"The girls all swam well. They all had personal records and improved from last week (at sectional)."

Girls basketball team loses district opener

The girls basketball team lost at fifth-seeded Reynoldsburg 56-18 on Feb. 15 in the opening round of the Division I district tournament.

The 37th-seeded Comets finished 5-18 overall.

Junior guard Haley Cox scored nine points to lead Central Crossing.

The Comets finished fourth (2-8) in the OCC-Central behind champion Dublin Coffman (10-0).

Also expected to return are juniors Aminata Berete (guard), Araceli Rosado (guard), Karen Silva-Revilla (forward) and Aliana Washington (forward) and freshman Georgia Lakso (guard).

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Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Central Crossing gymnastics and wrestling teams:

GYMNASTICS

Feb. 23 -- District meet at Worthington Kilbourne. The top three teams advance to state March 1 at Hilliard Bradley. The top eight individuals in each event and the all-around advance to state March 2 at Bradley.

WRESTLING

Feb. 23 -- Division I sectional at Marysville. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 1 and 2 at Hilliard Darby.