Continuing a season in which DeSales High School boys bowling coach Miranda Singer could count on anyone to step up in a given match, the Stallions' fourth-best bowler in terms of average will be their only representative in the Division II district tournament Thursday, Feb. 21, at HP Lanes.

Despite winning the outright Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-D Division championship and sharing the CCL title with St. Charles, DeSales did not advance beyond the sectional Feb. 16 at HP Lanes as a team.

Led by James Jackson's 32nd-place finish (542) of 190 bowlers, the Stallions finished 19th (3,335) behind champion Caledonia River Valley (4,047) as 32 teams scored. The top 12 teams and top 12 individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district.

DeSales went 16-2 overall during the regular season, 12-0 in the COHSBC-D and 7-1 in the CCL.

"They were very confident. Their confidence definitely has helped them this year," said Singer, who admitted hoping for at least a .500 season when she took over last fall. "This is much better than (.500), obviously. It was probably about halfway through the season when we pulled out some close matches and realized how good we could be. St. Charles was one of those matches (a 2,132-2,126 win on Dec. 3). They got a little down on themselves when we lost, but they have always been able to bounce back."

Isaiah Thomas averaged 183.6 pins per game during the regular season, followed by Jackson (179.6), Will McAfee-Weatherspoon (171.1), Shawn Corkrean (150.2) and Marcus Ray (134.3).

DeSales finished the regular season without its top two bowlers, Bryan Ritzler and Andrew Swift, because of ineligibility. Swift had a 195.1 average but did not compete after mid-January.

Ritzler averaged 191.2 but has been out since early this month.

Thomas took one of the biggest steps forward from last season, when he averaged 169.1.

"It's just been (about) consistency, discipline and just having a lot more fun," Thomas said. "It was fun last year, but we added more people this year and the environment and atmosphere have been even better. They've been incredible. There's always somebody backing you up. We'll be fine."

Also scoring at sectional were Thomas (tied for 46th, 524), Corkrean (70th, 477), McAfee-Weatherspoon (tied for 81st, 461) and Patrick Anderson (tied for 95th, 432).

At district, the top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to the state tournament March 2 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.

The girls team will participate in the Division I sectional Friday, Feb. 22, at HP Lanes. The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district March 2 at the same facility.

Skyla Blumenscheid has a 156.5 average to lead the Stallions, who went 5-9 overall, 5-4 in the COHSBC-D and 1-5 in the CCL. DeSales finished 1-9 overall last year.

"We've won a lot more games this year. I'm really proud of us," first-year girls bowler Catharina Le said. "I've added some power during the season. Skyla kind of carries us and Olivia (Houlihan, who averages 118.6) is really good, but everybody has contributed and improved."

McInerney advances to state swim meet

For the first time in five years, the boys swimming team will be represented in the Division II state meet.

Freshman Brady McInerney will compete in the 100-yard backstroke and 200 individual medley at Branin Natatorium in Canton. Preliminaries are Thursday, Feb. 21, followed by championship and consolation finals the next day.

McInerney, the boys team's first state qualifier since Coleman McKinney in 2014, is seeded 16th (1 minute, 58.77 seconds) in the 200 IM and 20th (55.49) in the 100 back.

In the district meet Feb. 14 at Ohio State, McInerney placed third in the 200 IM and fourth in the 100 back. He dropped 4.66 seconds and 2.69 seconds, respectively, in those events from a sectional five days earlier at Thomas Worthington.

Those performances led DeSales to eighth place (102 points) behind champion Columbus Academy (251) as 37 teams scored.

No girls swimmers advanced to state from the Division I district meet Feb. 15 at Ohio State.

Libby Ruff's 20th-place finish in the 500 free (5:32.86) led DeSales, which did not score as a team.

Boys basketball team shares CCL title

The boys basketball team earned a share of its first CCL championship since 2010 when it defeated host St. Charles 55-47 on Feb. 15, tying Watterson for first place as both teams went 6-2 in the league.

Desmond Watson had 18 points, Kayin Derden scored 11 and Anthony Sciarroni scored 10 for DeSales, which is 14-8 overall. Watterson defeated Ready 48-26 that same night.

Seeded third in the 23-team Division II district tournament, the Stallions will play host to 18th-seeded Independence in a first-round game Monday, Feb. 25. The winner will play 15th-seeded Sparta Highland in the second round March 2 at the home of the higher seed.

Columbus South and Jonathan Alder -- which defeated DeSales 44-41 on Feb. 5 -- are the first and second seeds, respectively, in the district tournament.

"South is a clear No. 1 in the area," coach Pat Murphy said. "We're in sight of (more) goals. The guys know that. They've bought in and we've won some games. We talk about 'we over me' and we're having fun. We're seeing some success."

Wrestlers go 0-2 in CCL duals

The wrestling team won four of its six contested matches in the CCL duals Feb. 13 at Ready, although with only four competitors and three who got a match, DeSales had little chance to win the team title, as it lost to St. Charles 54-23 in a semifinal and the host Silver Knights 27-12 in the third-place match.

Josh Morse won both of his matches at 126 pounds. Kody Goffin and Romiaun Speed each went 1-1 at 120 and 132, respectively, and heavyweight Cole Potts won twice by forfeit.

"Overall, the guys who wrestled (Feb. 13) wrestled well. We have a decent group. They are chugging away," said coach Collin Palmer, who took over the team after Nick Preston resigned Jan. 15. "The toughest part is being limited. We only had four guys (Feb. 13) and seven overall on the team. Trying to get matches with low numbers can be tough, but we're trying to get all the experience we can and do some damage in the postseason."

Hartley defeated St. Charles 58-24 in the final to win its sixth consecutive league title.

DeSales will participate in a Division II sectional Friday, Feb. 22, and Saturday, Feb. 23, at Licking Valley. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament March 1 and 2 at Heath.

Gymnasts getting set for district meet

The gymnastics team is preparing to compete in the 35-team district meet Saturday, Feb. 23, at Worthington Kilbourne.

The top three teams advance to the state team meet March 1 at Hilliard Bradley, while the top eight individuals in each event and the all-around advance to the state individual meet March 2 at Bradley.

Girls basketball team ousted by UA

The girls basketball team couldn't overcome a slow start in its Division I district tournament opener Feb. 16 at seventh-seeded Upper Arlington, as it was held to five points on 2-for-17 shooting from the floor in the first half of a 37-19 loss.

Sophomore guard Gracey Wilson's seven points led DeSales, which finished 6-17 overall. The Stallions were seeded 33rd of 45 teams in the tournament.

"(UA) plays very physical on the ball and gets up the line really well. They don't allow you to run your stuff and their physicality really hurt us in the first half," coach Brian Cromwell said. "We handled it better in the third quarter and battled back. Their intensity was very good, which really caused us some issues."

DeSales played without its second-leading scorer in junior point guard Emma Burns, who recently injured her right ankle and was in a walking boot Feb. 16.

Senior forward Gabby Elliott averaged 13.5 points and 5.0 rebounds to lead the Stallions, who went 1-6 in the CCL to finish third behind co-champions Hartley and Watterson (both 6-1). Burns averaged 8.0 points and senior forward Ashley Kraker added 4.8 rebounds.

Other players eligible to return include junior forward Katie Schuler and sophomores Stephanie Karras (forward) and Grace Sabo (center).

"The adversity we faced showed the character we had," Cromwell said. "They always battled."

Hockey team falls in district opener

The hockey team fell behind 7-0 in the first period of its district tournament opener Feb. 15 and lost to 13th-seeded Springboro 11-1 at Chiller North.

Senior forward Chris Yarger scored the only goal for 20th-seeded DeSales, which finished 9-14-1-1. The Stallions lost five games to finish the season, including two in a row to Springboro. The Panthers edged DeSales 3-2 in a Blue Jackets Cup first-round consolation game Feb. 8 at Chiller North.

Among the Stallions' eight losses to graduation are its top two scorers in Capital Hockey Conference action in Yarger (31 goals) and senior forward Adam Graver (15 goals). Yarger led the entire conference in goals regardless of division.

Ten players are eligible to return, including junior forwards Noah Swenson and Luke Weithman and sophomore forward Nathan Granata. Both goaltenders are seniors in Grant Rodgers and Alex Whalen.

Still, second-year coach Darcy Cahill is optimistic about the program's future.

"We're in a good place. With all the support and backing we have from our parents, support staff and the school with (athletics director) Tom Neubert and (principal) Dan Garrick, we're doing a lot of good things at DeSales right now," Cahill said. "We have some freshmen coming in that we're excited about. It's amazing what you can do when you have the backing of the school and a good community of people."

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave