It's been more than a decade since the Reynoldsburg High School boys basketball team entered the Division I district tournament in a similar position to the one it finds itself in this winter.
Although the Raiders won their third district championship last season, they entered the postseason seeded 10th.
They were the 15th seed in 2012 when they upset No. 1-ranked Northland to win a district title in former coach Chris Rider's final season, and since that time were never higher than the eighth seed -- until now.
Reynoldsburg received the seventh seed for this postseason, its highest since it was seeded No. 3 and went on to win its first district championship in 2006.
In addition, the Raiders' 17-5 overall record is their best since coach Scott Davis' first season in 2013 when they were the eighth seed and lost to Gahanna 42-38 in a district semifinal to finish 19-6.
Reynoldsburg opens the postseason at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at home against 38th-seeded Mifflin, with the winner to play 27th-seeded Westerville South in a second-round game March 1 at the home of the better seed.
"We got a very nice seed," Davis said. "When (2013 graduate) Wendell (Davis) was here (as a senior) we were eighth. Last year we were 10th and won a district title, so it's our highest seed since I've been here. There are a lot of good teams in central Ohio."
The Raiders hovered throughout the regular season in the Nos. 7-10 range in the area coaches poll and went 0-4 against the two programs from Pickerington, but they found much to like about their play.
A 50-35 victory over Lancaster in its regular-season finale Feb. 15 gave Reynoldsburg its 10th win in 12 games.
The Raiders lost to Pickerington North 53-48 on Feb. 8 but gutted out a 57-56 victory the next afternoon at Eastmoor Academy as sophomore guard Josiah Mobley made five 3-pointers and finished with 16 points and senior guard Xavier Prince made two free throws with 6 seconds left to help complete the victory.
Reynoldsburg's only other loss was 53-45 on Dec. 22 to Cincinnati Princeton, which went 15-7 in the regular season.
"It's been pretty good so far," junior forward Sean Moore said. "We had a couple little letdowns against Pickerington North and Pickerington Central. We've just got to pick it up in the tournament. I'd say it's been a learning experience."
Senior guard Ben Fort averages 14 points, Moore averages 10 and senior forward Sahmi Willoughy averages nine for the Raiders, who finished third in the OCC-Ohio at 6-4 as Central and North tied for the title at 9-1.
Davis will face Mifflin, which is 7-15, for the first time since he was Beechcroft's coach from 2008-12 and the teams were City League-North opponents.
"We're excited," Davis said. "We feel like we have a chance to have another run. We feel like we're good enough to beat anybody, but we're not so good that we can just show up and beat anyone. We're good enough to win every time we step out on the floor and not every team can say that. Some teams can play great and they're still not going to have a chance to win."
Culbert, Gaver make state in swimming
Senior Harvey Culbert will complete his prep career with a third consecutive Division I state berth for the boys swimming and diving team, and he'll have company in Canton in sophomore Nate Gaver.
On Feb. 15 in the district meet at Ohio State, Culbert placed fourth in the 100-yard breaststroke (57.9 seconds) and Gaver was fifth in the 50 freestyle (21.29) to qualify for state.
Culbert also was seventh in the 200 individual medley (1:56.18) and Gaver was ninth in the 100 free (47.27), but both came up short of advancing in those events.
Gaver is the 14th seed in the 50 free and Culbert is the 14th seed in the 100 breast at state.
Their performances helped the Raiders place 10th (76) at district behind champion Dublin Jerome (301) as 27 teams scored.
State swimming preliminaries will be held Friday, Feb. 22, with finals slated for Saturday, Feb. 23, at Branin Natatorium.
"Our whole team had a pretty good day," Gaver said. "In my 50 free, I dropped exactly .2 seconds so I was pretty happy with that. My turns need a lot of work but it was all right."
Culbert and Gaver also swam on the 11th-place 200 medley relay (1:42.06) with Justin Barnhart and Max Hutson-Comeaux. The 400 free relay of Culbert, Barnhart, Hutson-Comeaux and Gaver was 10th (3:20.43).
The girls team did not score any district points.
"Everybody did really well," coach Josh Dorsett said. "We had really great swims all around, a lot of great time drops, a lot of best swims. The district was fast this year."
Girls basketball team wins tourney opener
The fifth-seeded girls basketball team opened the Division I district tournament by beating 37th-seeded Central Crossing 56-18 on Feb. 15 in a first-round home game.
The Raiders advanced to a second-round contest Friday, Feb. 22, at home against 43rd-seeded Mifflin.
If Reynoldsburg wins that game, it will play 11th-seeded Teays Valley or 18th-seeded Canal Winchester in a district semifinal Wednesday, Feb. 27, at a neutral site to be determined.
The district championship game for the Raiders' bracket is March 2 at Ohio Dominican, with seventh-seeded Upper Arlington or 12th-seeded Northland the most likely opponents.
The Raiders are 17-6 overall. They defeated Pickerington North 78-25 on Feb. 8 to finish second (7-3) in the OCC-Ohio behind Pickerington Central (10-0).
Destiny Fields had 15 points and Uju Ezeudu scored 14 in the tournament opener for Reynoldsburg, which led Central Crossing 44-6 at halftime.
"Our girls have been playing well in 2019," coach Jack Purtell said. "Our trip to (Wilmington, Delaware) over Christmas break seemed to really help our trust in each other and chemistry. Our defense was really bad early in the year and much better now. That's our biggest improvement."
Below are the coming schedules for the Reynoldsburg bowling and wrestling teams:
Feb. 22 -- Division I girls sectional at HP Lanes. The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district March 2 at HP Lanes.
Feb. 23 -- Division I boys sectional at HP Lanes. The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district March 2 at HP Lanes.
Feb. 23 -- Division I sectional at Marysville. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 1 and 2 at Mentor.