The Thomas Worthington High School girls basketball team is hoping its feast only began Feb. 16.
The 15th-seeded Cardinals opened the Division I district tournament that day and tasted victory, beating 23rd-seeded Worthington Kilbourne 50-38 at home. They will seek more prey Friday, Feb. 22, when they visit sixth-seeded Westerville South in a second-round game.
"We came out hungry and we're still hungry," said senior guard Breanne Beatty, who scored 24 points against Kilbourne and has 999 career points. "We know South is a great team and it'll be a challenge, but I think with our hunger, we can get it done."
Beatty was hoping to surpass 1,000 career points in her final home game. With the Cardinals maintaining a comfortable double-digit lead late in the game, her teammates looked to get her the ball on every possession.
"I knew going in what I needed to score, but it wasn't until about midway through the fourth quarter that my teammates started telling me I needed to just take over," Beatty said. "I missed some shots I should've made, but I felt like I was trying to do too much. But it's OK that I didn't get it done here. It's something that's going to come and the most important thing is that we won. That's really all that matters."
The contest marked the third matchup between the teams this season. The teams split their OCC-Cardinal Division contests, with the Wolves winning 64-62 in double overtime on Dec. 11 at Thomas and the Cardinals winning 56-34 on Jan. 11 at Kilbourne.
"This was our third game against (Kilbourne) and it was the decider," Beatty said. "We won it with great teamwork on both ends of the floor."
Thomas, which improved to 15-8, got contributions from everyone.
"Kilbourne was ready to play and they punched us in the mouth early and we found ourselves down 9-4 midway through the first quarter," coach Bill Sperlazza said. "I told the girls ahead of time that they would get punched at some point and the key is how we respond to that. We did that and actually led (14-12) after the first quarter and we stretched it out to (23-16) at halftime.
"Lauren Gerber had three 3-pointers during that stretch, Amia Samuels scored five quick points in the third quarter, Emma Wince and Haley Byrnes battled all day on the boards and Brooke Ackley was tremendous on defense. We needed all those things because Sarah Charley was a bit under the weather, although she hit a 3-pointer when we needed it most after (Kilbourne) cut our lead (to 30-23)."
Gerber finished with nine points and Charley scored seven.
The game against South will be special for Sperlazza.
"(South coach) Erick Herzberg gave me a chance to get back into coaching after having 12 years off," Sperlazza said. "He was head coach at Linden(-McKinley) and took a chance on me and hired me as the j.v. coach. I'm so grateful he gave me a chance. He's still a mentor and friend and I'm sure we'll hug before and after the game. I still talk on the phone with him, call him to discuss things. But that's not going to happen before the game (this) week."
The second-round winner will play 14th-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley or 30th-seeded Walnut Ridge in a district semifinal Wednesday, Feb. 27, at a site to be determined. The district final is March 2 at Ohio Dominican.
Swims teams end season at district
The swimming and diving teams ended their season at the Division I district meet held Feb. 14 and 15 at Ohio State.
Despite improving their sectional times and seeds in 14 of their 16 swims, the Cardinals did not have any qualifiers for the state meet Friday, Feb. 22, and Saturday, Feb. 23, at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
At district, the top two finishers in each swimming event automatically qualified for state. In addition, 16 at-large berths were awarded in each event based on times statewide.
"The kids on both the girls and boys teams did a great job," coach Jim Callahan said. "They didn't have any real superstars, but they had solid talent and worked hard to have this type of a season."
The girls team scored in six of its nine events, led by seniors Maddie Holub and Rachel Rinaldi.
Holub placed eighth in the 200-yard individual medley (2 minutes, 10.84 seconds) and ninth in the 500 freestyle (5:18.41) and Rinaldi was 10th in the 200 IM (2:12.08). Both were on the 11th-place 200 free relay (1:42.83) and the 12th-place 200 medley relay with junior Audrey Taylor and sophomore Maia Lin.
The boys team scored in five of its nine events. Sophomore Eli Short placed ninth in the 50 free (21.69), junior Sam Steele was 12th in the 200 IM (1:59.7) and 13th in the 100 backstroke (54.5) and both joined junior Derek Taylor and sophomore Grant Simeone on the 10th-place 200 medley relay (1:40.33) and 12th-place 200 free relay (1:30.27).
Boys basketball team preps for postseason
The boys basketball team closed the regular season Feb. 19 against Westerville South before turning its attention to the Division I district tournament.
Thomas is seeded 17th of 47 teams and has a first-round bye. The Cardinals will play host to 21st-seeded Groveport or 23rd-seeded St. Charles in the second round March 1.
The Cardinals were 14-7 overall before playing South. They lost to visiting Kilbourne 63-60 on Feb. 15 to finish 8-6 in the OCC-Cardinal, fourth behind champion Hilliard Bradley (14-0).
Isaac Settles had 28 points and Jalen Sullinger scored 18 against the Wolves. Thomas played without 6-foot-9 senior center Ben Wight, who 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.
Kyler Block, who was lost for the season with an ACL injury in early January, scored the Cardinals' first two points in an exchange of community support between the sister schools. He was then removed from the game amongst cheers on senior night.
Wrestlers ready to begin postseason
The wrestling team will compete in a 10-team Division I sectional Saturday, Feb. 23, at Marysville, where the top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament March 1 and 2 at Hilliard Darby.
The Cardinals finished last (42) in the 12-team Nye Cardinal Classic on Feb. 16 at St. Charles, behind champion Coffman (336).
Sophomore Mason Gates placed fourth at 220 pounds to lead Thomas.
The Cardinals lost to Kilbourne 42-10 on Feb. 14 to finish 0-7 in the OCC-Cardinal.
Banner season ends for hockey team
The hockey team lost to 10th-seeded Dublin Coffman 4-3 in overtime in the second round of the district tournament Feb. 16 at Chiller North to finish 17-8-3, marking its highest win total since the 2010-11 season.
Senior forward Nick Schriner scored two goals and assisted sophomore defenseman Sebastian Edvardsen on the Cardinals' other goal and junior goaltender Jorge Bare made 23 saves.
Thomas was seeded 14th of 26 teams in the district and beat 11th-seeded Oxford Talawanda 5-1 in the first round Feb. 15 at Chiller North.
Schriner had three goals and junior forwards Will Pischel and Sam Hartwick each scored one. Pischel also had two assists and Bare made 29 saves.
The Cardinals won the Capital Hockey Conference-Blue Division title and went 1-1 in the Blue Jackets Cup consolation tournament, where they were seeded 12th and beat 13th-seeded Olentangy Berlin 10-2 in the first round before losing to eventual champion Cincinnati Moeller 8-3 in a semifinal.
Schriner led the team in goals (35) and points (54), followed by Pischel with 30 goals and 49 points. Schriner and Pischel tied for second on the team in assists (19).
Sophomore forward Evan Kendall had a team-high 20 assists and was third on the team in points (30).
Below are the coming schedules for the Thomas bowling and gymnastics teams:
Feb. 22 -- Girls: Division I sectional at HP Lanes. Top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district March 2 at HP Lanes.
Feb. 23 -- Boys: Division I sectional at HP Lanes. Top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district March 2 at HP Lanes.
Feb. 23 -- District meet at Kilbourne. Top three teams advance to state team meet March 1 at Hilliard Bradley and top eight finishers in each event and the all-around advance to state individual meet March 2 at Bradley.