Whitehall-Yearling High School boys basketball coach Drew Williams was hoping his team could rebound from a pair of disappointing efforts heading into the Division I district tournament.
The Rams, who were 10-11 overall and 3-4 in the MSL-Ohio Division before playing Grandview on Feb. 19 in the regular-season finale, earned a bounce-back win when they defeated Hartley 60-58 on Feb. 16.
Whitehall turned in one of those disappointing performances the night before in a 67-50 loss at Columbus Academy.
"We have to keep moving," Williams said after the loss to Academy. "I've been on the other side of this when I cut down the net (to celebrate a league title) and I'm on the other side of it now. The kids have to learn. It's very frustrating because the game in its simplest element has to be played a certain kind of way. Some nights we do and the last couple of weeks we haven't."
The Rams saw their hopes of sharing the league title dashed with the loss to the Vikings, who secured their first outright league title since 2008. Academy finished 6-2 in the MSL-Ohio.
Whitehall fell behind 20-8 late in the first quarter and could not recover. Darius Butler led the Rams with 13 points and Taylon Cofer added 11.
"It's a tough loss, but you have to look past it," Cofer said. "We have to get ready for the tournament. I feel like I have to get these guys in line and prepare for what's next. This is my last go-round."
Whitehall, which also lost to Worthington Christian 70-48 on Feb. 9 in a league game, is seeded 31st in the district tournament and has a first-round bye. It plays ninth-seeded Newark or 31st-seeded Central Crossing in the second round March 1 at the home of the better seed.
"I remember (former NFL coach) Bill Parcells saying, 'you are what you record says you are,' " Williams said. "We lost a lot of close games, but those OCC schools (we will play in the postseason) are not going to pay attention to that. They're going to pay attention to wins (and) losses and I don't blame them. You have to prove yourself (and) we're Division I now."
The Rams have lost a key contributor, as sophomore forward Kei'Von Wiggins is no longer on the team because of disciplinary reasons.
"Somebody has to step up as a leader," Williams said. "At this point of the season, there's not another 'X' or 'O' I can draw up. It comes down to the individual kids and somebody stepping up and showing some leadership. If they do that, they can ... go into the district and see if we can carve out something."
Girls basketball team opens postseason
The girls basketball team entered the Division II district tournament on a three-game winning streak.
The 10th-seeded Rams were 13-9 overall before playing 21st-seeded Columbus East in the first round Feb. 20. The winner plays at fourth-seeded Jonathan Alder in the second round Friday, Feb. 22, with that winner playing fifth-seeded London, 15th-seeded Independence or 18th-seeded Lakewood in a semifinal Tuesday, Feb. 26, at a neutral site to be determined.
Whitehall won at Grandview 47-19 on Feb. 15 to finish 5-3 in the MSL-Ohio. Londen Coleman and Brooklynn Greer each scored 10 points to lead the Rams.
Jewel Watkins scored 19 points, Selena Harvey had 12 and Shawntavia Crane added 10 in a 61-52 win at Beechcroft on Feb. 12.
Wrestling team takes second in MSL-Ohio
The wrestling team played host to the four-team MSL-Ohio tournament Feb. 16 and went 2-1 to finish second behind Bexley (3-0) and ahead of Academy (1-2) and Grandview (0-3).
The Rams defeated Grandview 64-9 and Academy 36-28 and lost to Bexley 45-36.
Freshman Shea Jordan (106 pounds) and senior Raashad Strickland (120) both went 3-0.
"I am happy taking second with two champs," coach Steve Pennington said. "It is fitting that we had a freshman and senior champ. Shea is undersized, but has had a good season so far. Raashad is ending his career with the Rams, but is still learning."
The Rams will compete in a 10-team Division I sectional Saturday, Feb. 23, at Newark. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 1 and 2 at Hilliard Darby.
"I have to keep reminding myself just how young this team is," Pennington said. "We are improving, but their match-management skills are not where they need to be yet. We will focus on sectional this week and keep working towards the ultimate goal of state qualification. These kids battle and are not afraid to take the mat against anyone."
Below is the coming schedule for the Whitehall-Yearling bowling 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.