A defensive mindset helped the Bexley High School girls basketball team reach its first district semifinal since 2015 and its first in Division II since 2008.

The 13th-seeded Lions were 15-9 before playing second-seeded Granville on Feb. 26 at Pickerington North.

In 2015, Bexley lost to Africentric 59-31 in a Division III district semifinal. In 2008, the Lions lost to Big Walnut 48-41 in a Division II district semifinal.

"With it being my first time playing varsity basketball, it's been a lot of fun (in the postseason)," sophomore guard Aly Cox said. "We have put in so much time to get this far."

The Lions won their first two tournament games on the road by playing stifling defense. They defeated ninth-seeded Caledonia River Valley 41-39 on Feb. 19 and 11th-seeded Heath 26-23 on Feb. 22.

"It's great to be able to get those wins as a lower seed and see the girls keep their composure and make plays down the stretch," coach Joshua Price said. "It brings an excitement around the program.

"We have hung our hat on our defense all year and by being able to play in tight games and be successful. If you can defend well against a team, you always give yourself a shot at a victory."

Against Heath, Price assigned Cox to guard sophomore Courtney Brown, who came in averaging 10 points but was held scoreless.

"Aly did a good job on (Brown), and it was a great team effort on defense," Price said. "We know we have to play defense at a high level all of the time and we have done a really good job at communicating defensively and knowing what we want to try to take away.

"Our girls pride themselves on playing good, hard defense, which isn't always the case. Teams like to get up and down the floor, but we know we have to put things together defensively possession after possession."

Cox said it was a matter of studying her opponent and learning her tendencies.

"You have to know their weakness and what you can do to keep them from scoring," Cox said. "If she is a left-handed person then you try to force her to go right and you need to depend on your teammates to have your back on help defense if she gets by you."

Senior guard Maddy Vincent led with 13 points against Heath, and sophomore point guard Maddy Young added eight.

"We had possessions where we were playing defense for two or two and half minutes," Vincent said. "You have to keep telling yourself that the more you play defense, the less they are scoring. Once you shave off the time, they have less time to score. Our defense starts our offense, so when we have a good defensive game, we'll do well on offense."

The Bexley-Granville winner plays in a district final Friday, March 1, against top-seeded Eastmoor Academy or seventh-seeded Licking Valley at Westerville Central. The Lions have not played either team this season.

The district champion advances to a regional semifinal Tuesday, March 5, at Zanesville against fifth-ranked Thornville Sheridan or Circleville.

Bexley has not played either team this season.

The regional final is March 8 at Zanesville.

Freshman advances to district wrestling

Freshman Noah Lyons of the wrestling team finished third at 138 pounds to advance to the Division II district tournament Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, at Heath.

Lyons went 4-1 in a sectional Feb. 23 at Licking Valley. He defeated River Valley's Logan Miracle 2-1 in the third-place match to improve to 25-7.

The Lions have two district alternates after seniors Hunter Hilgeman (160) and Kevin Vill-atoro (220) both placed fifth at sectional. Bexley tied for 11th (62.5) of 22 teams behind champion London (235.5).

The top four finishers in each weight class at district advance to the state tournament March 7-9 at Ohio State.

Boys basketball team begins district play

The boys basketball team opens Division II district tournament play Saturday, March 2, as host to 11th-seeded Centennial in the second round.

The ninth-seeded Lions are 13-9. The second-round winner advances to a district semifinal Tuesday, March 5, against top-seeded Columbus South or 20th-seeded Marion-Franklin at a neutral site.

The district final is March 9 at Ohio Dominican.

Grieshop competes at state swim meet

Ally Grieshop competed for the girls swimming and diving team in the Division II state meet Feb. 21 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.

The sophomore placed 23rd in the 500-yard freestyle (5 minutes, 22.81 seconds). The Lions did not score.

At district Feb. 14 at Ohio State, Grieshop placed third in the 500 free (5:19.58) to earn her first state berth. She also finished fourth in the 200 free (2:00.46). The boys team did not have any state qualifiers.

The Lions expect to return a lot of talent. Aside from Grieshop, leading the way for the girls should be junior Leah Stamm, who finished 19th in the 100 backstroke (59.69) last year at state and just missed qualifying in the same event (1:02.17, eighth at district) and in the 200 individual medley (2:19.87, ninth) this winter.

Sophomores Arianna Martin and Olivia Mitchell competed in individual events at district, and sophomore Sophie Jones was on relays.

Junior Hunter Johnson, sophomores Atticus Keels and Ryan Kemp and freshmen Eli Dresbach, Quinn Hall and Liam Timmons were in individual district events for the boys, and junior Danner Rogers participated in relays.

Roberts falls short of state bowling tourney

Junior Tyler Roberts of the boys bowling team tied for 48th with a 514 three-game series in the Division II district tournament Feb. 21 at HP Lanes.

London's Josh Corwin (640) was the third and final individual qualifier for state Saturday, March 2, at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.

In the MSL-Ohio Division, Roberts was first-team all-league, junior Jordan Herman was second-team all-league and junior Zach Herman was honorable mention.

Roberts led the Lions with a 182.1 average, followed by senior Miracle Williams (158.7), Zach Herman (153.6), Jordan Herman (130.1) and senior Isaac Halter (124.2).

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen