The Groveport Madison High School boys basketball team will be seeking to reach a Division I district semifinal for the fourth time in the last five seasons when it plays at 17th-seeded Thomas Worthington in the second round Friday, March 1.

The Cardinals are 15-7 and had a first-round bye, while the 21st-seeded Cruisers improved to 14-9 by beating 23rd-seeded St. Charles 50-40 in a first-round home game Feb. 23.

"We saw (Thomas) play New Albany and Westerville South this season, but their 6-foot-9 kid didn't play in either game, so they had a different look and approach in those games," coach Ryan Grashel said, referring to Ben Wight, an Ohio University signee. "They have a couple of great young guards in (Jalen) Sullinger and (Isaac) Settles who could be the X-factor. Sullinger has scored 20-plus points every game since Wight has been out (with an injury) and Settles can score it, too.

"But we can't allow three of them to go off on us. We expect Wight to be back and we've got to find a way to slow two of those guys down a bit."

Sullinger, a point guard, made three 3-pointers and scored 33 points in a 72-70 win over South on Feb. 19. Guard Charlie Mamlin added 13 points, including four of the team's eight 3-pointers, and Settles scored 11.

The second-round winner faces second-seeded Hilliard Bradley or 37th-seeded Lancaster in a district semifinal Wednesday, March 6, at a site to be determined. The district final is March 9 at Greater Columbus Convention Center.

The Cruisers beat Lancaster 47-40 on Feb. 5.

Groveport lost to Westerville North 67-56 in the first round of the district tournament last season, but reached district semifinals in 2015 and 2017 and lost to Gahanna 56-46 in a district final in 2016.

Against St. Charles, Javon Miller scored 11 of his 16 points in the first half and Nakhi Taylor and Martez Knight added nine points apiece.

"We didn't have a lot of turnovers and Javon made four 3-pointers," Grashel said. "St. Charles zoned us and we haven't seen many zones this year. We made eight 3-pointers as a team.

"Defensively, we did a great job on their freshman standout, Jared Frey, who was averaging 18 points per game. We held him to 10 and he didn't score a basket in the second half. Our perimeter defenders -- Nakhi Taylor, Terrence Kee and Elijah Monroe -- have been doing a great job without fouling and Martez Knight has really stepped in and added rebounding and scoring to replace Devin Singleton, who has been out with an injury."

Taylor is averaging 14.1 points, followed by Monroe (8.6), Miller (7.2) and Elijah Hawk (7.0).

Five wrestlers advance to district tourney

Five members of the wrestling team will compete in the Division I district tournament Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, at Hilliard Darby.

Competing in a 10-team sectional Feb. 23 at Upper Arlington, sophomore Jake Nelson finished first at 195 pounds and juniors Muhamad Conteh (113) and A.J. Joyce (220) were runners-up. Junior Tykel Hancock-Anderson (heavyweight) placed third and sophomore Jason Pinkston (120) was fourth, as the top four finishers in each weight class advanced.

At district, the top four finishers in each weight class qualify for the state tournament March 7-9 at Ohio State.

"I guess we probably did as well as expected, but we have four district alternates that came up just short and it would've been so fantastic to get at least a few of them out, too," coach Brian Brison said. "We also had a few guys with some bad luck. We lost Eli Jackson to a broken leg in practice before the sectional and Skyler Mouser was very sick and gave it a go, but withdrew after his first match. Both of those guys were wrestling very well and had good chances to get to district."

Nelson improved to 35-1, while Conteh is 33-4, Joyce is 23-8, Pinkston is 26-10 and Hancock-Anderson is 11-3. Mouser finished 25-10 at 182 and Jackson finished 19-14 at 106.

Placing fifth to be district alternates were Johnathan Thompson (170, 23-11), Jacob Cline (160, 20-12), Ashton Reese (138, 11-19) and Dylan Blackburn (132, 9-16).

"Jake and A.J. are returning district qualifiers who are looking to take the next step and the others are making their first trip to district," Brison said. "This is a big week for all of them. (Conteh) wrestled at 120 all season, but we moved him down and Jason is a second-year wrestler who moved up to 120.

"Tykel took a while to get down to 285 pounds because you're not allowed to cut too much weight too quickly, so he doesn't have nearly as many matches as the others. Jake has set himself up nicely by winning the sectional title, but they all have to be on top of their game and keep their nerves in check this week."

The Cruisers finished fourth (146 points) behind champion UA (237).

Deaner to represent bowlers at district

Senior Leah Deaner of the girls bowling team will be competing in her fourth Division I district tournament Saturday, March 2, at HP Lanes.

She is the lone district qualifier for the girls and boys programs.

Competing in the sectional Feb. 22 at HP Lanes, Deaner rolled a 521 three-game series to place 22nd overall of 222 competitors and earn the sixth of 16 individual district-qualifying berths. At district, the top three individuals not on one of the three qualifying teams advance to the state tournament March 8 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.

Deaner placed 18th at district last season.

The girls placed 27th of 37 teams with a 2,738 as Westerville Central won (3,777). Also competing were Amanda Comehn (99th, 390), Kayla Sheets (112th, 370), Suzie Francis (122nd, 355) and Makayla Harold (128th, 349).

Competing in the sectional Feb. 23 at HP Lanes, the boys placed 35th (3,089) of 42 teams as Marion Harding won (4,336).

Jack Benline finished 96th (496) of 242 competitors to lead the Cruisers, followed by Austin Snyder (118th, 466), Jeremiah Slonaker (125th, 454), Sebashton Ferguson (130th, 443) and William Lawson (151st, 386).

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek