The Hilliard Davidson High School boys basketball team opened the Division I district tournament with a pair of close wins.
After holding off 34th-seeded New Albany 46-38 in the first round Feb. 23 at home, the sixth-seeded Wildcats defeated 29th-seeded Teays Valley 41-30 in a second-round home game March 1.
Davidson led Teays Valley 31-25 after three quarters before stretching its lead to double digits.
"It just gives us that much more experience playing in those close games," said coach Tim Congrove, who was named district Coach of the Year. "It's good experience for us. It keeps us level-headed, too. ... I'm never going to be upset with a win.
"We like to play in those grind-it-out type of games and rely on our defense to win us games. That's the mentality I like our kids to have. I like our defensive mindset."
Jacob Drees had a team-high 13 points against Teays Valley. Gage Keys added eight points.
"The first two games were tougher than they should have been, but hopefully we're going to build on that," Keys said. "It's the tournament. Anything can happen, so you have to go into every game with the mentality that you're not just going to walk on the court and beat everybody. You're going to have to do the little things just like you have to do in a big game."
The Wildcats were 19-5 before playing 16th-seeded Olentangy in a district semifinal March 6. The winner plays fourth-seeded Olentangy Liberty or 22nd-seeded Westerville North in a district final Saturday, March 9, at Greater Columbus Convention Center.
Davidson edged Liberty 64-62 on Jan. 22 behind 17 points apiece from Drees and Keys. Senior forward Ben Roderick, who was named district and OCC-Buckeye Player of the Year, led the Patriots with 22 points.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal March 14 at Ohio Dominican. The regional final is March 16 at ODU.
Congrove was pleasantly surprised by his district award.
"That's just a credit to our guys and the great group of seniors that we have, the rest of our coaching staff and our program as a whole," he said. "In my eyes, that's a tribute to that and guys that were here before us, too. It's a great program accolade. I am beyond honored."
DeWeese advances to state in wrestling
Senior wrestler Luke DeWeese lost his opening match at 152 pounds in the Division I district tournament March 1 and 2 at Darby but bounced back to win five consecutive matches to place third and earn a state berth.
The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to the state tournament that runs Thursday, March 7, through Saturday, March 9, at Ohio State.
DeWeese, who won a sectional title Feb. 23 at Upper Arlington, was one of four top seeds in his weight class at district, but was pinned in 59 seconds by Mount Vernon's Ryan Tiell, a fourth seed, in the first round.
DeWeese won his next four matches, including a pin of Tiell (2:33) to secure the state berth, before beating Dublin Coffman's Antonio Gonzalez 12-3 in the third-place match to improve to 20-4 on the season.
"I definitely lost some confidence," DeWeese said of his first-round loss. "I didn't expect to lose to a (No.) 4 seed, but I came back and said I'm going to send the rest of the people home and I'm going to end their season."
DeWeese is making his first state tournament appearance. He will face Maple Heights' Antoine Holloway (30-2) in the first round.
"I want to prove who I am and show that the new coaching staff that we have, (that) they're going to be great for the program because they really helped me out this year get to where I am," DeWeese said.
Chris Kline is in his first season as coach, having replaced Dominic DiSabato, who guided the program for 19 years.
"It took a lot of toughness to do what he did," Kline said of DeWeese's district performance. "(Last) weekend was some of the best wrestling he has ever done. He stayed focused on his goal and took care of business."
Also at district, Teraun Dunseth went 1-2 at 113 to finish 12-10, Dez Gartrell went 0-2 at 145 to finish 15-16 and Zak Hughey went 0-2 at 195 to finish 24-13.
Davidson tied Westerville South for 23rd (26 points) behind champion Coffman (170) as 36 teams scored.
Girls basketball team ousted by Patriots
The ninth-seeded girls basketball team staged a late comeback in its Division I district semifinal against 10th-seeded Liberty on Feb. 27 at Dublin Jerome but lost 53-48 to finish 19-6 overall.
The Wildcats trailed 37-22 after three quarters before rallying to take a 48-47 lead on junior guard Sydney Petersen's jumper late in the fourth quarter. The Patriots, however, scored the game's final six points.
"I've been doing this a long time and this team is really special for a lot of reasons, but that's one of them. They never give up," coach Joy Taylor said. "They trust each other and they played hard. They're in each other's corner all the time. ... We have great chemistry and a great work ethic. A lot of teams would have folded and we didn't."
Emily Simon, who has committed to play for the University of Charleston, had a game-high 25 points.
One of four seniors, Simon reached 1,000 career points during a 54-28 win over Pickerington North on Jan. 15 and finished as the program's all-time leading scorer with 1,152 points. The previous record was 1,085 points, held by 2008 graduate Carmen Reynolds.
Simon averaged a team-high 15.1 points and 8.6 rebounds this season and was named first-team all-OCC-Central Division and third-team all-district. Sophomore guard Brianna Jordan averaged 7.9 points and a team-best 3.5 assists and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Petersen averaged 7.2 points and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district and senior forward Audrey Kaufman averaged 7.0 points and was honorable mention all-league.
Others eligible to return are juniors Ellie Brorein (forward), Lydia Brooker (forward) and Sally Sell (guard) and sophomores Ashley Barrington (forward), Kira Kaufman (forward), Emma Potter (forward) and Grace Royer (forward).
Bowlers conclude season at district
The bowling teams ended their seasons at the Division I district tournament March 2 at HP Lanes.
The boys team was represented by senior Grayson Holloway, who placed 26th of 106 bowlers with a 581 three-game series, and senior Chase Miles, who finished 63rd with a 529.
Representing the girls team was junior Laurel King, who finished 36th (479) of 104 bowlers.
The top three individuals not on one of three qualifying teams advanced to the state tournament Friday, March 8, and Saturday, March 9, at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Others eligible to return for the Wildcats are juniors Nate Shugart and Dominic Williams and sophomore Ben Curry of the boys team and juniors Lauren Domer and Reilly Wolfinger and sophomore Liesel Kehrle of the girls team.