The Thomas Worthington High School boys basketball team used a pair of 9-0 scoring runs to defeat 21st-seeded Groveport 63-52 on March 1 in a second-round home game in the Division I district tournament.
Although the 17th-seeded Cardinals weren't in midseason form, according to coach Sean Luzader, they did advance to play second-seeded Hilliard Bradley in a district semifinal March 6 at Dublin Jerome.
"Getting (post player) Ben (Wight) back from injury after he missed a month was definitely a plus, but you could tell early that he was rusty," Luzader said. "But he came on strong in the second half and we got strong efforts from a lot of our guys to help us beat a very good Groveport team. But we've got to step it up now moving forward."
Entering their matchup, Thomas was 16-7 and Bradley was 22-1.
The winner plays fifth-seeded Pickerington North or 10th-seeded Canal Winchester in a district final Saturday, March 9, at Greater Columbus Convention Center. The district champion faces Dublin Coffman, Newark, Olentangy Orange or Walnut Ridge in a regional semifinal Wednesday, March 13, at Ohio Dominican.
The regional final is March 16 at ODU.
The Cardinals, who had a first-round bye, trailed Groveport 19-13 early in the second quarter before their first 9-0 run. They led 30-25 at halftime and had their second 9-0 run early in the third quarter to extend their lead to 39-28.
The Cruisers never got closer than six points the rest of the way.
Jalen Sullinger led Thomas with 19 points. Isaac Settles had 16 points and Wight scored 12 in his first game since suffering a foot injury Jan. 25. Jamare Razor added nine points.
"Anytime you get three scoring in double digits, it means you have balance and can score from different areas and that makes you tough to beat," Luzader said. "We almost had four, and I think that Jamare has continued to be a spark for us with his hustle plays and defense. He blocks a lot of shots and gets a lot of 50-50 loose balls. He's been a difference-maker for us the past seven or eight games since Ben went down."
Johnson just misses state bowling berth
Junior Nate Johnson of the boys bowling team missed advancing to the Division I state tournament by just three pins.
Competing as an individual, Johnson rolled a 651 series (247-213-191) to place sixth of 106 competitors in the district tournament March 2 at HP Lanes. The top three individuals not on any of the three qualifying teams advanced to state Saturday, March 9, at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Whitehall's Jason Kefauver (654) finished fifth and earned the final individual state berth.
"Nate threw the ball very well all day and left everything he had out there," coach Joe Taylor said. "He's got nothing to feel bad about, but he does because he missed two spares on the day and that was the difference. But I'm sure the guys that finished just ahead of him likely wish they had a ball or frame over again, too."
Sophomore Luka Srsic also qualified for district but did not participate, as he opted to compete in the pole vault in the state indoor track and field meet the same day.
The Cardinals had no seniors and also expect to return juniors Taven Holcomb, Jacob Litten and Dominic Marsh and sophomore Jacob Filipkowski.
Making its first team appearance at district, the girls squad finished 16th (2,717) behind champion Westerville Central (3,785).
"The girls struggled on the big stage, even though it was the same competition they've played against all season," Taylor said. "They just weren't as relaxed as they were at sectional. But that's to be expected. The good news is that all eight girls gained experience and all of them will return. We didn't have a senior on either roster this year."
Sophomore Hannah Innes rolled a 461 series to place 47th of 104 competitors, followed by junior McKenzie Barritt (64th, 423) and sophomore Paige Stephens (78th, 356). Also competing were juniors Liz Cardenas, Winnie McKahan and Ruby Matthews-Napper and sophomores Audrey Hughes and Ohana Trevino.
Season ends for wrestling team
Five members of the wrestling team competed in the Division I district tournament March 1 and 2 at Mentor, but none won a match.
Sophomores Majed Ahmad (170 pounds, 13-29 on the season) and Mason Gates (220, 24-20) and freshmen Michael Blain (120, 16-26), Charlie Erickson (126, 2-18) and Channing Thornton (113, 11-17) all went 0-2.
In a 10-team sectional Feb. 23 at Marysville, Gates and Blain both finished second, Thornton placed third and Ahmad and Erickson both placed fourth.
The Cardinals are losing just one senior in Adam Craft (182). Other expected returnees include junior Nick Harris (138), sophomore Joe Rhodes (160) and freshmen Xavier Braden (132), Brayden Jamison (152) and Chris Earliwine (145).