The Delaware Hayes girls basketball team likes where it is heading into the Division I district tournament.
The Pacers are seeded 18th of 48 teams and will play host to 29th-seeded Marysville in the first round Saturday, Feb. 15. They were 13-8 overall and 6-7 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Dublin Jerome in their regular-season finale Feb. 7.
"We're happy with where we're at, we're happy with the seed," coach Lou Tiberi said. "It's a big improvement over the last two years. We've made strides."
The first-round winner plays at 10th-seeded Hilliard Bradley in the second round Feb. 21.
"That was one of our goals, to get under the 20th seed," sophomore guard Chloe Jeffers said. "And one of my goals was to have a winning record, because last season we were 11-12 ... and I wanted us to get past the second round of the tournament.
"We've had a lot of ups and downs. But recently we've been more on the upside, and I'm feeling pretty confident going into the tournament, and I hope everyone else feels the same way."
Heading into the postseason, Tiberi said the Pacers will rely on the contributions of junior guard Alexis Amabile, who was averaging a team-high 12.5 points through 21 games; Jeffers, who was averaging 10.4 points; junior forward Alyssa Griner, who was averaging 9.7 points; and junior forward/center Jordan Lantz, who was averaging 5.3 points.
Jeffers had made 38 of 45 free-throw attempts (84 percent) through 21 games.
"She's been our most consistent player," Tiberi said. "She leads us in rebounding, she leads in assists, she's the top free-throw shooter in central Ohio, she's our second leading scorer. She plays well beyond her years. She's like having a senior in a sophomore."
Tiberi said he is impressed with his team's defensive play. The Pacers switched to playing a zone defense this season after primarily playing a man-to-man scheme a year ago.
"At first, I think it was taking some teams by surprise, and now I'm sure plenty of teams have seen it on film, and we've still done a pretty good job," Tiberi said. "The girls have really played well in the zone. They enjoy it, and they've been much more aggressive and created a lot more turnovers in the zone than we do with man. I think that's been our biggest improvement."
Tiberi would like to see the Pacers improve their shooting in the postseason.
"We're just not shooting it very well this year," he said. "Our defense has been better and that's kind of helped level it out, but if we can get back to what we're capable of from a shooting standpoint, we're going to be a tough out in the tournament."
Jeffers said the team's ability to advance in the postseason starts with putting together a strong showing on defense.
"We have to focus on trying our hardest on defense, and then let our offense follow with that," she said. "I feel like we've gotten a lot better overall, but we still have a lot of work to do. And I think we are strong when we have the right mindset and we just need to have that mindset consistently. But when we do have that, we can be really good."
Wrestlers look to earn outright OCC title
The wrestling team has earned at least a share of the OCC-Cardinal championship and would win the title outright with a win Thursday, Feb. 13, at Olentangy Berlin.
The Pacers defeated Hilliard Bradley 48-16 on Jan. 30 to improve to 6-0 in the OCC-Cardinal.
"I am very happy with the season overall," coach Kevin Rieman said. "The team is working hard and bought into the system we have in place. Many of these athletes have big goals and they are all within reach."
The Pacers competed in the Division I, Region 5 team dual tournament Feb. 8 at Marysville. They were seeded second and faced seventh-seeded Big Walnut or 10th-seeded New Albany in a quarterfinal. The semifinals and final also were held that day, with the regional champion advancing to the state tournament Feb. 16 at St. John Arena.
"We just need to stay healthy and keep pushing," Rieman said. "It is a long, grueling season. We are right where we hoped we would be and it has been exciting so far."
Before Feb. 8, Clay Ours was 29-7 at 195 pounds, Nathan Robinson was 30-7 at 220, Corbin May was 29-3 at 170, Mason Sutander was 29-3 at 182, Emmett Cain was 26-6 at 160, Tristan Burton was 20-10 at 145 and Tamas Eder was 19-11 at 113.
Bowlers to conclude regular season
The bowling teams will conclude the regular season with a match against Marion Harding at Cooper's Bowl on Monday, Feb. 10.
The girls were 13-3 overall before a match against Buckeye Valley on Feb. 7. They finished second in the OCC-Cardinal at 6-1 behind Bradley (7-0) and third in the COHSBC-A at 8-2 behind Westerville Central (10-0) and Olentangy (9-1).
Prior to Feb. 7 action, sophomore Hannah Halstead led the Pacers with a 180.8 average, followed by senior McKenzie Cooke with 180.1. Both ranked in the top 10 in both the OCC and COHSBC.
The boys team was 6-11 overall before Feb. 7 and finished 3-4 in the OCC-Cardinal and 4-7 in the COHSBC-A.
Freshman C.J. Deel had a team-best 167.1 average before Feb. 7, followed by juniors Brody Crowder (165.9) and Talon Coffee (165.3).
Following the conclusion of the regular season, the Pacers will prepare for the Division I sectional tournament at HP Lanes. The boys will compete Feb. 21 and the girls Feb. 22, with the top 16 teams and top 16 individuals advancing to district Feb. 29 at HP Lanes.
Below are the coming schedules for the Delaware Hayes boys basketball, girls basketball, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
Feb. 11 -- At Mount Vernon
*Feb. 14 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin. The Pacers defeated the Bears 60-28 on Jan. 10.
Feb. 15 -- Home vs. 29th-seeded Marysville in first round of the Division I district tournament. The Pacers are seeded 18th.
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 8 -- Competed in Division I sectional at Thomas Worthington. The winner of each swimming event and 27 at-large qualifiers in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites advanced to district Feb. 13 at Ohio State. There was no diving at sectional. At district, the top two placers in each swimming event automatically advance to the state meet Feb. 21 and 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths will be awarded in each swimming event based on district times statewide.
*Feb. 13 -- At Olentangy Berlin
Feb. 15 -- All North Tournament at Dublin Jerome