The evidence has begun to pile up regarding whether the Hartley girls basketball team can be a factor in the Division I district tournament.
That idea is supported by some of the Hawks' victories.
Hartley beat Ready 61-38 on Feb. 6 to improve to 14-6 overall and 4-1 in the CCL and played Watterson on Feb. 11 with a share of the league championship on the line.
Along the way, Hartley beat the district's No. 1 seed in Division II in Jonathan Alder (46-43 on Dec. 21). The Hawks also defeated a pair of teams from Missouri in late December and swept DeSales, winning 47-17 on Jan. 9 and 54-40 on Jan. 30.
Of the Hawks' six losses through 20 games, only two were by double digits. They were within a last-second basket of beating Watterson -- the No. 2 seed for the Division I district tournament -- on Jan. 23, falling 36-35.
"There's not big gaps," coach Donald Dennis said. "We make a couple shots and we're right where we want to be against Watterson. I'm excited about where we are right now."
Hartley is seeded 15th for the district tournament and opens Feb. 21 at home against 23rd-seeded Hilliard Davidson or 27th-seeded Logan in the second round. The winner likely will face third-seeded Westerville South in a district semifinal Feb. 26.
The Wildcats might have central Ohio's best duo in seniors Anyssa Jones and Gabby Hutcherson, both of whom are Ohio State commits, although Jones is currently out with a sprained ankle.
Everything from the continued development of 6-3 freshman post player Ella Brandewie to improving its shooting to having a consistently strong defense could determine whether Hartley can handle a more experienced unit such as South's if the teams were to meet.
Senior Sa'Haia Clark-Lee (forward) and juniors Kami Kortokrax (guard/forward) and Milayna Williams (guard) have continued to elevate their games for the Hawks as well.
"I think we've got to defend," Dennis said. "We're a good defensive team and we've got to take advantage of our post play inside. We've got to shoot in rhythm and get our guards going a little bit. If we can shoot the ball more consistently and continue to defend and leverage our big kids inside, that makes us competitive in the tournament.
"(Watterson was) the No. 4 team in the state (on Jan. 23) and we were right there. If we make a couple shots, (have fewer) turnovers, it might go the other way. We'll ... get back to work."
Swimmers compete at district meet
Members of the boys and girls swimming teams competed in the Division II district meet Feb. 12 at Ohio State, where the top two finishers in each swimming event advanced automatically to the state meet Feb. 20 and 21 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
In addition, 16 at-large state berths will be awarded in each event based on district times statewide.
On Feb. 8, the boys team finished fifth (116 points) of 18 teams in a sectional at Columbus Academy, behind champion Granville (275). Chad Kegelmayer finished third in the 100-yard breaststroke (1 minute, 7.54 seconds), Leo Noll was fourth in the 100 breast (1:07.86) and the 200 medley relay of William Sheridan, Kegelmayer, Sam LeMay and Noll placed fourth (1:49.88) to lead the Hawks.
The girls team finished fourth (126) in the 10-team sectional at Academy, behind champion Columbus School for Girls (243). The 200 medley relay of Mackenzie Frizzell, Mia Phillips, Emma Simone and Grace Goodwin placed third (1:57.66), the 200 free relay of Phillips, Simone, Goodwin and Lily Lindeman placed fourth (1:48.55) and Phillips was fourth in the 100 breast (1:11.18) to lead the Hawks.
Wrestling season moves forward
The wrestling team next competes in a Division II sectional tournament Feb. 28 and 29 at Licking Valley.
On Feb. 8 at Washington Court House Miami Trace, Hartley was seeded seventh and beat 10th-seeded Greenfield McClain 41-24 in the first round of the Region 14 team tournament before losing 59-16 to second-seeded Wilmington in a quarterfinal.
Football players select colleges
Three football players were recognized during a signing ceremony Feb. 10.
George Dunor committed to Ashland and Jalan January committed to Findlay, joining Miles Fleming, who signed with Minnesota during the early signing period in December.
Below are the coming schedules for the Hartley boys basketball and bowling teams:
*Feb. 14 -- At Watterson. The Hawks lost to the Eagles 34-28 on Jan. 10.
Feb. 15 -- Home vs. Whitehall
Feb. 18 -- At Johnstown
Feb. 29 -- At sixth-seeded Beechcroft or home vs. 19th-seeded Horizon Science in second round of Division II district tournament. The Hawks are seeded 13th.
Feb. 14 -- Boys: Division II sectional at HP Lanes. The top 12 teams and top 12 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Feb. 20 at HP Lanes.