Brycen Baugh chuckled as he discussed the final week of his first regular season as Bexley girls basketball coach.
The Lions, who are seeded 11th for the Division II district tournament, faced third-seeded Whitehall and second-seeded Granville on back-to-back nights.
Baugh didn't make this year's schedule -- that was former coach Joshua Price, who resigned after five seasons. However, Baugh understands the reasoning behind facing strong opponents heading into postseason play.
"These games will make us better," said Baugh, whose team lost to Whitehall 45-28 on Feb. 4 in MSL-Ohio Division play and fell to Granville 28-27 on Feb. 5. "We have played tough competition. Hopefully that will allow us to get one, two, three or however many wins that we can possibly get (in the postseason) because we're used to playing those tough teams."
The Lions open the tournament Monday, Feb. 17, at 10th-seeded Sparta Highland. The winner plays at ninth-seeded Beechcroft on Feb. 21 in the second round.
"I really liked our tournament draw," said Baugh, whose team lost to Granville 34-30 in a district semifinal last season. "We thought we matched up with Beechcroft really well. When you look at the top seeds, we thought we matched up best with (the Cougars), and we knew that we would have to play a team that was seeded relatively close to us (in the first round). We didn't know much about Highland at the time, but (the Scots) look to be a team similar to us with a bunch of guards and maybe only one big (player in the paint)."
Whitehall, which won the outright MSL-Ohio title, could be a possible district semifinal opponent Feb. 25. The Lions also lost to the Rams 42-37 on Jan. 10.
"(The loss to Whitehall on Feb. 4) was the first night that we didn't play well for a long stretch," said Baugh, whose team is 11-11 overall and finished 10-4 in the MSL-Ohio after defeating Wellington 62-13 on Feb. 7 to close the regular season. "Recently we had been playing well three of the four quarters or for four straight quarters. That was the first time that we had a little bit of a slip up, but then again, it had something to do with the team we played. Whitehall is pretty darn good."
As is Granville, which was 16-4 heading into last weekend. Against Bexley, the Blue Aces had their lowest point total of the season after averaging 53.9 points entering the game.
"We have been able to match up and play defense," Baugh said. "We really frustrate people.
"I know after the games you can look at the faces of the girls from Worthington Christian, from (Columbus) Academy, from Grandview, their leading scorers are frustrated because Ali (Cox) and Grace (Heilman) are all over them and making their life really difficult. When you can take away the best player on the other team and limit their scoring, it makes them frustrated and it makes the whole team frustrated."
Maddy Young led the Lions in scoring through 21 games, averaging 11.6 points. She was followed by Sydnie Smith (5.6), Sofia Sheridan (4.6), Heilman (4.3) and Cox (3.8).
"Playing tough competition will help prepare us for the games ahead," Cox said. "These games will help our confidence a lot."
Grieshop, Stamm pace swimmers at sectional
Ally Grieshop and Leah Stamm helped lead the girls swimming team into the Division II district meet Feb. 12 at Ohio State, with each qualifying in two individual events.
Grieshop was third in the 500-yard freestyle (5 minutes, 29.56 seconds) and fifth in the 200 free (2:04.06) in a sectional Feb. 8 at Academy. Stamm was fourth in the 100 backstroke (1:03.27) and fifth in the 50 free (26.17), helping the Lions finish fifth (120 points) behind champion Columbus School for Girls (243).
The girls also had three relays qualify for district. The 400 free relay (3:54.94) of Grieshop, Arianna Martin. Bridgett O'Reilly and Olivia Mitchell placed fourth, the 200 medley relay (2:08.82) of Martin, O'Reilly, Stamm and Isla Evans was sixth and the 200 free relay (1:51.99) of Mitchell, Evie Holzhall, Evans and Grieshop was seventh.
Eli Dresbach placed fourth in the 500 free (5:30.65) and Nicholas Minkin was fourth in the 100 back (58.95) to lead the boys team, which finished fourth (128) behind champion Granville (275). Quinn Hall was sixth in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.33).
The boys also had three relays qualify for district. The 400 free relay (3:45.15) of Hunter Johnson, Atticus Keels, Dresbach and Minkin was fourth, the 200 medley relay (1:51.05) of Minkin, Hall, Dresbach and Maxwell Clous was fifth and the 200 free relay (1:42.39) of Clous, Spencer Graham, Johnson and Keels was seventh.
All of Bexley's district qualifiers advanced with at-large berths.
At district, the top two placers in each swimming event automatically advanced to state Feb. 20 and 21 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded in each swimming event based on district times statewide.
Wrestlers aiming for another league title
Looking to win a league championship for the fourth season in a row, the wrestling team will play host to the MSL-Ohio duals Saturday, Feb. 15.
In the Division II, Region 14 team dual tournament, the ninth-seeded Lions lost to eighth-seeded Logan Elm 50-12 on Feb. 8 at Washington Court House Miami Trace. Ezra Kerns (160 pounds) won by pin and Tarun Rai (113) won by forfeit.
Below are the coming schedules for the Bexley boys basketball and bowling teams:
*Feb. 14 -- Home vs. Wellington. The Lions lost to the Jaguars 56-39 on Jan. 17.
Feb. 26 -- At ninth-seeded Watterson in first round of Division II district tournament. The Lions are seeded 18th.
Feb. 14 -- Division II boys sectional at HP Lanes. The top 12 teams and top 12 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Feb. 20 at HP Lanes.
Feb. 15 -- Division II girls sectional at HP Lanes. The top 12 teams and top 12 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Feb. 20 at HP Lanes.