With nine days between his team's regular-season finale and its Division I district tournament opener, Big Walnut girls basketball coach Jason Crawford welcomes the rest.
In fact, he planned it.
The time off was much needed for the Golden Eagles, who have endured numerous injuries.
Senior post player Abby Facemyer, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, suffered the same injury in January, forcing her to miss the rest of the season, and two other starters, senior forward Payton Carter and senior guard Alexis Schone, have seen limited playing time because of injuries.
"We're just basically now getting healthy," said Crawford, who noted that the Golden Eagles' 41-29 victory over Worthington Christian on Feb. 12 marked the first time this season that Carter and Schone played "their normal minutes."
Carter had 14 points against the Warriors to lead Big Walnut, which closed the regular season at 17-5 overall and finished 7-3 in the OCC-Capital Division, placing second to Newark (10-0).
Seeded 11th of 48 teams in the district tournament, the Golden Eagles took a first-round bye and will play host to 19th-seeded Dublin Jerome or 35th-seeded Thomas Worthington in the second round Friday, Feb. 21.
The winner plays fourth-seeded Dublin Coffman, 24th-seeded DeSales or 34th-seeded Licking Heights in a district semifinal Feb. 26.
The boys team is seeded 25th of 49 teams in the Division I district tournament and will play at 12th-seeded St. Charles in the first round Saturday, Feb. 22.
The winner faces 18th-seeded Delaware in a second-round game Feb. 28 at the home of the better seed.
Big Walnut was 12-9 overall and 4-5 in the OCC-Capital before playing Groveport in its regular-season finale Feb. 14.
Last season, the Golden Eagles earned their first Division I postseason victory, defeating Gahanna 59-52 before falling to Pickerington Central 49-39 in a district semifinal.
"What we did last year gives our kids confidence going into the tournament," coach Brett Bartlett said. "We know anything can happen in the tournament, and we have no reason to be afraid of anybody."
Gymnasts getting ready for district
The gymnastics team is preparing to compete in the district meet Saturday, Feb. 22, at Worthington Kilbourne.
At district, the top three teams advance to the team state meet Feb. 28 at Hilliard Bradley and the top eight finishers in each event and the all-around advance to the individual state meet Feb. 29 at Bradley.
Big Walnut has been hampered by injuries throughout the season.
"At district, we're not sure if we're going to have (enough competitors) for a team score," coach Kaiden Wilson said. "So for them, it's just personal, and hopefully, it will be a great experience."
Angelina McConnell and Kelsey Ewing were the only competitors in the OCC-Buckeye meet Feb. 11 at Thomas Worthington, where the team finished fifth (44.95) behind Olentangy Orange (131.125), Olentangy (130.95), Olentangy Liberty (128.9) and Westerville Central (117.475).
Kat Brammer, Sydney Cornwell and Kayla Farley did not compete because of injuries.
McConnell placed 17th (26.775) in the all-around, scoring her highest marks on vault (7.9, 18th) and floor exercise (7.225, 21st).
Ewing was 23rd (18.175) in the all-around and 23rd (7.125) on floor.
"Kelsey recently came back from an injury, so she did really well, considering the circumstances," Wilson said.
Relays qualify for sectional swim meet
Three boys relays and a girls relay from the swimming teams qualified for the Division I district meet Feb. 13 at Ohio State.
In a sectional Feb. 8 at Thomas Worthington, the 400-yard freestyle relay of Braden Buckler, Braden Wagner, Nathan Wion and Christopher Lee had the boys team's top finish, placing ninth in 3 minutes, 41.56 seconds, to earn an at-large district berth.
The 200 free relay of Lee, Wion, Roy Roberto and John Grumney (10th, 1:37.41) and the 200 medley relay of Zander Murnieks, Andrian Camden, Buckler and Grumney (12th, 1:55.25) also earned at-large berths.
Earning an at-large berth for the girls team was the 200 medley relay of Eva Lane, Jordan May, Sam Blackburn and Karli Murnieks (11th, 2:10.57).
Competing at district Feb. 12 in boys diving were Jameson Welker (309.3, 13th), Murnieks (304.25, 15th), Shane White (285.65, 16th) and Micah Tiller (122.50, 25th). Girls divers competed Feb. 13.
At district, the top six boys divers, top four girls divers and top two finishers in each swimming event automatically qualified for the state meet, which runs from Thursday, Feb. 20, through Saturday, Feb. 22, at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
In addition, 16 at-large state berths in each swimming event based on district times statewide will be announced Sunday, Feb. 16.
At sectional, the boys team finished 11th (19) of 13 teams, behind champion New Albany (257), and the girls were last (4) of 13 teams, behind champion New Albany (400).
Bowlers prepping for sectional
The bowling teams will open the postseason this week at the Division I sectional at HP Lanes.
The boys team will be among 48 teams competing Friday, Feb. 21, and the girls team will be among 46 teams competing the next day.
The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on a qualifying team in both the boys and girls sectionals advance to district Feb. 29 at HP Lanes.
Wrestlers compete in team dual tourney
The wrestling team defeated 10th-seeded New Albany 60-21 in its opening match of the 14-team Division I, Region 5 team dual tournament Feb. 8 at Marysville.
The seventh-seeded Golden Eagles then lost to second-seeded Delaware 51-24 in a quarterfinal.
Seniors Max Lenz (heavyweight) and Ryan Coletta (152 pounds) each earned his 100th career victory during the tournament.
Big Walnut already had clinched at least a share of its first OCC-Capital championship since 2008 before its league finale Feb. 13 against New Albany. The Golden Eagles were 4-0 in the league before the match against New Albany.