The Columbus Academy boys basketball team is looking to carry a pair of strong late-season performances into the Division III district tournament.
The Vikings defeated Buckeye Valley 69-57 on Feb. 11 and Hudson Western Reserve Academy 59-57 on Feb. 1, both at home.
"The win against Western Reserve and then beating Buckeye Valley, those are two big confidence-builders," coach Jeff Warstler said. "I'm really proud of the way we've advanced things. We're still getting better. We picked a good time to do it. We've spent a lot of time in the last few days focusing on defense and keeping guys out of the middle."
Academy finished 4-8 in the MSL-Ohio Division with a 55-28 loss at Worthington Christian on Feb. 14. The Warriors earned a share of the league title with Whitehall at 9-3.
"Our league gets us ready to play in the tournament," Warstler said. "Our guys take the challenge and I just love the fact that these kids come in every day wanting to get better."
The Vikings were 8-12 overall before closing regular-season play Feb. 18 against Centerburg.
Academy is seeded 12th for the district tournament and plays host to 13th-seeded Marion Pleasant in the second round Feb. 28. Both teams have a first-round bye.
"That Pleasant game won't be easy, but we'll play anybody," Warstler said. "We'll show up and be ready to play. ... It's good to get a home game. That's what we were hoping for. The guys have played well enough to earn it, so it's to get that opportunity."
Tanner Compton led the Vikings with 17 points against Buckeye Valley. Jared Kass had 15 and Carter Warstler added 14.
Warstler continues to lead the Vikings in scoring, averaging 15 points through 19 contests.
The Vikings have been playing without senior guard Mitch Priest, who broke his right arm in a 39-31 home win over Central Crossing on Jan. 4.
Priest is scheduled to have his cast removed Feb. 27 and hopes to be able to play if Academy advances to a district semifinal, where it would likely face top-seeded Harvest Prep on March 3.
Before his injury, Priest was averaging 9.1 points through eight games.
"I love every single one of these guys and when I got hurt, I would have done anything to be able to play," Priest said. "I knew that if I didn't ... show up every day and try my best to be a leader, it would set a precedent for the younger guys that that's the way we do things and that is not the way Academy basketball runs its program."
Priest's father, Dan, is in his 10th season as the men's basketball coach at Kenyon College. Priest has committed to Division III Grinnell College in Iowa.
Boys swim team sees streak end
The boys swimming and diving team saw its streak of Division II district titles end at four Feb. 12 at Ohio State.
Academy tied Warsaw River View for sixth (111) behind champion Granville (253) as 34 teams scored.
James Cao led the Vikings, finishing fifth in the 100-yard freestyle (50.59 seconds). Luke Boltz was sixth in the 500 free (5:18.01), and Cao, Boltz, Gavin Lewis and Cyrus Richardson were sixth in the 400 free relay (3:30.45).
The girls finished third (195) behind champion Columbus School for Girls (401) as 31 teams scored.
Lauren Klinefelter, Annalise Grammel, Taylor Warren and Abby Yakam were third in the 200 medley relay (1:52.4), and Grammel, Klinefelter, Alexandria Butnariu and Mary Kate Prall were third in the 400 free relay (3:41.64).
Klinefelter was fourth in the 100 butterfly (57.34) and 200 individual medley (2:09.81).
"All our kids swam very well," coach Craig Yakscoe said. "The majority of them swam their best swims of the year and that's pretty awesome to see that happen."
The top two finishers in each swimming event automatically advanced to state Thursday, Feb. 20, and Friday, Feb. 21, at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded for each swimming event based on district times statewide.
Here's a list of state qualifiers.
White to bowl at district
The boys bowling team competed in the Division II sectional Feb. 14 at HP Lanes, with Vincent White finishing 35th (453 series) of 155 competitors to earn a district berth.
Academy finished 21st (2,763) of 28 teams behind champion Heath (3,756).
The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Thursday, Feb. 20, at HP Lanes.
The girls team did not compete at sectional Feb. 15 because of another school commitment.
Wrestlers compete in league tourney
The wrestling team finished fourth (35) in the five-team MSL-Ohio tournament Feb. 15 at Bexley, behind champion Buckeye Valley (83).
Gvynn Mendenhall finished first at 195 pounds. Chris Sugar (145), Zech Kim (152) and Ethan Stahl (182) placed second.
The girls basketball and hockey teams will open their postseasons this week.
The girls basketball team will play North Union or Fredericktown in the second round of the Division III district tournament Saturday, Feb. 22.
The hockey team will play Cincinnati Sycamore in the first round of the district tournament Feb. 22 at OhioHealth Ice Haus.