Pickerington North boys basketball coach Jason Bates admits that he doesn't always realize everything senior forward Chris Scott brings to the Panthers until he watches film and analyzes statistics.
But Bates is confident that the Panthers wouldn't be 18-4 overall and have a seven-game winning streak entering the Division I district tournament without the 6-foot-3 Scott, who has signed to play football at Cincinnati.
"He's our 'X' factor," Bates said. "He's been a coach on the floor and a leader in the locker room. Hunter (Shedenhelm) might have more acclaim because he's going to college (Ashland) to play basketball, but for Chris to do what he does for us when he's already signed, sealed and delivered for football, that's a testament to him."
Scott is averaging 12.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists and shooting 62 percent from the floor for North, which is seeded fifth in the district and will play host to 43rd-seeded Logan in a first-round game Saturday, Feb. 22.
Scott overheard Bates' description after the Panthers' 72-40 win at Grove City on Feb. 14 and took that to heart.
"Everything he said is what I try to do for this team. I'm an older guy and I was here when we had the big-name guys (Indiana recruit Jerome Hunter and Miami University recruit Eli McNamara) two years ago and I was here last year when maybe we were overlooked a little bit and still made a nice run (to a regional final)," Scott said. "I know what we need to do and what we need to avoid. We play a lot of young guys and we have a lot of trust in some sophomores and juniors. It's about getting into their heads everything that we need to do."
While Scott is a starting forward, he has played every position at some point as North finished 8-2 in the OCC-Ohio Division, second behind Gahanna (9-1). Scott began the season hobbled by a knee injury suffered in football but did not miss any time in the regular season, wearing a brace instead for one game.
"Just the fact that I can play one through five and know all the plays, things like that, and I am willing to do whatever needs done, whether that's scoring one night or being a leading rebounder or a defensive enforcer," Scott said. "I take a lot of pride in that."
The North-Logan winner will play 42nd-seeded Hilliard Davidson in the second round Feb. 28 at the home of the better seed.
The Panthers' district bracket also includes seventh-seeded Thomas Worthington and ninth-seeded Olentangy Liberty, which defeated North in a regional final last year. Those two teams could meet in a district semifinal opposite the Panthers if seeds hold.
"(We have) 18 wins with probably the toughest schedule we've had since I've been here. I'm really proud of them," Bates said. "We're in a good situation (in the district). We didn't have to go in with a team seeded lower than us. It'll be tough regardless. You have to beat somebody good to win a district (title). I'm excited about (the tournament) and the guys are, too. Maybe we'll have a little added motivation considering we didn't win the league, which was our first goal."
Relays lead swim team at district
The girls swimming and diving team's 200-yard medley relay of Sydney Hopkins, Lindsey Keaton, Rylee Kreinbrink and Regan Turnbull finished eighth (1 minute, 48.24 seconds) in the Division I district meet Feb. 13 at Ohio State, leading North to 65 points and 12th place behind champion New Albany (378) as 26 teams scored.
Neither the boys nor girls teams had any automatic qualifiers to the state meet Friday, Feb. 21, and Saturday, Feb. 22, at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
The top two placers in each swimming event and the top six boys divers automatically advanced to state. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded for each swimming event based on times statewide.
Here's a list of state qualifiers.
The boys 200 medley relay of Connor Daniel, Braden Hopkins, Jon Mason and Connor Schwartz (1:38.76) and 400 freestyle relay of Daniel, Hopkins, Schwartz and Spencer White (3:17.22) each placed ninth, and North finished 10th (62) behind champion Upper Arlington (381.5) as 23 teams scored.
Other top-10 finishes came from Keaton in the 100 backstroke (10th, 1:07.09) and the girls 200 free relay of Emily Harness, Keaton, Kreinbrink and Lauren Vinson (10th, 1:40.92).
The boys team's top individual performances came from Spencer White, who finished 13th in the 500 free (4:51.72) and 14th in the 200 free (1:46.07).
Girls team preps for district tourney
The girls basketball team will have had a two-week break between games when it visits sixth-seeded Westerville North or 37th-seeded Grove City in the second round of the Division I district tournament Friday, Feb. 21.
The 42nd-seeded Panthers, who took a first-round bye, have not played since a 62-27 home loss to Reynoldsburg in their regular-season finale Feb. 7 dropped them to 2-20 overall.
Westerville North was 17-5 before playing host to the Greyhounds, who were 6-16, in the first round Feb. 15.
The Panthers lost to the Warriors 45-29 in the second game of the season Nov. 25.
Their two closest games in OCC-Ohio play came against Grove City, but they still lost both, falling 40-35 on Dec. 3 and 34-29 on Jan. 7 en route to finishing 0-10 in the league.
The second-round winner will play ninth-seeded Reynoldsburg or 43rd-seeded Olentangy Orange in a district semifinal Wednesday, Feb. 26, at a neutral site. The district final is Feb. 29 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
The Panthers also lost to Reynoldsburg 74-21 on Jan. 3.
The bowling teams will open the postseason this week at HP Lanes.
The boys team will compete in the Division I sectional Friday, Feb. 21, with the girls competing the following day.