Knowing it had the ability to fire on all cylinders provided an extra dose of confidence to the Watterson girls basketball team as it began the Division I district tournament.
The second-seeded Eagles entered its district semifinal Feb. 26 against 13th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne having yet to be challenged in the postseason.
That's not something, though, that Watterson expects to continue.
Helping the Eagles in the postseason has been the return of junior Danielle Grim, a 5-foot-8 guard who missed six games around midseason with an injury.
"Things are not always hunky-dory every day," coach Tom Woodford said. "It's nice to have another guard on the floor that has a couple years of experience."
In her first game back, Grim scored 10 points in a 44-35 victory over DeSales on Feb. 6.
On Feb. 15, she had nine points in a 60-29 victory over 40th-seeded Westerville Central in the first round of the district tournament. Junior guard Kilyn McGuff led the Eagles with 15 points and sophomore forward Kiley Graham scored 14.
Then on Feb. 21, Grim scored a team-high 15 points to help the Eagles roll past 33rd-seeded Hilliard Darby 54-19 in a second-round game to improve to 22-2. Senior guard Paige Woodford had 11 points and McGuff scored 10.
"You can't really ask for a better group of girls," senior guard Emily Dixon said. "(Grim) brings a lot of energy and talent. We're getting in the groove again with all 10 of us back."
The Watterson-Kilbourne winner faces fifth-seeded Pickerington Central or 17th-seeded Dublin Scioto in a district final Saturday, Feb. 29, at the Columbus Convention Center. The district champion advances to a regional semifinal Tuesday, March 3, at Otterbein.
"We're feeling pretty good," Paige Woodford said. "Definitely having all 10 of us back is awesome. We've had several injuries throughout the season. To have no one sitting in the corner in practice definitely gives us a boost of energy and we're all wanting to make it as far as we can. Danielle's first game back, she played outstanding. It was like she never left."
Watterson, which lost in a district final last season to finish 23-3, last won a district title in the 2003-04 season. The Eagles also were district runners-up in 2003, '09 and '17.
"(Being the No. 2 seed) is definitely a huge target," Paige Woodford said. "In the past, we've been ranked kind of lower and as we make it we're playing teams seeded above us. If we make it to the district final, we'll (likely be) playing Pickerington Central and they're obviously a really good team, so the target on our back is huge, but that just makes us work harder in practice and on the floor so we can be the best we can."
Swimmers close season at state meet
Sophomore Olivia Oyster of the girls swimming and diving team reached the awards podium in two events at the Division I state meet held Feb. 21 and 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
After entering state seeded fifth in the 50-yard freestyle and eighth in the 100 free, she finished fourth (23.3 seconds) in the 50 free and seventh (51.76) in the 100 free.
"I've been tapering and getting more sleep," Oyster said. "I've been working harder in practice and the whole season I've been training harder than last year. I didn't think I was going to do as well as I have been in the 50 because last year I didn't do very well in the 50. We've done well (as a team)."
Oyster also competed on the ninth-place 200 medley relay with senior Mia Brown, sophomore Lucia Cherok and freshman Grace Rider (1:45.49) and on the 11th-place 400 free relay with Brown, freshman Teagan Price and Rider (3:32).
"It was a (personal-best in the 50 free) so I was happy with that," Oyster said. "It's pretty cool, especially since last year I got 20th (in the 100 free). I was really proud of myself. I'm really proud of our team because we've had a lot of incoming freshman. A lot of people left last year so Grace Rider has done really well in our medley because we didn't have a breaststroker previously. Overall, we've done a lot better this year."
Brown finished 12th in the 50 free (23.85) and 17th in the 100 butterfly (57.56) and Rider placed 12th in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.13).
Watterson finished 11th (67 points) behind champion Dublin Coffman (214) as 53 teams scored.
"The atmosphere is crazy and I'm just so thankful and grateful to be (at state)," Cherok said.
For the boys team in the Division II state meet Feb. 20, senior Michael Vondran tied for the 16th-best time in the 50 free when he swam 22.24 in his preliminary race, but he finished 17th as he swam 22.02 in a swim-off against Wapakoneta's Danilo Martinelli (21.89).
"Definitely, with this year being my senior year and knowing what to expect and keeping my nerves down, I kind of do my own race," Vondran said. "There's nothing much else you can do but give your all."
Others eligible to return for the girls team, which won every event in the CCL meet while capturing the league title Jan. 25, include sophomores Lucy Loudon and Molly Shanahan and freshmen Maggie Best, Meg Newcomb and Olive O'Dorisio.
Sophomore Max Latshaw, who was sixth in the 200 individual medley and 11th in the 100 breast at district Feb. 12 at Ohio State, and sophomore Mateo Pitones are expected to be the top returnees for the boys team.
Bowlers conclude season at sectional
The bowling teams ended their seasons at the Division I sectional at HP Lanes.
The boys team finished 41st (2,621) of 47 teams Feb. 21, behind champion Reynoldsburg (3,991), and the girls placed 30th (2,563) of 42 teams Feb. 22, behind champion Westerville Central (3,653).
The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to the district tournament Saturday, Feb. 29, at HP Lanes, but neither the boys nor the girls team had any individuals advance.
Wrestlers set for postseason
The wrestling team will compete in the Division II sectional Friday, Feb. 28, and Saturday, Feb. 29, at Licking Valley. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament March 6 and 7 at Wilmington.
On Feb. 15 in the 13-team Nye Cardinal Classic at St. Charles, Watterson placed sixth (88.5) behind champion Lancaster (325.5) as Kevin Azor (160 pounds) finished first, Brady White (182) placed second and Leo Pavell (138) and Danny Siegel (170) placed fourth.