The Whetstone boys basketball team has a tall task ahead of it when it commences postseason play this week.
The 48th-seeded Braves will play at third-seeded Columbus South in the second round of the 49-team Division I district tournament Friday, Feb. 28, with the winner advancing to play 13th-seeded Westerville Central or 23rd-seeded Grove City in a district semifinal Wednesday, March 4, at a site to be determined.
Whetstone, which had a first-round bye, is 6-16 overall and finished 5-9 in the City League-North Division. The Braves concluded the regular season on a high note, beating West 58-56 on Feb. 13.
South is 22-1 following a 79-41 win over 47th-seeded Franklin Heights in the first round of the district tournament. The Bulldogs shared the City-South title with Walnut Ridge, as both teams went 13-1 in league play.
"It's kind of a David-versus-Goliath situation, but we're trying to approach it with the mindset that if we play our best game, we have a chance to win," senior guard Louis Schirmer said.
Schirmer said for the Braves to have a chance to pull off the upset, they'll need to keep South away from the rim and force the Bulldogs to settle for jump shots and shots from the perimeter.
"We're definitely going to be trying to keep them out of the paint," Schirmer said. "That's where they get the majority of their points, I want to say."
Senior point guard Alex Timmons added that the Braves will need to control the tempo of the game.
"For our best chance, we really need to slow the game and play at a speed where we can handle the game and control our own tempo," Timmons said. "I feel like if we can do that, we have a good chance of throwing them off their course of action and having a chance to win the game."
Schirmer hopes the Braves will emerge from the game with more experience and insight regardless of the outcome.
"It's rough for me being a senior, because I'm not going to be able to come back and build with the younger guys, but I'm just hoping that regardless of what happens, the younger guys are able to learn from this experience and really see how a great team operates," he said. "South is really the best of the best, and it's unique that we'll be able to play such a great team, so I definitely think (the younger players) can learn from that experience."
Timmons said he hopes the Braves take the opportunity to grow as a unit.
"I hope that everybody returning takes this as a growing moment, that everybody should play together and have fun," he said. "It's not going to determine your future tomorrow if you win or lose."
Two wrestlers capture City titles
Juniors Sallah Abdulrahman (195 pounds) and Darric McClinton (145) of the wrestling team won titles in the City tournament Feb. 22 at Centennial.
Seniors Ford Buterbaugh (152), Hassan Sesay (170) and Jack Zimmerman (120) all placed second, senior Johney Kincaid (138) and freshman Antonio Morris (113) placed third and senior Preston Buterbaugh (182) finished fourth.
The Braves scored 164 points to place third behind Walnut Ridge (202) and Northland (173) and ahead of Mifflin (98), Beechcroft and West (both 95), Centennial and South (both 79), Briggs (62), Linden-McKinley (61), East (53.5) and Marion-Franklin (11).
Walnut Ridge won the City championship for the second consecutive season and fifth time in six years.
Whetstone will compete in a Division I sectional Saturday, Feb. 29, at Watkins Memorial, where the top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.
Millington-Fuqua advances in bowling
Alea Millington-Fuqua will represent the bowling program in the Division I district tournament Saturday, Feb. 29, at HP Lanes.
The senior led the girls team at sectional Feb. 22 at HP Lanes, rolling a 445 three-game series to finish 49th of 192 bowlers and earn the 16th and final individual district berth.
Senior Assiatou Diallo (tied for 73rd, 418) was next for the Braves, who finished 25th (2,586) of 42 teams, behind champion Westerville Central (3,653).
The boys team finished 39th (2,772) of 47 teams at sectional Feb. 21 at HP Lanes, behind champion Reynoldsburg (3,991).
Senior Nairan Normand led the Braves, tying for 117th of 270 bowlers with a 446, followed by freshman Abram Normand (tied for 135th, 408).
At sectional, the top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district. From district, the top four individuals not on a qualifying girls team advance to state March 7 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Season ends for girls basketball team
The girls basketball team saw its season come to an end Feb. 21 with a 90-3 loss at fifth-seeded Pickerington Central in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
Whetstone, which was seeded 48th and had a first-round bye, finished 4-19 overall, while the Tigers, who won the state championship in 2018 and were state runners-up last year, improved to 19-5 and advanced to a district semifinal.
The Braves, who went 2-12 in the City-North to place seventh behind champion Northland (14-0), are losing six seniors. The expected returnees include junior guard Heaven Goble, sophomore guard Vida Barzdukas and sophomore guard/forward Ellen Edwards.