For the second consecutive season, the Grandview Heights boys basketball team has reached a district final by fitting all the pieces of the puzzle together at the right time.
Correction: An earlier version of this story in print and online reported that all six of the Grandview boys basketball team's district titles were in Division III. Five were in Division III and one was in Division IV.
The top-seeded Bobcats are playing aggressive defense, executing their offensive game plan and getting contributions beyond their usual dynamic duo of seniors Brian Collier and Luke Lachey. Those qualities have helped set up a meeting against sixth-seeded Fisher Catholic in a Division IV district final Thursday, March 5, at Ohio Dominican.
Last season, the Bobcats defeated Johnstown 54-49 in a Division III district final for their sixth district championship and first since 2016. Five of the district titles were in Division III and one was in Division IV.
"Last year we had a consistent third scorer to go with Luke and Brian in (2019 graduate) Manny (Day), and when you have three guys in double figures things are going well," said coach Ray Corbett, whose team is 20-5. "I felt like last year we were hitting our stride, but I think we are also doing that with this group.
"We have been guarding well, and we have been for the last month. They really have bought into the defensive end of the floor. We have guys who weren't contributing early who have gotten accustomed to the game and have become much more comfortable on the floor."
One such player is Charlie James. The senior guard always has been a defensive asset, but he scored 12 points in a 53-32 win over seventh-seeded Shekinah Christian in a district semifinal Feb. 28 at Olentangy Berlin.
"The game came to me," James said. "Shekinah was playing tough defense, but we set some screens and that gave me some open shots and I was able to hit them. My teammates opened things up for me."
Two-year starting forward Lance Trares, a senior, suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in late January. The Bobcats have been able to mix and match to help soften the blow.
"Charlie has played well and he's as good as we have defensively," Corbett said. "We always have him guard the other team's best perimeter player, and Aidan (Leslie) has done a good job handling point-guard responsibilities, which has taken some pressure off (Collier). We thought the loss of Lance would be huge, but Glenn (Cribbs) and Adam (Bechtel) have stepped up big for us.
"We know that we're not going to get there with (only Collier and Lachey) and we have had other people contribute."
Fisher Catholic improved to 13-11 by defeating fifth-seeded Newark Catholic 65-60 in two overtimes Feb. 28 in a district semifinal.
The Irish have avenged regular-season losses in the postseason. They defeated eighth-seeded Patriot Prep 47-43 on Feb. 25 after a 56-48 loss Dec. 14. Fisher Catholic also lost to Newark Catholic 52-40 on Jan. 13.
Bryson Vogel, a 6-foot-4 senior guard/forward, was first-team all-district and averages 14.1 points. He had 10 points in the win over Newark Catholic, but Alex Bronder had 21 and Sam Maynard scored 18 with four 3-pointers.
"They look to have decent size, and I think they are feeling the same way we are after beating a couple teams that they lost to earlier," Corbett said. "We found our second wind, and I think they have as well."
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal Tuesday, March 10, at Ohio University. Possible opponents include third-ranked New Boston Glenwood, 10th-ranked Glouster Trimble, Leesburg Fairfield and South Webster.
The regional final is March 13 at Ohio University.
On Feb. 25, the host Bobcats defeated 17th-seeded Fairfield Christian 59-19 in the second round of district play. Collier scored 25 points with five 3s and Lachey added 11 points while nine players scored.
"We have been playing up-tempo, and we have been playing fast and doing well in transition," James said. "Luke has been almost impossible to guard down low. We have been playing a three-quarter court press and wearing teams out. When we play fast on offense, we can be tough to play with."
Meyer rolls 487 at state tourney
Leila Meyer rolled a 487 three-game series to finish 42nd of 207 competitors in the Division II girls bowling state tournament Feb. 29 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
The senior had games of 170, 157 and 161. Kaylee Nicholas of Bellefontaine Benjamin Logan was medalist with a 628.
"I thought I could have done better, but I had a lot of fun," said Meyer, who plans to study architecture at the University of Cincinnati. "It was awesome to go out with a bang. I started bowling because I thought it would be a fun thing to do and I didn't think I could be any good at it."
Second-year coach Ashley Stahurski was proud of Meyer's effort.
"It's the first time any (Grandview girl) has been here," Stahurski said. "Leila did great today. She bowled above her average and that's all you can ask for. She averages 154 and she averaged 162 today."
Meyer advanced to state by rolling a 558 to finish second of 75 bowlers behind Maddie Hoverland (577) of Galion Northmor in the district tournament Feb. 20 at HP Lanes.
The girls team finished eighth (2,915) as the top two advanced to state.
Senior Luke Berlin (593, fourth of 78 bowlers) and sophomore Adam Narcelles (466, 37th) competed for the boys team at district but did not advance to state.
"We had a great season," Stahurski said. "Last year we went to district and we were dead last or really close to it. This year we were right in the middle of the pack, so they did really well."
In the MSL-Ohio Division, seniors Emily Bullock and Paige DeNiro were second-team all-league for the girls, and Meyer and sophomore Maddie Hollar were honorable mention.
Berlin and sophomore Jack Greer were first-team all-league for the boys, and junior Noah Dimmick was on the second team.
Girls basketball team to return solid core
The girls basketball team expects to return a strong cast after finishing 10-14 overall and 6-8 in the MSL-Ohio.
The 16th-seeded Bobcats defeated visiting and 17th-seeded KIPP Columbus 53-18 on Feb. 18 in the first round of the Division III district tournament before losing at second-seeded Cardington 34-24 on Feb. 22 in the second round.
"We probably performed, as a whole, a little below our expectations because we expected to be a little above .500," said sixth-year coach Brian O'Mara, who resigned after the season. "We finished really strong, especially in that game at Cardington. We executed our game plan and executed it well. We were really tired in the fourth quarter from that effort. We were out of gas.
"(The Pirates) came in averaging 60 points a game and we held them to 34. I couldn't be more proud of the girls."
The Bobcats had four seniors, but one -- Janey Coplan -- missed the season with a knee injury. Forward Emma Hall (honorable mention all-league) averaged 2.7 points and 1.8 assists, but led the team with 6.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Forward Pelar Price averaged 3.7 points and 5.7 rebounds, and guard Marissa Tose was a key ball-handler off the bench.
"It was a good way to send out the seniors," O'Mara said. "All three played a great final high school basketball game, and they all contributed. Even though it was a loss, it was good to see them go out and perform against an elite (Cardington) program that was 21-1."
The Bobcats expect to return their leader in three-year starter Hannah Yochem. The junior guard was second-team all-district and first-team all-league after averaging team highs in scoring (16.3), steals (2.1) and assists (1.9).
Also expected back are junior guard/forward Rachel Hartman (second-team all-league; 9.7 points), sophomore guard Sasha Pommerants, freshman post player Chai Dobbs-Euans and freshman guard Melana Pomerants.
"There will be five players coming back with significant playing time," O'Mara said. "The program is in good shape and I thought it would be a good time to take some time off. I won't say that I'll never coach again, but this way, whoever takes over will have some good players to work with."