Featuring a young lineup, the Hilliard Darby boys basketball team experienced "growing pains" this season.
The 35th-seeded Panthers fell to 10th-seeded Dublin Coffman 74-51 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 25 to finish 6-17 overall.
Freshman forward Cam Gilkerson had a team-high 14 points and junior guard Mekhi Evans scored nine. Keaton Turner led Coffman with 26 points.
The Panthers, who went 5-9 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to tie Dublin Jerome for sixth behind champion Bradley (14-0), are losing four seniors, including senior forward Jacob Foster, who was named honorable mention all-league.
"We knew going into the season we would have a few growing pains being young," coach Chris Maul said. "The silver lining is that five of our rotation guys were freshmen and sophomores, so that definitely bodes well for our future. As much as you love getting those guys playing time -- and they had great moments for us -- we also had some moments where our youth showed a little bit. But that's expected, I think, for every team, especially when you have some younger guys playing."
Maul said the Panthers put forth great effort throughout the season and were in many games, but let a few wins slip away.
"All our guys were coachable and did a great job of following the game plan." Maul said. "You look at our record, but so many games were close. We left a couple wins on the table for sure, which is frustrating. But we definitely had a lot of minutes for guys who are definitely going to be in the program for the next two or three years."
"I think most games we came out strong in the beginning, but I think somewhere in the third quarter we kind of let it fall apart," said Evans, who was special mention all-league. "I don't know if it was due to fatigue or just losing focus or getting bored, but we definitely had some good quarters."
In addition to Evans and Gilkerson, other key expected returnees are sophomore guards Gio Roberts and Matt Sech and freshman guard Javi Quimba.
"I think next year there are a lot of expectations for our program because we have a lot of young guys, and a lot of them have a lot of experience on varsity and got some minutes," Evans said. "I think next year some big things are coming with the program."
Bayer, Evans lead gymnasts at district
The gymnastics team had a solid showing at the district meet Feb. 22 at Worthington Kilbourne, led by the contributions of sophomore Annamarie Bayer and senior Scarlett Evans.
Bayer led the team on balance beam (11th, 8.975) and floor exercise (tied for 28th, 8.675) and Evans led on vault (19th, 8.3).
Bayer and Evans finished 37th (32.775) and 38th (32.75), respectively, in the all-around.
Junior Bailey Miller led the team on uneven bars (tied for 32nd, 8.175), as Darby tied Upper Arlington for seventh (131.675) behind champion Thornville Sheridan (144.55).
Sheridan, Olentangy Berlin (139.275) and Dublin Jerome (138.775) advanced to the state team meet Feb. 28 at Bradley, while the top eight finishers in each event and the all-around advanced to the state individual meet Feb. 29 at Bradley.
In addition to Bayer and Miller, expected returnees include juniors Laurel Bonn, Madison Brokaw and Jenna Hartwell.