Keegan Schaub had his eye on the New Albany boys basketball team's single-season assists record for two reasons.
Not only did the 6-foot-1 senior guard want to leave a lasting mark on the program, but doing so would further the friendly yet competitive rivalry between Schaub and his older brother, 2015 graduate Austin Schaub.
Keegan broke Austin's record for assists in a season Feb. 14 during a 70-41 win at Franklin Heights and finished with 130 after the 15th-seeded Eagles' 59-55 home loss to 17th-seeded Reynoldsburg in the second round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 28. Austin still owns the single-game record for assists with 13, a mark of which Keegan fell short by just one during both a 56-39 win at Olentangy Berlin on Dec. 28 and in the loss to Reynoldsburg.
"I told Austin before the season I was going to break one of them and let him keep one," Keegan said, smiling. "As the season progressed, I was getting seven and eight assists a game sometimes so I had the feeling I could get that (record). It wasn't like 'I need to pass every time;' it was still a balanced attack between me scoring and everybody else scoring. I'd hit guys when they were open and they'd finish."
Keegan entered the Franklin Heights game needing one assist to set the record and ended up with six. But even beyond that achievement, he had a solid all-around season for New Albany, which finished 15-8, by averaging 10.0 points and a team-high 6.4 rebounds.
"He does not dribble with his head down at all. He's always surveying the floor," said forward Justin Perry, the Eagles' leading scorer this season at 14.7 points per game, just ahead of Jayden Lewis (13.7). "He uses his eyes to get defenders going in different directions and then he can get you the ball. Sometimes, it's like he's playing with the defense."
Coach Sam Davis agreed that much of Keegan's success comes from his floor vision.
"He sees the floor amazingly. Sometimes he gets himself into trouble because he sees things some of the players he's throwing to don't see," Davis said. "We tell our kids all the time there are two things they can't do too much of -- assist and rebound."
Perry had 17 points against Reynoldsburg and Lewis and Schaub added 10 each.
Hockey team upsets Bears
Last year marked the hockey team's first appearance in a district semifinal, and the Eagles achieved another first March 1 when they knocked off top-seeded and previously undefeated Upper Arlington 3-2 in a semifinal at Chiller North to advance to their first district final.
Fourth-seeded New Albany will take on second-seeded Olentangy Liberty on Saturday, March 7, at OhioHealth Ice Haus. The winner will advance to a state semifinal March 13 at Nationwide Arena.
Matthew Moellering, Colin Carr and Jackson Buss scored against UA, with Buss netting what became the game-winning goal from just inside the blue line with 3 minutes, 56 seconds left. That came just 12 seconds after UA's Will Cohen missed on a penalty shot that would have tied the game at 2.
"We had to get some gritty goals and capitalize on all of our chances," said goaltender Max Dupler, who finished with 40 saves. "This is a tremendous achievement. We've never been this far."
The Golden Bears' Tristen Elmhurst scored with 3:04 left to make it a one-goal game.
"We talked about getting pucks out of our zone and into theirs and that's what we did," coach Matt Buss said. "(Dupler) stood on his head. I couldn't ask for anything more, but we're not finished yet."
New Albany, which is 20-14-2, defeated Liberty 3-1 on Jan. 4 and tied the Patriots at 2 on Jan. 31.
The Eagles held off 14th-seeded Dublin Coffman 4-3 in overtime in a quarterfinal Feb. 29 at the Ice Haus. Moellering had two goals, including the game-winner after the Eagles led 3-0.
Swimmers to return state qualifiers
Swimming coach Dave Wharton left the Division I state meet Feb. 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton with a wide smile, carrying the girls runner-up trophy less than an hour after being named state girls Coach of the Year.
Wharton has seen the ascension of the program throughout his 24 seasons at New Albany, one that included a Division II state runner-up finish for the girls in 2009 before this season was highlighted by the team's first Division I district championship, second place at state and a repeat title for the girls 400-yard freestyle relay.
The girls team amassed 205 points at state to finish second behind Coffman (214) as 53 teams scored. The boys were 12th (70) behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (310) as 53 teams scored.
"This is fantastic for our program to continue to grow as it has," Wharton said. "We've kept working our way up. The kids are very excited about it and they will work that much harder to get to the top. What Dublin Coffman accomplished was awesome and having UA right there (in third place with 187 points), central Ohio swimming is in an awesome place."
Half of the 400 free relay, which won in 3:25.16, is eligible to return in sophomore Ava Lachey and freshman Carly Meeting. Graduating are Lexi Elkovitch and Mia Lachey, who will swim at Villanova and Ohio State, respectively.
Individually, Meeting finished third in the 100 backstroke and Ava Lachey was fifth in the 100 free.
Other girls state qualifiers eligible to return are junior Sydney Boals, sophomores Olivia Hovorka and Emma Skinner and freshman Hope Schimming. Skinner finished 13th in diving.
"That was a great experience for (Skinner)," diving coach John Coffman said. "Last year, she didn't make it, this year she did and next year, the goal is to be on the podium (with a top-eight finish). It's a progression. We want to make sure she addresses everything she needs so she can get on the podium."
The boys team graduates state champion diver Noah Duperre, who will compete at Texas, but expects to return four state qualifiers in juniors Patrick Daly, Cade Helms, Tommy Morris and Caleb Schimming.
The boys and girls teams swept the OCC-Capital Division meet for the fifth consecutive year but, as part of conference realignment, will move to the OCC-Ohio next year with Gahanna, Grove City, Pickerington Central, Westerville Central and Westland.