Westerville Central boys basketball coach Kevin Martin realizes his team has a much different look now as compared to early in the season.
That was evident Feb. 28 when the 13th-seeded War-hawks avenged an early season loss to Grove City by beating the visiting and 23rd-seeded Greyhounds 61-41 in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
Central lost to the host Greyhounds 52-43 on Nov. 26 in the Grove City Tip-off Classic championship game.
"We briefly talked about that game, but that's 20 games ago," Martin said. "A lot has changed between us and them. There were important factors to talk about in that game, including we shot 25 percent for the game and they shot 55 percent."
Brock Waits scored 24 points to lead Grove City in the first meeting, but was held to one field goal and nine points in the rematch.
Martin credited strong defensive efforts by M.J. Davis and Landon Tillman as keys in containing Waits.
"Our goal was to make things difficult for Waits," Martin said. "He was going to score some points. I didn't think he would only have two at halftime, but we didn't want to give them those walk-up 3s or those isolation 3s that he gets, and we wanted to make him work for everything."
Central connected on 11 3-pointers and was 8-for-9 from the free-throw line.
The Warhawks jumped out an early 11-0 lead.
"We set the tone from the beginning of the game defensively. That was a goal," Martin said. "I've done this long enough that you have to be able to execute and play well offensively, but if you can set the tone on the defensive end and dictate what you want them to do rather than them dictate what you're doing defensively, you can have some success."
Tyler Beckel helped Central take control early by making a pair of 3s. He finished with a team-high 14 points.
"We're going to go out there and play our best every game and I'm just going to contribute however I can to give us the best chance to win every night," Beckel said. "The (first game against Grove City) ... we just looked back on it. That was 20 games ago and we just knew that we got better."
Quincy Clark and Will LeMaire each added 12 points for the Warhawks, who were 16-7 before playing third-seeded Columbus South in a semifinal March 4.
The winner plays fourth-seeded Pickerington Central or 18th-seeded Delaware in a district final Saturday, March 7, at Ohio Dominican.
The district champion plays Chillicothe, Olentangy Liberty, Pickerington North or Thomas Worthington in a regional semifinal March 12 at Ohio Dominican.
Gymnastics coach happy with season
Gymnastics coach Shea Stammen was pleased with her team's progress this winter.
The season ended Feb. 22 when Central finished 21st (116.05) behind champion Thornville Sheridan (144.55) in the district meet at Worthington Kilbourne.
"I'm very happy," Stammen said. "We got one of our highest team scores of the season. I thought we had a great meet."
Sophomore Chloe Griggs tied for 61st of 108 gymnasts in the all-around (31.175) to lead the Warhawks.
Senior Kylie Nelson finished 88th (29.075). Sophomore Mal Lewis (26.6) and senior Abigail Ring (26.0) also competed in the all-around.
"I just tell them to go out there, it's another meet and just have fun and do the best that you can," Stammen said. "I'm just honest and real that we didn't have a chance to qualify (for state), but we still want to end well. We have five seniors on the team, and they want to end their careers on a high note, and I think we did that."
Others eligible to return are sophomores Silvia Hickey, Tylin Picker and Anna Priedeman and freshman Tatum Callow.