When the Reynoldsburg girls basketball team met Westerville South in a regular-season game Jan. 21, Anyssa Jones scored 22 points to lead the Wildcats to a 64-59 victory.
The senior guard and Ohio State commit played her final prep game less than two weeks later and was unavailable because of injury when the teams met Feb. 29 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center with a Division I district championship on the line. The Raiders turned the result around in the rematch, winning 61-57 in overtime to capture their ninth district title in 11 seasons.
Ninth-seeded Reynoldsburg, which was making its fifth consecutive appearance in a district final and its 11th in 12 seasons, improved to 19-7 while the third-seeded Wildcats finished 20-5.
"We played them when Anyssa played and it was a really competitive game," coach Jack Purtell said. "They're plenty good."
The Raiders advanced to a district final with a 59-39 victory over sixth-seeded Westerville North on Feb. 26 at Pickerington North. Senior guard Kyria Walker made six 3-pointers and finished with 22 points, and sophomore guard Mya Perry made three 3s and scored 14 points.
Senior Malaysia Miller did not score against North, but the 5-foot-8 guard played a key role in holding 6-2 sophomore Charia Smith, an honorable mention all-district honoree, to six points.
"It's my fourth time going to (a district final) and it means a lot," Miller said. "It's my first time starting; it's a new team with different chemistry and not a lot of height."
The Raiders overcame an even bigger height disadvantage in the rematch with South.
The Wildcats featured Gabby Hutcherson, a 6-2 senior post player who also is headed to Ohio State, as well as 6-0 junior post player Aja Austin and 6-1 senior post player Asaya Bulgin.
Reynoldsburg's tallest contributor is Londen Coleman, who is 6-0.
The Raiders got 16 points from sophomore guard Makiya Miller and 14 from Walker as they won their sixth consecutive game.
"If we make shots, we can win some games," Purtell said.
"When we struggle from the perimeter, we struggle because we're not very big. We shoot lots of 3s by design, shoot lots of 3s in practice, run and press."
Reynoldsburg played Pickerington Central in a regional semifinal March 3 at Otterbein. The winner plays Gahanna or Newark in a regional final at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 6, at the same site.
The regional champion plays in a state semifinal March 13 at Ohio State.
Boys basketball team battles in tourney
The 17th-seeded boys basketball team pulled a minor upset Feb. 28, winning 59-55 at 15th-seeded New Albany in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
It was a rematch of a game the Raiders won 53-42 on Jan. 7.
Reynoldsburg improved to 14-10 and moved on to play sixth-seeded Walnut Ridge on March 4 in a district semifinal.
If the Raiders beat the Scots, they will face top-seeded Gahanna or 22nd-seeded Whitehall in a district final at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 7, at Ohio Dominican.
The district champion plays Hilliard Bradley, Westerville South, Newark or Dublin Coffman in a regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 11, at Ohio Dominican. The regional final is March 14 at the same site.
Reynoldsburg, which was tied with New Albany at 49 heading into the fourth quarter of the rematch, got 21 points and nine rebounds from senior forward Sean Moore and 15 points from senior guard James Dean. Moore had 15 points in the second half.
Reynoldsburg opened the postseason by beating 27th-seeded Dublin Scioto 51-41 on Feb. 22. The Raiders trailed 20-17 at halftime but outscored the Irish 19-9 in the third quarter.
Moore had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and both he and Julian Heckman scored seven points in the third.
"There's guys that have stepped up into leadership roles that haven't done it before or earlier this year," interim coach Shawn Elliott said. "Sean Moore's been stepping up, James Dean and (senior guard) Nick Wallace ... they're all stepping up and showing guys the way."
Irish-Arnett places at state girls event
Senior Peighton Irish-Arnett finished fourth at 111 pounds in the inaugural Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association girls state tournament Feb. 22 and 23 at Hilliard Davidson.
Irish-Arnett pinned Mogadore's Camryn Manley in 2 minutes, 57 seconds in her opening match and was pinned in 1:41 by Parma's Liz Matis in a semifinal. She then pinned Hamilton Badin's Brooke Weisbrodt in 2:45 before being pinned by Bethel-Tate's Trinity Donahue in 2:33 in the third-place match.
Also competing was sophomore Gracie Straughter at 106. She lost her opening match to Casstown Miami East's Lily Bruggeman 8-6, defeated Mount Orab Western Brown's Dakota Propeck 9-3 and Archbold's Logen Bowerman 7-2 but was pinned by Big Walnut's Carli Lang in 4:24 in the fourth round of consolation.
Their performance helped Reynoldsburg place 38th (23) behind champion Miami East (149.5) as 83 teams scored.