There were several moments in the Thomas Worthington boys basketball team's Division I district tournament second-round game Feb. 28 when it appeared the seventh-seeded and host Cardinals might be on the receiving end of an upset.
However, their "resilience" -- to use coach Sean Luzader's word -- was on full display.
Trailing 28-25 about midway through the third quarter, the Cardinals responded by outscoring 32nd-seeded Olentangy 18-5 to go up by 10 points. The Braves weren't done, however, putting together a 14-0 run to take a 47-44 lead with less than two minutes left.
Thomas tied the game with less than a minute remaining on a layup by junior forward Tyrese Hughey, but the biggest basket was yet to come. Junior guard Isaac Settles rebounded a missed shot from sophomore guard Cam Beatty and hit a short jumper with 1.2 seconds left to give the Cardinals a 49-47 win and advance them to a district semifinal March 4 against ninth-seeded Olentangy Liberty.
The winner faces fifth-seeded Pickerington North or 16th-seeded Chillicothe in a district final Saturday, March 7, at Ohio Dominican, and the district champion plays in a regional semifinal March 12 at Ohio Dominican.
"That was good for us," said junior point guard Jalen Sullinger, who led the Cardinals with 18 points. "We needed a close game to face some adversity, and I think it's going to be a good experience for us going forward."
Luzader liked how the Cardinals "won a really close game we had let slip away and we fought back."
The game reminded him of the Cardinals' 63-55 loss at Kilbourne to conclude the regular season Feb. 14 and a 43-41 loss at Delaware on Jan. 21.
"You look at the last four possessions (against Olentangy), the resilience was little things that always win games -- rebounding and defense," said Luzader, whose team improved to 24-5.
"We persevered," Sull-inger said. "In the huddle coach was telling us, 'just settle down, we'll be all right.' He gave us two sets to run, we executed it the right way, we got scores, we got stops and that's what put us back on top."
Luzader said he hoped the Cardinals could continue to put forth a similar effort.
"We had a few guys make some plays that don't always have to make a play at the end of a game," Luzader said. "And resilience, it doesn't matter if it's going bad or good or if we fall behind, we know we can come back and overcome, even if it's late."
In addition to hitting the winning shot, Settles scored the second-most points for the Cardinals in the game with nine. Junior guard Maurice Collins added seven.
Hockey team enjoyed success
A strong season for the hockey team ended with a 5-2 loss to ninth-seeded Oxford Talawanda on Feb. 22 in the second round of the district tournament.
The 11th-seeded Cardinals finished 24-12-1-1 overall and 7-7-1-1 in the Capital Hockey Conference-White Division.
"The team's performance was really strong this year," coach Bill McGill said. "The team showed a lot of fortitude and we had a lot of depth, which was awesome. I'm a little disappointed that it ended as abruptly as it did in elimination, but overall (it was) a great success.
"It was a really tight team, no internal strife at all. We had a great, smooth season (with) no injuries, which is tremendous."
The Cardinals will lose four players to graduation in goaltender Jorge Bare and forwards Sam Hartwick, Trevor Law and Will Pischel, the team's leading scorer.
Pischel was first-team all-CHC-White and second-team all-CHC, while Bare was honorable mention all-CHC-White. Both were chosen to play in the senior all-star game March 15.
McGill said replacing those seniors' production and leadership will be a challenge, but there are several players who might be up to the task.
"There are quite a few in the junior class that are going to step up," he said. "The biggest challenge will be replacing the 50 goals that Will Pischel had. But he was able to do that and replace the 50 that (2019 graduate) Nick Schriner had last year, so we'll find someone."
Expected key returnees include junior forwards Sebastian Edvardsen and Evan Kendall, sophomore defenseman Alex Piero, junior defensemen Carter Reinbolt and Carson Smith, sophomore forward Collin Stegemiller, sophomore forward R.J. Stoller and junior defenseman Chance Young.
Piero and Smith were honorable-mention all-CHC-White.
Macerollo leads gymnasts at district
Senior Regan Macerollo led the gymnastics team in the district meet Feb. 22 at Kilbourne, placing 55th in the all-around (31.475) and 67th on uneven bars (7.55).
Junior Macy Patton led the Cardinals on floor exercise, tying for 42nd (8.5), while sophomore Haley Burkett led on vault with a tie for 40th (7.95) and junior Zoe Gertler led on balance beam by finishing 67th (8.05).
The Cardinals finished 17th (124.325) behind state-qualifiers Thornville Sheridan (144.55), Olentangy Berlin (139.275) and Dublin Jerome (138.775).
The Cardinals will lose four gymnasts to graduation. In addition to Burkett, Gertler and Patton, expected returnees include freshman Caroline Ludwig and junior Audrey Maxwell.