A net gain of 10 victories and a strong contingent of players expected to return have the Westerville North girls basketball team looking with promise toward the future.
The sixth-seeded Warriors lost to ninth-seeded Reynoldsburg 59-39 on Feb. 26 at Pickerington North in their first appearance in a Division I district semifinal since 2017.
"It was one of those nights," sixth-year coach Lamont Tillman said. "It was kind of weird because I personally was pretty sick, and we came out and had a bad shooting night. Reynoldsburg had something to do with that."
The Raiders defeated third-seeded Westerville South 61-57 in overtime Feb. 29 to earn their second consecutive district championship and ninth in 11 seasons.
"Our kids have gotten better throughout the year and I thought our defensive pressure was a factor early on (against the Warriors)," Reynoldsburg coach Jack Purtell said. "We made some shots. We hit 10 3s, and they didn't shoot the ball very well. They're a very well-coached team."
Freshman guard Kayla Curry-Brown scored 11 points and junior guard Imari Martin added eight to lead the Warriors, who finished 19-6 overall after going 9-14 last season.
"If you would have told me at the end of last season that we would have 19 wins this year, I would have taken it in a heartbeat," Tillman said. "All in all, we had a good season and won some big games. The season didn't end the way we would have liked, but we have a lot to look forward to moving forward."
The Warriors tied Olentangy Liberty for second (7-3) in the OCC-Buckeye Division behind South (9-1). They snapped South's 29-game league winning streak with a 45-43 victory Feb. 7.
Center Sidney Beverly, guard Emylee Preston (honorable mention all-league) and guard Alyssa Wright (honorable mention all-district, first-team all-league) were the team's three seniors.
"Sidney broke a finger early in the season and wasn't able to contribute as much as we would have liked," Tillman said. "Alyssa had the best offensive season of her career and she was our second-leading rebounder. Emylee did all of the little things that don't show up in the stats. She could run all five positions and I could count on her wherever she was on the court."
Martin (honorable mention all-district, second-team all-league) and sophomore forward Charia Smith (honorable mention all-district, first-team all-league) both started for the second consecutive season and are expected to return. Sophomore guard Alison Rothmann played significant minutes, and Curry-Brown also blossomed in the backcourt later in the season.
"We will have eight of the 10 players who dressed in the tournament that are coming back and our rotation was probably eight players, so six of them will be back," Tillman said. "Next year we will only have Imari as the only rotational player who will be a senior. Things should be looking good for the next couple of years."
Szawranskyj vies at state tourney
Melania Szawranskyj competed at 126 pounds in the inaugural state girls wrestling tournament Feb. 22 and 23 at Hilliard Davidson.
The freshman went 3-2 with three pins but did not place in the event.