A perfect example of one area in which the Ready boys basketball team must improve took place March 3 during a 56-47 loss to Johnstown in a Division III district semifinal at Westerville Central.
The fourth-seeded Silver Knights, according to coach Tony Bisutti, were "outphysicaled" by a seventh-seeded Johnnies team that advanced to its third consecutive district final.
"We forced some turnovers and got out in transition a little bit, but they were just way more physical than us," Bisutti said. "Their physicality was the difference in the game and that's how the game goes when you get to this level. To their credit they played it to their advantage and were strong with the ball. They outplayed us and they were definitely the better team tonight."
Ready, which finished 16-7 overall while Johnstown was 18-7 heading into its district final March 6 against third-seeded North Union, trailed 25-18 at halftime and fell behind by as much as 13 points.
In the fourth quarter, however, the Knights closed to 44-40 with 4 minutes, 45 seconds remaining. After the Johnnies pushed the lead back to seven, junior guard Darius Parham hit a 3-pointer with 1:58 left to cut it to 48-44, but Ready got no closer.
Johnstown made 11 free throws in the final period.
"Physicality is an issue with us," Bisutti said. "We've got some young kids that have to grow into their bodies a little bit."
The upside to the situation is Ready won five more games than last season and had a chance to earn a share of the league title heading into the final night of CCL action Feb. 14. It lost to St. Charles 84-68 that night to finish third (5-3) behind the Cardinals (7-1) and DeSales (6-2).
Ready beat 19th-seeded Northridge 64-23 on Feb. 28 in a second-round game as Parham scored 18 points.
"We all knew last year wasn't what we wanted so we worked hard and played as a team every game," senior guard Brock Baker said. "Being the only senior, the same team is going to be coming back next year and they're going to go really far. We always were close and communicated."
Parham averaged 18 points, was first-team all-district and was joined on the all-CCL first team by Baker, who averaged 10 points and made third-team all-district.
Junior forward P.J. Daniels averaged 10 points and was second-team all-league, junior guard Garrison Budd averaged nine points and was honorable mention all-district and junior guard Azzan Daniels averaged six points.
Junior wing player Kyle Gramlich, junior guard Keenan Johnston and freshman post player Kaleb Schaffer also were key contributors.
Others eligible to return include juniors Cael Dent (post player) and Andy Schulze (guard), sophomores Austin Burgoon (forward) and Troy Hixson (guard) and freshmen Charlie Russell (wing player) and Luke Ruth (guard).
"We had a lot of adversity, unspeakable things to fight through and they were a resilient bunch to be around," Bisutti said. "I'm disappointed, obviously, but I'm encouraged. We had one senior and we're going to miss him dearly, but we'll try to get better and reach our goals.
"(Parham) was first-team all-district and did so much for us on both ends of the court. Another thing next year is that we'll be deeper. We spent a lot of the season trying to develop a bench. We had some injuries and some guys we tried to bring along, but didn't quite get it to where we had hoped. I look for that to improve also. "
Wrestlers compete at district tourney
The wrestling team had three competitors in the Division III district tournament March 6 and 7 at Heath.
The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to the state tournament Friday, March 13, through Sunday, March 15, at Ohio State.
Competing at district were junior Aiden Aiello (132 pounds), sophomore Paul Martello (145) and senior Jacob Robinson (220).
On Feb. 28 and 29 in a sectional at Morral Ridgedale, the Knights finished eighth (77) behind champion Marion Pleasant (226) as 21 teams scored. Aiello finished second and Martello and Robinson both were third.
Also at sectional, Cameron Jones (126) finished sixth, Brian Fitzsimmons (160) went 1-2 and Noah Hamilton (138), Jerad Koboi (182), Zac McAndrew (152) and Dylan Melrose (heavyweight) all went 0-2.