The Reynoldsburg boys basketball team backed up its belief that it could upset one of the area’s top squads by building a 10-point lead and having a chance to win on the final possession of a Division I district semifinal.
In the end, things didn’t pan out for the 17th-seeded Raiders, but interim coach Shawn Elliott found little to take issue with after a 59-57 loss to sixth-seeded Walnut Ridge on March 4 at Pickerington North.
Reynoldsburg led 17-7 after one quarter before the Scots put themselves in position for a tight finish. The Raiders, who were looking to make a third consecutive trip to a district final, held Walnut Ridge’s VonCameron Davis, the district’s Player of the Year, to 17 points – 10 below is average – but Leon Douglas made a 3-pointer with 21.8 seconds left for a two-point lead.
Reynoldsburg junior guard Zaveon Croff’s 3-point attempt from the corner with 3 seconds to play went off the back of the rim and the clock ran out before the Raiders could come up with the loose ball.
“Coming into this game, we had a chip on our shoulder,” said Elliott, whose team finished 14-11 overall. “We felt a little disrespected and no one gave us a chance in this game. Our guys fought so hard and so tough. It was a good pass and (Croff) had a good look.”
It was the fifth game for the Raiders under Elliott, who took over Feb. 5 after eighth-year coach Scott Davis was placed on administrative leave for an incident that took place the night before during a 60-59 win at Central Crossing. Davis later resigned.
Reynoldsburg went 3-2 under Elliott, who had been serving as the junior varsity coach and as a varsity assistant.
The Raiders, who placed fourth in the OCC-Ohio Division at 3-7, would have gotten another shot at league-champion Gahanna (9-1) if they would have beaten Walnut Ridge.
Reynoldsburg loses a five-member senior class that was led by forward Sean Moore (14 ppg) and guards James Dean (10 ppg) and Nick Wallace (6.5 ppg). Moore was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
The team’s other second-team all-league honoree was sophomore guard Cooper Davis, who averaged 11 points and also was honorable mention all-district.
Sophomore guard Julian Heckman, who was honorable mention all-league, scored 21 points against Walnut Ridge and averaged nine.
Croff averaged 6.5 points and senior guard J.B. Goodwin averaged three.
Sophomore guard Javon Waters and freshman guard Jabari Mitchell also were contributors.
Others eligible to return include sophomore guards Bryden Burnett and Martize Powell.
“We played better than everybody thought (against Walnut Ridge),” Heckman said. “We’ve been fighting hard, going through a lot this season and keep pushing through. My mindset next year is to have a senior mindset and lead the team.”
Ratliff to wrestle at state tourney
The wrestling team has its first state qualifier since James Love made it in 2014 after senior Noah Ratliff finished third at 152 pounds in the Division I district tournament March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.
The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to the state tournament Friday, March 13, through Sunday, March 15, at Ohio State.
Ratliff won his first two matches before losing to Marysville’s Shaun Will 9-7 in a semifinal. He then pinned Pickerington Central’s Marcus Zullo in 2:13 and Hilliard Davidson’s Dez Gartrell in 3:05 to enter state at 45-7.
“I’m feeling good,” Ratliff said. “A lot of great goals were accomplished today. My main goal was to get on the podium this year. The biggest thing is definitely going to be working on being patient.”
Freshman Logan Smalley entered the district tournament as a No. 1 seed and with a 30-5 record, but he defaulted because of injury.
Senior Luke Goeschl (126) went 1-2 to finish 37-12 and junior Dalton Hall (heavyweight) went 0-2 to finish 22-16.
Reynoldsburg tied for 24th (21) behind champion Dublin Coffman (174.5) as 40 teams scored.
Girls basketball team to return deep group
For senior guard Kyria Walker, it made sense that the girls basketball team overcame its deficiencies to reach the Division I regional tournament for the ninth time in 11 seasons.
“We’re all individually special,” Walker said. “No one expects us because we’re not big, but we know how to work around us not being big.”
The Raiders were the ninth seed for the district tournament but upset third-seeded Westerville South 61-57 in a district final Feb. 29 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
Then on March 3, Reynoldsburg lost to Pickerington Central 62-56 in a regional semifinal at Otterbein to finish 19-8 overall.
The Raiders placed third (6-4) in the OCC-Ohio behind co-champions Central and Gahanna (9-1). They lost to Central 68-33 on Dec. 20 and 53-46 on Jan. 31, but were within a basket in the final two minutes of the tournament loss.
“I was proud of the way our kids fought and scrapped and clawed,” coach Jack Purtell said. “The future’s bright for these kids.”
Walker, who averaged 14.5 points and was first-team all-league and second-team all-district, and guard Malaysia Miller (honorable mention all-league) were key seniors.
Walker finished with 989 career points.
Sophomore guard Mya Perry was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district after averaging 14 points.
Sophomore guard Makiya Miller averaged 12 points and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Junior guard Cassidy Collins, sophomore guard Jamiona Ross and freshman wing player Sam Savoy also were key contributors.
Others eligible to return include junior guard Taylor Starks, freshman forward Taryn Cornett and freshman guard Zai Smith.
Bowling teams losing strong seniors
The boys and girls bowling teams both featured strong senior classes this winter.
Following a regular season in which they went 13-1 overall, won the COHSBC-B at 11-1 and shared the OCC-Central title with Gahanna at 5-1, the boys won the sectional championship (3,991) on Feb. 21 at HP Lanes.
Then at district Feb. 29 at HP Lanes, the boys placed eighth (3,545) as senior Logan Jeffers led with a 554 three-game series. All of the Raiders’ other competitors in regulation at district – Cameron Brosious, Owen Chisley, Logan Gapen and David Robinson – were seniors.
Gapen and Jeffers were first-team all-OCC-Central. Chisley made the second team and Brosious was on the third team.
“I felt the season was extremely successful,” coach Jamie Gapen said.
“I will miss the determination (the senior boys) have had the past few years and how much time they put in on the lanes and the show of respect for each and every team they faced. I’m so very proud of this team.”
Jeffers averaged 208.0 in COHSBC matches to finish fifth overall, while Logan Gapen finished 12th (201.2) and Chisley finished 17th (196.4).
Juniors Mark Drake, Terrell Jackson and Cris Weatherly and freshmen Caleb Defenbaugh and Alijah Walker should be among the top returnees.
The girls team is losing its top two in average in seniors Kimmee Shook (138.3) and Kay Hetterscheidt (134.4). Both were third-team all-OCC-Central.
Juniors Jenan Alkhatib, Dipisha Kekhatri and Katie Morgan and sophomore Lizzy Folk also competed.
“All the girls did very well this season and matured a lot,” coach Jeff Morgan said.
“They fought hard this year, giving 100 percent every time during win or loss. Katie is the only bowler to return (who will be in her fourth year) next season. We’ll have to rebuild more for next season.”