The Delaware Hayes boys basketball team started the season 0-5 before engineering a second-half turnaround that culminated with its first district final appearance since 2015.
The 18th-seeded Pacers came up short in their district final, losing to 13th-seeded Westerville Central 43-40 on March 7 at Ohio Dominican to finish 15-10 overall.
"It was a great game," first-year coach Adam Vincenzo said. "Westerville Central is a great team, and we feel like we were pretty even. I think if we played them 10 times, we might split 5-5."
Delaware trailed 15-13 after the first quarter, but was outscored 12-2 in the second. The Pacers outscored the Warhawks 20-8 in the third quarter to tie the game at 35.
With 29 seconds left, Central extended its lead to 43-40 with a pair of free throws by Landon Tillman. The Pacers had an opportunity to force overtime, but senior guard Nate Griggs missed a 3-pointer as time expired.
"We had a poor second quarter," Vincenzo said. "They were a little tougher than us, and they really took us out of our offensive actions and our approach. We had some bad turnovers and gave them a lot of second-chance opportunities.
"We really played really hard the whole game. We looked more comfortable in the second half. Unfortunately, we came a play or two short."
Griggs led the Pacers with 11 points, while senior forward Paul Burris and senior guard Addison Harvey both scored 10.
"We were down pretty big at the half," Burris said. "But once we settled in and started playing our own game in the third quarter, we went on a run. I think that was a testament to our confidence. Even when we were down 12 at halftime, we knew we were going to come back. But then in the fourth quarter, they hit a couple more shots than we did."
Delaware went 8-6 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to tie Dublin Scioto for third behind Hilliard Bradley (14-0) and Thomas Worthington (10-4).
Burris and Griggs were named first-team all-league and Harvey was honorable mention all-league.
The Pacers are losing six seniors to graduation, including Burris, Griggs and Harvey.
Among the expected returnees are junior guard Ryan Smudz, freshman forward Jack Rodgers and freshman guard Hezekiah Russell.
"It's just a great group of, not only basketball players, but kids who love to be around each other and love to be around our staff," Vincenzo said of his team. "It was an enjoyable season. We had some downs, but we believed from the get-go."
Six wrestlers to compete at state
A program-record six wrestlers advanced to the Division I state tournament, which was scheduled to be held March 13 through Sunday, March 15, at Ohio State but was suspended until further notice by the OHSAA.
In the district tournament March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby, seniors Tristan Burton (145 pounds, 33-14 before March 13) and Corbin May (170, 42-4) placed second, seniors Emmett Cain (160, 36-10), Nathan Robinson (220, 45-8) and Mason Sutandar (182, 42-4) placed third and junior Clay Ours (195, 41-10) placed fourth, as the top four finishers in each weight class qualified for state.
Also at district, junior Tamas Eder (113, 27-15) went 3-3 and placed sixth and junior Marshall Klingel (heavyweight, 17-25) went 1-2, as Delaware finished second (127.5 points) behind champion Dublin Coffman (174.5) as 40 teams scored.
"That's what I knew we were capable of," coach Kevin Rieman said of his team's district performance. "You never know -- it gets loud in here, the environment is crazy -- (but) these guys are a family and they feed off each other.
"(Going into state) they just need to keep doing what they're doing, compete hard, and we know that if they compete to their potential like they did (at district), anything can happen."
Olentangy Liberty (119) finished third at district, with Scioto (106.5) and Lancaster (102) rounding out the top five.
"We wrestled really well," Robinson said. "It was a team effort."
Girls bowlers cap season at state
The girls bowling team capped its season at the Division I state tournament March 7 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
The Pacers finished 15th (2,809) out of 16 teams in the qualifying round behind first-place Springfield (3,340). The top eight teams advanced to the championship round, where Gahanna won the state title.
"I just hoped for a nice competitive year, and then toward the end of the season, these guys started coming on really well," coach Darin Halstead said of the Pacers' season. "I couldn't have asked for anything more. I never would have even thought we would have made it to state.
"We had a really good season. We were competitive all year long."
Sophomore Hannah Halstead led the Pacers at state, finishing 40th of 103 bowlers with a 523 three-game series.
Also competing in three games were senior McKenzie Cooke (55th, 486), sophomore Grace McIllwain (62nd, 475), freshman Makayla Pounds (63rd, 474) and sophomore Lydia Bendele (75th, 435).
In OCC-Cardinal competition, Halstead and Cooke both earned first-team all-league honors.