The Gahanna Lincoln boys basketball team's season may have ended earlier than it had hoped, but the Lions are proud of what they accomplished.

The Lions reached a Division I district final for the first time since 2017 when they finished as regional runners-up and won their first outright league championship since 2010.

Top-seeded Gahanna lost to sixth-seeded Walnut Ridge 52-47 in a district final March 7 at Ohio Dominican to finish 24-2 overall. The Lions, who were ranked third in the final state poll behind Cincinnati Moeller and Lakewood St. Edward, had beaten the Scots 53-50 on Dec. 21.

Gahanna won the OCC-Ohio Division title, going 9-1 to finish one game ahead of runner-up Pickerington North (8-2). The Lions split their two league contests against the Panthers, winning 44-42 on Dec. 13 and losing 51-49 on Jan. 24.

"We're proud of our season," coach Tony Staib said. "This group is a true team in the sense of the word. They played like it the whole year and to win the OCC and finish third in the state (poll)... We finished with 201 wins for the decade, which made us the best program (in central Ohio) for the decade."

Staib, who completed his 18th season with the Lions, picked up his 300th career win Dec. 31 with a 55-44 victory over Whitehall and was named district and OCC-Ohio Coach of the Year.

"It's been a while (since we reached a district final) and it means a lot," said senior guard Nate Staib, the coach's son. "It's been our goal since day one, especially with my dad being the coach and it being my senior year. It's a dream come true with my dad being the coach and it being my senior year after watching all the great Gahanna teams growing up."

Staib, who was one of six seniors on the roster, averaged six points. Guards Zane Leitwein and Phillip Pontious, who averaged six and three points, respectively, were other key seniors.

Staib, who has committed to playing for Heidelberg, was named special mention all-league and honorable mention all-district and Leitwein was honorable mention all-league.

Gahanna expects to return its top three scorers, including sophomore guard Sean Jones, who averaged 19 points and was first-team all-district and the league Player of the Year.

Junior forward Maceo Williams averaged 12.5 points and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district and junior wing player Jarius Jones averaged 9.5 points and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.

Sophomore forward Javan Simmons, who joined the program after playing for Hartley as a freshman, averaged 5.5 points, while sophomore guards Eljae Deas and Cameron Johnson were other key contributors who should return.

Others eligible to return include sophomore guards Jordan Green and Brendan Raymond.

Gahanna will remain in the OCC-Ohio next season along with Grove City and Pickerington North, with New Albany, Westerville Central and Westland rounding out the league as part of OCC realignment.

"There's a lot to be proud of this year and a lot of promise in our program for several years to come," coach Staib said.

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