Normally, finishing the season with a victory means winning a state championship, but that wasn't the case for the Hilliard Bradley boys basketball team this year.
The Jaguars won their final contest, defeating Walnut Ridge 59-32 in a Division I regional semifinal March 11 at Ohio Dominican.
However, two days before Bradley was to play Thomas Worthington or Westerville Central in a regional final March 14 at the same venue, the OHSAA indefinitely postponed the remainder of the postseason because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Then on March 26, the OHSAA canceled the remainder of the postseason, leaving the Jaguars with a sense of unfinished business.
"I thought our kids were right there," said coach Brett Norris, who completed his sixth season leading the program. "We played our best game (in the regional semifinal), so I guess that's good, but we hoped for more."
Bradley, which won its final nine games and 16 of its last 17, finished 25-2 overall. The Jaguars, who were ranked fifth in the final state poll, averaged 53.9 points per game and allowed an average of just 38.5, holding opponents under 35 points 11 times.
Seeded second in the district tournament, Bradley defeated eighth-seeded Newark 60-50 on March 7 to win its second district championship in three seasons.
Norris credited the team's two seniors, guard Matt Allocco and forward Chris Mayfield, for setting the tone.
Allocco, a four-year starter and Princeton recruit, led the Jaguars in scoring (17.7 points), rebounds (6.0), assists (3.8), 3-point percentage (40.5) and free-throw percentage (87.3) this season and was named first-team all-state and all-district as well as OCC-Cardinal Division Player of the Year.
Mayfield, who mostly came off the bench this winter after rehabbing an offseason knee injury, averaged 5.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists and was special mention all-league. A starter the past three seasons, he has committed to play football at Michigan State.
During the careers of Allocco and Mayfield, Bradley went 96-8 with two district championships and four OCC-Cardinal titles. The Jaguars went 14-0 in the league this season, finishing four games ahead of runner-up Thomas.
"You can't get better than those guys," said Norris, who was named league Coach of the Year. "Their record in their four years speaks for itself.
"As young men, it's amazing the way they conducted themselves in camps and had an impact on both young kids and their peers. They meant an awful lot to everything we have done as a program."
Junior forward A.J. Mirgon, who averaged 10.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists, said the duo left a lasting impression on him.
"They have always been teaching me things since I was in middle school," Mirgon said. "It comes down to hard work and dedication. They have been doing that over the years and it's paid off."
Mirgon (honorable mention all-district, second-team all-league) is one of four starters expected to return next season. The others are junior guard Keaton Norris and sophomore forwards Tayshaun Mayfield and Peyton Murphy.
Norris averaged 11.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists and was honorable mention all-district and first-team all-league, Mayfield averaged 6.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and a team-high 2.5 blocks and was honorable mention all-district and second-team all-league and Murphy averaged 2.1 points and 2.1 rebounds and was honorable mention all-league.
"We have some experience coming back, but it's hard to turn the page right now," coach Norris said.
Season ends abruptly for wrestler DeMoss
Senior Kyle DeMoss of the wrestling team qualified for the Division I state tournament at 170 pounds.
However, the state tournament, which was to be held March 13-15 at Ohio State, was postponed indefinitely March 12 and ultimately canceled March 26 by the OHSAA because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"I couldn't feel better that Kyle qualified for state," said coach John Riggs, who completed his 11th season leading the program. "He worked so hard in his four years at Bradley and he has his eyes on competing at the college level. I couldn't feel better for him qualifying for state, and I couldn't feel worse about (the state tournament being canceled)."
DeMoss went 4-2 in the district tournament held March 6 and 7 at Darby and finished 44-12 overall.
Also competing at district were seniors Alex Schmidt (145) and Wade Troutman (195), junior Deacon Sawchuk (132), sophomore Julien Kleiv (106) and freshmen Caden Ellison (120), Saimir Refatllari (220) and Robert Snyder (heavyweight).
Schmidt went 2-3 and placed sixth at district and finished 40-13 overall.
The Jaguars finished third (5-2) in the OCC-Cardinal behind Delaware (7-0) and Darby (6-1).
Sawchuk (138) was first-team all-league at 138, while Schmidt was second-team all-league and DeMoss, Kleiv, Ellison and senior Mason Wood (152) were third-team all-league.
"Our kids competed well throughout the year," Riggs said. "We finished 8-3 in dual meets and 5-2 in the league, won a tournament championship at (Rayland) Buckeye Local (on Feb. 1) and were runners-up to open the season in the Olentangy Invitational (on Dec. 7).
"We had our challenges, but we did take eight qualifiers to district and had two placers. I was happy with the way the kids competed. We kept meeting challenges throughout the season, and that's important for any successful team. We kept moving forward."