Whetstone Roundup: Braves boys basketball coach challenges players to take next step

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
Senior guard Caleb Brigle averaged a team-high 19 points and was second-team all-City League for Whetstone. The Braves finished 2-8 in an abbreviated season.

Whetstone boys basketball coach Dean Washington said in early February that the Braves were in a comparable position to other teams in the City League, trying to find their footing after returning to action only a few weeks earlier. 

This followed the temporary suspension of winter sports by Columbus City Schools because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

The Braves then missed an additional 10 days because of what Washington described as an “illness on the team.”

Despite the setbacks and minimal games played, Washington said the Braves gained experience and are in a position to build heading into next season. 

“We’ve got a nice nucleus coming back,” he said. 

The Braves defeated visiting Centennial 55-50 on Feb. 17 and won 47-44 against visiting KIPP Columbus on Feb. 18 as they finished 2-8 overall. 

Several younger players saw action throughout the shortened season, including sophomore forward/center Patrick Knotsman, freshman forward/guard Shaiman Diawara and freshman centers Joshua Lacey and Joseph Lacey. 

“I think they all gained some experience,” Washington said. “This is a game that you grow from every experience you get, whether you win or lose. Whetstone does not have a strong tradition in terms of their basketball programs ... so we’re trying to change that and help them become more competitive. I think they’re getting that, (but) we still have a ways to go still.” 

Senior guard Caleb Brigle averaged a team-high 19 points and was second-team all-league.

Senior guard Alex Hurd and Diawara were honorable mention all-league. 

Junior guards Qualen Cook, Jasiri Gibson and Micah McGonagle also are among the Braves’ key expected returnees, Washington said. 

“We’re building for the future,” he said. “I’ve sent (the players) little notes challenging them (saying), ‘Hey, if we don’t want to be where we’ve been, what are you doing starting right now to improve and get better?’ And we’ll see if they take it to heart.” 

McClinton advances

to state tournament 

Darric McClinton qualified for the Division I state tournament for the first time by placing second at 145 pounds at district March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby. 

McClinton was pinned by Westerville North’s Connor Euton in 1 minute, 52 seconds in the district final to finish 3-1. 

The senior defeated Olentangy Liberty’s Mark Ceddia 14-7 in his first match, pinned Watkins Memorial’s Gabe Droesch in 2:51 in a quarterfinal and defeated Pickerington North’s David Carte 11-5 in a semifinal. 

The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to state March 13 and 14 at Darby. 

McClinton became the first Whetstone wrestler to qualify for state since Justin Rodriguez at 120 in 2017, according to coach Tom Jones. 

Abdourahman Sallah (182) also competed at district for Whetstone, which finished 23rd (23) behind champion Dublin Coffman (228.5) as 40 teams scored. 

Sallah pinned Westerville North’s Corey Howlett in 1:04 before being pinned in 3:17 by Teays Valley’s Camden McDanel in a quarterfinal. He lost 5-4 to Marysville’s Brady Seger in a consolation match to finish 1-2. 

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