Watterson Roundup: Eagles boys basketball team found groove in time for tourney

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Watterson's Sam Intihar defends Hilliard Darby's Jackson Carey earlier this season. Intihar was part of a six-player senior class that helped the Eagles reach a Division II regional final despite being under .500.

By the time the Watterson boys basketball team beat Ready 61-60 on Feb. 5 for its fourth victory, it already had endured seven losses by 10 points or fewer. 

That win over the Silver Knights proved to be the only victory the Eagles earned in CCL action, but it also served as a turning point before Watterson put together one of the best postseason runs in program history. 

Seeded just 13th for the Division II district tournament, Watterson beat fourth-seeded Heath 44-35 on March 6 for its eighth district championship under coach Vince Lombardo and its ninth overall. 

After beating Cincinnati McNicholas 44-35 on March 11 in a regional semifinal at Vandalia Butler, the Eagles’ season ended with a 66-46 loss to Dayton Chaminade Julienne on March 13 at the same site. 

Watterson finished 12-16 overall. 

“We knew all along that we were a capable team,” said senior forward Noah Grayem, who scored 11 points in the regional final. “We just had to put the pieces together, defend and score. We were just able to put it together at the end of the season. 

“All four of my years here were a lot of fun and I learned a lot from the guys before me. I’m just happy to say that I feel like we set a good example for the young guys (that you have to) keep plugging, keep working hard so that they know what it takes to get to this point and maybe keep moving on into the future.” 

The Eagles lose a six-player senior class that featured forward Jake Hoying and guards Noah Gruver and Sam Intihar. Hoying was honorable mention all-district and second-team all-league as the Eagles went 1-7 in the CCL to finish fifth behind champion St. Charles (6-2). 

Senior forward Davis Boone and senior guard Noah Gruver missed nearly the entire season with injuries. 

“Our guys did a great job,” Lombardo said. “The No. 1 takeaway from this season for our kids and our team is the transition from our early season to where we were playing (at the end of the season was (much improved). Obviously we’re very pleased to finish as well as we did.” 

Against Chaminade Julienne, sophomore guard Owen Samenuk made three 3-pointers and scored 17 points.  

Sophomore forward Cole Rhett, who was honorable mention all-district, and junior guard Charlie Lewis also were key contributors. 

Others eligible to return include junior forwards Gilbert Oduro and Sam Schuler, sophomore guard Pete Mangold and sophomore forward Seven Scott. 

“Our seniors really took the wheel and put all of the sophomores and underclassmen under their wing,” Samenuk said. “I just learned from them because this was my first year playing varsity. When I started the year, my confidence wasn’t there, but the seniors kept me going and giving me confidence. I feel like the next year, and even two years, I feel like we’re going to be really good. We have a lot of potential. We’ll be back next year and the year after.” 

Junior Derek Caswell was one of three Division II district qualifiers for the Watterson wrestling team.

Wrestlers continue 

taking steps forward 

In its fourth season back after a two-year hiatus, the wrestling team advanced three competitors to the Division II district tournament and grew in participation numbers. 

The Eagles are hoping for increases in both areas next season, with two of their district qualifiers being eligible to return and their youth program continuing to flourish. 

“I believe that at the rate we’re growing and progressing, we’ll certainly have a shot to become the CCL champion and end next season with even more district qualifiers,” junior Leo Pavell said. “Over the next few years, I think the Watterson wrestling program will be one of the best Division II programs in the state.” 

Pavell placed fourth at 138 pounds in a sectional Feb. 27 and 28 at Licking Valley and then went 0-2 at district March 4-6 at Wilmington to finish 19-7. 

The other district qualifiers were senior Nick Youell (182) and junior Derek Caswell (heavyweight). 

Youell won a sectional title and went 2-2 at district to finish 18-1. Caswell was fourth at sectional and went 1-2 at district to finish 12-6. 

Junior Patrick Randall (220) placed fifth at sectional and finished 16-14. 

Another key senior was Charlie McAdow (195). 

Also competing at sectional were sophomore Mason Hildebrand (170) and freshmen Owen Dorley (160), Luke Hangen (106), Parker Jenkins (126), Landon Purcell (132) and William Short (152). 

Freshman Ronan McGrath (120) is another eligible to return. 

Sophomores Lily Grayem (143), Mercedes Motton (160) and Katy VanDuzen (106) participated in the girls postseason.

Motton went 14-3 and finished fourth in the state tournament Feb. 20 and 21 at Hilliard Davidson, and Grayem went 2-2 at state. Both were district runners-up. 

“We faced a lot of adversity this season and I feel like our wrestlers handled it rather well,” coach Felix Catheline said. “We had two returning varsity letterwinners suffer injuries that kept them out for the season in Mark Sullivan (120/126) and Matthew Johnson (195/220). Overall, I felt like our guys stepped up, especially our freshmen, to fill in those holes. 

“Leo Pavell and Derek Caswell were our other district qualifiers (in addition to Youell) and Patrick Randall was our district alternate. All three are going to be counted on heavily as leaders next season. We had 25 varsity wrestlers overall and we’re bringing in five eighth-graders next season.” 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek 

BOYS BASKETBALL 

•Record: 12-16 overall  

CCL standings: St. Charles (6-2), DeSales (5-3), Hartley and Ready (4-4), Watterson (1-7) 

Seniors lost: Davis Boone, Noah Grayem, Noah Gruver, Jake Hoying, Sam Intihar and Nick Malagreca 

Key returnees: Charlie Lewis, Cole Rhett and Owen Samenuk 

Postseason: Defeated Bexley 47-31, def. Linden-McKinley 59-45, def. Beechcroft 43-39 (2OT), def. Heath 44-35, def. Cincinnati McNicholas 48-41, lost to Dayton Chaminade Julienne 66-46 in Division II regional final 

WRESTLING 

CCL standings: Hartley (3-0), DeSales (2-1), Watterson (1-2), Ready (0-3)  

Seniors lost: Matthew Johnson, Charlie McAdow, Mark Sullivan and Nick Youell 

Key returnees: Derek Caswell, Owen Dorley, Luke Hangen, Mason Hildebrand, Parker Jenkins, Leo Pavell, Landon Purcell, Patrick Randall and William Short 

Postseason: 12th (84) at sectional behind champion Jonathan Alder (196), tied for 37th (7) at district behind champion St. Paris Graham (293)