Big Walnut Roundup: Golden Eagles boys basketball team was finding rhythm as season ended
When the Big Walnut boys basketball team’s season ended with a 52-49 loss at 11th-seeded Olentangy Orange in the second round of the Division I district tournament, coach Brett Bartlett experienced a “weird feeling.”
“I did not feel like our season was over; it felt like we were just getting started,” Bartlett said of the tournament defeat Feb. 26. “We finally had all of our guys together healthy and practicing, and that really didn’t happen until the last week of the season. It just didn’t feel like it should be over.”
The Golden Eagles, like other programs, endured COVID-19 quarantines. They also dealt with the absence of senior guard Jared Kreager, the top returning scorer who missed much of the season because of injuries.
In December, the team went 20 days between games because of COVID-19.
But even with the adversity, Big Walnut produced its third consecutive winning season at 11-9 overall. It finished fourth (7-5) in the OCC-Capital Division as Worthington Kilbourne (12-2) and Westerville South (8-2) shared the title.
Big Walnut, seeded 26th in the tournament, won four of its final six contests, including a 49-47 victory over 42nd-seeded Logan on Feb. 23.
“I think our guys handled the adversity pretty well,” Bartlett said. “We made the most of the opportunities to get into the gym and compete. I also know we weren’t the only team going through it.”
By the end of the season, seniors Kreager, Jagger Barnett (guard), Caleb Conard (forward), Troy Musser (guard) and Owen Wilhelm (forward) were in the starting lineup.
Conard, a first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district selection, was Big Walnut’s leading scorer, averaging 13.1 points.
Barnett (honorable mention all-league) averaged 11.2 points, and Kreager (special mention all-league) averaged 10.2 points in eight games.
Juniors Carter Imertreijs (forward) and Ryan Tripp (guard) and freshman forward Garrett Stover are expected to be among the top returnees.
Tripp averaged 8.8 points and Imertreijs and Stover each averaged 5.5.
fifth at district
Competing at 113 pounds, Andrew Parker led five Big Walnut wrestlers by placing fifth in the Division I district tournament March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.
The junior was an alternate for the state tournament March 13 and 14 at Darby.
At district, the top four finishers in each weight class advanced to state.
Parker (27-5 overall) went 4-2 at district, defeating Westerville South’s David Javier-Ozuna 6-0 in the fifth-place match.
To get there, Parker pinned Orange’s Dominic Lee (2 minutes, 53 seconds) in a second consolation match and defeated Newark’s Jibreel Smith 5-2 in the third consolation round before losing to Upper Arlington’s Jake Thomas 7-0 in a consolation semifinal.
Christian Takatch (26-7, 195) finished 2-2 after being pinned by Marysville’s Ben Bickerstaff at 4:22 in a third consolation match.
Vince Giordano (25-7, 126), Lawrence O’Malley (25-8, 152) and Wyatt Lenz (26-6,170) all went 0-2.
The Golden Eagles tied Newark for 26th (18 points) behind champion Dublin Coffman (228.5) as 40 teams scored.
•Record: 11-9 overall
•OCC-Capital standings: Worthington Kilbourne (12-2), Westerville South (8-2), Canal Winchester (8-5), Big Walnut (7-5), Westerville North (6-7), Delaware (3-7), Dublin Scioto (2-8), Franklin Heights (2-12)
•Seniors lost: Jagger Barnett, Caleb Conard, Jared Kreager, Jarett Moore, Troy Musser and Owen Wilhelm
•Key returnees: Carter Imertreijs, Garrett Stover and Ryan Tripp
•Postseason: Defeated Logan 49-47; lost to Olentangy Orange 52-49 in second round of Division I district tournament