Columbus Academy Roundup: Vikings boys basketball team showed 'character'

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Columbus Academy's Brady Hess attempts to block a shot by Bexley's Will Cordle earlier this season. Hess led a five-player senior class for the Vikings, who finished 16-8.

Jeff Warstler’s passion for his program runs deep. 

The ninth-year coach guided the Columbus Academy boys basketball team to a 16-8 finish that left him proud and impressed.

“There was so much character with this team,” Warstler said. “I had a blast with this team. This was as fun a group (as I’ve had at Academy). One night the power went out and we stayed in the gym until 10:15, 10:30, just laughing. I told them you have to go. ... I’ll be back next year.” 

Academy was seeded ninth for the Division III district tournament and reached a semifinal, losing at top-seeded Worthington Christian 55-40 on March 2. 

The contest was close for most of the game before the Warriors pulled away in the closing minutes. 

“(Worthington Christian coach Kevin Weakley) knew we were dangerous,” Warstler said. “That’s a hell of a basketball team with a great coach. They deserve it. They were a little better than us (March 2), especially in the second half.” 

The Vikings led for most of the first half before Worthington Christian used a late run to take a 21-20 lead into halftime. 

Senior guard Brady Hess’ 3-pointer midway through the third quarter gave Academy its final lead at 26-24. Hess led the Vikings with 14 points.  

Junior post player Kevin Reeves, who sat out the entire second quarter with two fouls, added eight points. 

“The message in the locker room was reflected on what a great season we had,” Hess said. “We have to be proud of ourselves for how we came out there and performed.” 

Worthington Christian, which finished the regular season as the top-ranked team in the state, also beat Academy 61-56 on Feb. 3 in an MSL-Ohio Division contest. 

“I think they realize we were a tough roadblock in their way,” Hess said. “Moving forward they’re going to be thinking about us and probably improving on that.” 

Reeves averaged 11.5 points and 8.0 rebounds and was first-team all-league. Junior guard Tanner Compton averaged 12.9 points and was second-team all-league, and Hess averaged 8.9 points and 3.0 assists and was honorable mention all-league. 

With no spectators allowed all season for home games, the Vikings traveled for all three postseason contests. 

Academy beat 12th-seeded Northridge 60-56 on Feb. 24 and 10th-seeded Fairbanks 43-30 on Feb. 27. 

The Vikings went 3-5 in the MSL-Ohio to finish fifth behind champion Worthington Christian (8-0). 

“It’s sad to see it end, but we had an excellent season,” Hess said. “Sixteen wins, which is unbelievable, so I’m just happy to be part of a team like that.” 

Others eligible to return are juniors Johnny Hill (guard), Parker Logan (forward), Ryan Panley (guard) and Henry Rubey (guard). 

“Saying goodbye to the (five) seniors is the worst,” Warstler said. “It’s bittersweet, saying goodbye. Look what those guys did – 16 wins. That’s the heart and the chemistry.” 

Mendenhall leads

wrestlers at sectional

Gyvnn Mendenhall led the wrestling team in a 20-team Division III sectional Feb. 27 and 28 at Madison Plains, finishing second at 220 pounds to earn a district berth. 

He lost to Marion Pleasant’s Julien Griffith 6-1 in the final. 

Mendenhall competed at district March 5 and 6 at Coshocton. Joining him was Tiko Bdoyan, who finished third at 152 at sectional. 

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

Ethan Stahl was sixth at 195 at sectional, missing a district berth by two spots.

Academy finished 13th (55) at sectional behind champion Pleasant (220.5). 

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

BOYS BASKETBALL 

Record: 16-8 overall 

MSL-Ohio standings: Worthington Christian (8-0), Whitehall (6-3), Bexley and Buckeye Valley (5-4), Columbus Academy (3-5), Wellington (2-6), Grandview (1-8) 

Seniors lost: Daniel Farber, Sonari Hart, Brady Hess, Jared Kass and Miles Walter 

Key returnees: Tanner Compton, Parker Logan and Kevin Reeves 

Postseason: Defeated Northridge 60-56; def. Fairbanks 43-30; lost to Worthington Christian 55-40 in Division III district semifinal