Boys Basketball: Hilliard Bradley Jaguars repeat as district champions

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Jeb Bischoff (14), Cade Norris (5) and Peyton Murphy (15) celebrate Bradley's 46-37 win over visiting Pickerington Central in a Division I district final March 6. The Jaguars won their second consecutive district title and third in four seasons.

Coach Brett Norris had a message for his Hilliard Bradley boys basketball players as they were seated in the hallway outside the team’s locker room: “We’re back."

The third-seeded Jaguars had just defeated sixth-seeded Pickerington Central 46-37 on March 6 in their final home game of the season. Most importantly, they won their second consecutive Division I district championship and third in four seasons.

“We’re back,” Norris said. “We’re back to where we were last year. This time we want to finish that.”

Last season, Bradley defeated Walnut Ridge 59-32 in a regional semifinal before the remainder of the postseason was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

“(Winning a district title) is expected around here by now,” said senior point guard Keaton Norris, who scored 13 points against Central. “We win. That’s what’s expected from all of us.

“Just being able to get it done for the guys who graduated last year. With it being taken away from them and us and now being able to get it done, not for us but them, is just awesome.”

The Jaguars lost to Westerville Central 56-44 in a regional semifinal March 11 at Westerville South to finish 18-5. Keaton Norris led with 19 points, freshman forward Cade Norris had 12 and junior forward Peyton Murphy added seven.

Senior forward A.J. Mirgon, who had 10 points in the district final, said the sting of last season’s abrupt end had yet to diminish.

“It’s something no one wants to go through or experience,” he said. “It was tough with the fact that it happened to a team that we thought was going all the way, and I think we would have. It feels great to be back there, and I’m super glad to be able to be able to compete at that level again.”

Cade Norris also scored 13 points in the district final, and Murphy added eight. Murphy was a starting linebacker on the football team, which lost to Pickerington Central 34-7 in a Division I, Region 3 semifinal last fall.

“We lost to them in football so it felt good to be able to get revenge in basketball,” Murphy said. “We came into this game wanting to out-physical and out-tough them.”

Keaton Norris scored 24 points and Cade Norris added 10 as Bradley defeated 12th-seeded South 41-37 in a district semifinal March 3 at home.

Following the district final, coach Norris watched his players cut down portions of the net. Before heading to the ladder to take his turn, he said winning district championships never gets old.

“It’s a different group of kids — a different team — and to be able to enjoy moments like this is priceless,” he said.

The pandemic led to the higher-seeded team getting to play host to the district final, which usually is played at a neutral site.

“The fact that this was our final game here on our home court and that we won a district championship means everything,” Mirgon said.

Junior guard Jared Frey averaged a team-high 14.9 points for Davidson. He was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.

•Coming off a 4-19 season, Davidson went 10-9 overall and 5-5 in the OCC-Central Division this winter.

Coach Tim Congrove, however, believes there is still room for improvement. 

“We had expectations to still be playing,” he said. “It was hard having no offseason. We got some new guys this year and learning to play with one another and learning what we are asking as a program with no offseason doesn’t help. We got a lot better from the beginning of the year to where we were and how we were playing at the end of the year.” 

Junior guard Jared Frey, a transfer from St. Charles, averaged a team-high 14.9 points and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. 

Junior forward Jayden Nervis, a transfer from Moravian Prep in Hudson, North Carolina, averaged 14.6 points and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. 

Junior guard Ryan Paris averaged 11.5 points and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. 

Senior guard Jayden Humphrey was honorable mention all-league. 

Others eligible to return are juniors Daniel Neidert (guard), Ethan Ruhe (forward) and Jonathan Weir (guard) and sophomore Peyton Frey (forward). 

Seniors Jack Fantin (forward, wrist) and Jack Simon (center, knee) missed the season with injuries. 

Seeded 25th in the Division I district tournament, Davidson lost at second-seeded Westerville Central 44-39 on March 3 in a semifinal.

—Frank DiRenna 

•With no seniors in the program, the future looks bright for Darby, which finished 7-15 overall and 4-6 in the OCC-Cardinal. 

“We’re not happy,” coach Chris Maul said. “Although we were 5-8 at one point, we felt like we were competitive and we were in every game and then we had some injuries pile up. The last six out of seven games, we really struggled on both ends of the floor. Especially on the defensive side, you have to be able to play defense.” 

Sophomore forward Cam Gilkerson averaged 10.2 points and a team-high 5.3 rebounds. He was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, but missed time late in the season with a knee injury. 

Junior guards Gio Roberts and Matt Sech both averaged 11 points and were second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. 

Junior guard Blake Horvath was honorable mention all-league. 

Others eligible to return are juniors Jake Baird (forward), Jackson Carey (guard), Nate Ruland (guard) and Alex Smith (forward) and sophomores Ben Marsh (forward) and Javi Quimba (guard). 

Quimba missed the second half of the season with a hamstring injury. 

—Frank DiRenna

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DARBY 

Record: 7-15 overall 

OCC-Cardinal standings: Thomas Worthington (10-0), Marysville (7-3), Olentangy (6-4), Darby (4-6), Dublin Jerome (3-7), Olentangy Berlin (0-10) 

Seniors lost: None 

Key returnees: Cam Gilkerson, Gio Roberts and Javi Quimba 

Postseason: Lost to Berlin 48-45 in first round of Division I district tournament 

DAVIDSON 

Record: 10-9 overall 

OCC-Central standings: Bradley (8-2), Olentangy Liberty (7-3), Davidson and Dublin Coffman (5-5), Olentangy Orange (4-6), Upper Arlington (1-9) 

Seniors lost: Jack Fantin, Jayden Humphrey and Jack Simon 

Key returnees: Jared Frey, Peyton Frey, Jayden Nervis and Ryan Paris 

Postseason: Defeated Licking Heights 76-55; def. Whitehall 59-48; lost to Westerville Central 44-39 in Division I district semifinal