Notebook: Hilliard Bradley Jaguars boys basketball team put together another postseason run

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Bradley's Cade Norris puts up a shot against Westerville Central's Brad Leonard (left) and Landon Tillman during a Division I regional semifinal March 11 at Westerville South. The Jaguars lost 56-44 to finish 18-5.

There’s never a good time for a season to end at the regional level, and the emotion was evident on the face of Hilliard Bradley boys basketball coach Brett Norris.

His team had been pushed to the limit by an aggressive Westerville Central defense, sending the Jaguars to a 56-44 loss March 11 in a regional semifinal at Westerville South.

Bradley finished 18-5 overall with a roster featuring only two starters from the 2020 team that had its postseason run halted by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The Jaguars defeated Walnut Ridge 59-32 in a regional semifinal before the remainder of the postseason was canceled.

Senior point guard Keaton Norris and senior forward A.J. Mirgon returned but junior forward Tayshaun Mayfield was lost to a knee injury, leaving coach Norris looking to fill the openings with freshmen and former j.v. players.

“I think the vast majority of the people probably wouldn’t have thought we would be here with all that we lost and Tayshaun’s injury,” coach Norris said. “That’s a testament to our kids and our program.”

Against the Warhawks, Bradley could not get into any offensive flow. That was the game plan, according to Central coach Kevin Martin.

“We had a good idea of what they were going to do and we wanted to do what we could to stop it,” Martin said. “We didn’t want to give them open looks. We didn’t want them to get the catch-and-shoot (3-pointers) that are a big part of their offense.”

Coach Norris said the Jaguars were taken out of their game.

“Playing from behind the entire second half, we’re just not built that way,” he said. “We were just chasing them. Every time we thought we were one stop and a score away from at least getting them to tighten up a little bit, but we just couldn’t string anything together.”

Keaton Norris led Bradley with 19 points. Freshman forward Cade Norris had 12 and junior forward Peyton Murphy added seven.

The Jaguars won their fifth consecutive league championship by going 8-2 in the OCC-Central Division. Keaton Norris (first-team all-district, league Player of the Year) led Bradley in scoring (17.8 points per game), assists (4.0) and 3-point percentage (55-for-125, 44.0 percent). The Wright State recruit also averaged 5.9 rebounds.

Mirgon (honorable mention all-district, first-team all-league) averaged 12.2 points and 3.3 rebounds. Guard Tison Alexander and forward Charlie DeLuca were the other seniors.

“It’s such an interesting group in terms of their stories,” coach Norris said. “Charlie and Tison are so rare. They played (junior varsity) as juniors, and most kids if they were still at the j.v. at that time then they are out the door. They are selfless and willing to make it all about the team. To hang in there and then to be such key contributors on a championship team is just so reflective of their character.

“A.J. and Keaton have meant just so much to the program, and they have been in the middle of so many victories. In a hard-working, quiet, first-class way, they have represented the program in the best way.”

The Jaguars expect to return two starters, three if Mayfield is included. Murphy (honorable mention all-league) averaged 4.4 points and 4.2 rebounds, and Cade Norris (honorable mention all-district, second-team all-league) averaged 12.9 points and a team-high 6.0 rebounds.

Freshman guard Jeb Bischoff also started some games, averaging 5.8 points and shooting 35-for-101 on 3s (34.7 percent).

“As we get away from this (regional semifinal loss), hopefully we have built a program that’s lasting,” coach Norris said. “Hopefully we have done that. We were able to get some young kids some experience, but we just have to get back to it and have a great offseason.”

Darby freshman Abby Killilea competes on uneven bars during the state gymnastics meet March 6 at Bradley.

•The Darby gymnastics team’s season featured several highlights, including junior Anne Hassay and freshman Abby Killilea competing in the individual state meet March 6 at Bradley. 

Hassay tied for 14th on floor exercise (9.175) and Killilea tied for 28th on uneven bars (8.375). 

“It is always exciting to have qualifiers for the state meet,” coach Carol Eskay said. “Darby had a strong team this year with a lot of depth – and despite the rollercoaster of COVID – they finished really strong with that being evident by having two state qualifiers.” 

Darby just missed earning a state berth in the team competition, finishing fourth (138.1) in the district meet Feb. 27 at Worthington Kilbourne behind co-champions Dublin Jerome and Olentangy Berlin (141.125) and third-place Thornville Sheridan (139.875). 

The top three teams advanced to state March 5 at Bradley. 

“In other years, Darby’s team score would have easily qualified them for the state meet as well,” Eskay said. “It just speaks to the overall quality of the programs here in central Ohio and how they are all developing in a good way.” 

Hassay (ninth, 35.5) and Killilea (16th, 34.075) led the team at district in the all-around. 

Senior Laurel Bonn finished 25th (33.6) in the all-around.  

The Panthers finished second (20 points, 5-1) in the OCC-Cardinal behind Berlin (28, 6-0). 

—Frank DiRenna

•The Davidson gymnastics team’s season concluded at district with a 13th-place finish (season-high 127.225). 

Senior Megan McCabe finished 28th in the all-around (33.15) to lead the Wildcats. 

Hope Tageson, the other senior in the program, finished 36th (32.65). 

Junior Gracie Bryner (56th, 31.35) and freshmen Maya McDounough (tied for 78th, 29.9) and Kehlin Morgan (94th, 28.0) also competed in the all-around at district. 

Davidson finished third (20, 4-2) in the OCC-Capital behind co-champions Olentangy Liberty (26, 6-0) and Kilbourne (26, 5-1). 

“I am so proud of Davidson this season,” Eskay said. “Their team was small – seven total gymnasts – but they worked so hard to make huge improvements over the season. One area that really improved was (balance) beam. For the first half of the season, we just had a ton of falls on beam, but by the end they had gotten so much more consistent.” 

—Frank DiRenna

•The Bradley gymnastics team ended its season by finishing ninth (131.95) at district. 

Freshman Lilly Gibbs led the Jaguars by placing 15th in the all-around (34.1). She was 10th on  floor (8.9) and 14th on bars (8.625).

Sophomore Averey Jervis was 24th in the all-around (33.7), led by her 11th-place performance on bars (8.7). She tied for 33rd on beam (8.5).

Senior Gabi Graff tied for 43rd in the all-around (31.9). She tied for 27th on floor (8.6) and tied for 30th on vault (8.3).

Bradley (3-2) and Upper Arlington (4-1) both finished with 18 points in the OCC-Central, behind Dublin Coffman (24, 4-0).

The Jaguars were runners-up (133.375) to Coffman (137.275) in the league meet Feb. 20 at Thomas Worthington. Gibbs was third in the all-around (34.25), Jervis was sixth (33.35) and Graff was seventh (33.325).

—Scott Hennen

sports@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSports

BRADLEY BOYS BASKETBALL

Record: 18-5 overall

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

Seniors lost: Tison Alexander, Charlie DeLuca, A.J. Mirgon and Keaton Norris

Key returnees: Jeb Bischoff, Tayshaun Mayfield, Peyton Murphy and Cade Norris

Postseason: Defeated Marion Harding 62-16; def. Westerville South 41-37; def. Pickerington Central 46-37; lost to Westerville Central 56-44 in Division I regional semifinal

BRADLEY GYMNASTICS

OCC-Central standings: Coffman (24, 4-0), UA (18, 4-1), Bradley (18, 3-2), Orange (12, 2-2), Grove City (8, 1-4), Westerville Central (4, 0-5)

Seniors lost: Gabi Graff, Paige Hamilton and Alice McAnespie

Key returnees: Lilly Gibbs and Averey Jervis

Postseason: Finished ninth (131.95) at district behind co-champions Dublin Jerome and Olentangy Berlin (141.125)

DARBY GYMNASTICS 

OCC-Cardinal standings: Berlin (28, 6-0), Darby (24, 5-1), Jerome (20, 4-2), Olentangy (16, 3-3), Thomas Worthington (10, 2-4), Marysville (10, 1-5), Central Crossing (4, 0-5) 

Seniors lost: Laurel Bonn, Madison Brokaw, Michaela Hamet, Jenna Hartwell, Kate Kline and Bailey Miller 

Key returnees: Annamarie Bayer, Anne Hassay and Abby Killilea 

Postseason: Fourth (138.1) at district behind co-champions Jerome and Berlin (141.125) 

DAVIDSON GYMNASTICS 

OCC-Capital standings: Liberty (26, 6-0), Worthington Kilbourne (26, 5-1), Davidson (20, 4-2), Lancaster (16, 3-3), Dublin Scioto (12, 2-4), Delaware (8, 1-5), Big Walnut (4, 0-6) 

Seniors lost: Megan McCabe and Hope Tageson 

Key returnees: Gracie Bryner, Maya McDounough and Kahlin Morgan 

Postseason: 13th (127.225) at district behind co-champions Jerome and Berlin (141.125)