Notebook: Olentangy Liberty Patriots boys basketball team looking to make postseason run
The Olentangy Liberty boys basketball team hopes a pair of individual celebrations during the final week of the regular season are a sign of things to come.
With a 64-60 victory over Reynoldsburg on Feb. 13, Greg Nossaman earned the 400th win of his coaching career. It was the 201st of his 13-season tenure with the Patriots.
Then in a 65-51 victory over DeSales that gave Liberty a 16-5 record, Henry Hinkle scored the 1,000th point of his prep career.
Hinkle was a complementary player as a sophomore in 2018-19 when Liberty reached a Division I state semifinal. Last winter, he became the team’s top offensive threat, averaging 18.4 points as the Patriots went 18-7.
A 6-foot senior guard who averages 14.5 points, Hinkle likes where his team stands as it prepares for the Division I district tournament.
“We’ve come along,” he said. “We had a few rough games earlier, but got a little win streak going. I feel like we’re getting some of it back and rallying at the right time for the tournament. We just need to play as ourselves, play for each other and I think we can compete with any team in our bracket. Anything can happen, but as long as we can play with each other, anything can happen.”
The Patriots are seeded fifth for the postseason and open Feb. 26 at home against 35th-seeded Teays Valley or 36th-seeded Dublin Scioto in a second-round game.
If Liberty wins that game, it will play host to eighth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne, 21st-seeded Upper Arlington or 23rd-seeded Walnut Ridge on March 3 in a district semifinal. Should the Patriots advance to a district final March 6, they could face fourth-seeded Thomas Worthington.
Liberty beat the Cardinals 67-61 on Dec. 22, but Thomas earned the higher seed and would get to play the Patriots at home.
Hinkle is part of a senior class that also features Andrew Wade, a 6-6 post player who averages 13.5 points, and forwards Ty Foster and Cam Barcus.
“When we look best is when we’re taking care of the ball,” Wade said. “When we’re taking care of the ball, we’re able to run our sets. Defensively I think we keep getting better.”
Barcus missed three games with injury before returning for limited action against DeSales.
During his absence, junior Trey Majidzadeh proved to be a capable replacement.
“Trey has done a great job giving us a lot of minutes, but that gives us another guy off the bench,” Nossaman said. “It’s going to come down to depth. We play well together and manage the game well.”
•Seeded 14th in the Division I district tournament, the Olentangy boys basketball team will play host to 16th-seeded St. Charles or 43rd-seeded Zanesville in a second-round game Feb. 26.
That is the best seed in coach John Feasel’s five seasons with the Braves, who were 12-9 overall and 6-3 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before finishing the regular season Feb. 18 at Marysville. The winner finished second in the league behind Thomas, and such an achievement would have been a leap forward for the Braves, who tied for fifth place in the six-team OCC-Buckeye last year.
“It was a good draw for us. We’re going to see a competitive team either way. In the district, you’ll play somebody good anywhere,” Feasel said. “About six of our losses are against really good teams. … We’ve competed pretty well, we just came up short because we didn’t score enough points. Defensively, we’re playing really well but we’ve had off nights shooting. We need to be hitting on all cylinders.”
The second-round winner will play sixth-seeded Pickerington Central, 45th-seeded Mifflin or 48th-seeded Columbus West in a district semifinal March 3 at the home of the better seed. District finals are March 6.
•Liberty will be represented in the Division I state boys diving meet Feb. 27 at Branin Natatorium in Canton by freshman Kaden Springfield and junior Anthony Sciulli.
In the district meet Feb. 15 at Jefferson Country Club, Springfield won the championship with 563.65 points and Sciulli was fourth (501.4) as the top seven advanced to state. Sophomore Holden Donahue finished 13th (330) of 28 competitors.
Coach Jen White called Springfield’s performance “remarkable.”
“With this being my freshman year, I didn’t know what to expect,” Springfield said. “It’s always hard competing against my friends and teammates, but I just tried to do my best and was happy with how I dove. (At state) I just need to remember to have fun and do my best.”
Sciulli will be making his second appearance at state after finishing fifth last season.
In the girls district diving meet, sophomore Bella Skoog led Liberty with an 11th-place finish (333.9). Junior Kaitlyn Matthews and sophomore Emma Friedauer also competed.
•Olentangy boys diver Gunnar Carlson fell short of a Division I state berth, finishing 18th (206.8) in the district meet.
His swimming teammates participated in their district meet Feb. 21 at Bowling Green. The top two finishers in each event automatically advanced to state, and 16 at-large berths were awarded in each event based on district times statewide.
The girls meet is Feb. 26 at Branin Natatorium, followed by boys the next day.
•Freshman Augusta Ness will represent Orange in the Division I state girls diving meet.
Ness scored 393.15 at district to earn the fourth of five state berths. Hilliard Darby’s Bailee Sturgill (493.6) won, followed by Gahanna’s Ashleigh Provan (482.65) and New Albany’s Emma Skinner (448.8). Darby’s Keira Porter (373.85) was fifth.
Maddie Muth (31st, 92.65) and Paige Kadar (32nd, 84.25) also competed for the Pioneers.
Orange swimmers competed at district Feb. 21 at Bowling Green.
•The Orange girls wrestling team had four individual champions and captured the team championship Feb. 14 in the Central/Southeast district tournament.
The host Pioneers scored 258.5 points to finish well ahead of runner-up Delaware (156) and third-place Watterson (59) as 27 teams scored.
The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to the state tournament Feb. 20 and 21 at Hilliard Davidson.
Macy Carroll (131 pounds), Ayla Castin (121), Taryn Martin (170) and Talia Mitchell (189) won titles for the Pioneers. Alicia Coleman (137), Noel Frye (150), Lucy Scheibeck (106) and Lexi Simmons (116) were runners-up.
Sara Borton (111, third), Casey Homorody (160, third) and Josephine Nickoloff (126, fourth) also qualified for state.
Emily Duval (101) and Aida Walters (143) placed fifth and were state alternates.
Last season, Martin won the state title at 137, Frye was fourth at 160 and Simmons and Walters were sixth at 105 and 150, respectively.
•Mia Crumb and Aubrey Noeth represented the Berlin girls wrestling team in the state tournament.
Crumb was runner-up at 160 at district, and Noeth finished third at 170.
Last season, Crumb was second at 150 at state.