Notebook: Westerville North Warriors boys basketball team sets tone for next season

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Caleb Iheukwu, a 6-foot-5 junior guard/forward, was honorable mention all-league for North after averaging 10.5 points and a team-leading 5.0 rebounds.

Eighth-year coach Shan Trusley and his Westerville North boys basketball team did not have any semblance of normalcy this season.

The Warriors had two in-season COVID-19 coronavirus quarantines, plus a delayed start in late December because of the pandemic.

North played seven games in a 13-day stretch at the end of the season, finishing 10-11 overall with a 52-37 loss at 12th-seeded Westerville South on Feb. 26 in the second round of the Division I district tournament. The Warriors were the 22nd seed.

“We played a lot of basketball this year, and it’s a good foundation heading into next season,” said Trusley, whose team finished fifth (6-7) in the OCC-Capital Division. "Hopefully things will return to some sense of normalcy next year. We didn’t get a regular offseason. We had no spring, just a little bit of summer and barely a bit of fall.

“During the season we missed two months because we were held out eight weeks from Oct. 30 until now. It’s a credit to the kids, and I’m excited to see what we can do when we get that time back.”

The Warriors had three seniors led by guard/forward Cam Ledford (honorable mention all-district, first-team all-league), who averaged a team-high 11.2 points and added 4.8 rebounds per game.

"I thought our senior class did a beautiful job of modeling for what it takes to be a winning high school basketball program,” Trusley said. “Our kids learned a lot from them this year.”

Junior point guard Noah Lawrence (honorable mention all-district, second-team all-league) is expected back to run the offense after averaging 9.6 points and 2.6 assists. Junior 6-foot-5 guard/forward Caleb Iheukwu (honorable mention all-league) averaged 10.5 points and a team-leading 5.0 rebounds.

Sophomore guard/forwards Semaj Council (5.9 points) and Carter Reese (6.2 points, 2.1 assists) also are expected back along with junior guard/forward Andrew Scurlock (4.5 points, 1.3 steals).

“The kids continued to get better as the season went along despite everything that happened,” Trusley said. “If you would have seen us Dec. 22 (in a 64-50 league loss) against Canal Winchester (in the season opener) and would have watched us over the last couple of weeks, you wouldn’t recognize our team.

“The strides that our kids have made — especially our underclassmen — and they really have stepped up. Now we have time between now and next November to where they can work at it and get better. We have a lot of kids coming back and they’re ready to get to work.”

Senior guard Peter Pedrozo averaged 9.2 points for South. He was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.

•In a season marred by COVID-19, the South boys basketball still managed to have success. 

Highlights included finishing 11-3 overall and sharing the OCC-Capital title with Worthington Kilbourne. The Wolves got in a complete league schedule, finishing 12-2, while South went 8-2, but the OCC determined that the teams would share the title. 

The teams split two contests, with Kilbourne winning 50-39 on Jan. 15 and South taking the rematch 65-58 on Feb. 19. 

“It’s an unusual year for us,” coach Ed Calo said. “We come out with a co-championship, but we wanted more. You always want a little bit more and I think we could have had more, but I’m so proud of them.” 

The Wildcats endured four delays during the season, resulting in 63 missed days and the cancellation of 11 contests. 

“I just wonder where we’d be if we had those 60 practices,” Calo said. “We showed a lot of guts. We played really hard. The season might have ended differently, but it is what it is.” 

South was eliminated from the Division I district tournament for the second consecutive season by Hilliard Bradley, dropping a 41-37 decision in a semifinal March 3. Last season, the Wildcats lost 50-41 to Bradley in the semifinal round. 

Senior guard Jaiden Guice led the Wildcats with 13 points in the season-ending loss. 

Seeded 12th, South defeated North 52-37 in the second round Feb. 26 after a first-round bye. 

Guice averaged a team-high 19.2 points and was first-team all-league and second-team all-district. 

Junior forward Drey Carter averaged 14.5 points and was first-team all-league and second-team all-district. Senior guard Peter Pedrozo averaged 9.2 points and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, and senior guard Will Ortiz was honorable mention all-league. 

“I thanked the (six) seniors for their effort,” Calo said. “I told them how much I appreciate them and how much I care about them, and if they need anything they know where to come. I feel really good how hard they played, and to fight through this year was pretty impressive.” 

Others eligible to return are juniors Andy Badu (forward) and Reign Winston (guard) and sophomores Jadi Cunningham (guard), Jujuan Ray (guard) and Jalen Wheeler (guard). 

—Frank DiRenna 

Central gymnastics coach Shea Stammen was pleased with her team’s development throughout the season. 

The Warhawks closed the year by finishing 22nd (112.425) in the district meet Feb. 27 at Worthington Kilbourne behind co-champions Dublin Jerome and Olentangy Berlin (141.125). 

“We ended up with our second-highest team score of the season, so for a district meet and tough judging that’s a lot to be proud of,” Stammen said. “They just really came on at the end of the year and worked to make those improvements.” 

Freshman Taylor Hinder led Central, tying for 81st in the all-around (29.75). 

“Taylor is only a freshman, so we have three more years and we have no seniors and hopefully everyone should be back,” Stammen said. “We want to keep building on scores.” 

Also competing in the all-around at district were juniors Joli Myers (95th, 27.825), Anna Priedeman (26.9) and Mal Lewis (26.4) and sophomore Jessica Shown (22.95).

Junior Izzy Muccio also is eligible to return. 

Central went 0-4 with eight points in the OCC-Central to finish sixth behind champion Dublin Coffman (24, 4-0).

—Frank DiRenna 

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NORTH BOYS BASKETBALL

•Record: 10-11 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: Collin Cook, Cam Ledford and Javen McNeil

Key returnees: Semaj Council, Caleb Iheukwu, Noah Lawrence, Carter Reese and Andrew Scurlock

Postseason: Defeated Grove City 59-50; lost to South 52-37 in second round of Division I district tournament

 SOUTH BOYS BASKETBALL 

Record: 11-3 overall 

Seniors lost: Shamar Brittman, Ian Chuah, Jaiden Guice, Unisa Kamara, Will Ortiz and Peter Pedrozo 

Key returnees: Drey Carter and Reign Winston 

Postseason: Def. North 52-37; lost to Hilliard Bradley 41-37 in Division I district semifinal

CENTRAL GYMNASTICS 

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

Seniors lost: None 

Key returnees: Taylor Hinder, Mal Lewis and Anna Priedeman 

Postseason: 22nd (112.425) at district behind co-champions Dublin Jerome and Olentangy Berlin (141.125)