Whitehall-Yearling Roundup: Regular season prepared Rams boys basketball team for postseason

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Royal Sibley goes up for a shot against Gahanna earlier this season. The Rams are seeded 17th for the Division I district tournament and will play 15th-seeded Licking Heights or 25th-seeded Hilliard Davidson on Feb. 26.

Whitehall-Yearling boys basketball coach Drew Williams hopes a challenging regular-season schedule will help his team as it enters the Division I district tournament.  

That Rams faced Worthington Christian twice, including in the MSL-Ohio Division tournament title game Feb. 12 when the host Warriors pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 58-48 victory.  

“We played a team that I think will be in the regional, and they’ll have a shot at the (state tournament),” said Williams, whose team fell to 12-10 overall. “We played a very good team, and we’re just not where we need to be, but I’ll have them ready. With the schedule we play, I don’t mind playing anybody.”  

Kei’Von Wiggins led the Rams with 14 points, followed by Kaden Macklin with 10 and Elijah Hughes and Royal Sibley with eight apiece.  

“The game helps us get ready for the (district) tournament,” Wiggins said. “It helps us focus on our weaknesses and our strengths. We have to work on our weaknesses since we already know what our strengths are.”  

Worthington Christian – which was ranked first in the final Division III state poll and is the top seed in the district tournament – also beat the Rams 52-44 on Jan. 29 at Whitehall.  

“Drew plays anybody and everybody,” Worthington Christian coach Kevin Weakley said. “(His teams are) always really talented, and he does a great job. I’m not sure we’ll see a team that is as talented as that group in the Division III tournament. They dialed up the press on us (Feb. 12) and did a really good job taking away some of our strengths.”  

Seeded 17th in the district tournament, the Rams took a first-round bye and will play 15th-seeded Licking Heights or 25th-seeded Hilliard Davidson in the second round Feb. 26 at the home of the better seed.  

The winner likely visits second-seeded Westerville Central in a semifinal March 3.  

“We have to be unselfish,” Wiggins said. “We have to do more of getting back on defense. We have to work on our defense more.”  

Girls basketball team   

closes regular season  

The girls basketball team was guaranteed a winning season as it was 9-7 overall before playing 13th-seeded Lakewood in to open the Division II district tournament Feb. 19.  

The Rams are seeded fourth, and would play host to fifth-seeded Heath or 11th-seeded Beechcroft in a district semifinal Feb. 24 with victory over the Lancers. 

That winner would face second-seeded Hartley, seventh-seeded Licking Valley, 12th-seeded Buckeye Valley or 16th-seeded Utica in a final Feb. 27 at the home of the better seed.  

“This season has been nothing short of a great learning experience as a coach,” coach Quentin Taylor said. “You never can forecast the injuries or the time off due to the (COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic). The team has been great with handling it all. When all else fails and their backs are to the wall, that’s when our girls show who they are, resilient.”  

Whitehall's Maurkel Anderson will have a wrestle off against fellow senior David Winegarner to compete at 195 pounds in the Division I sectional Feb. 27 at Watkins Memorial.

Wrestling team eyes  

postseason success  

The wrestling team will compete in an 11-team Division I sectional Feb. 27 at Watkins Memorial.  

The top four individuals in each weight class advance to district March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby. At district, the top four individuals in each weight class advance to state March 13 and 14 at Darby.  

The Rams were 3-11 before competing against Hilliard Davidson on Feb. 19. 

Before wrestling Davidson, Shea Jordan (106 pounds) was 10-4, Damion Black (120) and Mikey Park (113) were 9-4 and Ma’Kel Parker (120) was 6-5. 

Coach Steve Pennington said Maurkel Anderson and David Winegarner, the program’s only seniors, will wrestle off for the starting spot at 195 in the postseason.  

“We’re focusing on review,” Pennington said. “I doubt we’ll teach anything new. We want to make sure the kids are prepared for sectional, both in techniques and stamina.” 

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekFrank