Worthington Christian Roundup: Katherine Weakley led Warriors girls basketball team to tourney breakthrough
With nearly all of its key players back from last year’s Division III district runner-up team, the Worthington Christian girls basketball squad finished one step away from reaching the state tournament for the second time.
The postseason success capped a career for senior Katherine Weakley that included being named the district’s Player of the Year as the Warriors finished 23-2 overall.
Worthington Christian rallied to beat seventh-seeded Liberty Union 47-46 in a district final Feb. 26 when Weakley made a pair of free throws during the closing seconds.
The Warriors, who were the top seed in the district, then defeated Waynesville 52-40 in a regional semifinal March 3 at Springfield before their season ended with a 39-36 loss to Cincinnati Purcell Marian in a regional final March 6 at Springfield.
“(Weakley) definitely works so hard,” said coach Jason Dawson, whose team also captured the MSL-Ohio Division title at 9-0.
The Warriors’ last appearance in the regional tournament was in 2015 when they were in Division IV.
While Weakley will play for Lipscomb after averaging 21.0 points, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals, the Warriors’ other starters are eligible to return.
Junior forward Blessing King, who had 19 points and 10 rebounds against Waynesville, averaged 12.5 points and also was first-team all-district.
Against Purcell Marian, Weakley scored 15 and King added 10.
Sophomore wing player Meghan Mayotte was second-team all-district after averaging 10 points, while sophomore guard Megan Weakley was honorable mention all-district.
Junior wing player Jaeda Tagoe, who averaged 5.0 points, was another key player.
“I definitely feel like we’ve grown closer as a team and (have been) maturing,” King said.
Worthington Christian lost 55-52 to eventual Division IV district champion Berne Union on Nov. 30 but won its next 21 games. That included beating Bexley 60-43 on Feb. 5 in the championship game of the MSL-Ohio tournament after the league opted to play one round of conference games rather than two.
Others eligible to return include sophomores Sylvia Fulks (guard) and Anna Schwartz (forward) and freshmen Jamie Custer (guard) and Natalie Woodfin (guard).
“We have a great team and I love being a part of it,” Tagoe said.
Boys basketball team
makes regional final
With a 50-47 comeback victory over Wheelersburg in a Division III regional semifinal March 10 at Chillicothe Southeastern, the boys basketball team was one victory away from reaching the state tournament for the first time since it was the runner-up in 2008.
The Warriors also were state runners-up in 1994, state champions in 1999 and state semifinalists in 2000.
Against the Pirates, Worthington Christian trailed 47-38 with 4:19 to go before closing the game on a 12-0 run.
Senior guard Drew Faieta, who played only two minutes in the first half and didn’t return until midway through the fourth quarter, had a steal and assist that helped cut the deficit to 47-42 with 3:26 to play and hit a 3-pointer to tie the game with 1:32 remaining.
Then with 1.8 seconds to go, Faieta made the game-winning 3-pointer from the corner as the Warriors improved to 26-1.
“They turned it over three or four times and missed some free throws,” coach Kevin Weakley said. “We had a senior (Faieta) who hasn’t shot the ball consistently throughout the year, but he’s been up at 5 in the morning shooting. Someone said that’s lucky (that he made the two 3s), but that’s not luck. That’s when preparation meets opportunity. Drew was prepared and seized that opportunity.”
Worthington Christian played Proctorville Fairland in a regional final March 13 at Southeastern.
The winner advanced to face Cincinnati Taft or Springfield Shawnee in a state semifinal March 19 at the University of Dayton, with the winner to play for the championship March 21 at the same site.
The Warriors advanced to the regional by beating second-seeded Harvest Prep 50-25 on March 5 in a district final at home as the No. 1 seed.
After losing to Harvest Prep 49-47 in a district final last season, Worthington Christian got 13 points and five assists from D.J. Moore, 11 points from Kobe Buford and nine points, eight rebounds and five assists from Tyler Kindberg in this year’s matchup.
"It’s huge,” Kindberg said. “We’ve fallen short at districts and it hurts every time, but now it’s worth it because it’s so sweet.”
•Record: 23-2 overall
•MSL-Ohio standings: Worthington Christian (9-0), Bexley (8-2), Whitehall (5-2), Columbus Academy (4-3), Columbus School for Girls (4-5), Buckeye Valley (3-5), Grandview (1-9), Wellington (0-8)
•Seniors lost: Libby Dalton, Izzie Slaughter, Jezzy Tagoe and Katherine Weakley
•Key returnees: Sylvia Fulks, Blessing King, Meghan Mayotte, Jadae Tagoe and Megan Weakley
•Postseason: Defeated Amanda-Clearcreek 62-23, def. Mount Gilead 73-20, def. Liberty Union 47-46, def. Waynesville 52-40, lost to Cincinnati Purcell Marian 39-36 in Division III regional final