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ThisWeek Community Newspapers Licking County

February 20, 2011

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Prep Notes

Bulldogs boys wary of being top seed By KURTIS ADAMS ThisWeek Community Newspapers

Coach Devin Fulk isn’t taking anything for granted even though the Heath High School boys basketball team is seeded first for the Division III district tournament. The Bulldogs had a chance to clinch their first MSL-Ohio Division title and first league title of any kind since 1999, but they squandered a 10-point firsthalf lead and lost 59-45 on Feb. 15 at Granville.

Instead, Heath was 14-5 overall and 10-3 in the MSL-Ohio while the Blue Aces were 13-5 and 10-3 entering their respective league finales against Newark Catholic and Whitehall on Feb. 18. Columbus Academy was one game back at 9-4 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Bexley. “If we’re going to make a run in the tournament we’re going to see more games like this one,” Fulk said after the Blue Aces overcame a 21-11 second-quarter deficit. Upsets have been commonplace in

Division III in recent seasons. The last No. 1 seed to advance to the regional was Johnstown in 2006. Cardington was the top seed a year ago and was eliminated 64-61 by Centerburg in a semifinal. Harley lost in a district final in both 2007 and ’09, while Madison Plains stumbled in a final in ’08. “It’s a wide-open district, maybe more so than any other division,” said Fulk, whose first team at Heath won once in the tournament a year ago but lost 40-36 to Bloom-Carroll in a district semifinal. “We’ve definitely got our

work cut out for us.” The MSL-Ohio has produced a No. 1 seed in three consecutive seasons and four times since the division was created in 2003-04. Fulk was a senior point guard that year at Licking Valley, which earned the top seed in Division II. Newark Catholic was the top seed in Division IV the past two seasons, advancing to a regional final in 2009 and the state final a year ago. “When I came here, I looked at how things went the past three or four years,” first-year Granville coach Jamie Pear-

son said. “(Licking County) had a state champion in Division I (Newark in 2008) and a state finalist in Division IV. This is basketball country.” Pearson’s choice of words might not sit well with area baseball and football coaches, but it’s becoming clear that the county is earning more respect when it comes to basketball. The Blue Aces are the sixth seed in Division II, and several coaches in the district have said that the Wildcats could be dangerous in See NOTES, page A10


Watkins Memorial Roundup

Nubians continue to roll along

Layoff could benefit girls in long run

In a relatively short amount of time, Africentric has built a winning tradition in girls basketball. In its eight years of existence, Africentric has won two state championships and five City League titles under coach Will McKinney. The Nubians’ fifth City championship came LARRY Feb. 12 in a LARSON 60-52 victory over previously unbeaten Northland before a large and enthusiastic crowd at Mifflin. Africentric’s senior star, Raven Ferguson, led the way with 22 points, nine rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals. It was her fourth consecutive City championship game and her third victory. “This one really means a lot to me because we ran the City League for a while, but we didn’t get it done last year (against Brookhaven) and that was hard,” she said. “At Africentric we have a tradition of winning, so bringing the trophy back to our school after missing it a year ago is great and, since this is my senior year, it makes it even better.” Talking about her team’s performance against Northland, Ferguson said, “Beating a great team like Northland meant we had to compete hard on every play of the game and every second of the game up and down the court. We wanted to be the team who could say that we beat an unbeaten Division I team. We wanted to be the team who could say that Northland is now 18-1 and we are the one, and it truly took a full team effort to do it. “Every player on our team stepped up this week. Players that didn’t see action in the game worked so hard in practice to get us ready. Everyone has a role on this team and as long as we are all working toward the same goal we will be just fine. I know that experience means a lot and we have been in so many big games and in tough situations in those big games, and I think that helped us a lot against Northland. I feel like I have played in that atmosphere all four years that I have been at Africentric. “This team is very special because it has lots of talented girls who can compete at a high level. Earlier in the year the younger players were trying to learn about high school basketball and us five seniors had to teach them how to play Africentric basketball and how to play hard and play under pressure. Since this is our last chance, we as seniors want to win so bad and we push each other and we push our teammates, but as the year has worn on, the younger players have grown and now they are pushing us. There are no slackers on this team.” Looking ahead to the postseason, which begins Tuesday, Feb. 22, for Africentric, Fergu-


By Lorrie Cecil/ThisWeek

Thomas Osickey of Watkins Memorial looks to shoot despite pressure from St. Charles’ Dane McLoughlin (44) during the host Warriors’ 71-40 loss on Feb. 15.

ThisWeek Community Newspapers

At a glance

Watkins Memorial High School girls basketball coach Kyle Oyster is looking on the bright side of his team’s lengthy layoff before its opening game in the Division I district tournament. The Warriors, who had a firstround bye, will meet ninthseeded Upper Arlington with a berth in a district semifinal up for grabs on Thursday, Feb. 24, at Hamilton Township. Watkins Memorial hasn’t played since defeating Franklin Heights 6235 in the regular-season finale on Feb. 11, giving the Warriors nearly two weeks to prepare for the postseason. “It is a long break, but I think it can be pretty beneficial,” Oyster said. “We’re losing five seniors, so our other girls are going to have to step up next year. This gives them a lot of extra practice time. “I used to be a volunteer (football) coach with my uncle (Chris Kubbs) at Marion Pleasant, and I saw how those extra practices really helped the following year. We have this extra opportunity and we’re going to use it.” Still, the lack of live action didn’t necessarily come at a good time. The Warriors, who also defeated Mount Vernon 48-

Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the Watkins Memorial girls basketball teams: *Feb. 11 — Def. Franklin Heights 62-35 in regular-season finale. Kim Coyle scored 16 points to lead the Warriors, who posted consecutive victories for the second time this season. They also defeated Mount Vernon 48-42 on Feb. 8. Feb. 24 — Ninth-seeded Upper Arlington in second round of Division I district tournament, 6 p.m. at Hamilton Township. Winner plays Olentangy Liberty or Pickerington North in district semifinal, 6 p.m. March 1 at Liberty. Of note: The Warriors are 5-15 overall and finished 3-11 in the OCCCapital. *OCC-Capital contest

42 on Feb. 8, won consecutive games to end the regular season and went 5-5 during the second half. They are 5-15 overall and finished 3-11 in the OCC-Capital Division to tie the Yellow Jackets for sixth place behind champion Olentangy Orange (13-1). “We’re playing good basketball at the right time,” Oyster said. “At the beginning of the year we knew we had all the right pieces; we just couldn’t get over the hump.” The Golden Bears advanced with a 67-37 victory over Grove See WARRIORS, page A10

Licking Heights Roundup

Injuries slowed girls team’s development By KURTIS ADAMS ThisWeek Community Newspapers

The Licking Heights High School girls basketball team managed to win two games during the second half of the season even as the injuries mounted. Those missing time included leading scorer Kyasia Duling, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, and classmate Alyssa Stanley, who began the season as the starting point guard. Duling, an AAU veteran, averaged 12.2 points as the Hornets finished 4-17 overall with a 6739 loss to fourth-seeded Jonathan Alder in a Division II first-round tournament game Feb. 15 at Westerville Central. Also the team’s top rebounder, she led the Hornets in scoring in 11 of the 17 games in which she played. “We had to adjust quite a bit in the second half,” second-year coach Alison Pence said. “That was tough because we were working toward becoming the team we thought we’d be.” Duling and 5-9 sophomore Chelsea Dunkle spent considerable time on the bench in the tournament loss because of foul trouble, and a 16-6 second-quarter advantage sent the Pioneers into halftime leading 36-17. Brandi Hunt, a junior guard, led the turnover-plagued Hornets with nine points on three 3-pointers. Dunkle, who scored 21 points in a 65-58 victory See LARSON, page A10 over Division I Grove City on

eliminated the Hornets in last year’s postseason, improved to 15-5. “We’re living on,” Pioneers coach Terra McDaniels said. “Since we’re not in a league the tournament’s all we have.” Licking Heights went 3-11 in the MSL-Cardinal Division to finish seventh as Harvest Prep, which was the top-ranked team in the final Division IV state poll, captured the title at 14-0. The Warriors were followed by West Jefferson (11-3), Liberty Union (9-5), Grandview (8-6), Fisher Catholic (6-8) and Berne Union (5-9). Millersport (0-14) placed eighth. Five of the eight teams finished .500 or better during the regular season while Fisher Catholic went 9-11. The Hornets defeated Grandview 42-39 in overtime in a second-round league game on Jan. 14. They also beat Millersport 44-26 on Feb. 9 and 54-34 on Dec. 18. The Hornets, who lost five games by seven or fewer points during the first half of the season, also will return junior Mady Mynatt and sophomore Courtney Jones. Freshmen Dameras Whitlock, a point guard, and Skyler Ortiz are expected back By Eric George/ThisWeek as well. Another sophomore, 58 post player Asitia Richardson, Licking Heights freshman Dameras Whitlock drives past a Jonathan Alder defender during the missed most of the season with Hornets’ 67-39 loss in a first-round Division II tournament game Feb. 15 at Westerville Central. a knee injury. Dec. 23, averaged 8.3 points way too many turnovers (34), Alex Sandy. “That’s a lot to over“I did see growth,” Pence said. this season. too,” said Pence, who will grad- come against a good team like “We played more man-to-man “We got into foul trouble early uate only two seniors in guard that.” See HORNETS, page A10 (against Jonathan Alder) and had Nicole Raike and post player Jonathan Alder, which also

ThisWeek Licking County 2/20/11  
ThisWeek Licking County 2/20/11  

ThisWeek Licking County 2/20/11