Head Coach Anthony Calo had a new addition to his team this year. A big 6’5 junior guard named Jason Foster. Foster joined the 2019-2020 Pioneers after transferring from Northland High School. The 2019-2020 campaign started out as a very promising year for the basketball team. With a big win to kick off the season against Delaware Hayes 57-43 the Pioneers primed themselves for what was an early conference game and a huge rivalry game. The second game on the schedule was home against Powell Olentangy Liberty. The Pioneers lost the two possession game by six points 57-51. The early conference game that resulted in a loss was a tough break for the Pioneers. They would go on to win the next three games in a row against Big Walnut 62-42, Conference Opponent Westerville Central 76-64, and Hilliard Darby 67-44. Then came Westerville South at home the second conference loss of the season for the Pioneers 72-57. Next they went on to beat Dublin Jerome 51-46 and Licking Heights 61-43 in the Thomas Worthington tournament. On January 3, came Olentangy the Pioneers would pull off the conference win at Tangy 61-59 in a tight rivalry game. They followed this up with a blowout against Hilliard Davidson 57-34. They then fell to Westerville North at home by 1, 42-41. Another tough conference loss for the Pioneers. After that they travelled to Liberty where they fell again 56-48 in another conference loss. The team then went 2-3 in their next five games, beating Watterson 56-51, Coffman 70-66. The losses were Westerville Central at home 72-60, at New Albany 64-55, and in a conference game at Westerville South 62-54. The last five games of the regular season were crucial as the Pioneers were going to need to make a push for seeding in the state tournament. They followed up three straight losses with a 4-1 streak to close out the remainder of the season. Beating Franklin Heights 79-38, Urbana 59-50, Central Crossing 51-43, Westerville North 60-55, and a loss to Olentangy at home 54-51.
The Pioneers were the 20 seed heading into the State Tournament. A home playoff game against Dublin Jerome would ensue. The Pioneers would fall to the Celtics 45-44 on a last second free throw. Jason Foster had 14 points to lead the Pioneers. “That was a tough loss, but it wouldn’t matter if we didn’t care. But we do and that’s why it hurts. That’s what sports is.” siad Athletic Director Mr. Diehl when talking about the basketball season coming to a close.”Sports are amazing and have power to bring people together” he added.
Before the tournament game and the season Coach Calo has said that the boys need to show up to play, and play to win. Although the team wasn’t successful in their home tournament game, it was a learning moment. With a young team like the 2019-2020 Pioneers that only had 4 seniors and 2 starting seniors the youth can build and bounce back.
Soon to be senior Point Guard Andre Irvin has played varsity all three years of his high school career and was part of the tournament team that upset 1st seeded Dublin Coffman in 2018-2019. He knows what it will take to win tournament games. Hopefully this season will serve to help the Pioneers next year in the new OCC Central conference. Featuring Dublin Coffman, Hilliard Bradley, Hilliard Davidson, Olentangy Liberty, and Upper Arlington. This will be a tough conference to play in and it won’t be easier for the Pioneers. But as Coach Calo says “We have to play to win today boys”.