Young swimmers improving
The Bexley High School swimming and diving teams didn't let their youth get the best of them in the MSL meet Jan. 26 at Columbus Academy.
The girls team turned in a third-place finish (116) behind champion Granville (421) as 16 teams scored and the boys team finished fourth (143) behind champion Granville (299) as 14 teams scored.
The league meet was the first postseason event for many of the Lions, who will compete in a Division II sectional meet Feb. 9 at Academy.
The winner of each sectional event qualifies for district Feb. 15 at Ohio State. In addition, 27 at-large district berths will be awarded in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites.
"I think there's a good possibility for some of the newer swimmers to go to districts," said Sierra Humphrey, a three-time district qualifier. "There have been some standouts who have improved so much. I've been really impressed with a lot of them.
"It's really cool to have seen them at the beginning of the season when they didn't really know how to swim that well, and now they're dropping time like crazy. I think they're going to do great in the championship meets."
Humphrey's goals include advancing to district in the 100-yard breaststroke -- she finished fifth in the MSL meet in 1 minute, 18.28 seconds -- and possibly the 100 freestyle, as well as the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay.
The 200 medley relay of Abbey Early, Humphrey, Tyler Mansfield and Maggie Jones finished third (2:08.69) in the league meet, while the 200 free relay of Humphrey, Jocie Steinke, Early and Mansfield was fourth (1:54.45).
Humphrey and her teammates will be tapering over the next few weeks, which involves doing "shorter, faster sets, with a lot of breath in between, to help recover from the hard work we've been doing," she said.
"We have a very new team, so a lot of people don't know what tapering is. A lot of the new swimmers don't know the affect it has. It's worked every year for me. I'm excited about it and reaching my own personal goals. I definitely want to drop around two seconds off my breaststroke time."
Among the top boys finishes in the league meet was Marek Kuspan's third-place effort in the 500 free (5:42.06).
Ian Davis, Alex Musick, Ben Hoffman and Drew Powell placed fifth in the 200 medley relay (1:58.41), and the 200 free relay of Hoffman, Adam Turner, Powell and Davis finished fifth (1:43.93).
Humphrey will gladly impart her postseason experiences to her younger teammates.
"It's a lot different at districts," she said. "I love the atmosphere because it's at OSU and the pool is beautiful. It's a lot of fun, but it's a long day.
"There is a lot of pressure when you're standing up on those blocks. It's a huge pool and there are a lot of people there. It's a great experience. I'll definitely tell everybody what it's like. Hopefully they can work hard and go, too."
Boys basketball team regains scoring touch
Following a three-game stretch from Jan. 12-22 in which the boys basketball team averaged just 47.3 points, coach Dave Gustin wanted to see the Lions recapture their form from earlier in the season.
The Lions answered the call with two victories, including an 83-73 home win over Lakewood on Jan. 26.
Guard Patrick McClendon scored a game-high 21 points. Guard Ethan Knisley (12), guard Tyler Kondracke (12), guard-forward Sam Nolan (12) and guard Josh Hoffman (11) also reached double figures.
"We just have to keep working on it," Gustin said. "Hopefully (the lower scoring) is just a blip on the radar. I just think we have to make baskets and shoot the ball a little better.
"I don't think it's our legs (being tired), but we did shoot the ball better earlier in the year."
Hoffman has stepped up as an extra scorer of late.
"Josh has been playing really consistent on both ends of the floor, offensively and defensively," Gustin said. "He's really guarding people and he's doing really well at the 5- to 10-foot mid-range jump shot. That's given us some pretty steady play. We'll need that going down the stretch."
Hoffman scored 12 points in a 57-51 loss at Heath on Jan. 22. He had 18 points on Jan. 24, as Bexley defeated visiting Licking Heights 60-58 in overtime, and was averaging 8.3 points through 16 games.
Nolan scored 16 points against Licking Heights, just under his team-leading average of 15.6 through 16 games.
A quirk in the schedule means a tough last few weeks of the regular season for Bexley.
Newark Catholic asked the Lions to move one of the teams' two league games because of a holiday tournament, but that set up two games against the Green Wave over 11 days. The teams play Friday, Feb. 1, at Newark Catholic and Feb. 12 at Bexley.
"Our last bit of the season is very demanding, to say the least," Gustin said. "It's going to be important how we play down the stretch. We have some tough games coming up."
On Tuesday, Feb. 5, the Lions play host to Granville, which won the first matchup 52-50 on Jan. 4.
Torrence steps up for girls basketball team
Girls basketball coach Jim Strode said sophomore center Elise Torrence showed tenacity in the post against Lakewood on Jan. 19 and Big Walnut on Jan. 22.
"She's starting to play a lot more aggressively and being more assertive," Strode said. "It's a hole we wanted to fill and she's doing it. Hopefully that trend continues for us.
"She's a back-to-the-basket center. She has the skills and the (knowledge) to be a great player and something is clicking where she's starting to turn it on and realize that she has to be a big part of the team for us to be successful."
Torrence scored 22 points in a 60-23 win over the Lancers and 10 in a 37-30 loss to the Golden Eagles.
Guard Bri Stewart scored 13 against Lakewood and guard Lydia Lake scored 12 against Big Walnut.
The Golden Eagles, Hartley and several teams from the MSL-Ohio are opponents Strode pointed to as helping Bexley prepare for the Division II district tournament.
The Lions were 8-10 overall and 4-6 in the league before playing Granville on Jan. 29, but Strode hopes their schedule pays off when coaches vote on seeding teams before the draw Sunday, Feb. 3.
"It'll be an interesting draw," he said. "If you look solely at records, it's not going to tell the whole story. We were competitive against some of those teams and we know we can compete with the best Division II has to offer.
"You have some teams in other leagues that may not have the highest competition level. You just hope (coaches) do the right thing and look at who you played."
Strode called the Big Walnut matchup a "good progress game" for Bexley.
"We were down 7-0, but battled back and led at halftime," he said. "They changed defenses a few times and we adjusted well. We really grew in our half-court defense. We hadn't played a lot of teams that ran back screens and the fact we could fight over those instead of switching, I felt, was a great improvement for us."
The Lions' Jan. 25 home game against Newark Catholic was postponed and rescheduled for Feb. 11.