After starting the season 2-7, the Bexley High School girls basketball team responded with four victories in its next six games.
The Lions took a three-game winning streak and records of 6-9 overall and 6-3 in the MSL-Ohio Division into their Jan. 28 game at London. Bexley entered the week tied for third in the league with West Jefferson (6-3), behind Worthington Christian (10-1) and Grandview (7-3).
"One of the biggest things is that we are starting to play together more as a team right now," coach John Callahan said. "Early on, with a new system and replacing starters from last year, it took us a while to jell with each other."
Included in the winning streak were two victories over Columbus Academy, 42-26 on Jan. 18 and 44-28 on Jan. 21. Elise Torrence and Brie Toney had 15 and nine points, respectively, as the Lions used a 28-9 second half to pick up their second win over the Vikings.
Against Madison Plains on Jan. 24, Bexley trailed 32-29 entering the fourth quarter. Sidney Woodford scored all six of her points in the last two minutes, including a pair of free throws with 20 seconds remaining, as the Lions held on for a 43-40 win. Toney scored 10 points, Sophie Schottenstein had nine and Torrence had eight.
"We're getting scoring from different people every night and that is a key to what we are doing," Callahan said.
Through 15 games, Toney was averaging 9.3 points and four rebounds, while Torrence was averaging 8.8 points and six rebounds with 40 blocks. Mary Massarelli was averaging 4.5 points and 4.7 rebounds.
"I think we are starting to turn the corner," Callahan said. "Within our league, if we play to the best of our ability, we can play with anybody."
The Lions play host to Whitehall on Friday, Jan. 31, and play at Grandview on Monday, Feb. 3. Bexley wraps up league play with games at Worthington Christian on Feb. 7 and at West Jefferson on Feb. 10.
"The finish of our season is going to be tough," Callahan said. "We have to try and build on this momentum to carry us into that stretch."
Boys, girls swim to third in league meet
Tuning up for a Division II sectional Feb. 8 at Academy, the boys and girls swimming and diving teams each placed third in the MSL-Ohio meet Jan. 25 at Academy.
The boys scored 218 points to finish behind Academy (352) and Grandview (268) and ahead of Liberty Union (60), Worthington Christian (51), Fisher Catholic (22), Circleville (8) and Amanda-Clearcreek (3). The girls scored 174 points to finish behind Academy (365) and Grandview (271) and ahead of Liberty Union (94), Madison Plains (53), Circleville (37), Worthington Christian (34), Logan Elm (19) and Fisher Catholic (16).
For the boys, Marek Kuspan placed second in the 500-yard freestyle (5:35.09) and Alex Musick was second in the 100 breaststroke (1:13.05). All three relays placed third -- the 200 medley relay of Kuspan, Andy Carper, Ryan Reed and Musick (2:06.66), the 200 free relay of Reed, Carper, Wade Randle and Sam Beckett (1:52.39) and the 400 free relay of Patrick Lape, Musick, Kuspan and Gray Wilson (3:57.78).
The girls also placed third in all three relays -- the 200 medley relay of Megan Myers, Jocie Steinke, Tyler Mansfield and Maggie Jones (2:11.13), the 200 free relay of Jones, Steinke, Bryn Harding and Maggie Tugend (2:00.97) and the 400 free relay of Abbey Early, Myers, Jones and Mansfield (4:21.99).
Wrestling team falls in state tournament
The wrestling team, seeded seventh in Region 14-A for the Division II state team tournament, lost its opener in the event 62-6 on Jan. 22 at second-seeded Buckeye Valley.
Three days later, Bexley improved to 8-5 in duals by going 3-1 in the Indian Duals at Mount Gilead.
"Overall, we wrestled well, especially since we (were) still missing three starters due to illness," coach Ed Cruz said.
Zach Welsh earned the lone victory against Buckeye Valley, 16-14 over Micah Davenport at 120 pounds.
In the Indian Duals, Bexley defeated Westland 26-24, Franklin Heights 42-15 and Mifflin 48-36, but fell to Mount Gilead 47-29. Welsh and Sam Shorr (138) each went 4-0.
Parker Getz and Daniel Lee also went 4-0. Getz won three matches at 182 and won by forfeit at 195, while Lee won three matches by forfeit at 195 and pinned Mifflin's Michael Gause in 1:44 at 220.
Perrin Ruff, who won the 113 title in the Jonathan Alder Invitational on Jan. 18, went 3-1 at Mount Gilead. Jon Clark was 3-1 at 132 and Jalen Hatton also went 3-1, with three wins at 160 and a loss at 170.
Boys basketball team on winning streak
The boys basketball team won MSL-Ohio games over West Jefferson (56-49 on Jan. 21) and Academy (60-59 on Jan. 25) to raise it winning streak to four.
The Lions were 9-6 overall and 5-2 in the league before playing Madison Plains on Jan. 28.
Sam Nolan, who turned an ankle in a 62-50 win over Shekinah Christian on Jan. 17 and sat out a 57-55 win over Wellington the next day, returned against West Jefferson and scored 13 points.
The Lions, led by Drew Esposito's 16 points, outscored the Roughriders 16-9 in the fourth quarter. Cole Heilman added 13 points.
Against Academy, Nolan hit a jumper with 8 seconds left to complete a season sweep of the Vikings. He had nine of his 18 points in the fourth as the Lions rallied from a 50-39 deficit. Niejel Young scored 16 points and Esposito added 13.
Entering the week, Bexley was third in the league behind Whitehall (8-1) and Grandview (6-1), both of which had beaten the Lions. Bexley plays at Whitehall on Feb. 8 and at Grandview three days later.