Canal Winchester High School girls basketball coach Gary Burke likes the progress his team has made thus far.
Among the aspects of the sport in which the Indians have shown improvement is their execution of their half-court offense.
"It's still a learning process for us, but our players are starting to read defenses, recognize different things on the floor and react to what they are seeing," Burke said. "In the past, we had a lot of plays where we executed our offense like robots and passed the ball where we planned to pass it, even when there may have been four girls guarding that player. This season, our players are doing a better job of recognizing when they need to change things up and they're making the right adjustments."
The Indians improved to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division with a 53-37 victory at Hilliard Darby on Dec. 17. They had a league game Dec. 20 against Hilliard Bradley and played Ready on Dec. 21.
Raven Hamilton had 20 points and Jasmine Smith scored 15 against Darby as the Indians outscored the Panthers 32-18 in the second half.
"Raven and Jasmine have been our leading scorers and rebounders, but every kid on our team is contributing," Burke said. "Haley Webster is progressing and doing a good job of running our offense from the point guard position, and Taylor Thompson, Rachel Hawkins and Kianna Brooks have done a good job of defending our opponents' best guards."
Burke would like to see his team do a better job at finding ways to win close games after watching the Indians lose to Worthington Christian 56-53 on Nov. 23 and Granville 55-52 on Dec. 3.
Marina Rarick had a career-high 18 points and Smith scored 11 against Worthington Christian and Hamilton scored 20 and Smith scored 15 against Granville.
The Indians went 5-for-14 from the foul line against Granville.
"We need to calm down and perform under pressure situations," said Burke, whose team has a league game Friday, Dec. 27, at Westerville South. "A big part of it is making more foul shots. If we would have made a higher percentage of our foul shots early in the season, we could have won five of our first six games instead of losing three of our first six.
"Westerville South beat us in a close game last year (46-44) and they are an improved ball club, so we'll need to play one of our better games of the season to beat them."
Inexperience hindering boys basketball team
With only two returning starters in its lineup, the boys basketball team won two of its first three games.
However, the Indians lost back-to-back OCC-Cardinal games against Westerville Central (53-33 on Dec. 13) and Darby (63-41 on Dec. 17) to fall to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the league.
Canal Winchester had a league game against Bradley on Dec. 20.
"We're off to a decent start for having such a young team," coach Kent Riggs said. "Westerville Central's one of the better teams in our area this season and we were up (21-18) at halftime before fatigue started to set in. That was one of the better games we've played all year, especially the way we played in the first half."
The Indians opened their season with a 41-34 victory over Pickerington North on Nov. 29 and defeated Fisher Catholic 58-28 on Dec. 10.
Brendan Snyder had 22 points and Kamon Craine scored eight against Pickerington North, and Snyder had 15 points and Craine and Daltyn Colley both scored 13 against Fisher Catholic.
"Beating Pickerington North in our first game was a good win for us," Riggs said. "Brendan Snyder has been our leading scorer and Kamon Craine has had some good games inside on the boards. Daltyn Colley has been our top defender and he's starting to score more, which is what we need from him. DeAndre Slappy and Ryan Oliver are playing good defense, too."
The Indians will face one of their former MSL-Buckeye rivals Saturday, Dec. 27, when they travel to Bloom-Carroll.
Canal Winchester lost both meetings last season, falling 64-62 at home and 62-46 on the road.
"It's going to feel different now that we're no longer in the same league, but Bloom-Carroll is always a big game for us," Riggs said. "It's nice timing for the game because a lot of our former players will be home from college to be able to watch this game."