As one of two returning starters, Brendan Snyder felt like he needed to improve his skill set to help the Canal Winchester High School boys basketball team remain competitive this season.
With that goal in mind, the 6-foot-1 junior point guard worked on his ball-handling and shooting drills two hours a day, six days a week this past offseason in addition to playing for an AAU team.
That extra work is paying major dividends.
After averaging just 2.5 points last season, Snyder was averaging 16.8 points -- and 2.5 assists -- through 13 games this season.
The Indians, who were 6-7 overall and 1-6 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Westerville North on Jan. 21, were averaging 41.7 points through 13 games.
"Brendan's always been a good shooter, but he was more of a catch-and-shoot guard last season," coach Kent Riggs said. "Brendan has worked hard to improve his ball-handling and (has) gotten a lot stronger, and he's been able to create his own scoring opportunities this season. He's definitely been our go-to scorer while we've worked to try to develop some other offensive threats on this young team."
Snyder, who had 34 3-pointers through 13 games, also has been a clutch scorer. In a 42-40 home victory over Chillicothe on Jan. 4, he had a career-high 29 points, including the winning points on a three-point play with 40 seconds left.
"I knew it was going to be tough for us to stay competitive this season because we lost a lot of good players right before we entered the OCC for the first time," Snyder said. "I took a ton of shots during the summer and now I have the green light from coach Riggs to shoot when I'm open. But I couldn't accomplish anything that I'm doing this season without the support of my teammates. They are the biggest reason for any success I've had individually."
Snyder said he draws inspiration from his father, who played four seasons of basketball and football at Canal Winchester before graduating in 1989. Lyndell Snyder scored 1,036 career points and earned first-team all-state honors as a senior before going on to play basketball for the University of Rio Grande.
Snyder said his learned almost everything he knows about the game of basketball from his father, who has been the Indians' junior varsity boys coach since the 1999-2000 season.
"I love the game of basketball and it comes from my family," Snyder said. "My dad is always riding my back telling me I need to get better, and he's been my biggest inspiration. When I walk my school's hallways every day, I see my dad's picture in the 1,000-point club and again on the wall with the all-Ohio award winners. I look at those pictures and it makes me try my best to have a career like he had and beat his point total."
Snyder reached a personal milestone last year when he defeated his father in a one-on-one game for the first time.
"Brendan's been a machine this season with how hard he's worked and he's developed into a heck of a basketball player and leader," Lyndell Snyder said. "Coach Riggs coached me during my last couple of seasons at Canal Winchester and he's been great for Brendan.
"Brendan's improved a lot this season and he's a better player than I was when I was all-state as a senior."
Snyder also is motivated by Los Angeles Clippers center B.J. Mullens, a 2008 Canal Winchester graduate who married Snyder's cousin, Sharissa Cooper, and stayed at the Snyder home during the summers of 2010 and 2011.
In the spring of 2012 while playing for the Charlotte Bobcats, Mullens paid for Snyder to fly to North Carolina and work out alongside him and other Bobcats players.
During that visit, Bobcats point guard Kemba Walker gave Snyder two pairs of his own sneakers.
"B.J.'s been a huge influence on me," Snyder said. "He's always on me to get better and he always tells me that I should never quit working toward my goals. I'm working real hard to get the best out of myself because I want to make my dad and B.J. proud."
Girls basketball team struggling for wins
The girls basketball team entered its game against Westland on Jan. 21 having lost eight of its previous nine games.
Canal Winchester's lone win during that stretch came against Dublin Scioto, 50-40 on Jan. 10 in an OCC-Cardinal game.
The Indians went 0-3 last week, losing to DeSales 51-47 on Jan. 13, Westerville North 69-38 in a league game Jan. 15 and Westerville South 50-22 in a league game Jan. 17 to fall to 4-11 overall and 3-6 in the OCC-Cardinal.
Raven Hamilton and Noelle Saeger each scored 10 points against DeSales. The Indians did not have anyone score in double figures against Westerville North or Westerville South.
Girls swimmers place second in invitational
The girls swimming and diving team finished second (140 points) in the five-team Columbus Academy Invitational on Jan. 18 behind the host Vikings (192).
Lexie Meade won the 200-yard freestyle (2 minutes, 7.87 seconds) and Miaya Green won the 100 butterfly (1:04.98).
The boys team finished fifth (4) in the meet behind champion Academy (229).