The Watterson High School boys basketball team held its opponents to a program-record 42.1 points per game last season after allowing a then-program-record 43.6 points per contest in the 2010-11 season.
The Eagles were allowing an average of 45.8 points through 17 games this season, but coach Vince Lombardo said his squad is playing just as well, if not better, defensively than it did the previous two seasons.
Watterson, which was 16-1 overall and 5-0 in the CCL before playing Hartley on Feb. 5, was averaging 59.2 points. That's a marked improvement from the past two seasons, as the Eagles averaged 41.8 points in 2010-11 and 49.3 last season.
"We're rebounding well and playing great defense," Lombardo said. "Our defense is allowing a higher amount of points this year, but I think that's more of a result of us playing a little more up-tempo offensively. We're pushing the ball more than we did the previous two seasons, so our scoring average is going to rise on both sides of the ball. This is the best start that we've had since I've been here, and it's OK if we continue to give up more points per game as long as we continue to score more points than our opponents."
The Eagles have tried to keep their opponents off balance by alternating between man-to-man and zone defenses.
"Our defense has been our strength and it's really a total team effort," Lombardo said. "Our man-to-man defense has been effective and we've rebounded well, but we like to use multiple defensive looks to try to keep our opponents from getting comfortable against us."
On Jan. 28, Watterson beat St. Charles 59-43 in a CCL game that began Jan. 4 but was suspended with the Eagles leading 32-22 with 5 minutes, 38 seconds remaining in the third quarter because of poor floor conditions.
The Eagles will play host to St. Charles in a CCL rematch on Friday, Feb. 8.
The Cardinals are led by 6-foot senior guards Michael Lutter and Bryce Spees, and junior forwards Matt Hennessey (6-4) and Sean Hennessey (6-3).
"St. Charles is a real solid team with good balance," Lombardo said. "They have real good shooters in (guard Bryce) Spees and (guard Michael) Lutter, and (forwards Matt and Sean Hennessey) do a good job inside."
The Eagles defeated visiting Buckeye Valley 57-45 on Jan. 29 behind 19 points from post player Bryan Jackson and 15 from forward Matt Lehmann and beat host Ready 51-34 in a league game Feb. 1 behind 15 points apiece from Lehmann and post player Matt Hughes.
Watterson won for the fourth time in six days and extended its winning streak to 10 games by beating host Westland 65-54 on Feb. 2. Hughes had 20 points and Jackson and Lehmann each scored 15.
"This was a great week for us because we were able to beat four good teams," Lombardo said.
Through 17 games, Jackson was averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds and Lehmann was averaging 11 points and eight rebounds.
"Our offense is improving, but it still needs to be more consistent," Lombardo said. "We've had pretty good balance throughout the year. Cody Calhoun and Tom Geraghty have played well at point guard and Andy Grieser and Ryan Lewis have been effective at the wing positions. (Wing players) Greg Jacknewitz and Joe DiOrio have been strong off the bench, too."
Girls basketball team looking for CCL title
The girls basketball team suffered a major setback in its quest to win a sixth consecutive CCL title when it lost to visiting DeSales 55-43 on Feb. 2.
Guard Kayla Cook and post player Alexis Mayle each scored 10 points for Watterson, which led 28-23 at halftime.
The Eagles, who are tied for second in the CCL with Hartley at 5-2 behind DeSales (6-1), conclude league play Saturday, Feb. 9, at home against Columbus School for Girls. They beat the Unicorns 72-12 on Jan. 12.
DeSales closes league play Saturday, Feb. 9, at home against Hartley.
"We couldn't get into a rhythm offensively in the second half and we allowed DeSales to get into the paint to score from underneath and draw fouls," Cook said. "We're disappointed because we really wanted to control our own destiny in the CCL, but we can still win a share of the CCL title if we beat CSG and DeSales loses to Hartley.
"This is not a stopping point in our season because the (Division I) district tournament is coming and we have goals to do well there."
Guard Alex Statczar said the Eagles can't take for granted that they will win the rematch with CSG, which lost to Ready 71-22 on Feb. 1 to drop to 3-15 overall and 0-7 in the CCL.
Statczar would like to see Watterson play the way it did in its 55-38 league victory at Ready on Jan. 30. Guard Makenzie Bevins had 12 points and center Emma Nikolai scored nine.
"We still have a chance to win a share of the CCL championship, so this is an important game for us," Statczar said. "We need to communicate and play together on defense the way we did at Ready. When we play good defense, it sets up our offense and we usually win."
The Eagles will open the Division I district tournament Feb. 16 against host Westland.
Wrestlers struggle in CCL tourney
The wrestling team scored 79 points in the CCL tournament Feb. 2 to finish last, behind St. Charles (263), Hartley (238), Ready (149) and host DeSales (137).
The Eagles did not have any wrestlers reach a final in any of the 14 weight classes.
Hockey team prepping for Blue Jackets Cup
The hockey team will face Olentangy in the first round of the consolation bracket of the Blue Jackets Cup on Friday, Feb. 8, at a site to be announced.
The winner will face Upper Arlington in a semifinal Saturday, Feb. 9. The championship game will be played Sunday, Feb. 10, at OhioHealth Ice Haus.
Also in the consolation bracket are Dublin Scioto, Thomas Worthington and Worthington Kilbourne.
Watterson, which beat Olentangy 3-1 on Dec. 21 and 7-2 on Dec. 23 but lost to UA 11-1 on Feb. 1, concluded the regular season with a 10-0 loss to Olentangy Orange on Feb. 2 and a 7-1 win over Toledo Ottawa Hills on Feb. 3.
Watterson was 4-12-0-1 (9 points) in CHC-Blue Division play to finish behind Gahanna (19, 8-6-1-2) and Worthington Kilbourne (15, 7-9-1), and ahead of Olentangy (6, 3-14) and Dublin Scioto (0, 0-17).