The Watterson High School boys basketball team already has proven that it has the ability to win close games and rally from behind.
Through 15 games, the Eagles were 7-0 in games decided by eight points or fewer and 5-1 in contests in which they trailed at halftime.
Watterson, which was 14-1 overall and 5-0 in the CCL before playing Hartley on Feb. 3, rallied from a first-half deficit in victories over Ready (56-52 on Dec. 20), Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph (68-65 on Dec. 28), St. Charles (57-55 in overtime Jan. 3), Brookhaven (46-43 on Jan. 4) and Westerville North (62-52 on Jan. 18).
"Our strength is that we can turn on the intensity and make a run to win games when we're behind or when the score is close in the second half," senior point guard Cody Calhoun said. "But our weakness is that we seem to turn it off during parts of games to put ourselves in that position to begin with. We have to learn to keep our intensity up for whole games so that we don't need to come from behind so much."
Watterson pulled out another close victory Jan. 31, beating Ready 46-38 in a CCL game at home.
Matt Lehmann, who had missed the previous six games with a wrist injury, led the Eagles with 14 points and Calhoun and Andy Grieser each scored nine.
"Ready played us tough, but fortunately we've been able to pick up our intensity when we've had to," senior post player Joe DiOrio said. "We picked up our intensity on the boards in the second half and outrebounded them (35-28 in the game), so they didn't get many second-chance points."
The Eagles routed Westland 75-30 on Feb. 1 to extend their winning streak to six games, as Matt Hughes and Grieser each scored 13 and Ryan Lewis scored 11.
Watterson outscored the Cougars 23-0 in the first quarter and held its fourth consecutive opponent to 40 points or fewer.
"We've been rebounding well, for the most part, and I'm real proud of the way our guys are playing defense right now, holding so many teams to 40 or less points," coach Vince Lombardo said. "We're playing our best defense right now and I hope that will continue, because on the nights where your offense isn't where you need it to be, it's important that your defense comes through for you."
Through 15 games, Hughes was averaging a team-high 16.7 points, followed by Lehmann (13.7), Grieser (9.5) and Calhoun (8.5). DiOrio was averaging a team-high 8.7 rebounds.
"When one of our guys has a bad night, we've got four other guys on the court who can step up and score," DiOrio said.
Watterson travels to St. Charles on Friday, Feb. 7, for a CCL game.
The Eagles defeated the Cardinals 57-55 in overtime Jan. 3, as Lehmann had 13 points, including a 3-pointer as time expired in regulation to force overtime, and seven rebounds.
Grieser had 12 points, including the winning shot on a layup with 1 second remaining, and Hughes scored 14.
St. Charles made nine 3-pointers in the first meeting, including five from Sean Hennessy, who led the Cardinals with 23 points.
"St. Charles hit shots when they needed to and we're not used to giving up that many 3-pointers," Calhoun said. "We'll need to do a better job of contesting their shots this time around."
Kring leads wrestling team in CCL tourney
The wrestling team scored 114 points to finish last in the CCL tournament Feb. 1, behind Hartley (307), host St. Charles (187), Ready (179) and DeSales (166).
Ben Kring placed first at 120 pounds, with Mark Guza (126), Jack Haley (170) and Karrington Norwood (182) placing second and Michael Guza (132) finishing third.
Watterson won't compete again until the Division II sectional Feb. 15 at Licking Valley.
Girls basketball team nearing postseason
The girls basketball team has CCL games Thursday, Feb. 6, at home against DeSales and Saturday, Feb. 8, at Columbus School for Girls before closing the regular season Tuesday, Feb. 11, at home against Hilliard Bradley.
Watterson, which was 12-5 overall before playing Centennial on Feb. 3 and is 4-2 in the CCL, then will prepare for the Division I district tournament.
The Eagles are seeded 16th and play host to 31st-seeded Briggs in the first round Feb. 15.
Watterson defeated Ashland 60-46 on Feb. 1 as Emily Amen had 18 points and Bryn McQuade and Maggie McCarthy scored 12 and 11, respectively.
Hockey team finishes first in CHC-Blue
The hockey team lost to Upper Arlington 6-2 on Feb. 2 to drop to 14-11 overall but still won the Capital Hockey Conference-Blue Division at 7-9.
As CHC-Blue champion, Watterson has advanced to the Blue Jackets Cup for the first time.
Seeded eighth, the Eagles will open the league tournament Thursday, Feb. 6, against top-seeded Olentangy Orange at OhioHealth Ice Haus or Chiller Dublin.
The winner advances to a semifinal Friday, Feb. 7, at the Ice Haus, with the final being played at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, at the Ice Haus.
"I could not be more proud of these boys, who learned to play for each other and to overcome adversity," coach Don Lewis said. "Their character and poise resulted in the greatest season in our history, and they earned their division title."