Big Walnut High School girls basketball coach Bob Scott feared the worst when Alexis Newman injured her right knee during a 50-23 win over visiting Watkins Memorial in an OCC-Capital Division game on Jan. 21.

Big Walnut High School girls basketball coach Bob Scott feared the worst when Alexis Newman injured her right knee during a 50-23 win over visiting Watkins Memorial in an OCC-Capital Division game on Jan. 21.

Five days later, his fears were realized when an MRI revealed that Newman, a 5-foot-7 sophomore guard, had torn her ACL and meniscus and, as a result, would miss the rest of the season. A first-year varsity player, Newman averaged 11.6 points in 14 games, ranking second on the team in scoring.

"She was averaging about 11 points a game, so anytime you take that out of your lineup, that hurts you," Scott said. "Other kids have to step up and score some points. We have to keep working on that."

Senior guard Tabatha Piper was leading the team in scoring through 15 games, averaging 13.3 points. Junior guard Kayleigh Hammond was third at 5.4 points, followed by sophomore guard-forward Emily Chucta (5.2), senior guard Jazmine Reed (3.8), senior guard Julia Evans (3.3), junior forward Megan Walters (3.1) and junior guard Calen Williams (2.9).

"That's definitely a big loss," Piper said of Newman. "She's normally scoring for us. Alexis and I kind of balanced each other. When she would score, I would score. We're working on (having other players score) in practice, having people step up. We just have to have confidence, and I believe in them and I think they can do it."

Newman dropped to the court when she felt pain in her knee.

"I drove to the basket, jump-stopped and pivoted around to pass to Megan Amos when it happened," she said.

Newman, who scored a season-high 21 points in a 55-53 loss to Upper Arlington on Jan. 15, is scheduled to undergo surgery Feb. 8. In addition to the rest of this season, she will miss her AAU season in the spring but is expected to be ready for the Golden Eagles' 2011-12 season.

"In four months, I can start running again," she said. "In six months, I can start playing again."

In the meantime, Newman will do what she can to support her teammates.

"I'm definitely going to be the their No. 1 cheerleader," she said.

With Newman watching from the bench, Big Walnut likely saw its quest for its first OCC-Capital championship since 1997 end with a 59-34 loss at Olentangy Orange on Jan. 25. The loss dropped the Golden Eagles three games behind Orange in the league standings with four league games to play.

Big Walnut also lost to the Pioneers 58-30 on Dec. 10.

"I think the closest anyone (in the OCC-Capital) has been against them is eight points, so the chances of anyone beating them the second time around (in league play) aren't very good," Scott said. "That's the bottom line.

"Orange is probably the best team we've played this year. They've got size, they've got shooters, they've got good ball-handlers, so they're tough to match up against."

In the Jan. 25 matchup, Big Walnut led 13-6 after the first quarter, but the Pioneers rallied to take a 26-20 lead into halftime. Orange pulled away in the third quarter by outscoring the Golden Eagles 22-9.

Big Walnut went without a field goal during a stretch lasting more than six minutes in the second half.

"It's tough matching up with their post players, and they can shoot the ball," Scott said of Orange. "We tried to take away their inside game, and for a half we didn't give up transition layups and we did take (their post players) away. For whatever reason, at the beginning of the third quarter, we kind of lost it. They started scoring transition baskets and we got out of sync a little bit. That's where we lost the game."

"The matchup was hard, but I thought we did a really good job in the first half," Piper said. "In the second half, we just didn't score."

Big Walnut has four regular-season games left, followed by the Division II district tournament. The tournament draw will be held Feb. 6.

"We're going to try to win the rest of our games and get ready for the tournament," Scott said. "The good thing is that Orange is a Division I team and we don't have to see them in the tournament."

"I think we're going to work on things and finish strong, and that hopefully will help us in the tournament," Piper said.