The Delaware Hayes High School girls basketball team is seeking more consistency.
After winning six of their first eight games, the Pacers lost their next three. They then won three of their next four games, including a 44-34 decision over Dublin Jerome on Jan. 14.
"When we play good, strong defense, we're a pretty good team," said coach Peter Minardi, whose team was 9-6 overall and 4-4 in the OCC-Capital Division before playing Worthington Kilbourne on Jan. 17. "The key to us having success is our defense. Strong defense leads to offense, and that's certainly true with us."
Delaware had allowed an average of 42.9 points through 15 games, but that average ballooned to 59.2 in its six losses.
Against Jerome, the Pacers allowed a combined 20 points over the final three quarters after yielding 14 in the first.
"When we play strong defense, we force turnovers and have the ability to score in transition," Minardi said. "At times, we do try to force offensive play some. We need to recognize we can pull it back out and work for a good shot. We're also successful with that when we're patient."
Through 15 games, Kristen McMillen, a senior point guard, was averaging a team-high 15.7 points and was shooting 56.7 percent from the field and 84 percent from the foul line. The Pacers' next two highest scorers were senior guards Julie Bauer (9.5) and Maranda Merriman (9.3).
Against Jerome, Bauer had 14 points and McMillen scored 11.
Delaware lost to Bridgeport 49-38 and Plum (Pa.) 70-50 in the Mike Burbridge Holiday Invitational held Dec. 27 and 28 at Westland before falling to Mount Vernon 56-43 in a league game Jan. 3.
After posting a league win over Franklin Heights (53-16 on Jan. 7), the Pacers lost to Olentangy 65-50 in league play Jan. 10 before bouncing back to beat Dublin Scioto 51-40 on Jan. 11 and Jerome.
"We took a step backward and really struggled over the (holiday) break, but we came back and won two of three games that first week," Minardi said. "Even the loss to Olentangy, we played well for three quarters, so I think we're back on track now. We won nine games all of last year, so I think we're playing well.
"We had defensive breakdowns (against Olentangy) and trailed 24-9 after the first quarter and played them even the rest of the way. We were within eight in the fourth quarter, but had to foul and we missed our last six field-goal attempts to let them pull away in the end."
While his team has gotten solid guard play, Minardi also has been pleased with the play of his post players: Miriam Aburmaieleh, Brandy Bauer, Katie Ellis and Abbie Gore.
"They don't have great individual numbers in terms of points and rebounds, but collectively they're giving us some good work inside," Minardi said. "It's funny, but McMillen and Bauer are leading us in rebounding, but they play a lot of minutes. Plus, they couldn't swoop and get rebounds if our big girls weren't boxing out our opponents' big girls."
Wrestlers preparing for state team tourney
The wrestling team is preparing to compete in the Division I state team tournament.
Seeded second in Region 5-A, Delaware faces seventh-seeded Westerville Central in the first round Wednesday, Jan. 22. The winner will face third-seeded Olentangy Orange or sixth-seeded St. Charles in the second round after the first dual, with the second-round winner advancing to a Region 5 semifinal Jan. 29 at a site to be determined.
Delaware beat Orange 58-12 in an OCC-Capital dual Jan. 9.
This is the second year for the dual-format state team tournament. Last season, the Pacers defeated Westerville Central 59-10 in the first round before being edged by Orange 30-29 in the second round.
"We feel we have a tough team, top to bottom, one that can beat anyone when we wrestle our best," coach Josh Heffernan said. "So that's our focus: performing our best each time we step on the mat, wrestling intelligently and intensely. We have great teams in our region, but we expect to be at the state tournament on Feb. 8 competing for a team trophy."
Delaware, which is 5-0 in the OCC-Capital after defeating Mount Vernon 43-18 and host Olentangy 46-18 on Jan. 16, will play host to the Tony Rieman Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 25.
The 12-team field includes Ashland, Bloom-Carroll, Canal Fulton Northwest, Dublin Jerome, Gahanna, Hilliard Davidson, Massillon Perry, Norwalk, Olentangy, Springfield Kenton Ridge and Troy Christian.
Swim teams getting set for OCC-Capital meet
The swimming and diving teams will spend this week preparing to compete in the OCC-Capital meet at New Albany.
The diving competition will take place Friday, Jan. 24, and the swimming events will be held Saturday, Jan. 25.
Last season, the girls team finished third (259) in the league behind New Albany (312) and Olentangy (274) and ahead of Orange (167), Watkins Memorial (114), Big Walnut (110) and Mount Vernon (63). Franklin Heights does not have swim program.
Worthington Kilbourne has replaced Watkins Memorial in the league this season.
"New Albany has won the league title every year since it joined the OCC-Capital, but we lost to them by 11 points in a dual this year and we do not have divers, so we gave them 13 points in that dual," coach Bill Rietz said. "I like our chances of challenging for a team title. Olentangy also is strong and we finished ahead of them by eight points in the Delaware County Classic (Dec. 21)."
Regan DeWitt is the defending OCC-Capital champion in the 200-yard individual medley and 500 freestyle and Brittany Puthoff is the defending league champion in the 100 breaststroke. DeWitt and Puthoff also were on the winning 200 medley relay a year ago with 2013 graduates Lindsey Norris and Susan Thomson.
The boys team placed third (254) in the league meet last year behind New Albany (335) and Olentangy (274) and ahead of Orange (166), Mount Vernon (96), Watkins Memorial (77) and Big Walnut (74).
Anthony Hinton is the defending league champion in the 50 free.
"Our boys team has balance, but our numbers present a challenge in battling New Albany and Olentangy," Rietz said.
Boys basketball team stays in OCC title race
The boys basketball team remains in the race for the OCC-Capital title.
Delaware was 9-3 overall and 4-3 in the OCC-Capital before facing Kilbourne on Jan. 17. The Pacers were behind Kilbourne (5-2), Franklin Heights (4-2) and New Albany (4-2) in the league standings entering play Jan. 17.
Delaware lost to Franklin Heights 48-42 on Jan. 8 but bounced back to beat Olentangy 72-56 on Jan. 10 to conclude the first round of league play.
Against Olentangy, Khalil Iverson had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Noble Moore had 15 points and six rebounds and Tyler Treese had 12 points, five rebounds and three assists. The Pacers outrebounded the Braves 42-23.
The Pacers defeated Jerome 70-66 in overtime on Jan. 14, getting 19 points from Iverson, 12 points from Moore and 10 points from Jordan Hecker.