For the Dublin Jerome High School boys basketball team, January was the month in which the schedule was lightest.

For the Dublin Jerome High School boys basketball team, January was the month in which the schedule was lightest.

Since returning from the KSA Holiday Tournament in Orlando on Dec. 30, the Celtics had just four games through last Friday, which is why a three-game losing streak felt much longer than that. Entering last Tuesday's game against Olentangy Liberty, the Celtics had not won since Jan. 6. Making things more frustrating is the fact that five of the nine losses have been by fewer than eight points.

The ball just hasn't seemed to bounce the Celtics' way, coach Chris Carlisle said, but with a young team, he can't afford to come down with too heavy a hand.

"When you lose a bunch of close games, I guess you can start to get down on yourself," senior Steven Harrell said. "But our coaching staff, coach Carlisle and (assistant Stan Zody), they've all been real positive and keeping our heads up. At practice, we still have the same work ethic."

Carlisle said he knows there will be ups and downs with a team like this one, which has just two seniors and has five freshmen or sophomores seeing significant action. Still, Jerome didn't expect to have to deal with injuries like they have.

After playing some early games with as few as eight players, it appeared they were finally healthy in mid-January, but that good fortune was short-lived. In last Friday's 45-40 loss to Westerville North, guard Jake Martin (groin) and center Ryan Linville (flu) were unavailable. Center Neil Johnson, the team's other senior, was less than 100 percent because of an ankle injury.

Carlisle said he expected Linville to be ready to go for last Tuesday's game, but he was unsure about the status of Martin or Johnson.

Despite it all, Carlisle said the morale seems to be OK.

"They played very hard in practice last week," he said. "We had a pretty good week of practice. When you work hard like that, when you're an adult you get paid extra money or get a bonus. In athletics, you're looking for wins, and we just haven't gotten that yet."

Jerome has continued to rely on Harrell for offensive production and likely will need to do so for the remainder of the season. Harrell was averaging 14.5 points before last Tuesday, but he had gotten some help from other players, including freshman point guard Cam Wilson, who was averaging 10 points.

"(Wilson has) done a real nice job for us," Carlisle said. "That's a lot of responsibility for someone that's 15 years old to take on a role where you have to handle the ball, get people in and out of offenses and still score some points yourself. He's learning every day, and he sits there before the game and talks with me about some things, offensively and defensively."

Coming off the program's first league championship last season, Jerome has virtually no shot of repeating as it was 2-6 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before last Tuesday. Dublin Scioto was 8-0 and Westerville South was 7-1 before playing each other last Tuesday.

Jerome will travel Friday to Westerville South, which won the first meeting 60-41 on Dec. 19. Jerome was short-handed for that game, but Friday should still provide a stiff test considering that South had won eight of its last nine games and was 10-3 overall before last Tuesday.

In Tuesday's game against Olentangy, the Celtics will be looking to avenge one of their most painful losses. On Dec. 23, Jerome led 44-36 before losing 57-55.

Jerome's Steve Harrell grabs a rebound from Westerville North's Kenny DeBoer (left) and Andrew Forrest last Friday during their OCC-Cardinal Division game, which the Celtics lost 45-40.

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Jerome boys and girls basketball teams:

BOYS

*Last Friday -- Lost to Westerville North 45-40. Steven Harrell scored 17 points.

*Last Tuesday -- Played Olentangy Liberty

*Friday -- At Westerville South. The Celtics lost 60-41 on Dec. 19.

*Tuesday -- Home vs. Olentangy. The Celtics lost 57-55 on Dec. 23.

Of note: The Celtics were 3-9 overall and 2-6 in the OCC-Cardinal before last Tuesday.

GIRLS

*Last Friday -- Def. Westerville North 56-43. Jamelia Banks scored 16 points and Julie Mooney had 10.

Last Saturday -- Lost to Grove City 76-39. Mooney had 13 points.

*Last Tuesday -- Played Liberty

*Friday -- Home vs. Westerville South. The Celtics lost 37-27 on Dec. 19.

*Tuesday -- At Olentangy. The Celtics won 44-37 on Dec. 23.

Of note: The Celtics were 7-6 overall and 6-3 in the OCC-Cardinal before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Cardinal game