After sitting atop the OCC-Cardinal Division standings for much of the season, the Dublin Scioto High School girls basketball team now finds itself having to rely on others in its pursuit of the league championship.

After sitting atop the OCC-Cardinal Division standings for much of the season, the Dublin Scioto High School girls basketball team now finds itself having to rely on others in its pursuit of the league championship.

That doesn't bother coach Matt Fisher, who planned to stress consistency as the Irish prepare for the Division I district tournament in February.

"We've been trying to do things a little differently in the second half of the season," Fisher said. "But we've got to be patient, and we've got to keep up our pressure. When we're impatient, we're usually one and done around the basket."

Scioto was 9-5 overall and 7-2 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Westerville South on Jan. 24. The Wildcats were tied with the Irish for second in the league at 7-2, behind Olentangy (8-1) and ahead of Dublin Jerome (5-4), Olentangy Liberty (4-5), Westerville North (4-5), Marysville (1-8) and Westerville Central (0-9).

The Irish had been tied for first with Olentangy before losing to the Braves 58-43 on Jan. 20.

"Their defensive pressure was just suffocating," junior guard Anna Buhigas said of Olentangy. "They hit some really big free throws and they've got some big post players."

Buhigas led the Irish with 15 points against Olentangy, which went on a 27-12 run in the final nine minutes. The game was tied at 31 late in the third quarter. Brooke Zwayer, a 5-foot-10 guard, led the Braves, scoring seven of her 17 points in the fourth quarter.

"At the end of the game, their bigs really made a difference and they got some easy layups," said Fisher, whose team had defeated the Braves 62-61 on Dec. 6. "We had to foul them and they made their free throws."

Scioto has been without senior post player Emily Jones since she suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee on Dec. 16 in a 58-40 win over North. Ever since, the Irish have had to rely even more on quickness to get rebounds.

With Jones out of the lineup, Buhigas has led the way offensively, averaging a team-high 16.2 points through 14 games. Junior post player Elise Jones, Emily's younger sister, was averaging 12.9 points. Emily Jones was averaging 10.2 points when she suffered the season-ending injury.

Junior wing players Casey Suich (5.5) and Katie Collins (5.0) have been the other top offensive contributors.

"I think a lot of teams think we give Anna the ball and let her do her thing, but that's not the case," Fisher said. "Most of her points have been second-chance points because she just outworks a lot of people. She's getting a lot of put-back shots."

Before losing to Olentangy, Scioto had won three consecutive games, beating Dublin Jerome 47-42 on Jan. 6, Marysville 52-24 on Jan. 13 and Thomas Worthington 66-48 on Jan. 17.

The Irish play host to North on Friday, Jan. 27. Scioto beat the Warriors 58-40 on Dec. 16, but Fisher believes North has improved since the first meeting. The Warriors were 7-8 overall before playing Central on Jan. 24.

"I don't care what their record is," Fisher said. "We got up on them early the first time we played them. They're young like we are and they've got some talented players. They've got two freshmen in their lineup and we knew they were going to improve."

Scioto faces one of the top teams in the OCC-Central on Tuesday, Jan. 31, when it plays host to Upper Arlington, which was 9-4 overall and 7-2 in the OCC-Central before playing Worthington Kilbourne on Jan. 24.