First-year Dublin Scioto High School boys basketball coach Mike Moler briefly allowed his team to celebrate its first win, a 66-65 victory Dec. 10 over visiting Marion Harding.
Moler then had his players focus on the coming schedule, which includes a league game Friday, Dec. 20, at home against Dublin Jerome. The Irish are 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division.
The win against Harding also was the first for Moler as a head coach. He was an assistant the past seven seasons under Tony Bisutti, who resigned in April.
"It was a little bit of relief just to get that first one," Moler said. "I didn't like the way we handled the end of the game situations. We got real nervous at the end of the game, but it's a good situation to learn from. Any time you can win you have to celebrate that and move on to the next one."
The players presented Moler with the game ball during a celebration in the locker room.
"They gave me the game ball and it was nice," Moler said. "I wanted them to know if we're going to be good in the long run we have to get better."
Scioto led most of the game but had to withstand a Harding rally in the fourth quarter, during which the Irish were just 3-for-10 from the free-throw line.
Zac Brown led Scioto with 18 points. Scott Berg scored 13 and Nick Pothoven and Kalib Wallace each had 11.
Scioto provided a challenge for defending league champion Westerville North on Dec. 13, as the host Warriors held on for a 59-50 win in a game that was tied 30-all at halftime.
"We're still a little bit away," Moler said. "We competed, but we have to get better each day. We're not quite there yet to beat the better teams. It was a positive step."
Andrew McKinley led the Irish with 12 points, followed by Wallace and Carter Brown with 10 apiece.
"We're getting closer," McKinley said. "We have some young guys. We're getting better every day and our chemistry is building a little bit and that helps on the defensive side of the ball."
Scioto and Jerome split their games last season, as the Irish won 63-33 at Jerome before the Celtics won 41-35 at Scioto.
"There's a little added incentive being that it's an inter-district thing, but at the same time, it's a league game just like the other OCC games," Moler said. "They're all going to be tough. We try not to get too hyped up for one game in our league."
Girls coach starting to see improvement
Despite a 0-6 start, first-year girls coach Jen Clark said she has seen improvement from the Irish, who are 0-3 in the OCC-Cardinal as they prepare to visit Jerome on Friday, Dec. 20.
Scioto's most competitive games were losses to league-foe Canal Winchester (34-24 on Nov. 29) and Lancaster (44-36 on Dec. 10). Abbie Moore scored eight points against Canal Winchester and Brianna Bell scored 16 against Lancaster.
"Our kids are making progress," Clark said. "They are working hard each day to improve. Even though our record doesn't show it, we really have made great strides from the first day of practice. I expect that will continue as we practice and play each day."
Scioto lost both games to Jerome last season, 51-48 in overtime and 54-43 as the teams tied for second (9-5) in the league behind Westerville North (14-0).
"To the kids, Jerome is another opportunity to take what we've been working on and applying it to a game," Clark said. "They have grown individually (and) as a team. I feel we'll start surprising some teams, especially as we head into the second half of our league (schedule)."