Finding consistent scoring to go along with the production of Haley Schmitt likely will remain on the minds of the members of the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls basketball team as they finish the 2008 portion of their schedule Monday and Tuesday in the home Gahanna Cage Classic.

Finding consistent scoring to go along with the production of Haley Schmitt likely will remain on the minds of the members of the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls basketball team as they finish the 2008 portion of their schedule Monday and Tuesday in the home Gahanna Cage Classic.

One area the Lions have leaned on as a strength all season has been their defense. Gahanna held three of its first six opponents to fewer than 40 points and the other three to fewer than 50.

"At practice we've been working on our communication a lot, and I think it's getting better," Schmitt, a post player, said.

"I think defense and rebounding is always a really big part of it. So far (the success we're having has) been a pleasant surprise. We didn't really know what to expect this season."

Gahanna's defense kept it in the game last Friday before Pickerington Central scored 19 points in the third quarter on the way to beating the Lions 46-41, dropping them to 5-1. Lapses such as those have been few this season, despite some games in which coach Rick Hauser has shuttled in as many as 11 players.

"We talk all the time about not giving up anything easy," Hauser said. "In five games, I can think of two breakaway layups we've allowed. In close games, that's a big difference. And we're not letting people score on inbound plays. We're trying to make sure we take away the easy stuff. We have 12 kids and we have different kids step up at different times. (In a 38-37 win over Marion Harding) DeAnn Deal comes in and grabs a big rebound to ice the game. Emily Sheets played well against Marion Harding."

•CAGE CLASSIC COMING -- One player who has found her touch of late on both ends of the court has been the 5-foot-11 Schmitt.

She averaged 16.5 points in the four games heading into last Tuesday. That included a 9-for-11 performance from the floor against Newark (43-25 win Dec. 9) and 22 points and 16 rebounds against Lancaster (58-30 win Dec. 12).

She'll be tested in the second game of the Gahanna Cage Classic at 7:30 p.m. Monday by Independence's Stephanie Jones, a 5-11 sophomore who is a returning regular. A year ago at the Cage Classic, Gahanna beat the 76ers 75-47 in the first round and Brookhaven 74-66 for the championship.

Independence also features the only returning starter who made the all-tournament team a year ago in senior point guard Jodeci White.

Bexley meets Brookhaven at 6 p.m. in the opening game of the Cage Classic. The championship is set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and the consolation game will be at 6 p.m.

Other top players at the event should include Bexley's Ashley Dennis, a Stetson-signee, and the Bearcats' duo of sophomores Travecia Franklin and Brianna Holmes.

Coverage of the championship is ThisWeekNews.com's Hoop it Up game of the week.

"I saw Independence play, and one thing about them is that they're very athletic and they're very young," Hauser said. "They've got some kids who can run in every spot. Brookhaven is Brookhaven. They play hard and force you to do things you don't normally do. We have to play well against teams that are going to probably be more athletic than us."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln girls basketball team:

*Dec. 9 -- Defeated Newark 43-25. Haley Schmitt scored 18 points.

*Dec. 12 -- Def. Lancaster 58-30. Schmitt had 22 points, Tiyona Marshall added nine and DeAnn Deal scored eight.

Dec. 13 -- Def. Marion Harding 38-37. Schmitt had nine points and Jill O'Donnell added eight.

*Last Friday -- Lost to Pickerington Central 46-41. Schmitt scored 17 points. Gahanna was outscored 30-23 in the second half.

*Last Tuesday -- Played Pickerington North

Monday-Tuesday -- Home Gahanna Cage Classic. On Monday, Bexley plays Brookhaven in the opening game (6 p.m.), followed by Gahanna against Independence (7:30 p.m.). The consolation will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, followed by the championship at 7:30 p.m. Gahanna beat Brook-haven 74-66 for the championship last year.

Of note: The Lions were 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Ohio before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Ohio game