When the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls basketball team played five-time defending OCC-Ohio Division champion Pickerington North on Dec. 22, senior Haley Schmitt matched up defensively in the post against 6-foot junior Kavunaa Edwards.

When the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls basketball team played five-time defending OCC-Ohio Division champion Pickerington North on Dec. 22, senior Haley Schmitt matched up defensively in the post against 6-foot junior Kavunaa Edwards.

While Schmitt did her part in holding Edwards -- the Panthers' leading scorer -- to 15 points, North elected to put another 6-0 junior, Jordan Householder, on Schmitt.

A Cleveland State-signee, Schmitt responded with 23 points as her team rallied from a 17-point deficit to tie the score at 46.

Edwards made what turned out to be a winning 3-pointer as Gahanna failed to score on its final possession of a 49-46 loss.

Whether Schmitt or Edwards can stay out of foul trouble will have a huge impact on which team wins the rematch Tuesday at North.

Freshman Zenobia Bess is the other inside presence of note for the Lions.

"There's only been one game this year where (Schmitt's) been in foul trouble to where it's been an issue," coach Rick Hauser said. "The thing for Haley this year is that she understands the game. She's realizing that beating people off the dribble is not her game."

The Lions trailed 31-18 by halftime before finding their rhythm late in the third quarter of the earlier matchup with North -- a problem Schmitt knows can't happen in the rematch.

"I wish the first half would have gone better against them," Schmitt said. "In the end, I just remember that we really wanted to win, but that it's hard to come back when you fall behind by so much. Hopefully we can beat them this time."

The only other time North was challenged in a similar manner through its first 13 games was when it needed overtime to beat Reynoldsburg 50-41 on Dec. 17.

It recently was determined that the Panthers used an ineligible player in their 60-45 victory over Northland in their Nov. 28 opener, and the win was turned into a forfeit loss.

In addition to Edwards and Householder, North senior point guard Nicole Olszewski has signed to play for Austin Peay and junior Shelby Olszewski and sophomore Taylor Jones have developed into complementary weapons.

Jones contributed 12 points in the earlier matchup with the Lions.

"They execute," Hauser said. "They know who's supposed to be where. Edwards can get the ball high or low and Olszewski is their best outside shooter. Taylor is a sophomore kid who adds a dimension to their team."

•FIRST THINGS FIRST -- The Lions face their first of back-to-back games against the Pickerington programs when they play host to Pickerington Central on Friday.

Gahanna beat the Tigers 53-46 on Dec. 18 in the midst of a 5-0 start as Casey Salopek made three 3-pointers and finished with a season-high 15 points. Tiyona Marshall added 13 points as the Lions outscored Central 27-17 during the middle quarters after falling behind 14-8 by the end of the first period.

The Tigers, however, beat Reynoldsburg 56-50 on Jan. 14 and won their next five after a 3-5 start.

Seniors Amy Buccilla, senior Shelby Porter and junior Katie Stevens give Central three experienced returning guards from the team won a Division I district title last year. In addition, sophomore Jasmine Henshaw (5-11) and freshman Marley Hill (6-2) have begun to assert themselves inside.

"Right now they're not the same team when we played them," Hauser said. "I think (Central coach Wade Brockwell) knew this was going to happen. Their kids have had to learn how to play without (2009 graduate Emilee) Harmon. They've started to turn it around."