With just one senior in a key role a year ago, the Ready High School boys basketball team lost its final 11 games of the regular season but won two tournament games to advance to a Division III district semifinal.
The Silver Knights still might be reaping some of the benefits of that postseason run, according to senior guard Doug Strickler.
"I think we have a very tight team," he said. "We all hang out together and love each other. I think (last year's postseason) did a lot for us because we had been on a losing streak."
Ready improved to 8-5 overall by beating Horizon Science Academy 51-34 on Jan. 12.
The Silver Knights began last season by winning seven of their first nine, but seven of the losses during their long losing skid came to CCL teams.
Ready has just four league games remaining, and it defeated DeSales 42-34 on Jan. 4 after losing twice to the Stallions last season.
The Silver Knights were tied with Grandview for sixth in the Division III area coaches poll last week.
They trailed visiting Hartley 38-35 on Jan. 10 after Strickler made a 3-pointer with 1 minute, 20 seconds remaining.
Hartley, which made just 10 of 24 free throws but outrebounded Ready 45-21, hung on for a 42-35 victory.
Strickler was the team's leader in scoring average through 12 games at 10.1 points, followed by senior guard Kyle Wilgus (9.3), junior forward Josh Gantz (7.9) and junior forward Matt Yoho (6.1).
Strickler scored 20 points in a 59-52 win Jan. 8 over Marion Pleasant and led Ready with 26 3-pointers through 12 games.
The Silver Knights play Hartley again Friday, Jan. 18, on the road.
"This is a really fun team to coach," coach Don Worstell said. "(Against Hartley) we didn't do everything we needed to. The character of all of our kids is outstanding, but it's a matter of us executing our game plan and being able to possess the ball. It's not our height that's hurting us, it's our width."
Girls team trying for turnaround
Inconsistencies on offense and struggles with rebounding have kept the girls basketball team from having the kind of success it has been seeking.
The Silver Knights improved to 7-7 overall by beating Jonathan Alder 54-33 on Jan. 12, their fourth win in six games. They won 50-42 on Dec. 22 over Worthington Christian, which was second in last week's Division IV area coaches poll.
Senior guard Kim Lloyd averaged 17.8 points during the five games before Ready faced Jonathan Alder to increase her season average to 14.3.
The Silver Knights, however, stumbled to 3-for-9 shooting from the free-throw line during the fourth quarter of a 46-43 overtime loss to Hartley on Jan. 5.
Coach Joe Lang also believes Ready needs to be more efficient with its opportunities.
He is looking forward to the Silver Knights' game Tuesday, Jan. 22, against visiting Johnstown.
Last season, Ready lost to the Johnnies 65-52 in a first-round Division III district tournament game. Johnstown was third in last week's area coaches poll.
"I can see the improvement in us, but what the kids see is that we're not winning (some of our close games)," Lang said. "We lost the lead with two minutes to go against Hartley and hurt ourselves. We've got to correct the things we're not doing well. Rebounding, especially on the defensive side, has been a reoccurring thing we're trying to improve along with our foul shooting. Kim Lloyd is only (5-foot-6) and she's our second-leading rebounder."
Wrestling team seeks to reach potential
First-year wrestling coach James Yonushonis has high expectations for what he believes is a talented team.
The Silver Knights placed fourth (140.5 points) behind champion Whitehall (342.5) in the 19-team Ready Winter Classic on Dec. 27 and 28 despite having just seven competitors.
Placing among the top four in their respective weight classes were Steven Pozz (second at 126 pounds), Dalton Scott (second at 138), Will Martello (third at 145) and Patrik Garren (first at heavyweight). Patrick Stover was sixth at 152 and Nick Headlee placed fifth at 132.
All six are juniors.
Garren received the Mark Schell Outstanding Wrestler Award at the Winter Classic and is 20-0 heading into the Catholic Invitational Tournament on Saturday, Jan. 19, at Olentangy Liberty.
"As a whole, we've been doing well," Yonushonis said. "We've just performed a little under our potential individually. I think we can get more out of ourselves. A lot of that falls on me and just us doing the necessary things to be getting there. Hopefully the fact that we haven't hit our best tournament yet is a good thing.
"The six juniors have been close the whole way through. They've been committed to extra wrestling and extra competition. It's definitely drawn them closer together."
Ready was expected to compete in Division III in the inaugural state team tournament but decided to withdraw.