Playing six of its first seven games against Division I opponents is something the Ready High School girls basketball team hopes will benefit it when it gets to the Division III district tournament.
The Silver Knights won four of the games against Division I foes, including over Canal Winchester 54-31 on Dec. 21 to improve to 5-2 overall.
Ready was 1-1 in the CCL after losing to DeSales 57-55 on Dec. 19.
In the Watterson Christmas Classic, Ready will add a pair of Division II teams to its resume when it plays Centennial at 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27, and Bexley at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 28.
"We feel like we're playing good competition and we definitely feel like it's making us better and making us tougher," coach Joe Lang said.
In addition to the potential long-term effect of playing larger schools, Ready got a short-term boost from its 43-30 victory Dec. 12 over visiting Watterson in its CCL opener.
It snapped a 12-game losing streak to the Eagles, marking the first time the Knights have beaten Watterson since Jan. 20, 2007.
That season, a senior-laden lineup led by 2007 graduate Ashley Lutz helped Ready go 22-3, win its first league championship since 1991-92 and capture a district title.
This year's seven-member senior class hopes the win over Watterson is the beginning of a run of success similar.
"I've never beaten (Watterson), so it's an awesome feeling," said senior post player Margie Berkemeyer, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
The Knights held Watterson to one first-quarter point and led 25-19 after three quarters. A pair of free throws by sophomore Delaney Cutteridge midway through the fourth quarter made it 35-28. Berkemeyer made a pair of free throws to make it 37-28 and senior Elisabeth Palazzo added a putback basket with about a minute left for a 39-28 lead.
Junior Lauren Ruth scored a team-best 13 points.
"We got stuck on 16 (points) for a while, but we picked it up defensively," Lang said. "Margie was huge, (senior) Caroline Riewe ran the show and had 10 assists, Lauren did some clutch things and Liz Palazzo made an enormous bucket."
Boys basketball team expecting to improve
Even though it was 5-1 overall and 1-1 in the CCL after losing to defending Division II state champion Watterson 56-52 on Dec. 20, the boys basketball team believes its best still could be ahead.
Ready played its first two games without senior returnees Matt Yoho and Kelly Culbertson because of the football team's run to a Division VI state semifinal.
Senior Myles Fowler, who played for Westland last season before transferring, will miss the first 11 games because of the OHSAA's transfer rule.
Junior Anthony Havens is another football player who provides depth.
"Our kids have played pretty well so far," coach Don Worstell said. "Our football kids have come in pretty late, so the last (two weeks) we've been getting them acclimated. They're all great athletes and great kids."
Ready, which beat St. Charles 42-19 on Dec. 13 in its CCL opener, has been receiving steady contributions from seniors Shane Lee (18 points per game through five games), Josh Gantz (14.2), Jimmy Hanley (11.8), Antonio Pulsinelli (8.6) and Alec Holt (6.6).
"We're going to be a pretty balanced team," Worstell said. "Shane has a very explosive style. Josh is very unselfish and very skilled, and we run our offense through him. Jimmy Hanley has played very well and Antonio Pulsinelli and Alec Holt have had some great contributions. We couldn't be happier with where we're at right now."
Swimming team continues to build
After not having enough boys or girls to have a relay last season, the swimming and diving program is hoping for more success because of better numbers.
There are six girls and one boy competing for the Knights this winter.
"(Our) team goals would be to send a swimmer or a relay team to districts," coach Rick Cline said. "Last year with only three female and one male swimmer we did not have a relay team after sending a girls (400-yard) freestyle relay to districts the previous year. ... We hope to have both a medley and a free relay (in girls) this year."
Back from last season are senior Sydney Neff, junior Beth Cline and sophomore Emily Cline from the girls team and junior boy Joey Smith.
Also on the girls team are senior Anna Collignon, sophomore Savannah Bolten and freshman Olivia Rowe.