The Hilliard Davidson High School girls basketball team continued to excel in close games last week, as it rallied from a four-point halftime deficit to win an OCC-Central Division game at Thomas Worthington 41-37.
Through their first 13 games, the Wildcats were 9-0 in contests decided by nine points or fewer, and they had won five games by six or fewer points.
Last season, Davidson went 3-8 in contests decided by 10 points or fewer and finished 11-11.
Coach Joy Taylor credits the leadership of her five seniors -- guards Lauren Bates, Michaela Cunningham, Ashley Hurt and Ellen Onders and post player Bri Ekanem -- for her squad's drastic change in fortune.
Against Thomas, Bates scored four of her game-high 16 points in the fourth quarter, and Hurt scored all 10 of her points in the second half.
"I think experience is definitely important when it comes to the end of games and our seniors have done a great job of closing out close games," Taylor said. "We have five seniors, and they've been in these situations before and know what to do."
The Wildcats play a highly anticipated league game Friday, Jan. 18, at Dublin Coffman.
Davidson defeated Coffman 42-20 on Dec. 7 as sophomore forward Faryn Buchanan scored a career-high 10 points and Bates scored nine.
The Wildcats shut down Coffman's offense with stifling man-to-man defense, and Coffman coach Bryan Patton said it was the Shamrocks' lowest point total in the 11 years he's been with the program.
"Our team had a great defensive effort and we took Dublin Coffman out of their game a little bit," Taylor said. "Our defense made the difference and we're going to need to play great defense to beat them again.
"Defense has definitely been a focal point for our team all season, and we use a different defensive game plan every game."
Coffman is 12-1 overall and 7-1 in the OCC-Central.
Taylor said the Shamrocks should prove to be a much greater challenge in the rematch, with sophomore guard Kamerine Taylor back in the lineup.
In the first meeting, Taylor sprained her right ankle in the first quarter and didn't return.
"One of their starters was hurt and another was in foul trouble most of the game, and I think that limited what they were able to do," coach Taylor said. "We need to be prepared for a better effort from Dublin Coffman and every team we play for a second time this season. It's a long season and we need to play our best basketball at the end of the year."
Boys squad to face rivals
The boys team will face its two biggest rivals when it plays host to Coffman in an OCC-Central game Friday, Jan. 18, and plays at Hilliard Darby on Saturday, Jan. 19.
"Coffman's our biggest rival and our next biggest rival is Darby, so we won't have to worry about finding ways to get our kids motivated this weekend," coach Kevin Logsdon said. "These are two teams our kids are always excited to play and they're both having good seasons, so hopefully our kids are ready to respond to the challenge."
Coffman defeated Davidson 62-46 on Dec. 7. Senior forward Kevin Marsh scored 14 points and senior guard Josh Morrow had 13 to pace the Shamrocks, while sophomore center Michael Simon scored 17 points and senior forward Scottie Munson had 11 to lead the Wildcats.
The Shamrocks are 8-2 overall and 6-1 in the OCC-Central.
"(Junior guard Nate) Axelrod had good dribble penetration and Coffman really hurt us with dribble penetration and second-chance opportunities," Logsdon said. "We have to limit their dribble penetration and find a way to come out on their shooters while doing a better job of keeping them off the glass."
Darby leads the all-time series against Davidson 7-6. The teams split last season, with the Wildcats winning 52-48 at Darby and the Panthers winning 50-43 at Davidson.
"Darby has a lot of weapons and they're doing a good job of getting a lot of people involved," Logsdon said. "Our games against Darby are always high-energy contests where you have to battle for every basket."
The Wildcats lost to Marysville 62-52 on Jan. 11 for their fourth loss in a row. They lost to Thomas 45-39 on Jan. 8.
"We're making progress and we played well against Thomas Worthington, but not well enough to win this game," Logsdon said. "Nick Potts is back after missing our first six games with a (collarbone) injury, and Nick and Mike (Simon) are starting to get things timed up a little better in our two-post offense. We're doing a better job of attacking the basket, but we're still having some dry spells. I'm pleased with our effort. We just need to be more consistent."