Consistency is something the Hilliard Darby High School girls basketball team has been lacking, according to first-year coach Jodi Korbas.
Before Jan. 15, the Panthers had lost three consecutive games by eight points or fewer, including a 39-35 loss to Bradley on Jan. 10 in an OCC-Cardinal Division game.
"We start slow and then have to work our way back," said Korbas, whose team was 3-10 overall before playing DeSales on Jan. 15 and is 1-7 in the OCC-Cardinal. "(Losses to) Westerville North (58-33 on Dec. 7) and Hartley (56-30 on Dec. 28) were the only games that were out of reach in the fourth quarter.
"We have talked about why it seems we have to be down 12 points before things kick in for us. We're not a team that gets the lead and then adds to it. We'll get a four-point lead and then, instead of stretching it to six or eight, we have to hang on for dear life."
Senior center Emily Krumpe had 16 points against Bradley and scored 15 in a 42-39 league loss to Westerville Central on Jan. 8. Senior guard Sydney Palsgrove also had 15 points against the Warhawks.
Against Central, Krumpe picked up her second foul and exited with 5 minutes, 12 seconds left in the first quarter with Darby leading 4-2. The Panthers committed turnovers on seven of their next eight possessions and trailed 14-6 entering the second quarter.
"That has been our nemesis all year," Korbas said. "We'll have six or seven possessions where we don't get a shot off. When that happens, a four-point game quickly can turn into a 14-point game.
"We'll have five-minute stretches when things don't go well. Instead of being patient, we tend to hurry and that leads to more mistakes."
The Panthers have a rematch Friday, Jan. 18, at Westerville North.
"We need to get everyone playing together," Korbas said. "We have been very inconsistent. We have yet to turn in four quarters in one game. When we do that, good things will happen."
That starts with avoiding early deficits.
"We're not a team that gets off to a good start and that's something we need to work on," Korbas said. "We can't outscore opponents on the offensive end. We need to play good defense to stay in the games."
Boys team looking for complete games
The boys team was 8-3 overall after defeating Olentangy 66-64 on Jan. 12 when senior forward Nic Baker hit a 3-pointer with 7.1 seconds remaining to complete a rally from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit. Junior guard Taylor Van Winkle had a career-high 32 points, including six 3-pointers, and Baker scored 13.
The Panthers were 4-3 in the OCC-Cardinal after defeating Bradley 51-39 on Jan. 11 behind 16 points from Baker.
Darby already has surpassed its win total from a year ago, when it finished 6-15.
"I think we have learned that in order for us to be successful, we have to compete for four quarters of basketball," first-year coach Mark Hess said. "The games we have won, we have matched a team's intensity and physicality for four quarters. Those where we didn't match that intensity, we didn't fare as well."
Hess points to a 56-30 loss to Dublin Scioto on Jan. 4 as an example. The Panthers rebounded to beat Westerville Central 64-49 on Jan. 8, with Baker and Van Winkle both scoring 19 points, including four 3-pointers.
"We had four assists against Scioto and 18 assists in 24 baskets against Westerville Central. That says it all," Hess said. "We're at our best when we move the ball around and when we're penetrating and kicking the ball back out or dumping the ball down to our bigs. We have guys that play well together and they are learning how important that can be."
The Panthers face a stern test when they play host to Westerville North on Friday, Jan. 18. The Warriors, who were ranked fourth in the Division I state poll last week, won the first league matchup 73-53 on Dec. 7.
Baker had 12 points on four 3-pointers and sophomore guard David Dennis also scored 12, including three 3s.
"We (played) the No. 4 team in Division II in Watterson (on Jan. 15) and (play) the No. 4 Division I team in North on Friday," Hess said. "Then we play Davidson (on Saturday, Jan. 19), and anytime you play your rival, it's going to be a challenge. We have to be able to be to compete for all four quarters to stay in these games."